President of EDI, members of Faculty, Director of EDI, Graduating Students and Ladies and Gentlemen. I had the privilege of addressing the graduating class for a few minutes before this formal ceremony and I told them that and I don't mind repeating that, when Mr. Yogesh Agarwal so kindly asked me to be present as the Chief Guest today, I spontaneously said, "Yes, I will do it. Let me find the day in my diary." The major motivation was the word 'Entrepreneurship'.
I will share a bit of my own life, apart from sharing my vision and my perspectives, with you. We have come a long way in the last 27 years that I have been incharge of the UB group as its Chairman. In the early 80s being young and being incharge was not impressive. Being young and being incharge was a sure short ticket to failure. I recall now, of course very proudly, how I wronged my friends in the media who wrote me off. Wrote me off not because I was uneducated, wrote me off not because I was incapacitated, wrote me off not because I was handicapped?. they wrote me off because I was young and I lived young. My peers in the early 80s were Mr. Rama Prasad Goenka, Mr. JRD Tata, Mr. Aditya Birla? senior industry legends whose sons were not incharge of their businesses. I was unfortunate to lose my father at a young age and that's how I was put into the hot seat at a young age. And 25 years later, I love to have shown to the world that I proved them all wrong. Today, I have learnt a lot in the process, thought about it many a time- 'What is the future of this country?' I am absolutely delighted that I am seeing the future of this country right here- in front of me.
I have been in many situations all over the world, whether it's been this inevitable debate on India V/s. China, Growth rates, Development Potential etc? I have had enormous arguments with people who have written off India as a developing country, the country that has still miles to go. One day I asked somebody in England; why did you come to India? Why did you establish East India Company in India? Prior to your coming to India, why did Alexander, the Great, come to India? They didn't come to a poor country. They didn't come because India offered nothing. They all came to exploit the wealth of India. During
pre independence, India accounted for 22% world trade. That itself speaks volumes about the richness of India.
I have often said that our political masters since independence perhaps lost sight of a few critical priorities in terms of No.1 ? Education, No.2- Population Control, No. 3 ? Health Care; all of which has led to the fact that our population virtually exploded. Neither did health care, nor did education and nor did Industrial growth support this explosion in our population and, therefore, we have regrettably underprivileged people who live still in poverty. But, notwithstanding that, it is those who lead the future of India who will make sure that the nation as a whole prospers, both those who are privileged and those who are underprivileged. And, this is where the most important dimension of India comes in, that is, the very young demographic profile of India... the youngsters like you in our country. While arguing with various representatives of western nations, I do not talk about big industry, we are not talking about the Reliance of this world, The ESSAR of this world, the Air Tel of this world?we are talking about the spinal cord of India and the Indian Industry, which is the small scale sector, and this is driven purely on the principles of entrepreneurship. It is the small and medium enterprise that has continued to be the spinal cord of India's economic growth and development.
And, I only wish that more and more Institutes such as EDI get set up, get encouraged, in many parts of our country, because this is what we really need. Education is important; I would never ever argue that education is unimportant but to conclude that a master's degree or a Ph.D. is a necessary ticket to success; I would respectfully defer with that. Some of the world's largest companies, most advanced technological companies, innovative companies, such as; Microsoft, Apple have actually been started by college dropouts. But, what made them successful? The spirit of entrepreneurship. They didn't have a big degree behind them or big education behind them. I don't believe that God has been choosy or that God has differentiated in blessing all of us with intelligence. Then what is the difference between those whose I.Q.s are higher than those whose I.Q.s are lower. What is the difference between those who are successful and those who not so successful? I believe, it is how we use this God given intelligence. It is not lack of intelligence.
And how do you use this intelligence? As I said by being self confident. If you are self confident, you believe in your self. Believe in what you do and you will succeed. Failures are inevitable and are only stepping stones to success. But, self belief and self confidence are paramount. As you launch yourself to the outside world, march out with confidence. Don't be tentative; don't wonder what the world has in store for you. Think positively and act equally positively. I was delighted to hear from the Director that each one of you has done a project, which has been appraised by Financial Institution. This is absolutely remarkable. Never heard of this before. And I am glad, I am hearing about it today, which means that you have been able to think of conceiving and producing a bankable project at your age in life. That's why I say you are the future of India. This is remarkable.
Another thing that has completely swayed me today and has made a huge impression on me is that, here are youngsters like you, who are getting ready to take the country's future that of the underprivileged in their hands. Government will never ever have the amount of resources required to cater to the needs of the underprivileged or to address the issues of absolute poverty and other concerns of the country. NGOs must play their part in a very active way and make sure that India marches forward. I am completely amazed at the fact that there exists a course in Management of NGOs and there are people who have given up their careers to join this. One of the award winners today, I am told, is a Chartered Accountant, who could have got a job almost anywhere but he has dedicated himself to Social Service. This is the most remarkable thing that I have ever seen. And, I am glad that Mr. Agarwal didn't give me the whole history and geography of this absolutely wonderful Institute promoted by IDBI.
I am glad, I have come, I have seen, I have learnt myself. And this is probably one of the most moving experiences of my life and one of the most enjoyable events. I have been to the IIMs of this world; I have been to the IITs of this world. I love encouraging students and I love talking to youngsters. I love talking to youngsters because I feel absolutely passionately that the future belongs to the youngsters. I want to give them as much confidence because I can't help thinking about my own past, where every potential roadblock was put in front of me, because I was young. Today, I want to say the future belongs to the young and I love doing that, and I love talking about it. But, what I have seen today is much much much beyond being youngsters and being students. Entrepreneurship in my view will carry this country not just to the next century; but will carry India to the position of an economic super power. I firmly believe in this.
It is just that there has to be more and more opportunities. When we look around in daily life, we talk about GDP growth, we talk about this flourishing stock market, talk about so many other stories and inside every story, if you look closely, there is a spark of entrepreneurship. In all the success stories, this phenomenon is so very distinct. If you could take the story of India's largest company, the Reliance, you see, Dhirubhai Ambani built it on Entrepreneurship. Even today, everybody knows Dhirubhai Ambani did things in a way so unique; nobody had ever done it before and he created what we see today as phenomenal.
Look at what happened to our mobile phone industry today people like Sunil Mittal brought on a complete generational leapfrog from the point of having to wait for two years for a phone connection, which I am sure many of your parents here will remember, to being able to buy a mobile phone in 5 minutes flat. This is a generational shift in India's telecommunication technology and God bless those who brought it on. So opportunities are there, they are vast, in a country that is geographically diverse. And, another thing I must say that impressed me no end is that all of you are from different parts of India. As this is in Ahmedabad, anybody would have thought the majority to be Gujaratis. But, I see so many from different parts of India. What a beautiful fusion of Indian culture this is! Let me tell you, I have learnt a lot today. And, I have to thank Mr. Agarwal for having invited me here for this wonderful learning experience. God bless all of you.
Many Many Congratulations!!! The world is at your feet. Step out with confidence. And I wish you all the best and success.