Mr. Damodaran, Members of the Governing Council, Faculty Members, Students, Ladies & Gentlemen:
Let me start by quoting the renowned Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter, who was among the original contributors to the study of entrepreneurs ? and their role in society.
I quote ?Entrepreneurs are pillars of strength, symbols of legitimacy, role models. They provide the new ideas and new blood?. They create ?new combinations out of resources and are therefore creative destroyers and destructive creators?. The distinctive element is that entrepreneurs ?act outside the pale of routine?. Unquote
But he also pointed out that (and again I quote): ?The more perfect our control of facts becomes; and the greater the extent? to which things can be quickly and reliably calculated, the more the significance of the entrepreneurial function decreases. Therefore the importance of the entrepreneurial type must diminish??.
Schumpeter?s two thoughts point in opposite directions. In effect, he was saying that: ?Entrepreneurship is dead. Long Live entrepreneurs!
Why the doubts about the future of entrepreneurship ? Because, as business corporations grew, it was widely expected that entrepreneurship would be on the wane ? and that the raw ?animal instincts? of the entrepreneur would increasingly be eclipsed by the logic and calculated rationality of large business corporations.
However, to the surprise of many, the currents of entrepreneurship have grown stronger ? even as the role of large business has become more ascendant. Fortunately for us, entrepreneurs refuse to play second fiddle. They keep exhibiting the mania to devise things others just have to have. They defy convention, and keep confounding the sceptics among us. The Davids of the business world keep surprising the Goliaths.
And in all this, a most encouraging aspect is that entrepreneurs are, once again, getting to be widely admired. They are becoming not just role models, but heroes also ? just as much as actors or sportsmen. Without doubt, entrepreneurs stand tall today.
The attitudinal shift ? towards those who distil creative and often wacky ideas into living enterprises ? has been pronounced the world over. It has hit with force in India too, where a new generation of entrepreneurs has been busy dreaming big, and taking on the world. We are all the richer for that.