January 20, 2011
School of Business, Bengaluru
Students at the Amrita School of Business at Bengaluru had a rare treat on a recent afternoon, when the Executive Director of Greenpeace India, Mr. Samit Aich, interacted with them for an hour and a half, speaking about the grave crises confronting all of humanity today, and answering many, many questions from his concerned audience.
“We work in the areas of climate change, sustainable agriculture, protecting our oceans and tracking toxic waste and e-waste,” he shared, providing a brief introduction to the work his international environmental NGO does around the world.
Students learned that Greenpeace is active on every continent, including Antartica.
“One day, you will be heading large organizations,” Mr. Samit told the students. “Your decisions will impact many people. As such, it is important that you understand the true implications of development.”
Titled Escaping India’s Globalised Development Trap, Mr. Samit’s lecture proceeded to highlight how development in contemporary times is measured only in economic terms, negating the social and environmental aspects, even though the dictionary meaning of development reads opening up of intellectual, cultural, material and social opportunities.
“The current development model which we have adopted is only 50-60 years old,” he reminded the students.
Highlighting the problems this model of development has created in a short span of time, Mr. Samit spoke not just about environmental crises, but also gross social inequities of contemporary times.
“38% of our population is below the poverty line. On the Global Hunger Index, India ranks a poor 65th even though it is among the fastest growing economies of the world.”
In addition to highlighting these problems, Mr. Samit presented solutions, providing specific examples of several communities around India who are actively engaging to ensure a better future for themselves and their children.
He cited the example of thousands of self-sufficient villages in Andhra Pradesh where farmers have decided not to use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Most of these villages have women-run Panchayats, he noted.
“What can we at Amrita do to help?” one concerned student asked.
As if in answer to this query, the next day, Mr. Samit directed Greenpeace India’s Head of Public Engagement Unit to work with Amrita to create a pool of volunteers who can help ensure a cleaner, greener and safer planet for all.
This colloquium marked the beginning of the students’ required class on Environmental Management and Sustainable Development. Before they graduate with their MBA-MS dual degrees, for the next several weeks, students will study in-depth about several environmental topics, learning about the impact their decisions as future managers might have on the planet.