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Embrace inclusivity for sustainable growth

Guest Post by
Chandra Shekar Kakal, Member of Executive Council, SVP & Global Head - Enterprise Solutions Group, Infosys Technologies Limited

I am on my way back from the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos. The mood there was upbeat. With the economic crisis behind us, there was optimism about making the world a better place for tomorrow despite the innumerable challenges ahead. Interestingly. most talks led to emerging economies in general, and India and China in particular.

What struck me from the deliberations at Davos is that sustainable growth is impossible without inclusivity. If we must create a better tomorrow, we need to include people with diverse genders, origins, financial backgrounds, colors, and abilities in the partner ecosystem. Without inclusivity, sustainable development will remain a dream and a topic of debate.

Infosys hosted a luncheon panel discussion on 'building tomorrow's enterprise'. Panelists included Kris, Rajat Gupta, Marc Benioff from Salesforce.com, and Michael Mack from Syngenta. With an audience of more than 117, including 80 top business executives, the discussion was stimulating.

I attended some thought-provoking sessions on future shock, redefining work, and leadership challenges. They focused on including women, the poor and minority groups in the growth story. Sustainable growth is not about inclusion as audience or beneficiaries. Inclusivity is about making them a part of the productivity conundrum. It is about creating a platform for participation and value addition. In addition to financial upliftment, inclusive citizenship requires quality education, shelter, healthcare, and meaningful employment.

The India Inclusive debate revolved around how corruption, often camouflaged as 'leakage', prevents the benefits of development from reaching the deserving. The Home Minister of India informed that after grassroot-level elected representatives were given the power to execute, 'leakage' reduced to less than 5%. However, the question is not only whether the funds have reached the deserving, but also whether it has increased output. If not, it is an expense and not an input for inclusive growth. For example, Rupees 100/- spent through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme must produce output worth more than Rupees 100/- or enable improvement in infrastructure, without which it is a downward spiral.

Fundamental growth, let alone sustainable growth, doesn't happen without the output being more than the input. We must use progressively lesser resources, effort and money to deliver higher productivity. In this context, what we do at Infosys through the Campus Connect program is highly relevant. We include the deserving, train them to produce higher output, and improve their productivity continuously. We believe that sustained growth and improved productivity are inseparable.

Ironically, while the debates at Davos were about including those who earn less than $2 per day in the overall growth story, there wasn't even a single representative from that community of more than 2 billion! However, the intent to include and actions by governments, industry and individuals are unquestionable. Let us together build a better tomorrow.

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