New Delhi: Industry executives stressed smart management of natural resources to drive sustainable development in India during a session at the ongoing India Economic Sunmmit organized by the World Economic Forum in New Delhi.
“We’re at a stage of accelerated growth, but it must be done smartly, keeping environmental and social concerns in mind. But (economic) growth must not be sacrificed,” said Adi Godrej, chairman of Godrej Group, at the Actions for Ethical and Balanced Consumption session.
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Godrej raised the issue of subsidies. “We tend to under-price our services (for the poor). But the way to support the underprivileged is with grants and not under-pricing.”
Baba N. Kalyani, chairman and managing director of Bharat Forge Ltd, said technology plays a crucial role in exploiting resources smartly.
“If we were to provide fixed lines to all the 600 million people who use mobile phones (in India) today, there would not be enough copper in the world. In the auto sector, India is largely a small-car market. A small car uses half the amount of steel, energy and creates half the amount of emissions than a big European car. So the answer lies in using technology intelligently,” Kalyani said.
Mikael Hagstrom, executive vice-president of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific for SAS, highlighted the benefits of data-driven decision making and planning.
“Forty-one percent of India’s population would be in cities by 2030. That’s massive in terms of the amount of water, electricity and other resources you would need. But knowledge-based planning can solve a lot of those problems,” he said.
Another note of caution was sounded by Malini Mehra, founder and chief executive of the Centre for Social Markets. “There’s been such an unprecedented biodiversity and ecological collapse. There are still obscene levels of inequality, starvation, illiteracy and infant mortality. There is growth, but it’s skewed. We have more mobile phones than we have toilets in this country,” she said.
But she agreed that “quality government process and smart planning would be the key to our future”.