Human Well-being Is The Only Business
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Whatever be the nature of the business, fundamentally it has all been started in the interest of the wellbeing of human beings. The business of human wellbeing is the only real business. All other businesses are subsidiaries of that. As long as business leaders remain aware of this fact and that human wellbeing is the only purpose of doing business, business is fine.
Today there are corporations that are big enough to take over small countries. And yet, they are still looking at the business from one quarterly balance sheet to the next quarterly balance sheet. That is not good enough. A farmer plants a tree and waits eight or nine years before he can reap the fruits of planting that tree. There are several companies that have the capability today for similar long-term investments. If they invest in human health and education, in about fifteen years, they will have huge human resources at their disposal. Finding employable and capable human resources is becoming a big challenge today, as is the expansion of a market base. We have left half the world population behind. Unless we empower the entire world population to participate in economic activity, things will not reach their full potential.
In the last few years, I have been to several world economic forums and other summits featuring business leaders, and I saw that many of them were not focused on long-term investment. They were only worried about current trends and how they could gain a competitive edge over others. But today, I see that the thought process is slowly beginning to change. Many business leaders are beginning to understand that an inclusive economy is definitely better in the long run. Inclusive does not just mean including the rest of the human population. It also means addressing ecological concerns.
The business, of course, should not be run like a charity. I think the days of corporate social responsibility are over. No human being wants to feel his wellbeing is dependent on charity. He wants to feel worthy, and he wants to feel that he is part of the process of economic prosperity; that it is an equal partnership between him and each corporation. Both the corporation and the individual come armed with certain capabilities. It is important to see how human potential and corporate capability can be combined to create a productive enterprise.
As far as India is concerned, there is a big economic boom but it sitting on a very narrow base. The biggest generation of new economic development is from the IT industry which does not employ more than 2 to 2.5 million people. This is just a little over 0.2 per cent of the total population. You cannot have sustained growth or an economic revolution by involving such a small percentage of the population.
The Real Approach
We need to focus on investing in the creation and training of a skilled force and look at it as a long term investment that will bear fruit in six to eight years. There is a great need for long-term investment in different forms of education, which will be beneficial for the investor also. Otherwise, we will have chaos, because of unstructured and unplanned development and movement. The chaos will be both outside and within the human being as well.
All those who are working towards economic development, and creating opportunities or have already become successful business leaders, need to also focus on creating a balance between their inner and outer worlds. A certain kind of clarity to look beyond the immediate has to be created and that clarity will only come when the person reaches a certain physical and mental state.