Kumar Mangalam Birla On Wanting To Enjoy College Life, Not Do CA And What SWADES Means Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla recently coined an acronym for encapsulating the reimagining of India's future termed 'SWADES'.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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Kumar Mangalam Birla

Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla recently coined an acronym for encapsulating the reimagining of India's future termed 'SWADES'- meaning Sustainability, Women empowerment, Artificial intelligence, Digitalisation, and Synergies.

Birla also spoke candidly about how as a teenager he wanted to enjoy college life, but didn't have the courage to tell his father that. "After a short discussion, he said if you're not a CA, you can't join me at work. Few days on and I had a big pile of thick books on my desk and this was just two weeks into my holidays after grade 10 exams. Life has its own strange ways. My father passed away just a few years after I joined work and life put me in the very deep end. Very quickly, I could feel how my CA was adding value, and looking back, I can't thank him enough for pushing me to do it. That experience profoundly transformed my approach to building and growing a business. It taught me to focus on the basics, the fundamentals, the importance of detailing, how to read the story behind the numbers, and so much more," Birla started off by saying.

He then went on to elaborate on the how to reimagine India and the meaning of SWADES.

"I believe that there are six levers to reimagine India's role in the world as a force for global good. Today I'm going to talk about reimagining India through the lens of 6 dimensions, which I call SWADES. The first lever, I believe, is Sustainability. India stands as we know, at a critical juncture where our developmental aspirations and sustainability commitments intersect. Unlike developed nations with established infrastructure, much of our infrastructure is yet to be built, presenting a unique opportunity to embed sustainability into a growth story. Indian companies have shown agility in adopting sustainable practices, recognizing that environmental responsibility aligns with long term profitability. This is critical, I believe to reimagining the future of our country. The next letter W stands for Women. Our Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi succinctly expressed the powerful impact of women's empowerment by stating when women prosper, the world prospers. This is the backbone of sustainable development. I believe that having a development model that embraces women is strategically astute. Such an approach unlocks untapped potential, a sharp increase in the participation of women in the economy to dramatically accelerate our growth trajectory. We need to make, I believe, a very concerned effort to dismantle all the conceivable barriers that limit the progress of women. The third letter is A for AI. The process of unlocking the full power of AI is probably going to be the most fascinating evolution of the coming decade. I believe that AI can fundamentally reshape the socio economic landscape for nations. For example, AI can offer a lead in improving healthcare access and quality. Also, AI has the potential to revolutionize Indian agriculture. Machine learning algorithms can provide insights into crop yield optimization, for example, pest control and weather prediction. This is vital for a country like ours, where a large segment of the population still depends on agriculture for its livelihood. Imagine AI powered audits, where the biggest challenge is not balancing the books, but convincing the AI that every single coffee purchase, for example, was indeed a necessary business expense," he said , addressing the audience at the Bombay Chartered Accountants' Society's summit in Mumbai, called Reimagine.

Having elaborated on the first three levers, Birla spoke about the next one- D for Digitization, which he said was interconnected with AI, and then ending with the importance of Entrepreneurship and Synergy, focussing on how a synergy among all these factors was imperative for success.

Throughout it all, he stressed how beyond all the numbers, India's core strength will always be her people.

The author can be reached at bkabir@entrepreneurindia.com and Instagram.com/kabirsinghbhandari

Kabir Singh Bhandari

Senior Assistant Editor

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