I hope we all come forward to make India a ‘Humane, Hi-Tech and Happy’ Society Says Shri Mukherjee

World Trade Centre Mumbai organised its 7th Dr. M. Visvesvaraya Memorial lecture on ‘India’s Journey towards Inclusive Growth’ which was delivered by Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon’ble former President of India and conferred the WTCA Award of Honour on Shri Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts on April 16, 2018.

MVIRDC World Trade Centre Mumbai institutes the annual Dr. M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Lecture to commemorate the outstanding contributions of Dr. Visvesvaraya nation building. WTCA Award of Honour instituted by the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA), New York commemorates the spirit of solidarity among the fraternity of World Trade Centers worldwide. The Award is a symbol of World Trade Centers’ strive to promote the World Trade Centers Association’s vision of ‘Peace and Stability through Trade’

Shri Tata is an exceptional leader who has contributed to the development of the nation with his vision and dedication. A great Corporate Brand Ambassador, role model, member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry, Mr. Tata was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan, one of India’s most distinguished civilian awards. Under the leadership of Mr. Ratan Tata, the Group carried forward this legacy and consolidated its businesses further in India while acquiring global footprints. During his tenure, the Group’s revenues grew multi-fold, totalling over USD 100 billion in 2011-12.

The Award was conferred on Mr. Ratan Tata for his vision, integrity, resilience, humility, philanthropy and stellar leadership qualities that have inspired and touched lives of millions.

In his welcome address, Shri Kamal Morarka, Chairman, MVIRDC World Trade Centre Mumbai expressed his gratitude to Shri Pranab Mukherjee for agreeing to deliver the Lecture. Shri Morarka further suggested that Shri Mukherjee has brought out the distinction between a politician and a statesman by taking a far-sighted view of political decisions. Shri Mukherjee creates precedents which can be quoted later without regretting his decisions. During his tenure he always stood upright, balancing the country’s needs with its aspirations.

Mr. Vijay Kalantri, Vice Chairman, MVIRDC World Trade Centre Mumbai proposed the vote of thanks.

About 450 attendees representing consular corps, members of press, captains of industry and academicians attended the Memorial Lecture.

A text of Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s speech is as follows

1) I am indeed very happy to be here, to deliver Dr. M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Lecture. At the outset, I would like to pay my tributes to Dr. Visvesvaraya, popularly known as Sir MV, the great son of India and indeed a nation builder.

2) An eminent engineer, statesman and scholar, Dr. M. Visvesvaraya was honoured with the country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in the year 1955 for his contributions in public service. He was bestowed ‘Knight Commander of Indian Empire’ by King George V, for his dedicated services towards public welfare. Dr. Visvesvaraya is credited with planning many innovative projects such as the River Linkage Project and was recognized for engineering the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam located in Mysore. Also, he was one of the Chief designing engineers for bringing up a system for flood protection in Hyderabad. Dr. Visvesvaraya was known for designing automatic barrier water floodgates. His schemes helped the city of Vishakhapatnam port to be saved from sea erosion.

3) Dr. Visvesvaraya served as the Diwan of Mysore during the period of 1912-1918. During his service as the Diwan of Mysore, he founded eminent institutions such as Mysore Soap Factory, Bangalore Agricultural University, State bank of Mysore and Mysore Iron and Steel Works. In order to promote trade and commerce, Dr. Visvesvaraya established the Mysore Chamber of Commerce. He was also instrumental in the formation of the All India Manufacturers’ Organization. He believed that the MSME sector was the backbone of Indian economy and he equally believed that prosperity of the country hinged on development of trade and industry. Dr. Visvesvaraya had conceived the idea of the Planning Commission to strengthen and integrate the planning process in the country.

4) It is indeed an inspiration for all that even at the age of 90 he undertook work on designing and advising in the building of dams across rivers. Envisioned by Dr Visvesvaraya and named after him as M. Visvesvaraya Industrial Research and Development Centre, World Trade Centre Mumbai has emerged as a prestigious institution in the country for the promotion of India’s international trade and I am happy to be present here today, amidst you all, to speak on “India’s Journey Towards Inclusive Growth”


5) We live in a time where the world around us is going through rapid change. In such a time, India has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world and India’s rapid economic transformation has captured global attention. The first budget of Independent India had total revenue receipts of Rs 171.15 crores and revenue expenditure was Rs 197.39 crores with the net revenue deficit being Rs 26.254 crores. If we look at the corresponding figures of current budget, we will see that enormous change in the economic scenario has been brought about. The budget presented by Finance Minister of India in 2017-18 amounted to Rs 15,15,771 crores. The Revenue Expenditure Budget of 2017-18 amounted to Rs 18,36,934 crores and the Revenue Deficit was 2,49,632 crores. It was just a 26 crores, seventy years ago. The developmental outlay in the First Five Year Plan for the period of 05 years from 1951-56 amounted to Rs 2,069 crores, while for the XII Five Year Plan for 2012-2017 an outlay of Rs 80,50,123 crores was earmarked. Poverty that stood at 80% of the total population in 1947 is down to 20% currently. Literacy rate has been brought up to 74% from the mere 12% at the end of the Colonial rule. The unfed and untreated population whose average life expectancy in the year 1951 was 32 years has now grown on to 68 years in the year 2015, thanks to the consistent efforts of the government over the years. None can say that the Indian story has been a failed story, however, this growth is no cause for celebration because it has not been as inclusive and pervasive as it should have been.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

6) Our ancient civilizational values have enshrined themselves in the Indian governance system since time immemorial. For us, governance has always been guided by the principals of antyodaya and sarvodaya under the overarching philosophy of Sarve Sukhina Bhavantu.

7) Be it the Mauryan rule or the Gupta era or even during the Pandyas or Cholas, organic growth was the foremost concern of governance. Even during the Mughal era, an elaborate system was set in place where limited government and devolution of powers were practiced. Good governance was revered over everything else so much so that the Mughal emperor Akbar is said to have written in a letter to Maharaja Todarmal that “it was better to go on working and doing good to the world than to go on a pilgrimage.”

8) In modern times, these principles of good governance and inclusive growth found expression in the Fundamental Rights and more so in the Directive Principles of State Policy in our Constitution. The guidance and directions of the rulers were based on the Philosophy of “Bahujana Hitaya, Bahujana Sukhaye”, as delineated in the Rig Veda. Our Constitution as a document though drafted and adopted 70 years ago, remains our ever abiding guide. It has not only retained its significance but has become even more relevant.

9) Like I mentioned earlier, India has achieved spectacular progress in the last couple of decades with sustained economic growth of around 6-8 per cent annually. But the growth has to be more inclusive. There is rising inequality among the different classes of the society which cannot go on for a long period. According to National Sample Survey Organization, top 10% of the population owns 61.51% of the assets while the bottom 50% has a share of only 4.77% of the assets. Furthermore, the World Inequality Report of 2018 states that Top 10% of the population holds 54.2% of the national share in income while the bottom 50% has only 15.3%. This gap is huge. It is evident from these figures that the trickle-down theory is no answer to the problem.

10) Moreover, the rapid economic growth has also not reflected itself fully in corresponding rise in employment. In my opinion, a jobless growth is no growth for Indian situation. A nation of more than 1.2 billion people and with a growing young population, today India enjoys a huge demographic advantage which has the potential to drive India’s economic growth in the current century and beyond. 63.5 million people in the age group of 20-35 years, have entered the workforce in the last five years and it is estimated that by 2020, more than 50 % of the population would be below the age of 25 years. Lest we generate jobs, the demographic dividend runs the risk of turning into a demographic disaster.

Dear Friends,

11) A society that promotes a high degree of social inclusion is one in which members participate meaningfully and actively, have varied opportunities for collective experiences, enjoy freedom and equality, share social experiences and attain fundamental well- being. In this sense, an inclusive society provides equality of life chances and offers all citizens a basic level of well-being.

12) To realize the goals of inclusive growth, our country needs to direct its efforts towards a holistic policy and comprehensive and focused strategy of economic and social inclusion. In order to improve the lives of millions of our people and to enable them to join the economic and social mainstream, efforts must be made to equip our masses with the necessary education, skills and resources so as to empower them to become self-dependent and self-sustaining individuals.

13) Poverty and unemployment continue to be the central challenges confronting our policy makers. Poverty – the outcome of deprivation like inadequate resources, poor livelihood, lack of access to skill development, education, health and amenities – still continues to afflict millions of our people. The marginal farmers, landless labourers, and casual workers are the worst sufferers of these deprivations.

14) Vast majority of our population, particularly in the rural areas are yet deprived of basic primary education. Education is a powerful driver of socio-economic change and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving health, gender equality, peace, and stability. It facilitates economic growth, spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

15) We have made massive strides in the field of education. The Right to Education up to 14 years of age was legalized by amending our Constitution and that has resulted in gross enrolment ratio of more than 110% in primary education sector, more than 70 % in secondary education sector and around 25.2% in Higher Education sector for the year 2016-2017. We today have 14.2 Lakh educational institutions, more than 38,056 colleges and around 760 Universities in our country. Mass education of youth and their gainful employment in productive jobs is central for capitalizing on India’s demographic dividend. This remains a major challenge before our country. Our education system must focus on vocational training and skill development to enable our youth to be absorbed in gainful employment. At the same time, our education system must have a robust research component that can refurbish the curriculum with market-relevant requirements.

16) While education, skilling and employability will enable the eradication of disparity in the long run, to my mind, immediate focus needs to be put on certain concrete macro-economic and policy initiatives. I would like to enumerate a few steps that need to be taken at the earliest.

17) As a nation we undertook a major step forward with the success of the Green Revolution that involved immense focus by the government on agricultural science and technology. From an economy, that depended on food aid from abroad, we did not only achieve self sufficiency in food production but became a net exporter of food grains. Production that was to the tune of 50 million tonnes in the year 1950 has grown up to 277.46 million tonnes in 2018. However, there is no question of complacency and laurels over these figures. Our growing population needs to be fed and agriculture will therefore, always remain a priority. Even as we try to steer the debate around Minimum Support Price based farming to a logical conclusion, we will have to make agriculture more remunerative. One sure shot way of achieving this is to cut intermediaries and to link the farming sector directly to consumer markets. This will have to be supplemented with ample and modern storage facilities, apart from accessibility to affordable, quality transport.

18 Widening the tax net and rationalizing it with an aim to tap hitherto untaxed sectors. Every year new groups of taxable incomes are added. Our system should encourage the inclusion of these groups into the tax net.

19) Massive investment in Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Infrastructure will affect 2/3rd of the Indian population positively. This will turn the face of Modern India.

20) In addition to the above, strengthening of enabling existing legislation, like the Forest Rights Acts, Right to Housing, Right to Food Security, PESA etc., at the implementational level will go a long way in income enhancement as well as asset creation for millions of people.


21)The Indian economy is now diversifying from being largely agro-based to a manufacturing and service-based economy. The success of this diversification is highly dependent on the availability of jobs and quality of the labour force. This has resulted in an increased demand for skilled labour over the past few years. More than 12 million youth between 15 and 29 years of age are expected to enter India’s labour force every year for the next two decades. It is estimated that by 2022, another 109 million or so skilled workers will be needed in the 24 key sectors of the economy. These are hands that would need to be gainfully occupied and employed.

22)Dear friends, for employment to be generated at the desired scale we will have to look beyond agriculture and the services sector. India can have a vibrant manufacturing sector and contribute significantly to economic growth and employment generation. We today generate 330,861 MW of power; produce 90 million tonnes of steel, 280 million tonnes of cement, 26 million metric tonnes of sugar and lead the world in liquid milk production with 53.77 million tonnes of production every year. The manufacturing sector has the potential to generate large- scale employment. The government has embarked on an ambitious “Make in India” programme which has the potential to transform our country into a manufacturing powerhouse. Any boost in manufacturing will have to be based on,

  • Facilitating investment,

  • Fostering innovation,

  • Enhancing employable skills and protecting intellectual property and Build world class manufacturing infrastructure.

Such an integrated programme will act as a key pillar to combine the strengths of our manufacturing and services sectors and infuse fresh vigour to India’s economic inclusion.

23)Apart from this, the vast pool of micro enterprises constitutes a major economic segment in our country and provides largest employment after agriculture. Besides, the non-corporate small business sector forms the economic foundation of India. It is perhaps one of the largest disaggregated business ecosystems in the world sustaining around 50 crore lives. Formal and institutional architecture has not been able to reach out adequately to them thus keeping them largely outside the ambit of the mainstream economy. However, this segment is vital and contributes significantly to the growth of our nation. It is therefore, necessary to formalize this sector and bring it into the economic mainstream.

Dear Friends,

24)Inclusive growth can hardly be achieved without embracing the huge impact of information technology on our society in recent times. E- Governance is a revolutionary process that is gradually transforming the life of every Indian in significant way. Increased internet connectivity and its universal accessibility have the potential to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. I recall the time when I had proposed to make the Passport e-seva kendras and the many possible difficulties that were flagged. Today, it has made the entire process extremely convenient and hassle-free.

25)Towards the end, I would like to emphasize that these and many other initiatives adopted in the course of India’s economic journey have brought in their wake significant benefits to our society and invigorated the country’s development process. India’s pursuit of the broad objective of inclusive growth will further strengthen the economic and social fabric of our country paving the way for improved standard of living and overall well- being of our people. Needless to say, this is a mammoth task but it is not an unachievable one. Indian economy is striving to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth and this can only happen with converged participation from all sectors of society. I hope we all come forward to make India a ‘Humane, Hi-Tech and Happy’ society.

Thank you.