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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to be in Nagpur, which is an important commercial and trading centre of the region. It is attracting investment from a number of companies on account of the talented human resources and other facilities available here. The launching of the Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport has provided further impetus to the growth of commercial activities. It is, therefore, appropriate that a Conference that seeks to address issues relating to business, trade, commerce and management is being held in Nagpur.

I am told that the Indian Commerce Association, a professional body dedicated to bringing about coordination in the commerce and management curriculum and to promote research has organized this Conference - its 61st annual session in Maharashtra. It has partnered with the Shivaji Education Society, which is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee this year. This society was established by Shri Panjabrao Deshmukh, the first Agriculture Minister of India, who was also a lawyer and deeply committed to the cause of education. Today, the Shivaji Education Society whose foundation he had laid in 1932 has grown into one of the biggest educational organizations in the region running over 260 institutions from the pre-primary to the post-graduate level. I have witnessed the problems Bhausaheb, as he was popularly known, faced to spread education amongst different sections of society. I am also aware of the fervour and commitment with which he worked to achieve his mission. His life is an example of dedicated and selfless work and it was an honour for me to have had the opportunity to know him. Today is his birthday also. I pay my respects to his memories.

Bhausaheb believed that prosperity can only come when education is made available to all. I too am of the firm view that education is a very powerful tool to bring about change and to provide opportunities to an individual not only for earning livelihood but also for contributing to society and the nation. Education increases awareness levels. It shapes the character of individuals and can open the doors to knowledge and a philosophy of tolerance, so necessary for creating harmonious societies. There is an old Sanskrit Shloka:-

Which means:

Knowledge gives humility, from humility, one attains character; from character, one acquires wealth; from wealth righteousness follows and then happiness prevails.

I have quoted this because commerce is related to wealth but wealth these days does not necessarily produce righteousness. It is important to keep this in mind so that wealth should result in this also. We should impart this message to children and the youth.

As we speak about the need for value-based education and quality education that is relevant to our times, the focus immediately shifts to teachers. They have a critical role to play in imparting knowledge and teaching with a sense of responsibility, as well as building educational institutions. Gandhiji used to say, "What we need are educationists with originality, fired with true zeal, who will think from day to day what they are going to teach their pupils." Such are the professors and lecturers required in commerce and management schools, faculties and institutions.

Globalization has linked the world in many ways. Business and commerce now operate in an international environment, where there is intense competition. It is important for Indian business to be prepared for working in a demanding environment and to adapt to challenges.

I am glad that today I have the opportunity to speak to a Conference in which academicians as well as commerce, management faculty members from different parts of the country are participating. I am also encouraged to note that one of the initiatives being undertaken is a National Commerce Talent Research Examination that will grade students according to industrial needs. In a globalized and a fast changing world, it is necessary to understand the skill requirement of the economy and to impart those to students. Teamwork, client relationship management, customer services and various problem-solving skills are essential for success in today's global competition. It is a constant challenge for management institutes to train and equip their graduates with the skill-sets required in a dynamic market place. The competitive edge of Indian companies will depend on this.

The concept of commerce has undergone a radical change in almost every part of the world. E-commerce - business through Internet is now an accepted mode of commerce. Management courses should acquaint students with these new instrumentalities of commerce. Today, business has assumed a transnational character and an understanding of how to work in interlinked markets is important. It may be useful to remember that markets have a tendency to move up and down and, therefore, conducting business requires skills both for the upward and downward cycles. This year we have seen volatility in oil prices, which rose dramatically and then fell causing considerable uncertainties. Do management classes teach issues relating to risk management in diversified situations?

The limited crisis in the housing sector that began last year in the United States has within one year assumed the dimensions of a global financial crisis. The impact is being felt by almost all countries, though in varying degrees. The lack of confidence has translated into shrinking demand levels resulting in contraction of industrial production and global trade. In such a scenario, while there is a need for coordinated global action, equally important is how individual business and institutions deal with the challenge. There is a need to regenerate confidence, to explore new markets and new products. This would require management skills and techniques. Have such techniques been included in business management courses? Do they sufficiently incorporate a study of global opportunities and systems?

Models of managements and commerce are clearly far more complex than earlier. The need, therefore, is of having proper regulatory mechanisms, accounting procedure and transparency. This is the global debate today. I call on our financial and management experts to contribute to this process by joining in the ongoing international discourse, through research papers, interactions with think tanks and opinion makers. Deliberations in such kind of conferences where delegates coming from all over the country and discussing various economic issues, can certainly help in giving a meaningful direction to the growth of academics and research.

Commerce and management studies should include a comprehensive study of corporate governance. The purpose of studying and working should have a greater purpose, which is the welfare of communities and societies. Aspects relating to corporate social responsibilities are basic to a purposeful conduct of business.

I believe that management should extend to agriculture, which is a very important segment of our economy. It is important to take agriculture forward from subsistence farming to holistic development where there is value addition of agricultural products at the village level and support is extended for marketing the goods.

The Indian economy is growing, but not fast enough to generate employment levels required in the country. People should be encouraged to become entrepreneurs. Commerce and management should teach young entrepreneurs how to manage their human, physical and financial resources in an effective and efficient manner so that there can be maximum productivity. Institutes of Management should focus on promoting entrepreneurship and related skills that can make medium and small enterprises as well as Self Help Groups successful. Industrial houses together with management education institutions can develop models for providing viable support services for such enterprises so that more jobs are created in the country.

I hope women entrepreneurs are also encouraged. Economic empowerment of women through self-income generating activities is very necessary and there should be special focus on this issue. As earning members, they would contribute to enhancing domestic consumption.

In conclusion, I would like to convey my good wishes to the Dhanawate National College, the venue of this Conference for their support to the Conference. The College has served the socially and economically backward strata of society for nearly 72 years and set an example in this region. I convey my best wishes to all of you for this Conference.

Thank You.


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