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Crystal gazing on problems of future

Mar 14, 2013

How will India shape up in the 21st century and will its young people rise up to the occasion? Will the country also face the challenges of globalization as well as its own? That was the pivot of the conversation of the first-ever India Future Day held in Mumbai recently.

India Future Day

How is the world moving and what will be the challenges for mankind in the days and decades to come? These are the questions that the Germany-based Bertelsmann and the US-based Rockefeller foundations are seeking to answer. Over the last couple of years the two organisations, along with local partners, have sought to look into the future at their Future Day Meets in Berlin, Germany; Nairobi, Kenya; and now Mumbai, India.

The immense discontent across the world—the Occupy Movement, the Arab Spring as well as various protests in India—has seen young people at the forefront seeking change. The India Future Day held at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, by Bertelsmann and Rockefeller along with Intellecap, brought together young people, entrepreneurs, and go-getters to discuss leadership in 21st century India.

Tom Fries, Senior Project Manager, Bertelsmann Foundation, said that the German think tank has been around since the 70s but has only recently started looking out at global issues by holding the future day discussions in various continents. “Germany too is facing demographic challenges with its ageing population. In the Future Day in Germany we looked at building networks between the young and the old people. But in the Africa Future Day we discussed building relations between various countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and others.”

Richard Weingarten, Managing Director, of the Hyderabad-based Intellecap, an organization that is perched at the intersection of the social and the commercial sectors spoke in detail about Swami Vivekanand and how the faith-based guru had influenced a rich businessman like Rockefeller to start the Rockefeller Foundation and influence society around him.

Weingarten also stressed on how market-linked approaches can positively impact the bottom of the pyramid people—people who are living in poverty, with no education or electricity and also those suffering from diseases as well as unemployment.

The stress of the India Future Day was on youth and leadership, a segment that was represented by Chhavi Rajawat, the young Sarpanch of village Soda, Rajasthan; Angad Nadkarni, student and entrepreneur; Rathish Balakrishnan, director of the Bangalore-based Sattva and Govind Ethiraj, television and print journalist.

Rajawat spoke about how the education system in her village is still reeling under backward influences and not in the least effective in getting youth either employment or in the national mainstream; Ethiraj focused on the India-China comparison and how China has been able to surge ahead just because it confronted its problems and scaled up the developmental processes.

Rathish Balakrishnan zeroed in on the growing problem of urban waste management in India’s Garden City Bangalore and how his organisation Sattva was able to establish a dialogue between people, the government and corporate making garbage everyone’s concern. Teen entrepreneur Angad Nadkarni shared his thoughts on start-ups and how local solutions always work for local problems.

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