“We must partner with youth to make growth more inclusive,” said Reema Nanavaty of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). Ms. Nanavaty developed an integrated water project in the state of Gujarat and made women central to water decisions. She was previously an officer in the Indian Administrative Service.
Police Commissioner of Mumbai Satyapal Singh spoke about the various aspects of law and order that were essential for growth and development, particularly in urban areas. Sustainable development could only take place in an environment of safety and security, in a rule-based regime and in which citizens feel protected, he observed. And sustainable development, in turn, will lead to a better, safer tomorrow, he added.
In an impassioned speech, Rahul Bose, film actor and founder of The Foundation, an organization working to eliminate discrimination, urged his audience to follow their hearts and to stay the course. “Sustainable development is about sustainable interventions,” he said.
Also, development work is difficult and often thankless, he remarked, and “there will be many hurdles.” At such times, he added, “go back to the idea and the emotion that propelled you towards that work in the first place.”
Zarina Mehta of the Swades Foundation emphasized the need to focus on rural development. “If we care about what happens to our nation, we have to empower rural India,” she said. “Sustainability is about living and celebrating diversity of all kinds,’ she added, going on to describe the work of her organization in effecting change in the areas of education, healthcare, water and sanitation and livelihood and agriculture.
Author of Shantaram, Gregory Roberts, made a pitch for a “paradigm shift in the way we live – from ‘compete and consume’ to ‘cooperate and conserve’”. Cooperation and conservations must now be “part of our moral and ethical compass”, he added.
The Conclave addressed the changing nature and imperatives of entrepreneurship and education through two discussion panels. Entrepreneurs Sasha Mirchandani, Anuraag Batra, Rahul Akerkar and Pratap Bose talked about their views on risk-taking, career fulfillment and the factors and instinct that drove successful people to consider significant changes in their professional lives.
The education panel included college principals N.W. Shivdasani, Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas and Indu Shahani (also Sheriff of Mumbai) and was moderated by Shaheen Mistri, founder of the Teach For India initiative. The role of educators is to sensitize the privileged about the underprivileged, the panel agreed. “We need to go beyond curriculums and classrooms,” said Ms. Shahani. Fr. Mascarenhas reiterated the UN Secretary-General’s message. “We have just one planet. And as educators it is our duty to create awareness on sustainable development, climate change and other challenges,” he observed.
William Avery, author of China’s Nightmare, America’s Dream: India as the World’s Next Global Power, said India needed to accelerate progress on education. “University enrolment is the leading indicator of economic growth,” he remarked.
The final speaker, Amna Nawaz, Bureau Chief-Pakistan, NBC News, addressed the audience through a video link, and spoke of the role youth could play in bringing about peace and development in the subcontinent. The energy of youth can drive these processes, and it is wonderful that young people in India and Pakistan not merely talking about change but acting on it, she observed.
All speakers addressed a range of questions from the audience. UNYCC aims to explore how India’s young population can contribute towards inclusive and sustainable development, and delegates said the Conclave had helped them understand how they could channel their interests, skills and energies into practical, focused activities.