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Private Success, Public Failure
Prof. M.N.V.V.K. Chaitanya (Assistant Dean, IIPM-Hyderabad) justifies the need for the Indian public and private sectors to aid the development of entrepreneurial skills amongst the country’s one billion population
 
The successful person makes a habit of doing what the failing person doesn’t do, Thomas Edison has famously said.

Vanguards Of Economic Growth

Indisputably, one of the key drivers of the Indian growth story since the commencement of economic reforms was entrepreneurship; uncaging animal spirits in societal, economic and managerial realms. More importantly, the impact and worth of entrepreneurial activities should not be exclusively seen in terms of an increased production or the employment generated but also in far-reaching facets of the qualitative change it brings about in life and optimal utilisation of scarce national resources.

At the same time, what is more ironical and indeed irksome is the fact that a trillion dollar economy does not create entrepreneurs in the truest definition, exactitude and form. To make matters worse and worrisome is the fact that instead of producing passionate youth with fire-in-the-belly to try something new, the current system is self-effacingly churning out more faceless, white-collar and risk-averse managers. It goes without saying that students, when they choose electives on entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and other allied subjects that are methodically taught, merely pay lip service to these concepts and precepts. The same is reflected in the ‘cover-your-butt mentality’ at the workplace as opposed to the ‘follow-your-gut mentality’ of an archetypal entrepreneur.

As has been suitably discussed by the Harvard Business School Professor, Tarun Khanna (in his book ‘Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India Are Reshaping Their Futures and Yours’), the idea of entrepreneurship is not only about limited and select hotshots taking their companies public and creating wealth. In an ingenious economy like ours, a sheer lot of entrepreneurial activities are in the exercise of getting things done more efficiently and effectively in response to constraints that people find themselves engrossed in.

Consider this: a form of public sector entrepreneurship has got its start in the national economic planning and policies of UK’s Margaret Thatcher and USA’s Ronald Reagan. However, in the Indian economic environment, the same variant of bureaucratic focus and political zeal is clearly missing, notwithstanding the fact that our current government is full of leaders who are knowledgeable in economics and well-versed in business practices. In my opinion and as has been proven in many empirical studies, a large part of USA’s sustained economic growth (and to a certain extent, social mobility) is serviced and accounted by umpteen formal entrepreneurship education programmes of countless institutions (public, private and non-profit organisations), churning out tens of thousands of equipped, motivated and well- connected entrepreneurs.

Key Challenges And Trends

In accordance with the B-O-P (Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid) paradigm proposed and popularised by Prof. C.K. Prahalad, there exists a lot of scope and scale in the current macro environment for integrating profit motive, social responsibility, civic engagement and environmental awareness, by taking an interdisciplinary approach in terms of entrepreneurial education, research and consulting.

This is true not only for firms and agents in the manufacturing sector but also for primary and tertiary sectors of economy like agriculture and services that have a deep impact upon environmental issues.

 
There has been abundant macro economic data and bountiful micro studies which point to the fact that there are women entrepreneurs who have the potential to grow, but lack the managerial means. It has also been highlighted that the common tendency of women entrepreneurs is to employ more women, thereby making a big impact on socio-economic equity and social justice.

Accordingly, much of the educational interventions related to social entrepreneurship need to purposely address the specific needs of this section. The good is news is that India has close to 75 per cent of the top organizations (in the field) working. Consider this: Ryan Gunderson of Riches For Good confirms that our economy is by now the most favoured by social entrepreneurs around the world.

As a student of management and business economics, my learning over the years has been that, economists often have narrow access to the realistic problems faced by managers across all levels, while managers surely lack the time, resources and incentives to look beyond their own industries and functions to the larger issues of economies, both at national and international levels. Also, on a different note, a great majority of professional economists regard development as a variant of ‘tough love’. Very auspiciously, most planners and of late, political leaders have now recognised the strategic significance of social and ecological factors and processes in the socio-development methodology. It is at this critical juncture that business schools and for that matter, all educational institutions across all levels, should rise to the occasion and bridge the gap between theory and practice by synthesising various subjects and areas, and concurrently instill and popularise entrepreneurial pride among the aspirants, students and all other stakeholders.

In fact, as highlighted by Laura A. Parkin, Executive Director of the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), the younger people are when starting to learn these skills, the better it is. There is definitely a strong case for encouraging entrepreneurship education to commence at the school level itself. Another related concern in terms of education is the aspect of quality standards and access/outreach: how to achieve scale without comprising on quality levels and how to reach out to the tier-2 and tier-3 towns, where young aspirants do not have the same access to an assortment of resources as their counterparts in metro cities.
          
 
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