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EDII Convocation-April 03, 2012
Address by Shri R. M. Malla, CMD

Ladies & Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be present here to address the Convocation Ceremony for the 13th Batch of Post-Graduate Programme of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India [EDII]. I would like to thank the Institute for presenting me this opportunity to be a part of this august gathering and interact with India's future entrepreneurs. It is a privilege and honour to welcome and thank Dr. Sam Pitroda who has taken time out of his busy schedule to be grace this occasion as the Chief Guest.

The man behind India's communications revolution - Dr. Sam Pitroda - needs no introduction. He has donned a number of hats as an inventor, entrepreneur and policymaker in his career spanning more than 4 decades. In his current role as an Advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure & Innovations, he is exploring the creation of information infrastructure for enhancing delivery of services to the citizens in various areas as well as working on designing a roadmap for a 'Decade of Innovation' in India. The talented man that he is, he is the Chairman of National Innovation Council, Chairman of the Expert Committee on the use of ICT in Railways, Chairman of the Smart Grid Task Force under the aegis of Ministry of Power and founding Commissioner of the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development. Prior to these appointments, he has been an Adviser to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1980s where he spearheaded six technology missions related to telecommunications, water, literacy, immunization, dairy and oil seeds. Furthermore, he was the founder and first chairman of India's Telecom Commission. He also held the office of Chairman at National Knowledge Commission from 2005 to 2009 during which tenure, 300 recommendations on 27 focus areas covering various aspects of the knowledge paradigm were submitted. To his credit, he has about 100 patents globally and has helped in transformation of India's development policies with technology at the core of the process.

The Office of Adviser to Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation has the onus to review, develop, utilize and upscale the public information infrastructure in the country to help improve productivity, efficiency and quality of the systems and processes to deliver public services for citizen empowerment. The focus is to ensure growth across the breadth of the country and ensure that our country prospers and emerges as a global power. It is indeed an honour for the Office to have at its helm Dr. Sam Pitroda who has done a lot for the country in its progress in the digital world.

Sir,

The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI) was set up in 1983 as an autonomous and not-for-profit institution with the aim of aiding the growth of entrepreneurial talent in the country. Since then, the Institute has been spearheading entrepreneurship movement across the country with its programmes and research activities. The distinction that the Institute has earned as pre-eminent institution honing entrepreneurial talent has been due to the hard work, devotion to quality, dedication of its faculty and staff and vision of the management. I would like to thank my fellow Governing Members who have made the EDI the toast of entrepreneurship in India. As an added feather to its cap, EDI has been selected as a member of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) network of Centres of Excellence for HRD Research and Training.

IDBI's association with EDII came out of a strong sense of commitment that there was a need for a national level institution that could impart training in entrepreneurship and thereby generate a cadre of entrepreneurs who would take economic growth to the far corners of the country. We are proud to have been the founders of EDII, which has been rendering yeoman service in the field of entrepreneurship training, education, research and institution building, since its inception in 1983.

Graduation marks the transition ceremony for students who move out from their sheltered lives to acquire skills in the real world. Let me offer my heartiest congratulations to all these young men and women, who have successfully completed the Post-Graduate Diploma Programmes. The Institute has been a part of your journey to acquire the necessary skills to make better lives for yourselves. My best wishes are with you on the continuation of this journey which will be challenging but also, I am sure, an exciting and highly rewarding experience. The knowledge and skills acquired by you today will benefit not only you and your families but also the country to assume its position as an economic power tomorrow.

Being an entrepreneur is not an easy task as it calls for a tinkering around with talent, ideas, capital and know-how in order to succeed. But at the same time, entrepreneurship is not easy amidst the present market competition. The students opting for it must be trained to be able to focus on opportunity amidst chaos. They should be aware of the various policies, the market, the forces acting on it and so on. I feel happy that the passing out students are adequately equipped and all geared up to take the big plunge. The risk and uncertainty is going to be the part of life but what matters is that you should love doing what you do and give your 100 percent. Success is sure to come if you are dedicated and dynamic in seizing every opportunity that knocks your door. To me, the ability that an entrepreneur has to conceive an overarching vision of commercial success is his biggest asset. While business models, success stories and the rest can be taught to you, what can't be taught is the inherent ability in you to identify and seize an opportunity. You must be able to take appropriate risks at the right time to succeed. An entrepreneurial bent of mind has been a key characteristic of all successful entrepreneurs. For a business venture to be successful it is not necessary to have a grand beginning but a smart, knowledgeable and dynamic entrepreneur is a must for a venture to succeed.

Being an entrepreneur means you might be faced by disappointments but the lesson to be learnt from that is more valuable than anything that can be taught to you within the four walls of a classroom. An entrepreneur has to be patient and withstand all the storms to rise stronger after a fall. As Henry Ford said, "Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely". Make that your mantra and let nothing in this world pull you down forever. The world stands witness to a number of entrepreneurs who haven't succeeded in the first go itself but have moved on to make huge name and fortune. The aim of developing you as an entrepreneur is to help you understand the economic and market scenario. The formula for success, however, lies within your ability to be patient and persevering.

Let me also forewarn you that there is a need to avoid becoming either complacent or over-confident and over- ambitious. These are mistakes which many Indian entrepreneurs have committed in the past. There is a need to be well aware of changes in the business environment and changes arising out of the emergence of new products, technologies and competition. Most importantly, competence in the business arena has to be matched with high levels of integrity. As future business leaders, it is imperative to new entrepreneurs to conduct themselves with the highest standards of ethics and integrity.

Today, entrepreneurs have a vantage position with the Government extending support by creating an entrepreneur friendly regulatory environment. A number of initiatives have been undertaken to remove constraints faced by entrepreneurs, be they financial, marketing or technological. Government has also abolished a plethora of rules and regulations that have outlived their utility in this globalised age. The capital markets have become more robust and have acquired breadth and depth, making it easier for entrepreneurs to raise capital. Private Equity has become more wide-spread and investors are eager to provide capital to germinate new ideas.

Traditionally, financial institutions have always provided support to new entrepreneurs. In fact, IDBI was established with the intention of catalysing industrial development in the country. The industrial landscape is dotted with corporates that have grown and prospered due to the support provided by institutions such as IDBI. Our Bank has provided support to Indian entrepreneurs, through good times and bad times, to ensure that the industrial structure has grown. The increased competitiveness has induced caution in lenders but we are always ready to extend support to any viable business proposition.

The rapid advancement in technology should be aligned with entrepreneurial ventures to maximize the profitability. Man has the advantage of thinking intelligently which has enabled us to come a long way from the invention of the wheel. Evolution lies in the essence of an entrepreneur's quest of developing his autonomous identity. Thus, technology and entrepreneurship are highly related to each other in achieving economic prosperity. However, it is imperative to acknowledge that technology is a means to an end and not the end in itself. Technology acts an accelerator in advancing ideas towards reality. To be a successful entrepreneur, there is a need to leverage technology in order to help them achieve their goals more quickly. In order to ascertain which technology will align with their goals, entrepreneurs must have a very open and inquisitive bias towards technology.

Technology has number of benefits to offer. Besides allowing for instant communication, technology allows even the smallest business to expand its market globally. The evolution of internet fuels business formation, operations and innovation as technology becomes cheaper and social networking and virtual worlds become more popular. Moreover, with the advent of forums and social networking sites, firms are increasingly in tune with consumer demands. The market information is available to them at a low price enabling them to cater to the consumer demands in a more concentrated manner. The world may be round in shape but actually technology is proving that world is flat. Distances no longer matter and physical boundaries are not boundaries to conducting business. It is imperative to foster technological advancements and adopt those most suited to the venture to be a successful entrepreneur. The world is indeed a global village as we see a shift in the very nature of marketplace. Economics defines market as a group of buyers and sellers of a specific good or service. The inter-connectivity between the different parts of the world has given way to the idea of a global market. An entrepreneur in India might as well find that his major market share comes from USA. The idea is to acknowledge and leverage the role technology plays in garnering the market for an entrepreneur.

For years, entrepreneurs have grown and have made a difference in the economic growth despite a number of hurdles, be it financial, regulatory or physical in nature. Most of the entrepreneurs, who have made a mark, did not have business background or financial resources. It is up to the individuals to set up goals and work hard at achieving the goals. Entrepreneurs like you are integral to the economic development of the country as ventures undertaken by you will provide employment and in the country. It is the responsibility of the entrepreneur to formulating and implementing projects and run them successfully facing challenges along the path.

All reports are suggesting now that India will become the greatest country by 2050, i.e., only 38 years. Will it happen or not depends largely on our entrepreneurs. Who knows that some of the persons graduating today would be part of the top 50 industrialists in India or World.

Once again, on behalf of my colleagues on the Board and my own personal behalf, I congratulate the students who are passing out today. You are placed at the right place and at the right time to take advantage of the opportunities available. The onus of exploiting the benefits of the new policies and reforms is upon industry and its entrepreneurs. You must come forward to reap the advantages of the market-friendly and pro-business policies of the country. I urge all of you to keep your eyes wide open, dream and work hard to realize your dreams.

God Bless You All.

Thank You.

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