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Sustainability is good business, not just a matter of ethics, say business leaders at FICCI’s India Sustainability Conclave

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India Education Diary
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Business leaders from a wide spectrum of industrial  sectors today shared their perspectives at FICCI's 'India Sustainability Conclave 2012' on sustainability and how business leaders could drive it across their organizations, percolating down to each individual functional units.

Dr. Mukesh Aghi, Managing Director, Steria India, said that with the widespread use of IT, there has been a paradigm shift in power away from governments and businesses to consumers and the society. "A sense of transparency is being demanded by consumers in the way products are being produced and supply chains are being managed," he said.

He said today there are roughly 400 million Indians who are almost zero carbon contributors because they have no access to energy. As their aspirations go up, so will their demand on energy resources which will create new and mounting pressure on the environment.
Around 350 million Indians will migrate to cities in the next 10 years, Dr. Aghi said and added that such migration will put pressure on infrastructure, education facilities, healthcare, security systems and transportation.. The challenge for India is therefore to find ways to decouple human development with environment. CSR is a good business value proposition, not philanthropy, he said and added that CSR has moved away from risk mitigation to business value proposition.

Mr Ravi Sharma. Managing Director, Adani Power, described sustainability as an equilibrium between people, planet and profit and this equilibrium keeps changing. The challenge is how to increase the efficiency of overall system - product, manufacturing, operations. "Today, awareness of the need to tackle sustainability issues has reached the board level but the challenge is to bring it down to the level of the individual level, " he said.

Some companies are taking steps on the sustainability front and this needs to become a mass movement. He attributed this to the fact that "We are too enamoured by success because success is appreciated, goodness is not. The moment goodness is linked to appreciation things will change. Values need to be created and organizations need to reward goodness. Then only can we sustain the thinking on sustainability," he observed.

Ms. Naina Lal Kidwai, Country Head, HSBC and Senior Vice President, FICCI, remarked that companies with best sustainable practices do the best in the long run. "Sustainability is intertwined with our business. Creating shared value is important," she said.
Mr. Harshpati Singhania, Managing Director, JK paper, said "Sustainability is good business, not just a questions of ethics. While regulation will be an enabler, it is important to have a continuing dialogue between all stakeholders – policy makers, business and civil society".

Mr. R S Sharma, Managing Director, Jindal Power, pointed out that underlined the  need to tap the potential of solar and hydro power to meet the energy requirements of the country. At the same time, it is imperative to move from super critical thermal power plants to ultra super critical plants to derive the efficiency gains in power generation.