The London School of Economics and Political Science’s Student Union hosted its prestigious annual conference, this year entitled ‘India Forum 2016’, on Saturday March 19. The theme was ‘India’s Growing Global Footprint’, which shed light on India’s role on the world stage, particularly with reference to its recent listing as the world’s fastest growing economy.
A panel of eminent Indian business figures, political leaders and personalities from the country’s film industry gathered to discuss keynote topics, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
The Financial Panel was opened by Mr Rana Kapoor, founder and CEO of YES Bank, India’s fifth largest private-sector bank. Speaking on ‘India’s Resurgence as a Design, Innovation, Creativity-led Entrepreneurship (DICE) Economy: Budget 2016 & Beyond’, Mr Kapoor said India was growing its global footprint and Yes Bank is proud to be a part of this growth. He spoke of a ‘perceptible, renewed energy in encouraging and fostering entrepreneurship in India’, saying, ‘I believe that a land of a million believers is a land of a million opportunities and India is at an inflexion point to transform it to a land of opportunities. Iconic institutions like the LSE can play a strong role in creativity-led entrepreneurial transformation in India.’
Speaking from the Political Platform were three leaders from India’s front league political parties: Dr Sambit Patra (BJP), Mr Sachin Pilot (Indian National Congress) and Mr Manish Sisodia (Aam Aadmi Party). They addressed the central question ‘How has the Modi government fared in its two years as the ruling party?’, considering policies such as the Goods and Services Tax Bill and its positive/negative impacts on the economy; whether the ‘Make in India’ initiative has been a success or a failure; and asking if the Start-up India Campaign can deliver on its promises.
Dr Sambit Patra, National speaker of the BJP, highlighted the achievements of the Modi government, including Swacch Bharat, Startup India and Digital India initiatives. He also spoke about the Indian Budget 2016, emphasising the current government’s commitment towards farmers and increasing the rural spend. He said, ‘The biggest accomplishment of PM Modi’s government: no corruption or scams at the top level bureaucracy.’
Mr Sachin Pilot, Former Union Minister of State, Corporate Affairs and Member of Indian National Congress, shared his views on empowering everyone with education, and also spoke about India’s strong global presence. ‘We have our shortcomings,’ he said, ‘but we are a nation to be reckoned with. Parties are more important than individuals; but the nation is far more important than any party.’
Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi and member of the Aam Admi Party Mr Manish Sisodia spoke of the dire need for an anti-corruption law and bringing the Lokpal bill into action. He said, ‘We need to have an institutionalised anti-corruption policy, which we don’t have so far.’ Underlining the importance of education, he added: ‘We should consider the building of schools and classrooms as a part of infrastructure building. Twenty-five per cent of the Delhi government’s budget is for education.’
On the Entertainment Panel were Mrs Anupama Chopra and ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’ director Kabir Khan, who talked about ‘the Soft Power of Bollywood’. Kabir Khan recounted his experiences of making politically nuanced films such as ‘Kabul Express’, ‘New York’, ‘Phantom’ and, most recently, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’. He also discussed his involvement as a documentary filmmaker and his love for making films on topics that need to be given a voice, while Anupama Chopra raised interesting points about how to ‘mainstreamise’ politically conscious films to Indian audiences and gender inequality in Bollywood.
Dr Virendra Paul, the Indian Deputy High Commissioner, formally brought the event to a close.
(Photos & captions on uk2, Wed 23 March, 12:40 – use 1 or 2)