The eleventh guest lecture for the academic year 2013-14 was delivered by Dr Shiraz Gidwani – CEO, Iktara World on 12th March, 2014. Mr. Gidwani is a hotelier, author, diplomat and speaker. He presides over a conglomerate ranging from hotels and restaurants to publicity and fashion. He was in Ahmedabad to promote his pet project – “Dream On”. Dream On is a project envisioned by Mr Gidwani to light the spark of dreams in the youth of India and inspire them to do something for their country.
He started the lecture by reminding the audience of Martin Luther, who gave the famous lines – “I have a dream”, echoed by Mr. Barack Obama when he became US President. It took 50 years for USA to translate the spirit of Martin Luther’s words into action. Back in the 1700s, Akbar ruled over a vast empire that was prosperous relative to the rest of the world whereas the British Queen ruled over a grubby, small island called England. A century and a half later, a company with permission from Her Royal Majesty had brought the great and vast India into subjugation. Why did India fail and Britain succeed? It was because of the presence of effective leadership – something that India lacked then and lacks even now.
Mr Gidwani related the above discussion to power. He said, there are two types of power – hard (military) power and soft power. India has tremendous soft power. This soft power has been created by the value additions of many Indians in different countries over the ages. No government can ever match upto the sheer amount of soft power that has been thus generated. The potential is untapped and if we, each of us, create value by our actions, the amount of soft power that will result will be tremendous. This is where he brought in the aspect of dreaming. Mr Gidwani was of the opinion that we, as a country have stopped dreaming long back, due to which, we tend to take the trodden path. When the world zigs, we should zag. We need to change our perspectives and perceptions, look at things from a larger view and in different angles. Value is added only when we do something that no one else has done before. That is why we need to start dreaming. Of the current population of India, majority are in the youth and by 2025, 70% of the population would be below the age of 40. If we are to reap the benefits of this demographic dividend, each of us have to start dreaming and look at ways to translate those dreams into reality.
Later, interacting with the students during the Q&A session, Mr Gidwani threw light on his journey from the UN to his current business, the challenges of a family business, how these can be overcome and the role of entrepreneurship in the development of a nation. He sought to give answers to each question through simple stories from his own life. Talking about role models, he emphasised that role models should be someone whom we can “touch”. If we cannot interact with our role model, they are nothing but aspirations.
On the whole, the lecture and the subsequent session was enjoyed by all the students.
(Content Courtesy: Jijo George ; Photo Courtesy: Vinamra Mundra)