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Excerpts from Dr Arun Maira’s speech

Dr Arun Maira – Member of the Planning Commission of India and former India Chairman of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) delivered the convocation address at the 17th annual convocation of Nirma University. Following are the excerpts from his inspiring speech:

DSC_2040“The time has come for us to set our sights much higher than we have so far. We must make our nation a Quality Nation. A Quality Nation is one in which citizens will experience quality in their daily lives. In the quality of public services, and in the quality of institutions that govern their lives. This is what the Quality movement in India must set its sights to achieve. Quality is the pursuit of excellence in whatever we do.”

“The pursuit of excellence begins with a vision. A vision of what is missing in current reality, but we would like to see. And to realize the vision of excellence, there must be another vision—a vision of a new way, a new process to achieve the vision. Because if we keep going on in the way we are, we will keep reinforcing our current reality, and get more of what we already have, rather than what we aspire for.”

“Projects are stuck in tardy processes of approval and snarled in inter-departmental wrangles. Consequently India remains towards the bottom of evaluations of countries for ease of doing business. Projects are stuck in ministerial red-tape at the center and lost within jungles of uncoordinated processes in the states. The present strategy-in-use in India to address coordination and implementation failures is (1) appoint yet more committees to coordinate, and (2) set up more monitoring agencies. Thus the system has become cluttered with committees for coordination, and coordination amongst them has become another problem! Moreover, monitoring can point out that things are not happening—which is useful information. But more useful is the ability to get things done without error and in time.”

There is a widespread need in India to convert Confusion into Coordination, Contention into Collaboration, and Intention into Implementation. We need a mechanism specifically designed to bring people with different perspectives together: to listen to each other, to distil the essence of their shared aspiration for their habitation or their organization, and adopt the critical principles they will adhere to in the work they must do together.”

“India has many popular movements uniting citizens against what they do not want—of which corruption is a principal enemy. The country also needs movements to unite citizens for what they want in their habitats and their lives, and to enable them to work together to create it. If we had started such a movement, say, ten years ago, we would have been in a much better place now. Therefore the sooner and more vigorously we move now, the faster we will shape the future we want. India desperately needs leaders who build high quality institutions. We need high quality political parties, high quality unions, high quality regulators, high quality business associations, and high quality educational institutions. And high quality quality organizations too!”

“I end with an appeal. All of us must pursue excellence in whatever we do. And every one of us has a role to shape the institutions we are a part of. We are the leaders who, together, can and must build a quality nation. The key word is ‘together’. Together we can.”

(Content Courtesy: Jijo George ; Photo Courtesy: Nikhil Aboti)

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