Rana Kapoor (Yes Bank), Sambit Patra (BJP), Manish Sisodia (AAP), Sachin Pilot (INC), Anupama Chopra (film critic and author) and Kabir Khan (director) amongst key speakers.
The London School of Economics and Political Science’s Student Union hosted its prestigious annual conference ‘India Forum 2016’ on Saturday 19th March at the world famous London School of Economics in London. This year’s theme was: ‘India’s Growing Global Footprint’, which shed light on the pertinent topics affecting India in relation to its place on the global stage, particularly with reference to its recent listing as ‘the world’s fastest growing economy’.
The conference saw a panel of India’s eminent business figures, political leaders and personalities from the Indian film industry, who discussed and debated keynote topics. This was then followed by a Q&A session with the audience present to stimulate dialogue.
The Financial Panel was opened by Mr. Rana Kapoor, Founder & CEO of YES Bank, India’s fifth largest private-
sector bank. Speaking about India’s Resurgence as a Design, Innovation,
Creativity led Entrepreneurship (DICE) Economy: Budget 2016 & Beyond, Mr Kapoor said: “ India is growing its global footprint and Yes Bank is proud to be a part of this growth. There is a perceptible, renewed energy in encouraging and fostering entrepreneurship in India. 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.” He also added: “Iconic institutions like LSE can play a strong role in creativity led entrepreneurial transformation in India.”
The Political Platform saw three political leaders from the front league parties in India. The topic of the political panel was ‘How has the Modi government fared in its two years as the ruling party?’ moderated by Mr Suhel Seth with participation from Dr Sambit Patra (BJP), Mr Sachin Pilot (Indian National Congress) and Mr Manish Sisodia (Aam Aadmi Party). The key touch points of discussion were The Goods and Services Tax Bill: Positive/Negative impacts it may have on the economy, Make in India Initiative: Has it been a success or a failure?, The Start-up India Campaign: Could it deliver on the promises made by PM Modi?, Discussions on the announcements made in the Union Budget and Views on the JNU incident
Dr Sambit Patra, National speaker of BJP, highlighted the achievements of the current Modi government. He
mentioned PM Modi’s Swacch Bharat, Startup India and Digital India initiatives. He also spoke about the Indian Budget 2016 emphasising that the current government’s commitment towards farmers and increasing the rural spend.
He said: “ Biggest accomplishment of PM Modi’s government: no corruption or scams at the top level bureaucracy. The BJP Government has kept up to their attitude of Na Khayenege, na khane denge (Neither will take bribe nor will let anyone take bribe).”
He also added: “The Indian Government’s focus in this budget is on farmers. We have increased their compensation. We promise that BJP will also definitely work on improvement of rural roads.”
Speaking about the JNU incident, where the students of the University were alleged for passing anti-national comments, he said: “ There have been singular incidence which should not have happened but India is not burning as projected by the opposition and the media. Singular incidences happen everywhere, but they don’t project things as if the whole country is intolerant.”
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. He said: “We are focusing on IIT, IIM. They can take care of themselves. We need to focus on primary schools in India!” and added: “We have our shortcomings, but we are a nation to be reckoned with. Parties are mor
e important than individuals; but, the nation is far more important than any party.”
Mr Manish Sisodia ,Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi and Member of Aam Admi Party spoke of the dire need for an anti-corruption law and emphasised on bringing Lokpal bill into action. He said: “We need to have an institutionalized anti-corruption policy, which we don’t have so far.” Underlining the importance of education Manish Sisodia said: “We should consider building of schools and classrooms as a part of infrastructure building. 25 per cent of Delhi government’s budget is for education.”
The Entertainment Panel saw Mrs Anupama Chopra and ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’ director Kabir Khan talking about the Soft Power of Bollywood. Kabir Khan spoke about his experiences in making films politically nuanced, such as Kabul Express, New York, Phantom and most recently Bajrangi Bhaijan. He also shared details about his involvement as a documentary filmmaker and his love for making films on topics that need to be given a voice. Anupama raised an interesting point, asking Kabir’s views on how to “mainstreamise” politically-conscious films to a national India audience, to which he replied that Bollywood’s formula of incorporating songs should be used to tell the story, which is a sure way of appealing to the masses.
While speaking about gender inequality both agreed that this exists in Bollywood and that more had to be done to counter this.
Dr Virendra Paul, Deputy High Commissioner, formally brought the event to a close.