Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world." In India, the country I live in, there are over 300 million young people aged 10-24 years, representing 30% of the country's population… so this takes on an even greater meaning for us.
One of the things I have come to believe is that we need to empower the next generation with 21st century skills and values. One such skill is sustainability. Practicing this skill, and understanding its value, is critical to our individual and collective future. Just imagine what can happen if we can empower this mass of young people with the appropriate knowledge, expertise and technical know-how to build more sustainable businesses, communities and neighborhoods, and participate in all the myriad opportunities that are being thrown up with the global focus on sustainability. On the other hand, imagine the risks we face ahead of us if they have not been equipped with skills around sustainability and are not prepared to place a premium on the value of sustainability.
And that's where we are beginning to make a contribution. At Genpact, our expertise and passion has always been in learning and development, innovation and adaptation, people awareness and capability. We have started to bring these to colleges and universities in various ways - by imparting skills to students in colleges through our “Reach Higher" programs; by providing impetus to women in leadership roles in various sectors in India, through the “Center for Women in Leadership" at Ashoka University; and now by partnering with a leading research institute in the country to create the “LEADearthSHIP program."
What is LEADearthSHIP? It is a program that combines leadership development with building awareness of, and capability in, the core 21st century value I have been talking about – sustainability. Participants will learn and practice this by:
- Assuming leadership roles
- Understanding the triple bottom line (people, profit, planet)
- Integrating sustainability principles in thought and process
At the launch on September 14th, 200+ students joined us to engage with thought leaders in the area, and they got a feel for the program structure. They learnt about exciting inter-college competitions to encourage 'green' colleges. And they understood what companies like us feel about Citizenship and Social Responsibility.
As we go forward
As part of the LEADearthSHIP program, we launched the LEADearth Fellowship as well. This aims at creating and empowering the next generation of youth leaders to contribute meaningfully to the achievement of sustainable development goals and play a proactive role in building a low carbon society. We will select 40 students from Delhi NCR. This will happen after a rigorous selection process, and the winners will be awarded the LEADearth Fellowship. Each applicant will conceptualize a sustainability project/campaign that impacts excluded and marginalised communities. 10 final projects will be eventually implemented to benefit these communities.
Extending the pact
We hope to extend this over time to colleges in other parts of the country. We think of it as a GENeration PACT - a pact that Genpact has made with the next generation. It's a promise to them that we will work with them to make the world a better place for them to live in. The world won't change on its own. That's our job to do. Let's do it.