Business Sustainability in India and the UK
O.P. Jindal Global University’s Jindal School of Banking and Finance (JSBF) jointly co-hosted a week long virtual study programme with Nottingham Trent University (NTU) from 18th January’2021 to 22nd January’2021. This has been the first internationally funded collaborative virtual event that the JSBF Office of ‘International Strategy & Mobility’ successfully co-hosted with one of the partner universities. The grant was received under the UK-India Education & Research Initiative (UKIERI). The virtual event had 6 academic lectures, 5 industry expert talks, 6 virtual visits, 8 student group workshops leading up to final presentations, and numerous social activities.
A glimpse of the virtual event
At the heart of “Agenda 2030” are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which clearly define the world we want — applying to all nations and leaving no one behind. Thus, the SDG’s paved the way with the mission of ending extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet earth by 2030. The SDGs’ has been more inclusive than ever and there is an agreement upon where the world should be going. Fulfilling these ambitions will take an unprecedented effort by all the sectors in society — and business has to play a very important role in the process. Numerous companies have been actively integrating the SDGs into their operations as a mandate, and they are doing so by pursuing goals that go far beyond earlier concern for reputation management—for example, saving energy, developing green products, and retaining and motivating employees, all of which help companies capture short as well as long term value through growth and return on capital. With this backdrop, the theme of the study tour was decided upon “Business Sustainability in India and UK”.
The lectures were subsumed grossly into the energy sector recognising that energy is an essential commodity connecting economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability. Energy is fundamental to almost all the major challenges faced globally, such as, climate change, jobs or food production. Therefore, there are noticeable benefits of having electricity access, and an obvious upgrading in welfare. Accessibility and affordability to clean energy for all is the 7th sustainable development goal (SDG). Thus, SDG 7 aims to bring balance to this huge imbalance by ensuring substantial increase in reliable clean energy (renewable) services by the year 2030 all across the globe. The renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass energy), is inexhaustible and causes relatively lesser pollution. Keeping up with the global debate on sustainable development, the United Kingdom has been predominantly increasing its power generation from renewable sources. This could reduce UK’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 54% in the last decade. However, despite of increased challenge and awareness, electricity sector in India is predominantly dependent on thermal power, thereby accounting for almost 60% of the environmental pollution. The primary deliberations driving India towards renewable technologies relate to the need for reduction of local air pollution, attain energy security for mass, lowering dependence on traditional age old means of energy, and accelerating employment generation. India has been recognised as the fourth largest market for renewable technologies in future. The lectures during the event emphasized upon the SDG’s and the global economy, economics, financial and political facets of the growing energy sector in both the nations. The key speakers were Dr Armin Rosencranz (Dean of Environental Sustainability school at JGU); Dr. DV Ramana (Professor, XIMB); and Mr. Bimlendra Jha (ex-CEO of Tata Steel).
20 students participated in the events from 8 schools of O.P. Jindal Global University, and 20 students participated from NTU. The students were divided into total 5 groups (each comprising of 8 students equally from both the institutes). Each group was given a company. The companies were- E.ON, Sofies Group, Cheesecake Energy, Torrent Power, and Jindal Power. The five companies chosen operate for the most part in the UK and India. It started with a briefing section with a top-level representative from the company, setting out an overview of the company and their current products and markets. Each of the company projects takes a slightly different focus, but they all hinge upon sustainability and aim to support fulfilment of the SDG targets. At the end of these briefings two or three questions were posed to the students for conducting research and generate some ideas to provide feedback to the company in a group presentation.
All the students attended the lecture series and briefing insights from the 3 UK companies and 2 Indian companies chosen. In addition, they were given an opportunity to clarify their doubts and pose questions to their respective Academic Mentors in a series of preparation workshops. These workshops enabled the groups to use the information gained through the lecture series and briefing sessions to produce the presentation at the end of the event. The aim of this assessment was to provide the students with an opportunity to research upon the operations, sustainability initiatives, and consider the opportunities that energy companies face in the UK and India.
The four day long program has been immensely insightful and a great learning experience for the students, as summarized by one of the students of our university.
An Ode to the Week that was…
One, an architectural marvel- a floating mandala of glass and steel
In the midst of vast lands of green,
And the other- a hub of education in the center
Of the hustle and bustle of Nottingham.
Two institutes of education, learning and excellence.
Separated by seas, these centers
Came together to learn, grow and experience.
It was a match made and supported by UKIERI.
Fueled by enthusiastic students,
Who dialed in from across UK
and the subcontinent,
Some in the middle of the day.
Others opened their laptops and eyes to grey winter mornings.
A slow and shy start to week with some whispered introductions
But, time and team-work blossomed into long term friendships.
Differences in sports, eating and travel preferences paved way for common grounds.
Conflicting time zones could do little to hamper their progress.
Long brainstorming sessions, shared workloads and amped up spirits,
Turned an academic program into a cultural extravaganza.
Days started with traveling the world from the comforts of our beds;
It ended with fun and games, enjoyed with a mutual humor.
Much can be said of the week that was.
But that left unsaid, speaks volumes of the time it was.