India Economic Summit 2017

October 4, 2017: Mr. Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, HCC, participated in the India Economic Summit 2017 held on 04-06 October 2017 in New Delhi.

The 2017 India Economic Summit, held in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), explored some of the key challenges India is facing in areas of agriculture, infrastructure, energy and environment, production systems, as well as how India can engage the global multi-stakeholder community of the World Economic Forum for action and impact.

The event was attended by around 125 leaders, including the heads of India’s largest and most successful businesses, heads of state or government, the heads of the international organizations alongside leaders from civil society, labour unions, the major religions, media, and arts.

Mr. Gulabchand participated as a panellist in a session on “Water-Secure India”. The other members of the panel were Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Susmita Mohanty, Chief Executive Officer, Earth2Orbit Consulting Private Limited and Amarjit Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources of India. This session was moderated by Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog.

During this session, the panellists discussed how India can harness innovative solutions to address the issues on water, sanitation and hygiene challenges. The focus of the discussion was on how to effectively manage water risks in supply chains, how to improve trans-boundary water management and how public and the government can contribute to scaling urban water and sanitation.

Mr. Gulabchand spoke about HCC’s commitment to water conservation, the primary reason for him to sign the UN CEO Water Mandate. He presented an analysis of how the water consumption patterns in the world differ and how we end up using water directly or indirectly. He said that on an average every human being requires about 10,000 litres of water in a day out of which 7,500 litres is consumed in form of the food and edibles we consume, 2,000 litres is consumed in the form of manufactured products such as buildings, cloths, cars, furniture and only 5-7% is used for drinking and sanitization. In India, we use more than 84% of available fresh water for irrigation. We must learn from Israel how to use 1/6 of water for agriculture by using innovative techniques. He also cited an example of Lavasa where wastewater is treated and reused for plantation.

On the issue of how to control the misuse of water and promote intelligent utilization of water, Mr. Gulabchand said that since we get water free of cost, we don’t understand the value and importance of this natural resource. Water must be charged according to the behaviour of consumption. Water must be given free for drinking and sanitization. It must be charged when used for agriculture or for any other commercial purpose as the farmer or the industry will be making money after selling the product. But along with it, the government also needs to subsidize innovative techniques like drip irrigation sets etc, which will encourage farmers to conserve water.

He also expressed his concern about the depleting conditions of basins in India, and said that we urgently need to do something to recharge them.