N Chandrasekaran delivered the 16th JRD Tata Oration, organized by Population Foundation of India
On 18 December, Population Foundation of India hosted the 16th JRD Tata Oration in Delhi, delivered by Mr. N. Chandrasekaran, the Chairman of Tata Sons. His speech, “Harnessing the Power of India’s Youth,” offered an insightful perspective on the critical role of India’s young population in global transitions like artificial intelligence, energy, and supply chains.
Emphasizing the necessity of empowering the youth through education, healthcare, and digital inclusivity, Mr. Chandrasekaran stated, “70 crore Indians are below the age of 30. Every month, on average, 10 lakh youth join our workforce. India is world’s emerging workforce. We have a large number of highly skilled people. India produces the largest number of STEM graduates in the world. We also have 16 percent of the world’s AI talent pool.” His address highlighted the opportunities and challenges in leveraging India’s demographic advantage for sustainable and inclusive development.
Poonam Muttreja, the executive director of Population Foundation of India, commented on Mr. Chandrasekaran’s vision: “As an author, Mr. Chandrasekaran has laid out his vision for a digitally empowered nation in his book ‘Bridgital Nation,’ a clarion call to harness technology in the service of humanity. This is emblematic of his belief that the true measure of a business’s success is its ability to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
The Population Foundation of India instituted the lecture series in 1990, inviting eminent national and international leaders to discuss vital issues related to population, health, and development. Esteemed speakers in the past have included Dr. Amartya Sen, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, Mr. I.K. Gujral, Dr. Manmohan Singh, among others.
Mr Chandrasekaran also stressed the importance of focusing on women and girls to achieve the demographic dividend. “Our Women comprise just 37% of total labor force and receive 35% less wages than their male counterparts for the same work,” he said. “Inclusion and ‘Inclusive Growth’ have been our biggest challenge. We need to ensure access to basic education and healthcare for all.”
Mr. Chandrasekaran’s oration was a powerful call to action, aligning with the Population Foundation’s mission to foster sustainable development and inclusive growth.
The event also included the prestigious 7th JRD Tata Memorial Awards recognising outstanding achievements of states, union territories and districts in the field of population, reproductive health and women’s empowerment. Mr Chandrasekaran presented the awards to the winning states, districts and union territories.
It concluded with an engaging dialogue, fostering discussions on supporting and maximizing the potential of India’s younger generation, especially women and girls, in a rapidly evolving global context.
Dr Srinath Reddy, the Chairman of the NGO’s governing board, reiterated the Population Foundation’s commitment to ensure reproductive justice. “To ensure women’s autonomy, and help them realise their full potential has been a core mission of Population Foundation of India, which we are determined to achieve,” Dr Reddy said.
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