Why Education is an Easy Sell
Vikas Pota: I care a lot about education because I'm the product of education.
Vikas became the Varkey GEMS Foundation’s first CEO in September 2010 and currently serves on a number of global education panels. These include the Girls & Female education panel; the Teachers Task Force; and the Global Alliance of Corporate Partners for Education – all for UNESCO. He also led the development of the Global Education and Skills Forum and was selected as a ‘Young Global Leader’ by the World Economic Forum in 2013.
Previously, Vikas was the Managing Director of a corporate affairs & communications consultancy business in London. Prior to this, he established the directorate of an independent parliamentary group in the British Houses of Parliament. He also serves as Group Head of Corporate Affairs at GEMS Education.
As part of his commitment to charities, Vikas is associated with several mainstream causes and has advised & raised substantial funds for several groups and good causes. He is also a member of the founding team of a social action day, which seeks to promote volunteering & public service.
Vikas is the author of ‘India Inc: How India’s Top Ten Entrepreneurs Are Winning Globally’ . He is often asked to provide his commentary and insight into Indian business and political matters to the media. He writes a blog on globalization and India, and appears regularly on CNN, BBC News, BBC World TV and Al-Jazeera. He has commented in the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Observer, and The Independent on Sunday on issues ranging from the contentious subject of off-shoring and outsourcing, the impact of the Indian Elections on economic reforms, terrorist attacks such as those experienced in Mumbai in 2008 to the impact of David Cameron’s first Prime Ministerial visit to India.
In his book ‘India Inc: How India’s Top Ten Entrepreneurs Are Winning Globally‘, Vikas narrates the phenomenal journey’s of ten Indian entrepreneurs, many of whom have gone from being garage start ups to achieving stunning global success in their lifetimes. Through his book, he provides examples of how Indian entrepreneurs are taking on and beating their global competitors in their own back yards and argues that Indian sensibilities will increasingly shape business debates around the world.
He has advised some of the world’s leading firms that have invested billions of dollars in India. In addition to briefing CEOs, Ministers, Parliamentarians, and senior journalists on breaking developments in South Asia, he has taken part in discussions; authored submissions to influential Parliamentary Select Committees, and has delivered speeches to think tanks and the Trades Union Congress on critical subjects like the off-shoring and the globalisation of services.
Pota’s been recognised by substantive persons such as S. A. Hasan, Director of Tata Ltd ‘few stand out as influential or as passionate as Vikas Pota, in providing a fresh, new perspective to the subject of India Inc. going global.’ James Caan of BBC programme Dragons Den says Pota provides ‘An insightful and thought-provoking look’. He lives with his family in London, UK.
I care a lot about education because I'm the product of education. My parents sacrificed a lot to give me my education. And as a result, I've seen numerous opportunities personally. So when I travel around the world, I think in terms of the kids that I see in the slums of Kenya or in Ghana or in Nigeria or India and think about how we can make sure that these children have the best possible opportunity to do well in life.
There are interventions that actually make a lot of sense in these communities that are happening. I think these innovative solutions should be spoken about a lot more because the situation in India's slums is no different to that favela's in Brazil. A lot can be learned as a result of that. So the personal connection is quite simply that I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I've had the opportunity to go to a university and get on the career ladder and make the most of my working life. That's resulted in progress for my family as a whole.
My situation I'm sure is similar to many, many, many millions of people around the world. And in fact, when it comes education, most people get it. It's not a hard sell. Education is important and it's the one area that I would encourage everyone to get engaged in, because you look at all these global issues that exist, the world can be a much better place with an educated population.
So whether we are looking at climate change, whether we are looking at AIDS, whether we are looking at war and conflict, the stem of it comes into making sure that people are educated. And by that I mean read and write and understand and have an opinion on things, which I think it needs to be more sophisticated to make sure that we overcome these challenges that humanity faces.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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