After the glittering inaugural session in the morning a special stage was set for the Guests of Honour in the evening in the Sai Kulwant Hall. Bhagawan arrived just after 1700 Hrs. for a complete round upon which He came on to the dais to occupy the centre-stage feasting the eyes of thousands of capacity of audience.
Dr. Narain Ramji , the Registrar of Sri Sathya Sai University, in his introductory speech briefly summed up the inaugural function held in the morning. Calling the evening session to be very special as the same was to be convened by Bhagawan Himself, Dr.Ramji introduced the Guests of Honour for the evening session, captains from the Financial and Banking Sector to come and occupy their seat on the dais. As their names were called, the dignitaries came one by one, presenting a rose to Bhagawan before occupying their seat on the dais.
The first speaker for the session was Mr. K.V.Kamath, formerly Chairman ICICI Bank Ltd., and currently Non-Executive Chairman of ICICI.
Calling it Bhagawan’s foresight that made such a unique event a possibility, Mr. Kamath hailed the University’s initiative, which according to him was a first time happening at a University level that would discuss in detail issues that have been raised following the global financial crisis. The whole crisis should be seen from the point of view that the two strong pillars, Truth and Dharma (Righteousness) were under challenge.
Elucidating on the crisis, Mr. Kamath further dwelled upon as to how to prevent such challenges in the global financial system in future. Roots of the crisis was from the west, symptoms of which were seen two years ago, and a deeper analysis raised lots of ethical issues that were seemingly under threat, said Mr. Kamath.
Various rungs in the financial fabric, be it the providers of finance, be it the customers, the governments, be it the rating agents, Mr. Kamath sounded suspicious that compromises on ethical grounds, especially on Truth and Righteousness at various rungs or between various players would have added in boosting the crisis.
The conference, according to him, would deliberate on solutions to prevent recurrence of challenges of similar nature for the future well being of the financial services sector. Highlighting India’s survival without much impact from the crisis, Mr. Kamath was candid in attributing the same to the nation’s rich spiritual and religious base, resting on the two pillars, Truth and Dharma.
My belief is that the core we have in terms of the teachings we have imbibed for ages that are continued to be taught to us by Bhagawan are the reasons why we have been able to withstand the challenges swept the whole world. There could have been no better place to deliberate, understand and find solutions for the future than this place. Going back to morality, going back to ethical values, going back to fairness would be the solutions to prevent such happenings in future, said Mr. Kamath.
With Divine Blessings and foresight from the seminar we would build an even more robust financial system that would be the underpinnings of an India which could be a leading pillar in the world based on two strong pillars Truth and Dharma, said Mr. Kamath concluding his speech once again thanking for the wonderful honour conferred upon him.
Mr. Kamath was followed by Mr. Gunit Chaddha, CEO-India, Deutsch Bank. Starting with prayerful salutations to Bhagawan, Mr. Chaddha told that the opportunity to stand before and speak in His Divine Presence is the most humbling experience of his life. “It is truly an honour and privilege to submit myself before the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I have visited Prasanthi Nilayam and Sai University many times over the last decade, and each time I have returned with even greater passion. But, today, standing here and having an opportunity to speak with the permission of Bhagawan is truly the most humbling experience of my life for the last forty eight years”, said Mr. Chaddha.
Referring to the topic of discussion of the conference, he said, such a thing could only happen in the beautiful Abode at Prasanthi Nilayam. The topic of discussion is time agnostic and debating at the university is most appropriate. The foundation of education of 6000 alumni of the Sathya Sai University is on the two Vedic injunctions, Sathyam Vada, Dharmam Chara, meaning, Talk the Truth, Practise Righteousness, which could be hailed as the two strong pillars of the world of finance, the bedrock on which Trust and Confidence have been built, said Mr. Chaddha.
On the subject of ethics, he conceded that his first experience of combining ethics with finance was 8 years ago when he was at the helm of affairs with IDBI; when he had an opportunity to lecture on the subject, teaching the class eleven students of Cathedral School, rather than teaching he came out learning more from them and it was one of the most exhilarating experience.
Connecting ethics with the Sai University students, Mr. Chaddha, based on his close association with the students and the Sai Institute for over a decade, he tried to draw parallels between Sai Students and the World of Finance. Both are based on strong technical knowledge and excellence and the impact on the society that Sai foundation could claim is similar to what banks are trying to do by way of financial inclusion; the value based education and truth practised here is the trust that bankers are trying to build in the world of finance.
Echoing the view of one of his colleague during the panel discussion in the morning, he said, banks of future would be banks that combines simplicity, humility and prudence, the very values that he could find every time when he visited Prasanthi Nilayam.
On the current economic crisis and global subprime pricing, Mr. Chaddha was of the opinion that it was not just Risk Managemt and Over Leverage that could have boosted the crisis, but should seriously look into the moral side, eroding moral values. Culture and tone from the top was sacrificed for profit and loss. He illustrated the crisis as visualized by his twelve year old son who described the same like a car crash in the New York express way. Cars were the banks and drivers were the bankers and the people who got injured were public….Bankers could have been bit more cautious checking their values system in their chase for greed, opined Chaddha.
Agreeing to Mr. Kamath’s view about a strong national finance system, he said, Indian financial services system is solid and stable and part of the reason could be attributed to the value systems of India, family values and educational values coupled with a most balancing regulatory system that is strictly adhered to rules and prescriptions.
Capitalism can co-exist with strong ethics, sufficient state intervention for resource allocation. In his message to the students of Sathya Sai University, Mr. Chaddha exhorted them that the values they stand for are much needed in the financial services sector, come and be with us… Sometimes there could be a conflict, but, we need to be strong in values, we need trust, we need confidence.
Referring to his visit (some time ago) to the Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital, where there are no cash counters, probably the only one of its kind in the world, he said, if the progress of India could be measured, more such hospitals could come up, if only Indian philanthropy could match Indian entrepreneurship, even if it means that bankers could go out of jobs in not having cash counters...he added in a lighter vein but with a serious intention about a progressive India with such noble ventures.
The third speaker for the evening was Mr. K.R.Ramamoorthy, Chairman, ING Vysya Bank. Talking about his miraculous escape from Taj Heritage on the fateful day of 26th November 2008 from the captive of terrorists, he said it was sheer grace and benevolence of Bhagawan that saved him his life, virtually granting him a new birth. His visit was partially aimed at attending the conference and partly to dedicate his second life at His Lotus Feet.
Talking about the scarcity of true institution builders, Mr. Ramamoorthy opined that Institution and individual reciprocity is slowly giving away and everyone looks into individual gains forgetting about the concept of building up an institution. There are very few Institution Builders emerging in our country. Efficacy of a leader is felt in his absence, when others recall his presence in the buildup of the institution. You cannot find a better institution than Sai Institution and a better leader than Bhagawan who leads an exemplary life, said Mr. Ramamoorthy.
To students, talking about the world financial crisis, he said, subprime securitization has practically destroyed the legitimacy of financial capitalism in the whole world. There has been an omission, commission and collusion and the consequences were the disastrous meltdown. None visualized that things were going wrong, and in retrospect, one could find, few internal controls, poor quality of attestation by auditors, lack of due diligence, poor call by rating agencies, lack of investigation by the press, destruction of social norms and ignorant electorates. Many such factors contributed towards the collision. We move from government to governance, governance to accountability to responsibility and finally to integrity...exhorted Mr. Ramamoorthy, stating that all these would stand in our professional life.
A banker has three hats…as a professional you are competent and your absolute integrity is unquestionable; by virtue of dealing with other’s money you are a brokerate and by aiming at insuring the sustenance of the financial institution you are ought to be an entrepreneur. One needs to play these three roles diligently. While moving forward in your career, hold on steadfast, to integrity, moral values and ethical principles. Concluding his talk, he hoped that Bhagawan’s students would outshine in building institutions of durable nature.
The fourth speaker for the session was Mr. V.S.Das, Executive Director, RBI. Claiming the day to be the best day in his life, by virtue of being in His benign presence, Mr. Das appreciated the wonderful conduct of the ongoing conference. Recounting Bhagawan’s adage, “My Life is My Message”, he said, one could get greater lessons by attending such conferences, wherein practical demonstration of hospitality, system supported management, organizational ability, all were in demonstration for one to see and imbibe.
Being the representative of the Reserve Bank of India, he divulged into the bank’s effort in bringing monetary stability in country’s financial structure. The Reserve Bank has prescribed a set of comprehensive regulation that would ensure financial stability, if followed in letter and spirit, which could avert any financial crisis, claimed Mr. Das.
On the subject of discussion, he said, values and ethics flow from a heart with affection for fellow beings. Why talk of morality and ethics only when we reach a stage when we are operating banks? These values should start at the grass root level, at the individual level which should help building a society wherein these values could be imbibed. Business is run on the terraforma of society. If the individual is sound, society would be sound and business also would automatically become sound, said Mr. Das reflecting Bhagawan’s teachings.
Speaking about RBI’s effort to provide sound financial system in the country, Mr. Das said, neglected section of the society would be taken care to improve their standard of living, which in turn could come only through commitment and proper sensitization of staff…and this would bring a single India that has no economic division between poor and rich.
The fifth speaker for the session, Mr. Jagdish Capoor, Chairman, HDFC Bank Ltd., in his short speech highlighted that financial affairs were in no way separate from the moral values that we carry and there could have been no better place for holding the conference than the Sathya Sai University, where each student would carry with him impeccable discipline and high moral values as taught by Bhagawan and followed by everyone in Prasanthi Nilayam.
Prof. Venkataraman, the 5th Vice Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai University spoke in detail about various service projects taken up by Bhagawan, that included the medicare, water project, housing project scheme in Orissa etc. Reiterating what Mr. Kamath outlined in his speech, solutions to human problems could be found by going back to the two strong pillars of Sathya and Dharma with love as the essential tool, said Prof. Venkataraman concluding his speech.
The participants for the evening session were Mr. V.S.Das, Executive Director, RBI, A.Giridhar, Executive Director, IRDA, R. Sridharan, MD, SBI, Jagdish Capoor, Chairman, HDFC Bank Ltd., K.V.Kamath, Former Chairman, ICICI Bank Ltd., R.S.Reddy, Chairman cum Managing Director, Andhra Bank, Gunit Chaddha, CEO-India, Deutsche Bank, Uday Kotak, Executive Vice President and CEO, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Meera Sanyal, CEO, RBS/ABN Amro Bank, Ravi Duvvuru, Group Head, Compliance, Kotak Mahindra Bank, K.R.Ramamoorthy, Chairman and MD, ING Vysya Bank, Kalpana Morparia, CEO, JP Morgan-India, Amitabh Chaturvedi, MD, Dhanalakshmi Bank, K.R.Kamath, CMD, Allahabad Bank, V.Vaidyanathan, MD and CEO, ICICI Prudential, Aditya Puri, MD, HDFC Bank Ltd., Sreeram Iyer, CEO, Stanchart Bank, Usha Narayanan, Executive Director, SEBI, Ajay Srinivasan, Chief Executive, AV Birla Finance Services, S.Narayanan, MD and CEO, IFFCO Tokyo Gen Insurance, A. Balasubramanian, CEO, Birla Sun Life AMC.
There was a documentary film show on Bhagawan’s Mission and various service activities in the multimedia theatre at the Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust, Publications Division office on the evening of 28th August 2009.