Dr. V. Kasturi Rangan of HBS on ‘Business at the base of the pyramid’

Christmas Eve in the campus can hardly be bettered. Tiny little light bulbs strung round the flower heads ran along the stair case. Glistening purple antennae of ornamental work embroidered around the lonely pillars suffused life into them. So overwhelmed was earth that as if to breathe heavily through the newly acquired life, she metamorphosed a lady from the dead timber with all the bulbs running through the threads of her sari’s hem. It was not until the loud music lolloped in the air and ricocheted in the basketball court; it was not until the juices of succulent dishes encircled the tongue in a viscous grip that all the pensive fellows realised the memories that they were going to retain for a long time.


But before any of this happened- as before the species evolved in the ocean bed, sun’s ultra violet rays fertilised the primeval Darwinian soup- Dr. Rangan, with his piercing evocation of emotions in patriots, appealed to all the future business leaders to uplift the society. The speaker observed that the 65:35 distribution (base of the pyramid: top of the pyramid) was inching closer to 50:50. He observed that by the year 2040, a good proportion of the world’s population would have crossed the $2000/annum mark; today’s pyramid would have become a rectangle by then.


Citing examples from HUL’s Shakti program, Nestle’s diary practices, Manila Water Company’s audacious efforts, Dr. Rangan noted that profits were merely means to the ultimate goal- uplifting the society. In his lecture, he delineated the differences between the innovative business practices and the initiatives adopted by businesses in the form of CSR. The former, he assured would lead to the benefit of the society, later he felt were of apocryphal nature.


Towards the end of the session, Dr. Rangan appealed to the class the urgent need for social responsibility and shared a firm belief in the class (of 2010) pursuing the same.

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