"The earth has enough resources for every man’s need but not for every man’s greed"
— Mahatma Gandhi
An Economist report last year presented an interesting set of data to highlight how CO2 in earth’s atmosphere increased 100% in a century between 1910 and 2020 while remaining around the same level for a millennium before that. The rapid rise in CO2 levels was first observed around the 19th century, a direct fallout of the rapid industrialisation, urbanisation, wars, rampant burning of fossil fuels, etc.; all of this, many would say, are synonymous to economic growth and development. Development that fuels our insatiable aspirations as nations compete to outdo each other for power and global dominance.
But suddenly the Mahatma’s words ring true, as we stand at a crossroad of human civilisation for the first time with the acute realisation that time is running out. Climate catastrophe is upon us. Sustainability has become a buzzword with fears that it might be reduced to a cliché. But one of the lasting contributions of the Paris convention in 2015 was its ability to drill home the idea that sustainability is not only a survival necessity but also made immense business sense. So Gordon Gekkos around the world have redefined greed. The strategies of global dominance from corporates now come laced with climate consciousness. So when Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, two of the world’s richest men, compete for a bigger share of the hydrogen ecosystem, competition looks good. Though instead of creating green energy silos, the two tycoons would do well to collaborate, as green hydrogen becomes the first ever battlefield for a direct Ambani-Adani clash. This is one billionaires’ race that could have long-term benefits for humanity.
Add PSUs to the fray and the world’s third largest carbon emitter could have a solution for net-zero targets. But for such grand strategies to take shape, the government’s role is critical. Fair competition, level playing field, strong regulation, stable policy regime are some of basic requirements to ensure that this corporate rivalry does not degenerate into yet another high-pitched battle ending up in the judiciary, where the greater good is lost and corporate maneuvers to outwit one another become the primary objective. This is reminiscent of a similar plot playing out in the Indian retail sector with Jeff Bezos, Kishore Biyani and Ambani as the protagonists.
The idea of competition runs through this edition as Adani’s AWL and Ramdev’s Ruchi Soya vie for India’s palm oil appetite, albeit with contrasting philosophies. As China and the US compete for supremacy, trade pacts are redefined with more regional colours. Read out story on the future of WTO. There is also "Gender/Bender" where women compete for space in a man’s world and in "Life Reboot" self-trained coders look to take on those from pedigree institutions.