During a two-day visit to Delhi, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus was invited to address the advisors, researchers, and senior executives of the National Institution for Transforming India, popularly known as NITI Aayog. It is the highest policy 'Think Tank' of the Government of India, headed by Mr Amitabh Kant, a close advisor of Prime Minister Modi of India. It provides both directional and policy inputs towards Sustainable Development Goals. This was created replacing the Planning Commission of India.
Mr Kant introduced Professor Yunus and invited him to speak on the experiences of microfinance and social business in addressing the global issues of poverty and environment. Professor Yunus highlighted his three major worries of wealth concentration, unemployment and environmental damage. He explained how he sees that a world of three zeros — zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions, can be created if we re-design the conceptual framework of economics to make it a genuinely social science, which presently it is not. After the speech a long session of question and answer followed.
During his visit to NITI Aayog, Professor Yunus had separate meeting with Mr R Ramanan, the CEO of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), an important wing of NITI Aayog with a separate CEO. This is the flagship initiative of Government of India, to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in India.
Professor Yunus had a long one-on-one discussion with Mr Ramanan who already signed an agreement with Yunus Social Business (YSB) India, an Indian outfit to promote social business in India. Under this agreement YSB India will provide services to design social business initiatives within Atal Innovation Mission. They discussed about launching a programme within Atal Tinkering Lab, a branch of AIM, created for creating problem solving mindset among the students in the school system of India.
Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus was the chief guest at the 20th Anniversary of the Sa-Dhan, which is the Association of microfinance institutions of India. All types of microfinance institutions of India, such as, banks, NGOs, co-operatives are members of this Association. Currently it has 251 members which include almost all leading microfinance institutions.
Indian microfinance organizations have reached nearly 50 million borrowers of which 99% are women. Present outstanding loans stand at nearly Rs100,000 crore.
The theme of this year's conference was "Propelling the Growth of the Informal Sector through Microfinance".
Professor Yunus in his speech congratulated the Sa-Dhan for guiding the sector to achieve a massive outreach with quality service over the past 20 years. He said microfinance has created millions of women entrepreneurs in the rural India. This is going to transform the rural economy from being supplier of labor to the urban economy to being an economy which will compete with urban economy helping to slow down the migration of young people from rural to urban areas.
He urged the leaders of microfinance to extend their entrepreneurship beyond financial sectors into other sectors by creating social businesses, such as, healthcare, water, housing, agriculture-processing industry, retailing, waste management , handicrafts, green energy etc. He narrated the experience of Bangladesh in these sectors through social businesses.
The conference took place in the India Habitat Center in New Delhi. Over 500 delegates from all over India attended the two-day conference.
Professor Yunus was also invited to speak at the Facebook India office where he presented his thoughts on future of technology and his worries about the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI). He thinks if AI remains unregulated it will eliminate human beings from this planet.