Rural economy is transforming and just like every sphere of life and economy, rural marketplace is also influenced by rapidity of digitalization technology. In such a scenario if industry and academia come together to discuss the transformation, it is nothing less than experiential and highly engaging. That is how also changing with technological transformation, businesses in rural areas is Abhivyakti, the Rural Management Business Conclave of Xavier School of Rural Management (XSRM) held on August 19 in Bhubaneshwar can be best described. An all alumni panel discussion made the event special for everyone.
The day-long 5th edition of this annual conclave, held in collaboration with Rural Manager’s Association (RMAX) of Xavier University, Bhubaneshwar (XUB) aimed to provide the students of Rural Management (RM) a comprehensive view on “Rural Business: Impact in Digital Era”, which was also the theme for the event.
The event was inaugurated by a galaxy of industry bigwigs, which included Sasanka Sekhar Singh (Director, Sutra Consulting Private Limited), Balaya Moharana (Chief Technical Officer, DeHaat and Co-founder, DoVo Health) and Satyajit Kumar (Marketing Head-ESP Agri, Larsen & Toubro). Prof. T. Kumar and Prof. Satyendra Nath Mishra from Xavier School of Rural Management, gave them company from the host side.
Prof. T. Kumar, the moderator of the first panel discussion, opened the forum by stressing on the need for digitalization in rural business. Prof T. Kumar also said, “The RM Conclave is a conclave with a difference. We are the managers of transformation”.
Sasanka Sekhar Singh, spoke on the issue of digital marginalization and how digital technology can be used as an infrastructure. He also stressed on the importance of how we need to think and act from a manager’s perspective, rather than from a marketing point of view. Balaya Moharana spoke next on the necessity to create a technology platform to bring farmers, financiers, and suppliers together in one marketplace. He further added how machine learning and social media lend the much requisite edge to rural business. Satyajit Kumar in his presentation illustrated how 10 years back marketers held the upper hand, but in due course of time, the customers are equally informed due to the readily available internet resources. “Farmers now take informed decisions and awareness is on the higher side.” He also discussed on the significance of SEO in the digital world, how social media these days can easily make or break a brand’s image and the need for a human to human interaction.
The second-panel discussion revolved around the policies and rural business in the digital era. Vijay Sardana (Independent Director, Nabkisan Finance Limited and Chairman, ASSOCHAM Task Force) spoke in lengths about how rural economy has an inbuilt potential. “The need of the hour is to connect micro markets to mega markets for equal distribution and commercialization of unique resources”, he addd. Emmanuel V. Murray (Senior Advisor, Caspian Impact Investment Adviser Private Limited and Director, Trimaz Machines Limited) emphasized on digital technologies giving a breakthrough to the rural economy. Alok Shukla (National Head-Rural Sector Insurance, Bharti AXA General Insurance) concluded the panel discussion by focusing on the ‘Go Rural’ campaign. He also discussed about various insurances such as life insurance, health insurance and livelihood insurance and their scope in the rural sector.
The third panel discussion centered on rural banking and financial services in the digital era and was special in the sense that all the four panelists were esteemed alumni of XSRM. Gowrisankara Rao Alamanda (Vice President, RBL Bank) discussed the broad areas where digitization disrupts rural economy and focused on the challenges in the digital environment. Sankar Sastri Head of Credit and Risk, ADANI Capital Limited) spoke in lengths about his experiences in the financial sector. Manish Kumar Raj (Business Head – Branch Banking, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Limited) talked about how micro-finance is helpful for the rural population and how Ujjivan helps in disbursing micro-finance services to them. Praful Ranjan (Vice President, Sales, Finova Capital Private Limited).explained how and why small finance banks were introduced in the rural areas and discussed on their penetration into the rural market..
All the sessions were followed by an interactive and enriching Q&A round, that helped the students of rural management clear their doubts regarding the intricacies of rural business. This event also marked the release of “Abhigyaan”, a bi-monthly newsletter by RMAX. The conclave concluded with a vote of thanks by the student coordinator of RMAX, Abinash Sahoo.