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Posted at 0005 hrs. on 29th Aug 2009

Ethics and world of finance are two subjects that stand poles apart considering the erosion in business ethics in the corporate world of finance. Sri Sathya Sai University, in its relentless pursuit to bring quality in the world of business management, sends out hundreds of qualified graduates through its value based management programme, every academic year.

In an attempt to match the two ever repelling poles, ethics and finance, a high-profile two-day national conference on the theme “Ethics and the World of Finance” was organized by Sri Sathya Sai University in the University Auditorium on the 28th and 29th of August attended by captains from the world of finance and banking.

The conference got underway on the 28th August morning in the august presence of the Chancellor of the University, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, amidst the presence of scores of high-profile dignitaries from the world of finance and banking, including the Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Dr. Duvvuni Subba Rao and the former Governor, Mr. Y.Venugopal Reddy.

In the morning the University campus, the venue for the conference, was abuzz with final touches of preparations. The entire campus was decked up with flowers and festoons pumping in freshness and beauty, welcoming the Host, the Divine Chancellor and His Eminent Guests of Honour. 

…And amid expectations and prayers Bhagawan arrived at the venue just after 10:00 a.m. to a traditional Poornakumbha Swagatam.  Bhagawan was received by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Vishwanath Pandit and Prof. U.S.Rao, Principal, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus. Coming onstage Bhagawan was given a standing ovation by the capacity audience filled in the University Auditorium. Thereupon, the Conference got underway with the Divine Chancellor lighting the lamp marking the official inauguration. Chairpersons for the inaugural function, Dr. Duvvuni Subba Rao and the former Governor, Mr. Y.Venugopal Reddy were garlanded by Dr. Narain Ramji, and Mr. Srirangarajan, Registrar and Controller of Examinations of the University respectively, before the commencement of the day’s further proceedings. 

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Delivering the welcome address, Prof. Vishwanath Pandit, expressed his deepest sense of gratitude to Bhagawan, but for whose Divine Will such an event would not have been possible. Calling the event a unique occasion, the Vice Chancellor made a mention of the participation of the top echelons from the banking and financial sector along with academicians of repute.   

Highlighting the direct relevance the conference has with the current world affairs, Prof. Pandit was categorical in emphasizing that value based education has to be practised in life, rather than confining the same to bookish knowledge. Calling the Sri Sathya Sai University a unique institution par excellence, Prof. Pandit made a mention about the University’s contribution to the society by sending out students with ethical values and academic perfection. Interestingly, he mentioned about the remark of the high-power parliamentary delegation visited the University in the year 1997; the delegation had suggested that the same system of education should be replicated. The UGC delegation visited the University in September 2008 made a similar remark, unofficial though. The delegations remark was that “what we see here is exceptional and must be replicated. This place does not need our support; we need the support of the University”.

Divulging the conference schedule that was divided into four parts, the Vice Chancellor said, the conference would deal with  panel discussions on (1) quintessence of ethics, (2) Behaviour and Structure of Financial Institution, (3) Role of the Government and Regulatory Authorities and (4) Role of Education.

Thanking Bhagawan and Prof. Pandit profusely for the wonderful opportunity given, the RBI Governor, Dr. Duvvuri Subba Rao, in his key-note address confessed that he had not dwelled upon the subject of reference much in detail before. Calling the subject of reference as relevant in the present time in the face of economic crisis, he said all of us face ethical struggle in our daily lives. Conceding to the point that financial sector scores less ethical values, Mr. Rao opined that the sector was a reflection of society and ethics could be brought fostering a value system in society at large.

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Referring to the global financial crisis he said, the crisis brought a massive breakdown of trust in the entire institution. Banking sector is in the hands of government and government cannot afford to fail the institution. If the bank is a success share holders and management will be benefited and when the bank loses the public are the worst sufferers, be it banking or any other financial institution. Banking and Financial sector share the conscience of obligation that they have in the larger interest of the society, said Dr. Rao.

Concluding his speech the Governor listed out the ethical dimensions of Reserve Bank of India, listing the bank’s roles and responsibilities being the guardians of nation’s financial security.

The high-profile guest of honour’s subject oriented lecture spreading across the essentials of financial fabric, intertwined with illustrations and examples was a treatise of relishing treat for the audience especially for the students from the University.

The next speaker, the Ex-Governor of RBI, Mr. Y. Venugopal Reddy, delivering the “invited lecture” sent out a barrage of questions with reference to the recent global financial crisis.  Referring to some of the “Questionable Practices” that could have caused to spur the crisis Mr. Reddy drew the audiences’ attention unto the previous crisis in the early nineties. Listing out the consequences thereon, Mr. Reddy sounded interrogative as to whether the present crisis would bring similar consequences. Speaking about values, morals and ethics versus market and government, he said the world of finance is a different ball game and is entirely based on Trust. He ended his speech quoting Mahatma Gandhi, there is enough in this world to meet the needs of everybody but there is not enough to meet the greed of even a single person.

The last speaker for the session was Mr. S.V.Giri, formerly Vigilance Commissioner of India and the 6th Vice Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai University. Hi speech was mainly on the topic as to how the foundations of character building were laid through activities like Grama Seva and the like. Summing up the morning session he highlighted the five cardinal human values descibing them as pillars of Sanathana Dharma.

The participants for the Conference are, Dr. Duvvuri Subba Rao, Governor, RBI, Dr. Y.Venugopal Reddy, Ex-Governor, RBI, 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.

The inaugural session was attended by the students and staff of Sri Sathya Sai University, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus along with scores of other dignitaries.

Back in the mandir, Bhajan was on and it was noon arathi at 12:20 pm. Bhagawan, upon retiring to Yajur Mandiram, came to the mandir at 12:10 pm to grand a special audience to Dr. Duvvuri Subba Rao, Governor, RBI. Arathi was offered at 12:20 pm upon which Bhagawan retired to Yajur Mandiram.