Mindful production is as important as mindful consumption: Philip Kotler

Kotler lauded the altruistic efforts of the world in the pandemic, saying that 'a number of forces are gathering to believe and support the common good'
“The common good is to help people lead a more fruitful and meaningful life,” said Philip Kotler, renowned author, consultant, and the S. C. Johnson& Son Distinguished Professor at the Kellogg School of Management. Lauding the efforts of Indians and the world in coming together to help their fellow citizens in trying times, he said, “People who were fortunate to have their needs met cared about the needs for others.” Kotler laid down the fact that the world always has problems but some of the prominent problems, according to him, are COVID-19, hunger, and climate change.
He explained that the world must turn its attention to hurricanes, floods, wildfires, droughts, extreme heat. “We, through greenhouse gases, are warming up the earth, and that means the ice is melting in the Polar Regions which in turn will bring flooding to all the cities that are in the coastal areas.” He added that citizens must look consciously at mindful consumption and reduction.

He warned that the health of people is being sacrificed slowly as they are eating too much.

However, he went on to describe five groups of people in whom he has detected concern. “One is the group called sane food eaters—people who’ve decided not to eat meat. The second group comprises de-growth activists who believe we’re spending too much time growing the world’s economy.”

He declared that a marketer is experiencing a professional crisis. Kotler said that the job of a marketer before climate change became apparent was to ensure people buy and eat more.

“Wear more clothes and have more pairs of shoes endlessly, and therefore how do you square that with the idea of a world that has hunger and an insufficient number of jobs? So as a marketer, I say, I don’t want to help every country sell more cigarettes. The point is that the crisis is not apparent yet to the marketers but they’re going to be asking themselves: what’s the purpose of what they’re doing? Is it to get growth for growth’s sake without spreading it well?” Kotler bemoaned.

Kotler then described the third group called life simplifiers who think that there’s too much stuff in our homes: “They would like to get rid of it. It is part of a movement called the sharing society. Why should I buy an automobile when my friend next door has an automobile and we can use it together? There are climate activists who think the planet is getting so hot that they’ve got to change their behaviour. And a lot of others are what I call conservationists.”

He urged everyone to follow a conservation ethic where we are not making new cars every year with minor tweaks in order to sell more automobiles. Why don’t we get more basic about what the country needs to the world economy needs to make.

He batted for a model of mindful production to be adopted by businesses. “Businesses must have its eye on waste; an intelligent and a smart business firm will check into their suppliers and they will not use suppliers who are wasteful or who are careless about mindful production.

He spoke about his interest in social values. He said that in addition to COVID, hunger, climate change, one must also focus on inequality and racism or ethnic discrimination. “It is true that there’s been so much redistribution going on now. Redistribution is what we want. Don’t we? We want the wealth to be fair around the world but instead the distribution is concentrated up, not down as the rich are getting richer. The working class is still where it was. It is not paid a living wage,” Kotler lamented.

He shed light on his interest in Nordic countries when he pondered over the question of a good society. The countries happened to be Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. Most of these countries rank in the top for happiness which in turn translates to good wellbeing. When he prodded deeper into the cause for this phenomenon, he found that the reason is very simple—it is built on the back of an excellent health system and free college education.

“The next thing would be good childcare from pre-kindergarten through K-12 paying attention to children. I find the model of Nordic countries very simple: ‘Let’s just raise our taxes and not have the worries that hurt our health and our wellbeing,’” he added. He elaborated upon his association with the World Happiness Foundation of which he is a part. The organization is creating centres and communities around the world to talk about happiness and help people think positively about things. “The model is there in the Nordic societies, and it can be done by any state.”

He said he was optimistic as a “number of forces are gathering to believe and support the common good.”

“We’re going back to the idea that Jeremy Benton in 1780, around the time that the Wealth of Nations was written (1776), said:‘I believe in the happiness principle and I’m going to use it as a utilitarian. My philosophy is utilitarianism.’ When we vote on a proposal, we must look at good not only for ourselves or for my family or for my city or state but also good for the people involved. If I’m choosing between two proposals, which one will create net happiness because most proposals if passed are to make some people unhappy but if a proposal is going to make more people happy than unhappy, it’s a good proposal.”

Kotler concluded that most of the social movements in the world — like the women’s, the consumer, the labor, the environmental — are all for the common good. But there are people who do not like these things because their power is diminished by these movements.

“The common good is that more people are happy with a said proposal if it were successful than more people unhappy. It is my guideline for developing my principles and ideas.” Kotler was speaking at The RISE World Summit 2021, a unique 36-hour Virtual Relay Conference organized by RISE Infinity Foundation and Idobro Impact Solutions, which saw over 1,120 attendees from across 55 countries and 8 time zones.

Studded with a wide array of distinguished speakers and guests, the summit’s closing plenary saw some big-ticket names like Amitabh Kant, CEO, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog; and Bishow Parajuli, Representative and Country Director –United Nations World Food Programme, among others.
The comprehensive global-relay programme was in partnership with knowledge partners including The Lewis Institute and Babson Social Innovation Lab, USA, Country Partners – Swedish Consulate in Mumbai and the Japan Consulate in Mumbai, Programme partners – KrushakMitra Agro, SEED, Swedish Institute, NTT and over 60 visionary partners from across the globe.

The event was curated with an aim to explore impact-driven interventions and innovations through global partnerships and the idea is to make the 2020s the ‘Decade of Action’ to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. The conference was a platform for world pioneers to initiate conversations with the four big stakeholder groups — Governments, Corporates, NGOs and Academia.

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