Invest in social sectors, PM urges Indian industry

March 26th, 2011 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Ahmedabad, March 26 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday urged Indian industry to invest in social sectors, pointing out there were many business opportunities in keeping a billion Indians well fed, healthy and educated and providing them employment would create one of the world’s largest consumer markets.

Delivering the convocation address at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, he said there were a number of areas in which industry can work on its own and in partnership with government to advance societal value in its own long-term interest.

“There is much that industry can do both through increased direct investment in education, health, skill development and rural and urban sanitation through corporate social responsibility programmes,” he said.

“The pace of reform in India will depend on how far our policies meet the test of democratic consensus and take into account the vulnerabilities of different sections of our population. Companies undertaking greenfield projects cannot see their factories and units as oases, cut off from the needs and interests of the community around them. We need to work out more effective mechanisms and principles for the use of land and other resources that reconcile different interests,” he said.

He said that 2011 marked the twentieth anniversary of the launch of economic reforms in India.

“I had the privilege of addressing the institute’s convocation in 1994 in the early days of our reform process. The path was new; the challenges were formidable; the outcomes were uncertain. But our resolve was strong and our goals were clear,” he said.

The prime minister said that the economic reforms of 1991 were aimed at unleashing the animal spirits of Indian enterprise and the well-springs of Indian creativity.

“Today, the success of the reforms is evident. We have long since left behind the era of modest savings, low investment and low growth. India is today among the world’s fastest growing economies. Our savings and investment rates give us confidence that we can, with prudent policies and sound economic management, achieve sustained double-digit growth,” he added.

Expressing satisfaction at India’s resilience to external economic shocks, he said that India was among the best performing economies during the recent economic crisis.

“Our foreign exchange reserves are substantial. Our industry and services sectors have modernised and diversified in an unprecedented manner. We are emerging as a global centre for information technology, research, development and innovation. India has gradually become one of the most preferred global destinations for foreign investors,” he added.

The prime minister underlined that India’s global competitiveness will depend on continued ability to produce top quality manpower at all levels of the knowledge pyramid in adequate numbers.

“The needs are enormous and the government will do its part to facilitate investment in these areas,” he added.

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