Corporates fear AIDS may cost India its manpower edge

June 13th, 2008 - 9:13 pm ICT by IANS  


Mumbai, June 13 (IANS) Corporate honchos have expressed concern at the high incidence of AIDS among the country’s youth and cautioned that the scourge should not cost India its competitive edge in skilled manpower. At a day-long seminar here Friday organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), executive director (strategy and business development) of Tata Power Company and CII western region chief Banmali Agrawala said that India was in a Catch-22 situation, “with a mammoth skilled manpower on one hand and an epidemic of AIDS among youth”.

“We should not and cannot afford to lose the competitive advantage of having skilled workforce to the epidemic of AIDS just because the figures have come down from 5.2 million to 2.5 million. We cannot be complacent,” said Agrawala.

The seminar “HIV/AIDS: Business Response to Prevention Care and Treatment” under “Project-Access to Care and Treatment” was attended by panellists from the corporate sector who shared their experiences about prevention, care and treatment regarding the disease in the corporate sector.

T. Rajgopal, vice president (medical and occupational health) of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, said: “Each one teach one is the workplace policy that should be adopted to create awareness about HIV-AIDS. With master trainers and peer educators, awareness can be extended to employees and beyond.”

He said that though there were no pre-employment tests for HIV-AIDS prescribed, a detailed policy was needed for the industry, especially in the unorganised sector and support of NGOs in such interventions.

He was of the opinion that the pre-employment tests “should be voluntary and not coercive”.

ACC Ltd corporate communications and corporate social responsibility head R. Nand Kumar stressed the need of building centres for treatment of HIC-AIDS “since it directly affects the productivity of the workforce”.

Bajaj Auto Ltd vice-president (corporate) C.P. Tripathi said that setting up of treatment and rehabilitation centres “was a corporate obligation to the community at large. Not only employees but the society at large is also our responsibility”.

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