Thursday, July 21, 2005

Rural development through companies

It is that time of the year in India when companies publish their financial results. Financial results means that I end up getting few annual reports. A glance through some of them, showed how companies are trying to be more than just a profit making venture. I mean the social activities of companies and how they are working to give back to society. I did some research on it and here is a broad picture. Infosys, has its Infosys foundation. Wipro works through the Azim Premji Foundation. ITC through its e-choupal and other schemes reaches out the villages. Amul (though not a listed entity) is known for its work in the villages. M&M, HLL, Tatas have all tried to better the lot of the villagers through various initiatives. Reliance, is also there as are the Navaratna PSU's like Indianoil, BHEL, and so on. This list is by no means exhaustive and I am sure there are many such projects.

Most successful companies seem, on the face of it atleast, to be giving back some measure of contribution to the society. I personally think that these companies would be a lot better in targetted spending that improves the lot of people holistically, than do most government ventures. Government funds today are routed through the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme MPLAD (which is being tightened these days) or through the bureaucracy, which is perhaps not the most leakproof method in our country known for corruption. Is there a way, then, that the government can involve these companies and improve the lot of rural underprivileged?

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