Congress president and chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Sonia Gandhi on Monday sought greater collaboration between the corporate world, civil society and the government, to bring about speedier development of India’s social sector.
Speaking at a plenary session on "Meeting India's New Expectations" at the India Economic Summit (IES), Gandhi noted that even as India had modernised and achieved success in the global economy, it "still faces some formidable challenges."
These include "age-old problems" such as the lack of primary healthcare and nutrition, as well as new concerns such as HIV/AIDS and terrorism.
"There are many Indias," Gandhi remarked. "There is the India of bustling growth and the India of widespread want. There is the India of self-confidence and the India burdened by unequal history and unequal opportunity. The economic growth we are experiencing must not be at the cost of social awareness and social responsibility."
"We talk about public-private partnerships; but why not public-civil society alliances in the area of social infrastructure?" she asked.
She agreed that private companies had made "outstanding contributions" to social development, but added, "there is need for a more meaningful commitment which can and will make a real difference."
Primary education, health and nutrition were the major areas where the collaboration between the industry, government and civil society could yield good results.
Responding to Gandhi's address, CII president and managing director of Ashok Leyland, R Seshasayee said "the private sector will play its role in the transformation of the country."
Gandhi also presented the 2006 India Social Entrepreneur of the Year award to Vikram Akula, Founder and CEO of SKS Microfinance Private Limited, on behalf of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
Gaurav Choudhury Email: email@example.com