Speech of The Corporate Affairs Minister
On the Concluding function of “India Corporate Week -2009” On 21-12-2009, at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi
Your Excellency, the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, Shri Bandyopadhyay, Secretary, Corporate Affairs, Dr.Swati Piramal, Pesident, ASSOCHAM, Shri Harsh Pati Singhania, President, FICCI, Shri Hari Bhartia, President Designate, CII, Shri Chandrajit Banerjee, DG, NFCG, Dr. Rangarajan, former Governor, Reserve Bank of India, Shri Rahul Bajaj, Shri Venugopal Dhoot, distinguished leaders from the corporate world, worthy Professionals, Ladies and Gentlemen.
We have gathered here today for the concluding function of the ‘India Corporate Week, 2009’ celebration in which over 200 events were held all over the country. India Corporate Week is a unique initiative of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to showcase the contribution of the corporate sector in social and economic development of our country, the important role played by the Professionals in effective functioning of the corporate sector as also the initiatives of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs towards providing an enabling environment to the corporate sector for exponential growth.
Corporate India has grown from strength to strength ever since the process of economic reform was started during the eighties under the able leadership of the then Finance Minister and now the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Man Mohan Singh. The growth of corporate sector has also made significant contribution in taking the benefits of development to a larger sections of the society. Having seen a sustained period of high growth rate in the current decade and having withstood the jolt of the global financial crisis successfully, the corporate sector in India has a bright future ahead. Of course, there are a number of challenges to be addressed.
On the one hand, we have urgent development concerns like poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition etc. that remain the cause of the non-inclusion of a significant section of our people from the welfare mainstream. On the other hand, we have global challenges like climate change which raise a question about the long term sustainability of human kind. The scale of these challenges warrant a collaborative solution in which the Government, the business sector, the civil society organizations and the common citizens need to partner. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs is addressing these issues by providing an enabling environment in which the corporate sector can not only grow and flourish but also bring more and more sections of the society within its value-generation process. It is with this objective in view that the Ministry has chosen the theme of India Corporate Week , 2009 as “Corporate Sector and Inclusive Growth”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility are the two mechanisms through which this objective can be suitably and effectively addressed. In the context of long term sustainability of business, the current thinking has blurred the distinction between the Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility and they have become a part of what is often referred to as Responsible Business. Nevertheless, Corporate Governance is referred to as a set of Rules, Regulations and Practices that guide the governance of the affairs of a company in a manner that makes the business ethical, transparent and accountable to its shareholders. On the other hand, the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility guide the governance of a company in such a manner that businesses become accountable to the stakeholders beyond the ownership of the business.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs feels that the existing set of Corporate Governance Framework needs to be taken to a higher level through a set of voluntary guidelines that ensure greater level of accountability to the shareholders. In this direction, the Ministry is releasing the Voluntary Guidelines on Corporate Governance that will help companies strengthen their internal governance processes. While drafting these guidelines, the recommendations of the Task Force headed by Dr.Naresh Chandra and the feedback and the comments received from stakeholders were taken into account. The Ministry is also releasing the Voluntary Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility, which is the first attempt of the Government in this direction. We have had the benefit of the existing CSR Guidelines of FICCI and CII as also the report of the Expert Group set up under the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs who examined the global best practices and recommended voluntary guidelines suited to the Indian context.
While releasing these two Voluntary Guidelines, we are confident that the business sector will come forward and incrementally adopt them in its governance and management. With the Indian corporate entities creating a bigger and deeper global footprint, I am sure that they will also assume the leadership role towards responsible business. We will look forward to responses and comments on these guidelines and expert to refine them further as we gather experience of their efficacy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we feel that the adoption of these guidelines by the business sector will enhance the process through which the benefit of value generation flows to a larger sections of society. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have the gracious blessings of Her Excellency today as we tale a big step in our efforts towards connecting the Aam Aadmi to the process of development of the business sector. I must share with you that when I had met Her Excellency to request her to bless this occasion, the first thing that she emphasized was that the Ministry should work to relate the business sector with the development of farming community in India. While we look forward to the address of Her Excellency where, I am sure, she will give her invaluable guidance to us, we must appreciate the deep concern that Her Excellency has with the issues of development for persons at the bottom of pyramid. Before I close, I must express my gratitude to Her Excellency for having blessed us today and on behalf of the all of you, I assure her that we will work tirelessly to address the national development issues through enlightened functioning of the corporate sector.