(13th April 2012 at IMT Manesar )
We have gathered here today on a very auspicious day. Today happens to be Baisakhi. My very warm Baisakhi greetings to all of you and the people of Haryana
This Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs has been conceived as a think-tank and research institute in the area of corporate law and allied disciplines, and also as a training organization for officers of the Indian Company Law Service. I compliment the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for this very important initiative. With such an auspicious beginning to its new campus, I am confident that the institute will live up to the expectations with which it has been established.
The last two decades have been times of great change for our country and more so for this blessed state of Haryana. In this period, our economy has grown at unprecedented high rates. Haryana has led the growth. The corporate sector has been one of the major drivers of this high economic growth. It has also made a mark internationally and many of our companies today have global ambitions.
Our corporate sector has also expanded rapidly in size, commensurate with the growth of our economy. I am told that in the year 1956, the year in which the Companies Act came into force, we had about 30 thousand registered companies. Today, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has about 9 lakh companies on its rolls.
The corporate sector will continue to make a very important contribution to the processes of nation building. Therefore, it must be our continuous endeavour to provide our companies a non-cumbersome, customer friendly and transparent regulatory environment to enable them to function efficiently and productively, to contribute to our economic development and also to fulfill their social obligations.
Our government stands committed to providing an environment which is conducive to enterprise and growth of entrepreneurship, an environment which will facilitate rapid economic growth and higher living standards. We are committed to having a regulatory and policy environment which will unleash the creative energies of our people and will fulfill the expectations of our founding fathers of our republic. If this is to happen, as it must happen, we must focus more on the future. We must adjust our systems, rules, procedures and processes of administration to meet the needs that would arise in the years to come. We must, therefore, constantly look over the horizon and plan for solutions in advance to emerging challenges.
It is in this context that the think-tank role of this institute becomes extremely important. Corporate laws need to be periodically reviewed and amendments effected. New thinking is required in important areas such as investor education and protection, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and competition law. The tremendous potential of MCA-21, the e-governance initiative of the Ministry, needs to be fully exploited. Also, in view of the increasing importance of small unlisted companies and new formats such as limited liability partnerships, the Ministry needs to develop new oversight structures and enabling frameworks.
I expect the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs to fulfil this role and be of benefit to the corporate sector, the micro, small and medium enterprises, professional bodies such as Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Cost Accountants of India and Institute of Company Secretaries of India, investors and depositors, trade bodies, and domestic and international educational and professional institutes.
It should strive to offer services and solutions to its stakeholders in diverse areas such as corporate law, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, accounting standards, e-governance, training of professionals and investor education. It should evolve to meet international standards in all its activities, in consonance with the expanding global footprint of Indian business entities.
I am happy to know that the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs has helped in the formulation of the "National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business". These guidelines are not prescriptive but voluntary in nature as they shall be. They urge businesses to embrace an approach whereby their financial performance can be harmonized with the expectations of society at large.
I commend my Cabinet colleague Dr. M Veerappa Moily on the setting-up of the National Corporate Social Responsibility Foundation, as a division within the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs. This would help our country to take a leadership position in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility. I am confident that Indian companies and businesses can set global examples of how the corporate sector can contribute towards the achievement of equity, distributive justice and overall inclusive growth.
The Companies Bill, presently under consideration of our Parliament, seeks to provide a further fillip to the cause of Corporate Social Responsibility, corporate governance and investor protection. I expect the Bill to be passed shortly.
Let me end by once again complimenting all those who have contributed to the setting up of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs. I hope that the institute will emerge as a centre of excellence in the time to come. I wish it all success.