Kamal Nath invites corporates to unlock potential of rural India

 
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Gurgaon, Jan 16 (UNI) Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today invited the private sector to partner the government in unlocking the potential of rural market to achieve the objective of inclusive growth in the country.

"By partnering us in the development process, you will be unlocking a market that has been estimated at over 170 billion dollar by international agencies," he said at the Partnership Summit here.

He called upon the corporates to capitalise on this opportunity to provide productive and constructive direction to the reform process.

Underlining the need to empower the poor of India by providing basic necessities such as shelter, education, health and jobs, he said though the government has provided a 31 per cent rise in rural infrastructure expenditure in the current budget and broadened the availability of farm credit, yet there is a long way to go to achieving the objective of inclusive growth.

Quoting a recent McKinsey study, the Minister said per capita income in rural India is almost 30 per cent less than the national average. This explains why most of our businesses, jobs, products and processes are urban-centric.

To ensure inclusive growth, he urged companies to develop new price points and set up alternative supply chains to address rural needs. "You will need to develop durable relationships with NGOs, self help groups and micro finance institutions to penetrate rural India." Mr Nath also urged corporates to innovate to unearth wealth in rural India. He cited the case of a leading private sector Indian bank in expanding its rural network by setting up automated teller machines in villages and providing credit and deposit facilities to millions of Indians who had limited access to financial institutions. Besides, the e-chaupal experience has been well documented,he added.

He said inclusive growth can also be achieved by training the young in acquiring skills, adding this will give the country a huge competitive advantage by raising per capita incomes and reducing dependency ratios.

With half the population under the age of twenty-five, he said India already has the youngest labour force in the world and will have more young workers aged 20 to 24 by 2013.

The successful management of demographics, he said, will help unlock the growth potential of the country.

Hungary Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president Sunil Bharti Mittal, and representatives of Sri Lanka, Singapore, UK, Ethiopia, Australia, Syria, South Africa, Japan, UAE, El Salvador and Ontario participated in the summit.

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