Social enterprises needed to reduce this, says Harish Hande

H. Harish Hande, Magsaysay Award-winner and Managing Director of SELCO Solar Lights Pvt. Ltd., said on Saturday that the naxalite problem in parts of the country was the result of a growing gap between the rich and poor.

He was speaking at a seminar on “Creation of social enterprises to meet community needs” held as part of a function to felicitate retired banker K.M. Udupa here.

Mr. Hande said that social enterprises were needed to reduce inequality. Some politicians and economists had the wrong notion that urbanisation was the answer to the problems faced by the country. Rural development should be given more importance as 75 per cent of the population still lived in rural areas. Creation of jobs in rural areas was important.

The future of the youth was in rural areas. Proper use of water, energy efficiency, and modern farm techniques should be given importance. “We got Independence in 1947. Now the country should aim at energy independence,” he said.

A business enterprise of any entrepreneur should first benefit society, then his/her employees and later himself. Entrepreneurs should give importance not merely to profits but also to environmental sustainability and social sustainability. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was promoting the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. One of the objectives of this mission was to encourage banks to provide loans for solar lighting. Former Chairman of Malaprabha Grameena Bank K.M. Udupa had done this work effectively a couple of decades ago. He was the first to provide loans for solar lamps. But his achievement had gone unrecognised, Mr. Hande said.

Speaking at a seminar on “Agriculture in coastal districts,” S.B. Dandin, Vice-Chancellor of Horticulture University, Bagalkot, said that integrated farming should be encouraged in coastal districts. Value addition should be done to horticultural crops. Children should be taught about agriculture and horticulture in schools, he said.

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