President Pratibha Patil on Monday asked India Inc. to set up a dedicated fund to promote entrepreneurship among farmers and participate earnestly in rural development.

“...Corporates Houses can consider setting up a dedicated fund for entrepreneurship development and capacity building among farmers and involve NGOs in these efforts,” she said, giving away the National Corporate Awards.

Corporates could look at synergies between industry and agriculture, she said, adding that the concept is to develop agriculture and industry as “two well-balanced wheels of the economy.”

The business world, Ms. Patil said, “must also have an intrinsic interest in fulfilling its social responsibility, that seeks to address the interests of not only shareholders, but also of stakeholders and meet the national objective of inclusive growth.”

She said IT companies could supplement the efforts of the government to connect every village by setting up ICT kiosks in villages.

She also asked corporate India to voluntarily come forward to partner with the government in mission mode to ensure basic infrastructure facilities in rural areas, like schools, health facilities, roads, drinking water and electrification.

The President said India was able to maintain a healthy growth rate even in the face of an unfavourable economic condition in the world.

“Our capacity to ward off, to a large extent, the adverse impacts of the global financial crisis, were due to the timely stimulus measures taken by the government, our well regulated financial markets, as well as our strong domestic demand,” Ms. Patil said.

After registering 9 per cent growth in three preceding years, the economy impacted by the global financial crisis could manage a 6.7 per cent growth in the last fiscal.

In the first quarter of the current fiscal, the economy grew by 6.1 per cent. However, in the second quarter, the growth rate rose to 7.9 per cent.

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