Government Reaches out to Corporate India to Participate in Improving Livelihood of Tribals

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NEW DELHI: In a first major initiative of involving corporate India in developmental work, the Government of India has sought its partnership in setting up the Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation (BRLF). Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has written letters to corporates like Tatas, Reliance, Wipro and Infosys to join the Foundation as contributing partners, to improve the livelihood of tribals, mostly living in Central and Eastern India. Public sector NABARD and the National Dairy Development Board have also been roped in.

“We have called a meeting on April 27 in New Delhi of all the stake holders, including corporates, civil society organizations and grass root level activists to discuss various aspects of the Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation” said Mr. Ramesh, during his informal interaction with media in Mumbai today. The Minister said that the BRLF will be set up with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crores. “Government of India will contribute Rs 500 crores, while the rest will come from other partners.” he added.

The latest proposal, evolved jointly by the Ministry of Rural Development and the Planning Commission, envisages a concerted effort by the Centre, the State governments concerned, and civil society to transform the lives of the tribals, living in 170 districts, of which nearly 78 have been affected by Naxal violence and have not seen any development.

The government hopes that such initiatives will promote inclusive growth by taking the fruits of development to the tribal population living in remote areas. Since these tribals have remained mostly excluded from the benefits of growth, they have become vulnerable to Maoist propaganda.

Asked about why the corporate should come forward to contribute, Mr. Jairam Ramesh replied that participation in BRLF will deepen their Corporate Social Responsibility activity, besides earning goodwill.

The Rural Development Minister clarified that BRLF will not be a government body, and instead run on professional lines, with a Chairman and a full time CEO. “In its structure and composition, it will be similar to the Public Health Foundation of India, chaired by N R Narayan Murthy,” said Mr. Ramesh.

Asserting that all the concerned State Governments are already on board, the Minister said the Foundation will focus on strengthening local level institutions, developing adivasi leadership and spreading the Self-Help Group movement.

The foundation will support developmental activities in the areas of watershed management, dairy, fisheries, agriculture, forestry, skill-development, among others.

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