Should we be celebrating the individual wealth of a 100 Indians in a country where more than 75 percent of people earn less than Rs. 20 a day? It’s a tricky issue. I confess I don’t have an answer. But what I do know is that there is a huge opportunity for Indian business leaders to help in building a more just, humane and equitable society.
Over the past few months, my colleagues and I have had a number of conversations with senior business leaders about the changing role of business in society. We’ve found a deep recognition of the fact that the government alone cannot solve the kind of complex issues our society faces.
There is also a growing awareness that driving systemic change isn’t just about writing out a cheque to contribute to a cause. It is just the first step. As individuals, entrepreneurs and business organisations, there’s a lot that we can do to bring our wisdom and skills to make business a force of good in society.
In this issue, you’ll find some discussion on the changing role of business in society — and how business leaders can show the way in constructively using their wealth. The 100 Richest Indians
, who belong to an exclusive Forbes India club, have a responsibility that’s perhaps even more onerous. They are the champions of entrepreneurial capitalism.
Now, they have the opportunity to become role models for conscious capitalism.
And it goes well beyond just grafting notions of corporate social responsibility inside today’s organisation. After all, as management guru C.K. Prahalad put it, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is at best a transition stage for a company. “That’s where you learn that there is more to business than just profit maximisation… The real stage of development is when this becomes the mission of the company… not something you do once in a while.”
As a magazine, we’ll be watching this transition closely because it will have a profound impact on our lives. We’ll love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
(This story appears in the 04 December, 2009 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)