FM to tell CEOs: Tone down lavish lifestyle
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Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to call a meeting of a dozen top industrialists soon to underline to them that an "ostentatious lifestyle" by CEOs does not reflect well especially when 37.2 per cent of the Indian population is still below the poverty line.
Tarun Das, President of Aspen Institute, India, and former chief mentor of the Confederation of Indian Industry, the most powerful corporate lobby in India, told The Indian Express that this was suggested to the Finance Minister in a recent meeting he had with corporate leaders ahead of the Group of 20 meeting.
"Narayana Murthy (Infosys Technologies Founder-Chairman NR Narayana Murthy) too agrees with me that corporate CEOs must refrain from making a show of their wealth. I think the FM will soon call a meeting."
Earlier, in September 2009, Mukherjee had launched an austerity drive within the government to save resources following insufficient rains across the country. He asked ministers to travel economy class and put curbs on seminars and conferences in five-star hotels. He himself flew budget carriers and all in the government fell over each other to prove their austere way of life.
According to Das, a politician of Mukherjee's stature will be taken seriously by India Inc. "People in India think the corporate sector is not doing enough for the society," he said. It was time, for instance, that the top 10 Indian corporates set aside Rs 1,000 crore each for providing safe water, good quality education and medical facilities for the poor, he said.
"More than money, the corporate sector has the management skills to execute programmes without leakages. They must join the government in its efforts," Das said.