The HT Leadership Summit 2005 got off to a flying start in Delhi on November 15. The theme this is 'Building a Better Future'. Delivering her welcome address, HT Media Ltd Vice-Chairperson Shobhana Bhartia said, "Global events impact India now more than ever before, like any other truly globalised economy." This set the tone for the discussions and sessions through the day.
Delivering his key note address Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh stressed on the need for "walking on two legs – of equity and efficiency" to take the nation forward towards a sustainable path of development.
"If we do not pay attention to the questions of equity and social justice and allow only market forces and individual enterprise to thrive, we will be pursuing a socially and politically unsustainable path of development," Singh said.
Pledging full support to the growth of private enterprise as part of national development, which he described as a challenge before the country, Singh stressed upon the need to give rural India a "better deal".
No region of the country could claim quality of life in its rural areas, he observed, candidly adding that "the physical and social infrastructure of rural India has to catch up with urban India".
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi also stressed on civil society and gender justice. She said, "For building a better future, without any doubt faster economic growth is essential. Clearly, enhanced investment in economic, social and physical infrastructure is crucial… But in addition to all this, I believe we need to give a whole new momentum to public action."
In a brief question and answer session that followed her speech, Gandhi for the first time opened up about the Volcker report on the Oil-for food scam and expressed her anger over the involvement of some 'Congressmen' in it. "Swift action will be taken against those guilty. If those documents are found authentic, I will not protect anyone who is guilty. We can no longer look the other way when such things take place," she stressed.
Gandhi didn't fail to take a dig at the media when she remarked, "Good news in media is rarely news. In fact, it probably means bad business for media," amid peals of laughter. "You have to be in the business, and we are the provider of the business… But it is good if the media forget this basic rule once in a while," she advised the Fourth Estate.
The Opening session was on 'Entering the Fortune 500: How do Indian companies go global?' Charlotte Crosswell, Head, Nasdaq International and M Damodaram, Chairman, Sebi took part in the session with Ravi Narain, Managing Director and CEO, National Stock Exchange as the moderator. Crosswell explained how corporations can survive and prosper in an increasingly competitive world.
The afternoon session saw a keynote speech by former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore, who is now the Goodwill Ambassador, UNICEF, on 'Investing in children is the key to a better future'.
The second keynote speech of the session was delivered by William S Cohen, former US Secretary of Defence on 'The perils and promise of a new world'.
Anita Roddick, former Chairperson, Body Shop and Sumil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group Managing Director Director, Bharti Enterprises had a lively debate in the session titles 'Can shareholders' value and service to society co-exist?" Omkar Goswami was the moderator.
The afternoon session with a keynote speech by L K Advani, the BJP President and Leader of the Opposition.