MNCs in Rural India: At a Turning Point
A "symbiotic relationship" is how Sanjeev Chadha, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo India, describes the work that the food and beverage multinational undertakes with thousands of farmers across India. "We help them with progressive farming techniques and they are of huge benefit to us in securing a reliable supply chain," he says. Some observers would call what Pepsi is doing corporate social responsibility (CSR); others more cynically might say it's simply another example of multinational corporations (MNCs) trying to figure out how to make inroads in India's challenging, but potentially lucrative rural market.
Whatever the words used by executives like Chadha for such initiatives, it is impossible to discuss multinational strategies in rural India without mentioning CSR. In its various forms, it is a critical part of their rural growth plans, often out of sheer necessity. Filling the gaps left by government, MNCs have built roads in rural India that help them deliver their goods, provided education and health care for communities whose workforces they rely upon, and implemented environmental programs to protect precious natural resources needed to keep supply chains running smoothly.
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