Standing up for India Inc, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said he does not believe in the culture of criticising industry and corporates who he believes are doing exemplary social work alongside their business.
Modi also wanted citizens to not just pay their taxes honestly but do their bit for social transformation.
"In our country, the general image is to abuse businessmen, industrialists. I don't know why it is so but it has become a fashion. This is not a line of thought I agree with," Modi said, addressing IT professionals and tech honchos in a townhall where he urged technology companies to contribute their expertise and manpower to bring social change.
"We have seen today, in this townhall programme, how leading IT corporates are doing excellent social work, urging their employees to contribute to the society," he added.
This is the second time that Modi has stood up for corporate India. In July, Modi had stated that he was not scared to be seen with industrialists as his conscience was clear and that they too had contributed to the development of the country.
Modi said under his government, more people are paying taxes because they have faith that their money is being used properly, but advocated a 'tax-plus one' system where citizens do a little more towards society besides honestly paying taxes.
Modi said the future lies in technology, which should be used to develop solutions for issues facing the world's fastest growing economy.
With the recent spike in international oil prices creating a mini-panic on retail fuel prices in the country, Modi said moving to electric vehicles is an answer and wanted domestic social entrepreneurs to develop a low-cost model that is supported by affordable and easily chargeable battery.
At the event, IT companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant, Tech Mahindra and Mindtree showcased the social transformation efforts being undertaken by them and their employees and pledged their support to the newly launched initiative 'self4society'.
The new portal 'self4society.mygov.in' -- named as 'Main Nahi Hum' -- will act as a platform for companies to contribute their technology, skills and HR resources towards various social causes, including financial literacy, financial inclusion, small business enablement, and Swachh Bharat.
As many as 85 IT companies which employ 2 million people have already registered themselves on the platform.
Modi said the taxpayer base in India has risen not due to threat of penal action but because taxpayers have faith that their money is being used properly and for the welfare of people.
"Paying tax is 'prakriti' (natural), not paying tax is 'vikriti' (deformity). But paying tax plus doing more is 'sanskriti' (culture)," he said.
"I appreciate honest taxpayers whose numbers have increased. But the tax that is paid is part of the system. Social service is tax-plus something. We need to create that," Modi said.
During 2017-18 fiscal, the direct tax to GDP ratio of 5.98 per cent has been the best in the last 10 years. There is a growth of more than 80 per cent in the number of returns filed in the last four financial years from 37.9 million in FY 2013-14 (base year) to 6.85 crore in FY 2017-18, according to the Finance Ministry.
Modi further said volunteering efforts by the tech companies could bring about transformation in various sectors, including agriculture.
Youngsters must venture out and work for the welfare of farmers, he said, and appealed to hard-working farmers to embrace drip irrigation.
Emphasising that saving natural resources was a collective responsibility, Modi said, "We have become very careless when it comes to consumption of water. We need to conserve water and recycle water too."
Modi said the symbol of the Swachh Bharat Mission is the spectacles of Mahatma Gandhi, who is the inspiration for a clean India. "We are fulfilling Bapu's vision," he said.
"On many occasions, what sarkar (government) can't do, sanskar (culture) can do. Let us make cleanliness a part of our value systems," he said as he asked citizens and the tech community to think how they can add value to society through social efforts.
Governments may have schemes and budgets but the success of any initiative lies in public involvement, he said. "I am sure people want to work for others, they want to serve society and bring a positive difference," Modi pointed out.
The townhall was attended by corporate bigwigs and industry leaders like Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, Nasscom President Debjani Ghosh, NIIT Technologies Vice Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Thakur and Indian Cellular Association National President, Pankaj Mohindroo.
Among others, Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy participated through video conferencing.