It is both with a sense of pride and profound sadness that I write to you today at avery solemn moment in the Company's history. A deep sense of honour as I embark on ajourney to lead this exemplary Company as its Chairman & MD and yet at a time when wegrieve the loss of a guiding light for the ITC family of stakeholders our former ChairmanMr YC Deveshwar.
Undoubtedly Mr Deveshwar's memory will be cherished for long with respect andreverence for the legendary stewardship he provided to ITC's remarkable voyage oftransformation. A visionary leader and patriot his clarion call to "Put IndiaFirst" re3ected his deep belief that India needed national champions in business -corporations with an Indian soul that would use their immense managerial and innovativecapabilities to serve the country's larger priorities. This conviction shaped ITC's visionnot only to be an engine of growth for the Indian economy but to ensure that growth wassustainable and inclusive. Today this commitment is manifest in ITC's growing presenceacross all the sectors of the economy - agriculture manufacturing and services withinnovative business models that synergise competitive growth with large scale societalvalue creation and environmental stewardship. Recognising his outstanding contribution tothe nation Mr Deveshwar was conferred the Padma Bhushan one of the highest civilianhonours by the Government of India. Mr Deveshwar indeed leaves behind a rich legacy andone that will continue to inspire us in the years ahead. I have had the privilege of beingassociated with ITC for over 33 years across various Businesses and group companies. Ithas been an enriching experience to engage with and witness the evolution of the Companyas it traversed many a trial and tribulation to emerge as a vibrant and valuablemulti-business conglomerate. Today the mature businesses are leaders in their segmentswhilst the newer businesses are making appreciable progress. Given the emergentopportunities in a relatively fast growing economy like India each of our businessesholds immense promise for the future. This potential is even greater in our newerBusinesses like FMCG where there is considerable headroom to grow. It is our aspiration tobe a leader in every business segment that we operate in and be acknowledged as a trustedprovider of best-in-class products and services. Towards this our relentless focus onbuilding international competitiveness in each business will be supported by appropriateinvestments not only to reinforce the pole position that we have achieved in severalsegments but also to speedily attain leadership in the newer businesses. While this willundoubtedly entail upfront investments and gestation costs in the short term particularlyin the non-cigarette FMCG businesses such investments will be a source of competitiveadvantage and create sustained value for stakeholders over the medium to long term as ourbrands garner larger scale and deepen their connect with consumers. ITC's diverseportfolio of businesses and competencies provide vibrant synergy that lend unique sourcesof competitive advantage. Whilst fortifying these enterprise strengths structuralcapabilities are also being enhanced by investing in distributed supply chaininfrastructure including state-of-the-art company-owned integrated consumer goodsmanufacturing and logistics facilities world-class pulp and paperboard technology andiconic hospitality properties. Further focussed innovation deepening of R&Dcapabilities and the increased use of emerging digital technologies such as Industry 4.0Arti3cial Intelligence Big Data and Machine Learning across areas such as consumerengagement and insight discovery smart manufacturing agri value chains supply chainagility and front end execution will also lend new wings to our e3orts in making eachbusiness extremely competitive. As we build scale we remain deeply committed to go beyondmarket leadership alone to creating much larger societal value in an exemplary fashion.This vision to put Nation First' with the credo of Sab Saath Badhein'inspires us to integrate sustainability as a bedrock of our corporate strategy as we shapean inspired Indian enterprise of tomorrow. ITC's pledge to serve national prioritieswhilst achieving international benchmarks in competitiveness is manifest in our chosenapproach to growth which we call Responsible Competitiveness' a paradigm thatremains at the core of our thought strategy and action. As a new Government takes o3cewith a resounding mandate from the people of India we are con3dent and optimistic thattheir proactive endeavours to create structural drivers of rapid growth will augur wellfor the economy. Signi3cant reforms such as GST have stabilised well and the varioussocial schemes that are shaping Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas' point to anoptimistic future. With rising incomes a young demographic pro3le and concerted e3orts toenhance agricultural & social development a New India is indeed being shaped. ITC iswell poised to bene3t from the anticipated acceleration in the growth trajectory whilstsimultaneously making a meaningful contribution to the Government's vision for inclusivesocioeconomic development.
As I traverse the journey ahead at the helm of your Company I am reassured by thestrength of our world-class talent who have ingrained in themselves ITC's DNA to pursuecompetitive growth with respect for environment and social development. I will lookforward to your support and guidance as always to take this institution to even greaterheights.
Best Regards Yours sincerely