A SURE CURE FOR INSOMNIA is to pick up an annual report of a company and start reading – by page 3 one is sure to yawn.  There are company chairmen however who have distinguished themselves by using the AGM as a platform for relaying a compelling “feel good” theme every year for their shareholders with a judicious mix of PR and examples of corporate social responsibility.  In India, #HINDUSTAN UNILEVER LIMITED (HUL) is clearly a leader of this practice and the annual ritual that began with Mr #T. Thomas has been carried forward with finesse to the present day.  Early, last week, most Indian dailies carried a full page speech delivered by the current chairman of HUL, Mr #Harish Manwani.  In the midst of cataloguing all the useful  things that HUL has done for India, the following facts were also laid bare before shareholders :

  • India has a population of 1.22 Billion in 29 states and 7 union territories;
  • 1652 languages are spoken in India, 86 different scripts and 6 major religions;
  • Per capital income within different states range from Rs 17,000 to Rs 1,50,000;
  • 1 out of 4 undernourished people in the world live in India;
  • Around 97 million Indians do not have access to an improved source of drinking water;
  • There are more households in India with a mobile phone than a toilet;
  • 792 million Indians live without improved sanitation of which 597 million Indians defecate in the open;
  • Over 60 million Indian children are stunted  – the highest prevalence in the world;
  • India has the highest number of child deaths from diarrhoea and pneumonia – with 609,000 children dying each year before their fifth birthday from these diseases

HARISH MANWANI’S AGM ADDRESS was aptly titled “Serving Many Indias“. He should be complimented for sensitising his shareholders  (and the general public at large who cared to read his address) about the stark facts about India which would have probably gone unnoticed in the midst of the current noise pollution surrounding #Lalit Modi.


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