Maharashtra's Village Social Foundation

The Maharashtra government has appointed Ramnath Subramanian, a former executive director of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Fund, to head its Village Social Foundation, an initiative that aims to develop 1,000 socially backward villages in the state.This is the first time that the government has appointed a senior executive from the corporate sector to spearhead a state initiative.
Ramnath, who is currently executive director of the Maharashtra Metro that is executing the Nagpur and the Pune Metro projects, will also hold the additional charge of the CEO of the Village Social Foundation.

State government officials claimed that they had appointed Ramnath as he had successfully raised funds worth of Rs.4,750 crore from multilateral agencies to fund the Nagpur Metro in a short time.

The Village Social Foundation is a brainchild of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who has roped in corporate heavyweights such as Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, Deepak Parekh, Anand Mahindra, Deutsche's Bank's India CEO Ravneet Gill and Sanjay Mehta CEO of Hindustan Lever to be part of the project.

Since the August meeting with these CEOs and industrialists, the Maharashtra government has formed a Section 8 not-for-profit company which enjoys all the tax exemptions and an institutional framework has been created. The 1,000 villages that are to be developed have been identified as well.

The CM's plan is to uplift villages which perform badly on the Human Development Index, have a huge concentration of SCSTs, and suffer from illiteracy, acute poverty , low sanitation and low water levels. This is also the first PPP initiative of the government and the corporates in the social sector.

The governing council will oversee the work of the Village Social Foundation and it would be headed by the CM and apart from the industrialists. Fadnavis' core team led by his principal secretary Praveen Pardeshi will oversee the initiative. The state has said that for every rupee these companies would spend in these villages, the state would not just match it, but would also ensure that the government machinery puts its weight behind their activity.

Government officials claimed that the enthusiasm among the corporates is so high that some of them have already sent in their CSR teams to the selected villages to identify the problems and have started working on the ground.

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