The difficulty in securing a hotel room in New Delhi is further confirmation of its status as a booming emerging market. I had to call in favors to get somewhere to stay as there are a host of business meetings around the city this week. However, the business leaders convened by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and World Bank Institute at the GAIN Business Alliance Global Forum are not in a self-congratulatory mood.
They have been asking how come, despite its high economic growth, India remains home to half the world's hungry and still has malnutrition rates worse than Sub-Saharan Africa.
The private sector is responding with today's official launch of the India chapter of this Business Alliance. Dr. Anji Reddy, who has helped make India a powerhouse in the pharmaceutical sector through his own billion dollar business, will chair the chapter and hope to harness the innovation of India's entrepreneurs to address this social problem. Ramesh Vangal, Chairman of the Katra Group argues it is time to look at malnutrition as a business problem...
harnessing corporate expertise - for example the fact that Indian distribution costs of mass consumables are among the lowest in the world. Examples from other regions suggest that there are sustainable models.
Most of the program here has focused on a corporate marketplace of nutrition initiatives, ranging from global vitamin manufacturers to flour millers in Mali, to fortified soy sauce manufacturers in northern China (all with some intriguing product samples to taste). This all important networking also sparked a lot of enthusiasm - essential given the scale of the problem.