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Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs in association with AVPN organized a virtual dialogue on Addressing the Crisis through Solidarity & Partnerships on 17 July 2020 | 16:30 IST featuring crucial stakeholders, experts, and policymakers, to examine the Indian public private partnership establishment. The effects of the pandemic are reverberating, with varying degrees of severity, across all the sectors of the Indian economy. As the world prepares for the ‘new normal’ after COVID-19, every stakeholder needs to take action to adapt to their new reality. It presents an opportunity for the Public sector, Private sector and Civil Society to act in solidarity and turn this crisis into an impetus to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The virtual dialogue addressed the effects of COVID-19 on socio-economic development, and the need for a united, global response through shared value partnerships and CSR initiatives.

Dr. Garima Dadhich Head, NFCSR- Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs moderated the session and initiated the dialogue by mentioning that the fight against COVID-19 needs as many hands as available. The job is too big for the government to handle alone. The speakers emphasized on the strategy to leverage vertical and horizontal partnerships: Vertical partnerships, which the stakeholders have built within their organisations and horizontal partnerships, which the government has institutionalised with stakeholders.

The first speaker Mr. Anshu Gupta, Founder Director Goonj addressed the session on ‘Public-Private Partnership and Civil Society Responses to COVID-19 : Challenges and Opportunities’  and discussed the ways in which civil society organizations augment the efforts of businesses in health as well as non health sectors to build a more sustainable world for the years to come. The session threw light upon how daily wage labourers and smallholder farmers are a crucial part of the value chain in India, as well as a critical element of the global food system. The ways in which COVID-19 pandemic has brought new risks that threaten livelihoods as well as food security of the people who have invested their efforts in feeding us and constructing our homes. The session was focused on ways in which in this difficult time non-governmental organisations and individuals have also contributed and played an important role in extending a helping hand to the migrants and people in dire need. Mr. Anshu Gupta highlighted that the contribution and role played by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) deserves appreciation from Government bodies.

The second session laid emphasis on ‘From focusing on immediate response to focus on sustained response’ by Honorable Mr. Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh Joint Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India where he emphasized on the role of Public Private Partnership in providing regular feedback to the different state and local governance institutions in the socio-economic development of the nation.He also highlighted the recent initiatives taken by Ministry of Corporate Affairs for ensuring responsible business conduct by the companies and mentioned that the Public-Private Partnerships can be envisaged as an ideal proposition for involving the private sector as well as civil society organizations in national development agenda. Mr. Singh deliberated that the pandemic has reinforced the links between health, environment and the economy and further deliberated that crisis also demonstrates that governments and individuals are capable of strong and rapid action in the face of an overarching challenge. As India looks to shore up its economy, it is worth reflecting on the other systemic actions that are needed to shift towards a more sustainable and resilient economy.

Second session was followed by Ms. Madhu KhetanProgramme Director, PRADAN’s session on ‘Addressing the impact of the pandemic at local and national level through Public Private Partnerships’.The speaker began the session by responding to moderator’s question about the criteria that can be used to determine if a project is suitable to be a PPP and deliberated that the Indian PPP scenario as it stands today presents an optimistic picture and the factors that need to be considered to make sure that PPPs create the intended social impact to which Ms. Madhu responded that the COVID-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis; it is an economic crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis, and a human rights crisis. This crisis has highlighted severe fragilities and inequalities within and among nations. Coming out of this crisis will require a whole-of-society, whole-of-government and whole-of-the-world approach driven by compassion and solidarity.” She emphasized on Samaj-Sarkar-Bazaar’s trinity and the balance important for inclusive development. From manufacturing  lakhs of masks, to running community kitchen, to introducing digital economic service in remote villages through trained women workers, SHGs playing a crucial role in fighting the economic and social impact of the novel Corona virus in rural areas.

The last session with Mr. Amit Chandra, Chairman, Bain Capital India on ‘A shared value mindset positioned to sustain, compete, and thrive in global and domestic markets’ started with an interaction with moderator onapproach of businesses in looking at partnering or associating with the Government for social development projects through CSR and the ways in which CSR leaders should initiate it at the board level to which Mr. Chandra deliberated that Businesses do not exist in isolation. They exist as one element of a complex situation that comprises the social, political, economic, and competitive environment. The crisis has given an opportunity towards a movement which allows individuals, groups and organizations to discover synergies at multiple levels to seek out and look for collaboration ventures. A purpose-drivencompany stands for and takes action on something bigger than its products and services. From this pandemic, what has come clear is the need for a renewed focus towards improvement of overall health infrastructure and strengthening of universal access to affordable and good quality healthcare services across the world. He concluded by emphasizing that India needs to continue its proactive efforts to create a more conducive environment for global and domestic manufacturing of medical devices through collaborative efforts.

The engaging and interactive session was concluded by moderator Dr. Garima Dadhich by stating that Public-Private Partnerships can be envisaged as an ideal proposition for involving the private sector as well as civil society organizations in national development agenda. She further elaborated that we need to aim at categorizing developmental PPPs according to the thematic areas mentioned under the CSR law – aligned with Sustainable Development Goals in order to support shared goals, pool funding, resources and shared value. The virtual dialogue successfully presented that a lot has been done, but a lot more still needs to be done and suggested that going forward, the Government along with civil society organizations and the private sector needs to undertake more concerted efforts to revive the credibility of the PPP framework and build capacity within various institutions for PPP implementation.

The Virtual Dialogue strategy and event summary – prepared by Ms. Divya Banerjee (Senior Research Associate), Ms. Himani Gautam and Mr. ShivamShumsher (Research Associates) at Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs.

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