Fiinovation Reviews India’s Migration and Malnutrition Problems

The rising disparity among the people of India is a stark reminder that growth after the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation reforms of 1991 has not been inclusive. Although, the country developed significantly, yet the development ripples have not reached the remote villages. The initial plan of focusing on the service sector to reduce the dependency of the Indian GDP on the primary sector (Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy, etc.) paid off well, but didn’t solve the problem of the rural population which is nearly 70 per cent of the total Indian population.

As the primary sector didn’t receive as much investments, there wasn’t much growth to improve the standard of living of the rural population. The problems associated with agriculture and allied sector ensured that millions had to migrate to the urban areas for employment opportunities. Migration is not a recent phenomenon, rather the pace of it has increased in recent times due to widespread distress in the rural areas. As per the Census 2011, there were about 45.36 crore migrants. In fact last year 2.06 crore people migrated looking for employment opportunities and education.

It is understandable that the impact of migration is one the entire family and it’s the children who suffer immensely. It has been observed that the rapid development which ensured India becomes the fastest growing major economy in the world is not helping to curb poverty and malnutrition. As per the global hunger index, India ranks abysmal 97 out of 118 countries which much worse that its neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. Fiinovation reviews that about 38 per cent children living in India are stunted or too short for their age. There seems to be a link between growing urbanisation and increase in malnutrition as it has been observed that significant proportion of children living in urban areas are stunted.

Alarmingly, it is estimated that 90 crore people will be added as urban residents in just three countries (China, India and Nigeria) by 2050. It seems that there is a paradigm shift of the burden of malnutrition from rural areas to urban areas, especially due to persistent child undernutrition. Fiinovation reviews that the problem of malnutrition is evident amongst the 6.5 crore slum dwellers in the country. Hence, the reason behind urban poverty and malnutrition is definitely India’s incapability to develop the rural areas while promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

The road ahead will not be easy as the government plans to double the farmers’ income by 2022. Currently, there is very less industrial development in the rural areas. Agriculture in India is a seasonal activity with majority of the regions being mono-cropic, especially due to lack of irrigation facilities and dependency on the monsoon. Therefore, it is important to create livelihood opportunities and promote healthy lifestyle amongst the rural population. If the migrant population start finding employment opportunities in their inhabited regions, it will reduce migration, poverty and malnutrition significantly.

Hence, Fiinovation urges the government to implement policies which promote growth of the rural economy. Efforts to increase the farmers’ income will definitely pay huge dividends for the country. The impact of this will also be visible on the global hunger index and help the country eliminate extreme poverty as per the Sustainable Development Goals. However, this massive task cannot be done only by the government and the role of the private sector will be significant in providing resources for the development of rural infrastructure. The businesses should also contribute towards betterment of the farming community and the people residing in the rural areas through their corporate social responsibility funds. Investments in the agriculture sector by the businesses supported by agriculture credit from the government will significantly boost the primary sector thereby reducing the burden of the rural households.

Let us hope that the next two decades India grows inclusively and sustainably becoming one of the largest economies of the world with a higher human development index ranking.

 

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

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Budget Highlights – Education Sector

The much awaited Union Budget 2017 was presented by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitely on 1st February 2017. Education is one of the key components for driving economical growth and acts as impetus for government schemes such as Make in India, Digital India and Skill India. Government should devise schemes to boost other sectors such as Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Textile, Energy etc. apart from focusing on the IT and applied IT sectors.

It is extremely important to pay attention on improving the quality of educational institutes for creating skilled workforce, ready to join the industry. The key budget highlights of the Education sector are as following –

  • In year 2017, citizens will gain access to SWAYAM, a massive open online courses (MOOC) platform. This education portal, will be introduced with 350 online courses and will be providing high quality e-content to all the colleges and universities free of cost.
  • Job-creating packages for textile sector
  • Good quality institutions which will possess better quality and education
  • 100 international centres will be launched across the country for providing assistance to the youth seeking jobs outside India
  • PM Kaushal KendrasPM Kaushal Kendras to be extended to 600 districts
  • 5 crore youth to be trained under Sankalp programme launched by government
  • Quality and market relevance will be noted in vocational training
  • Special scheme for employment has been launched in the textile sector
  • National Testing Agency will be conducting major entrance examinations
  • CBSE will be freed from conducting examinations, and will focus majorly on academics
  • Skill strengthening to be implemented from this year with a budget of Rs 2,200 crore
  • Greater autonomy will be provided to major institutes
  • UGC will be reformed for higher education, colleges and institutions will give more autonomy
  • Two new AIIMS to be opened in Jharkhand and Gujarat
  • Big employment opportunities to come up in tourism sector
  • Government will provide education through digital platform and the country will be turned into an electronics hub
  • Additional opportunities for employment of women to open up through model shops and establishment bill
  • The BHIM app has been downloaded 17 million times, and special cash back scheme for BHIM users

The main highlight of the budget in education sector was the introduction of 350 online courses and big employment opportunities to be introduced in textile and tourism sectors.

By Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Corporate Social Responsibility – In Context of 2017

The year 2017 brings new hopes in the social development sector with more businesses contributing towards improving the standard of living of the people. With praises across the country for their contributions, the businesses are now more focused on strategising CSR rather than doing charity. However, there are several questions which are not answered as CSR projects are not good parameters for judging societal welfare. Today, it is unclear whether CSR spending by businesses have increased or not as compared to the days before the mandate, with not much available information.

However, data from the last two years suggest an increase of CSR funding with Indian businesses spending INR 9,309 crore in 2015-16. This is INR 163 crore more than what was required by the law and INR 703 crore more than 2014-15. The major focus areas for businesses have been Education and Health and they are likely to remain one of the most favoured sectors for CSR investments.

Understanding the present situation, Fiinovation, a global CSR consulting company analyses the trends in CSR for the year 2017.

1. Environment – After the successive droughts that nearly crippled the rural economy, it is expected that businesses will look to invest their CSR funds in projects that mitigate the climate change risks. Keeping focus on water, businesses will look to implement CSR projects for natural resource conservation, rain water harvesting, safe drinking water, watershed development and irrigation. Organic agriculture, climate smart agriculture, grain production with new innovative methods, etc. will also receive adequate focus. Several companies are looking to reduce their harmful environmental impacts.

2. Education – Several businesses will rather not look to diversify and stick to their CSR projects in education. It is expected to remain the favourite sector when it comes to CSR expenditures. Although, there might be a shift towards digital literacy, digital education and higher education to meet the current demands of the nation.

3. Health – Similar to Education, investments in health projects is likely to continue even this year. Focus will be on preventive healthcare along with healthcare infrastructure facilities including ambulances, digital check ups, diagonistic centers etc. Several businesses will also look to invest in public health in a public-private partnership model working in tandem with the government initiatives.

4. Skill Development – The Indian Government is currently committed towards providing skill development trainings to the youth. The government also provides additional support for entrepreneurship of the SC, ST and women. The government has also urged the businesses to contribute their CSR funds towards skill development trainings to ensure that the emerging workforce is formally skilled. It is expected that businesses will also look to boost infrastructure in the ITIs and Training Institutes to support the government. There are several businesses who are also investing in Sustainable Agriculture projects by providing trainings to the farmers.

5. Other Sectors – It is also expected that several other sectors will receive CSR funding but not at a very large scale. Swachh Bharat, Clean Ganga, Digital Literacy, renewable energy, etc. are some areas which will receive contributions.

The impact of the CSR law can be better understood after the end of this year, when experts review the first three years after the enforcement of the law.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Fiinovation: Beyond the Mandate – Changing CSR Paradigms

Not long ago, not many people cared about corporate social responsibility, at least in India. The concept might be known to a few, but there wasn’t much thought on the same. In the last two decades, things have changed significantly. Firstly, the economic reforms in 1991 laid the red carpet for the MNCs to start operating in India.

With the MNCs came the concepts of cause marketing, corporate responsibility, employee welfare, volunteerism, ethical practices, etc. Few other concepts, such as the Triple Bottom Line Approach (coined by the British consultant John Elkington in 1994), Shared Value (Michael Porter in 2011) and Conscious Capitalism (Raj Sisodia and John Mackey in 2013) also came into the limelight.

It was clear that in the last two decades, the emergence of these concepts targeting the commercial enterprises came up suggesting that the businesses should go beyond the obvious financial parameters and develop a holistic framework for assessing the impact of the business operations. From the point of view of the businesses, time and again they have spoken about doing good towards the society and environmental sustainability in their annual reports. Yet, the big issues such as climate change and well-being of the people and planet are prevalent along with a huge disparity.

The passing of the CSR law in India, seemed to have formalised the social sector contributions by the private entities. With not much data, a comparison of the same cannot be made. However, at least in the last two years, there has been significant amount of funds being invested in social projects. Businesses are now taking CSR as a strategic business concept and not many are contributing as a mere charity.

The move to bring about a cultural change within the businesses in India highlighted two concerns. Firstly, majority of the companies are searching beyond their own competencies to create programmes as per the Schedule VII. Secondly, there is not enough capacity or capability in the existing NGOs to meet the requirements of the businesses.

Fiinovation, a global CSR consulting company suggests that social sector initiatives require endurance and extended periods of investments in capability and delivery to make a significant impact. The concept is still evolving and incorporating sustainability issues, despite specifications mentioned in the Schedule VII. The whole idea is not to departmentalize business ethics and social responsibility, rather focus on sustainable corporate practices which includes CSR. Fiinovation suggests the idea of amalgamation of social and environmental issues within the business processes, help the businesses achieve enduring socio-economic outcome.

sustainability-framework

The time has come for businesses to be linked with ecosystem and not empty effluents into rivers and then contribute funds towards Clean Ganga. If businesses are truly considering becoming responsible entities they have to reduce, re-use and re-cycle the waste at least by 50 per cent. Therefore, when corporate social responsibility emanate from the core competencies of the respective companies, there is a higher chance of creating systemic solutions for delivery of social benefits.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Fiinovation – How MNC’s are Contributing Towards Women Empowerment in India?

In the last two decades, their has been significant emergence of MNCs. The fast food outlets such as Mc Donald’s, KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Burger King, etc. are now present even in smaller cities. Their emergence has led to an unique method of empowering women of the country.

For these MNCs, recruitment of women is almost necessary as they don’t want to run their businesses with only men. In this regard, they hire women to maintain a gender balance among the employees. Although, the plan seems to be good, but in a country like India, it is not that easy to find good women employees. It is a nation where women are not encouraged much to work outside their homes. Therefore, several MNCs are going off track to attract women employees by providing them with activities which ultimately helps them to get empowered.

The difference can be witnessed easily. A visit to the Delhi’s malls will make you witness women workforce in the outlets, whereas in a market place the women’s clothing stores are manned by men. Ironically, we do not observe women at these stores. Despite years of progress, India still has a skewed sex ratio and its tough place to be a women. There is a vast difference in the way things use to be and specially now after the emergence of MNCs.

Understanding the situation, the American food chains are doing a bit more than expected to ensure that they are able to employ more women. From allowing their parents to see the workplace to even taste the new burger about to be launched, these companies are doing a lot to attract women employees. Fiinovation, a global CSR consulting company understands that people around the world would be unaware about the hardship that these companies are putting in to cultivate female employees.

Fiinovation believes, going off track food chains such as Burger King teaches self defense to its women employees. Similarly, Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell run a mentorship program to help the women employees. Even Mc Donald’s appoints a “Female Confidant” at every outlet to ensure the women talk more freely about their lives and family problems. Apart from these, steps are even taken to give mothers flexible working hours.

These things are changing the way businesses operate in India. With more females joining the workforce, the societal hurdles are bound to reduce in the coming years. Fiinovation also believes that these affirmative action initiatives by the MNCs is a significant step towards empowerment of women in this country. With India being a prominent member of G20, it should lead by example for other emerging economies to follow.

Therefore, let us hope that in future, other businesses will implement similar initiatives that will help the country grow inclusively.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Fiinovation – The Future of Impact Investing in India

Impact investments is not something new to the world anymore. It might have started on a similar concept back in the 1980’s when Bill Drayton’s Ashoka started funding social enterprises. The term impact investing was coined in the year 2007 at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. The term was given to investments which are made with the intent of generating both financial and social and/or environmental returns.

In the last decade, India has become one of the world’s biggest impact investment market. The global investors are looking at India as a bright spot which is likely to grow rapidly in the next two-three decades. Along with this, there are several social and environmental issues which India would like to resolve while it continues to grow.

It is expected that with all the growth in several sectors, India could absorb $6-8 billion of capital annually by 2025. In the past six years, there has been $4.1 billion worth of cumulative investments with an annual growth of 15%. It is believed that impact investments has touch at least 60-80 million lives in the country focusing on sectors such as financial inclusion, agriculture, healthcare and education. Last year, impact investments touched the billion mark for the first time.

Understanding the present situation, Fiinovation believes that there is a huge importance of impact investors in helping socially relevant enterprises grow and prosper. There is need to focus on increasing investments to promote financial inclusion, clean-technology solutions, education, healthcare and agriculture. Fiinovation comprehends that the potential of impact investments needs to be unlocked as it provides vast opportunity for social and financial dividends.

With the impact investments growing at fast pace, it will be necessary to keep track on the returns. Fiinovation believes that there is a need for guidelines and monitoring frameworks to strengthen the entire investment process. The bottlenecks related to policies and government regulations need to be managed keeping in mind the adequate measures that can help the impact investment market expand. Fiinovation also understands that increase in investments will lead to requirement of professionals and therefore, government policies promoting skill development in sectors such as clean-tech, healthcare, education, digitalisation, financial inclusion, agriculture, etc.

In future, the struggle with access to capital will be done with and the massive challenges, which the sector is still facing, is expected to be addressed. It is also expected that the limited number of investors need to grow over a period of time. Fiinovation expects that better governance and talent will be required to provide support in the market expansion process. For bridging the gap between priviledged and the marginalised, it is important for impact investing to become mainstream.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Fiinovation Observes International Migrants Day 2015

> ‘Call for Greater Action for the Protection of Migrants Worldwide’

Migration is neither a crime nor a mandatory requirement that one has to do it, also it cannot be forced. It is a bold expression of individual’s who want to fulfill their aspirations with a desire to achieve something big in their lives. As a matter of fact migration offers plethora of opportunities to people to grow, to improve and to lead a better life. Today, globalization, together with advances in communications and transportation, has greatly increased the number of people who have the desire and the capacity to move to other places.

This new era has created not only several challenges, but also opportunities for societies/communities across the world. In this fast paced technology driven world when no body has time for each other, it still has served the migrants with opportunities for development and inclusive growth, thereby helping them to improve their standards of living and quality of life.

On 4thDecember 2000, the UN General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world and proclaimed 18th December as International Migrants Day #migrantscontribute . On 18th December 1990, the General Assembly had adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.

At the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in October 2013, member states unanimously adopted a declaration in which they recognized the important contribution of migration to development #migrantscontribute. The declaration also emphasized the need to respect the human rights of migrants and to promote international labour standards. The Declaration strongly condemns manifestations of racism and intolerance and stresses the need to improve public perceptions of migrants and migration.

In his report to the General Assembly in October 2013, the Secretary-General put forward an ambitious eight-point agenda to “make migration work” for all: migrants, societies of origin and societies of destination alike. “Migration is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. It is part of the social fabric, part of our very make-up as a human family,” the Secretary-General said in his remarks.

There is a need to understand that a well-paid job in a rich and developed country is a strong driver of international migration. The attraction has intensified as income differentials among countries continue to grow. And this holds true that not only regarding the large and growing differentials between high and low-income countries, but also with regard to the more dynamic and the less dynamic developing countries.

Many advanced economies need migrant workers to fill jobs that cannot be outsourced and that do not find local workers willing to take them at the wages being offered. Population ageing also underlies this growing demand, as it gives rise to deficits of workers relative to dependants. Also, the younger generations are becoming better educated, fewer in their ranks are content with low-paid and physically demanding jobs.

Another fact that needs attention is that migration may reduce wages or lead to higher unemployment among low-skilled workers in advanced economies, many of whom are themselves migrants who arrived in earlier waves. However, most migrants complement the skills of domestic workers instead of competing with them. By performing tasks that either would go undone or cost more, migrants allow citizens to perform other, more productive and better-paid jobs. They also maintain viable economic activities that, in their absence, would be outsourced.

Although, the High-level Dialogue stressed that international migration could contribute to development, but it recognized that international migration was not a substitute for development. All too often, migrants were compelled to seek employment abroad because of poverty, conflict or violations of human rights. Peace and security, good governance, the rule of law and the provision of decent work in countries of origin ensured that people migrated out of choice instead of necessity. Therefore, it is important that International migration must form an integral part of the development agenda and should be part of national development strategies to be implemented by the developing countries across the world for the better future of the migrants leaving across the globe.
By – Rohit Kaul

Senior Program Manager

Media and Communications – Fiinovation