By Ashwajit Singh
SSE & similar platforms for catalysing funds into Social Sector space
Social Stock Exchange proposed in the India Union Budget 2019 would help channelize more funds into the social sector space. This could also be linked to CSR funding as companies in India are expected to put 2-3% of profit into CSR. With the setting up SSE panel, there needs a set of clear SEBI guidelines that cover sectors that are a priority for the government and, are aligned to their overall development policies. Globally, there is a huge amount of funding available in the ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) space which, along with Social sector Impact Bonds and leveraging of funds through other sources could help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Innovating Work Culture with Technology
As 2019 gives way to 2020, organisations are becoming more conscious about innovating work culture with technology. With millennials making up 35% of the global workforce and Gen Z making up 24% by 2020, the business landscape is expected to change more in the coming years. The proliferation of big data and artificial intelligence will become the drivers of business decisions. Being in the consulting space, while these shifts may be inevitable, it is imperative for workspaces to develop a combination of interpersonal and technological skills which smartly leverages its human capital and conducive work culture.
Inclusive Job Creation
India’s strength is its vast entrepreneurial ecosystem which has the potential to leapfrog job creation, innovation, and inclusive economic growth. It needs to be pushed further by the government with enabling policies, regulatory framework and by creating a level playing field. Women are essential stakeholders in the development process. The pre-requisite to ensuring gender equality is to formulate gender-aware and evidence-based policies with a conscious emphasis on gender-friendly workplace practices. The Government could consider making gender audit mandatory and certain indicators may need to be reported as part of the Annual Report.
Skilling for improved Employment
Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare today. Nearly 50% of India’s population is under 25 and the level of youth illiteracy is about 15% indicating that even the literate lack skills required for employment. Budget 2019 announced major investments in education and skills (especially new-age skills). Continued focus on youth education, skill development will be critical factors in building a talented pool of resources for India Inc.
Making Social Goals intrinsic to Economic Revival
Moody's has lowered its 2019 GDP growth forecast for India to 5.6%. While it expects this to pick up in 2020 and 2021 to 6.6% & 6.7% respectively, the pace of growth still remains lower than in the past. Measures such as corporate tax rate cuts, bank re-capitalisation, infrastructure spending plans, support to the auto sector, etc. have not really helped in increasing the consumption levels. The government needs to increase expenditure to create demand for consumption. This could be done by linking specific infrastructure creation with social sector schemes like NREGA. In times like the present, more social sector schemes directly relating to the poor would have a greater impact and increase consumption levels than corporate tax cuts, etc.
(Ashwajit Singh, Managing Director of IPE Global)