“The business of business cannot just be business in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors in India”, observed Shri Arun Maira, Member, Planning Commission, Government of India, while speaking at a meeting organised by CUTS. This event was organised to share the report, “Rethinking Business Responsibility in India” – a product of a CUTS project entitled, “Exploring the Interplay between Business Regulation and Corporate Conduct in India” (BRCC project). Arun Maira has guided the project and mentored the CUTS researchers in teasing out critical elements of responsible business from these two sectors, in this report.
He identified that the two current priorities before the government were to improve the quality of regulation and enhance capacity of regulators to ensure ‘good governance’ practices in sectors which have considerable public interest element. Specifically, he mentioned that both structural elements in regulation of the pharmaceutical sector and condition for doing business therein are poor and need to be addressed appropriately.
He asserted the fact that trust of society in government institutions and business institutions has deteriorated drastically over time. In a system which is characetrised by such a low level of trust, he opined it was very difficult for society to be well governed, and businesses well regulated. He emphasised, however, that government and business needed to understand each other better and try to work together. However, he also cautioned that such cooperation should not lead to a situation that propagates crony capitalism.
Ambassador Eivind S. Homme, Norwegian Ambassador to India congratulated CUTS for coming up with such a comprehensive and timely report that according to him would definitely provide guidance on how to promote business responsibility in India, not only in pharmaceutical and private healthcare sectors but in other sectors also. He said that any modern leader, who intended to promote well-functioning markets needed to focus on improving regulations.
Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International observed that it is imperative that the private sector started to realise their role towards promoting sustainable development. He conveyed this to be the central element of business responsibility. Sharing his views about the BRCC project report, he highlighted that the report has mapped the institutional context of the two sectors (pharmaceuticals and private healthcare), gathered data from different stakeholders to understand the realities and challenges, and presented findings on different facets of regulation and its implications for business behavior.
Mehta also confirmed that the research and dialogues undertaken in this project is expected to show the path for promoting better understanding about elements of responsible business, and stimulate thinking about ways in which various sectors of the economy can adopt measures to be more responsible.
Dhanendra Kumar, an Adviser to the Indian Institute for Corporate Affairs (IICA) raised the point that responsible business behavior can contribute towards infusing stability in society. He stated that growth does not take place in vacuum and hence it is important for businesses to realise what impacts would their operations have on society at large.
Participants in this meeting were drawn from the the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, government institutions, civil society, academia, etc.