Need for Collective Actions for promoting Business Responsibility

Need for Collective Actions for promoting Business Responsibility

Ahmedabad, September 11, 2012

“Pharmaceutical and private healthcare sector need strict social sensor for dealing with the issue of Business Responsibility in the state in order to ensure that businesses of all sizes function with fairness and responsibility.” This is what was conveyed by Shri P K Ghosh, Former Additional Chef Secretary Department of Environment and Chairman Environmental Impact Assessment Authority, Government of Gujarat, while speaking at the state-level meeting of the BRCC project implemented by Raman Development Consultants and CUTS here in Ahmedabad today. Participants in this meeting were drawn from the state government departments, state level regulators, private hospital association, pharmaceutical firms, civil society organisations and media.

The BRCC project (entitled, Exploring the Interface between Business Regulation and Corporate Conduct in India) is being implemented in four states of the country with the prime objective of promoting responsible business conduct in two key sectors – Pharmaceuticals and Private Healthcare. The three other states where the project is being implemented are Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal.

Vikash Batham, Senior Programme Officer, CUTS observed that the private sector has to play a critical role in ensuring ‘inclusive growth’ in a developing country like India and the pharmaceutical and private healthcare sector need to align their business model, given the considerable public interest element and high impact on consumer well being in these two sectors. However, in order to do this, certain key stakeholders need to play a key role in the process which includes the Govt (state, central), Regulators (state, central), business association and civil society. He further said that, the objective of the BRCC project is to examine the relationship between business regulation and corporate conduct in the context of promoting business responsibility in India. This study falls at the intersection of ethics, governance and responsibility. It is also a multilevel phenomenon at the level of the economy, sector and individual firms

The government has already started the process under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs by releasing the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business (referred to as the NVGs). The NVG provides a framework (comprising 9 principles) for defining what constitutes Responsible Business. The Guidelines emphasize that business have to endeavour to become responsible actors in society, accordingly the guidelines use the term ‘Responsible Business’ instead of Corporate Social Responsibility. Lekhan Thakkar representing the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) oriented the participants about the NVGs in this meeting and shared the plan of the Government for operationalising the NVGs, especially in sectors.

Given the emphasis on social, economic and environmental factors used in this project for assessing corporate conduct, the project would definitely have impacts on policies, procedures, rules, etc.(especially in some states and sectors) that determine a healthy environment

Dr Pragnesh Vachharajani, President Elect of Ahmedabad Medical Association pointed towards lack of intent from the part of state government on the formal interaction with various bodies of the two sectors. Interaction among the policy makers, regulators, private sector and CSO is crucial for addressing various challenges, the two sectors are facing.