Experts At World Economic Forum Discuss

Experts At World Economic Forum Discuss

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In the post-pandemic world, social entrepreneurship is going to play a very important role, especially in a world, which is still healing, recovering and rebuilding. To discuss this in detail, CNBC-TV18 spoke with industry experts from various fields – Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog; Ajay Khanna, Chief Executive, Jubilant Bhartia Grou; Neelam Chhiber, CEO, NASE, National Association for Social Entrepreneurs; and Anand Swaminathan, CEO, Azim Premji Foundation.

CNBC- TV18 has partnered with the World Economic Forum and the Schwab Foundation and Jubilant Bhartia Foundation to talk about social entrepreneurship.

When asked what has been the biggest learning from the last one-and-a-half years when we look at this, social entrepreneurship … the civil society organisations, especially from the lens of a post-pandemic?

Kant said, “My personal belief is that very important for any government, in any country to understand that while policy decisions can certainly be taken at the topmost level, the accrual of true benefits to the grassroots, especially those who are most vulnerable depends on our ability to overcome the last mile.”

“It was here that the NGOs and civil society organisations took lead and they helped us in ensuring the lives and livelihood of even the most vulnerable individuals and we were able to protect them,” he said, adding that “at NITI Aayog, the National Institution Of Transforming India, we have over 100,000 NGOs and civil societies registered with us and during the pandemic they regularly interacted with these organisations and encouraged them to assist the district administration.”

He further said, “To my mind, social entrepreneurship became one of the most important pillars of our pandemic management efforts – social entrepreneurs worked across the entire spectrum of pandemic response, initiating and innovating for social good.”

According to him, the role of NGOs, and civil society organisations has been path-breaking and have done some unique work.

Going forward, what can be the role that these social entrepreneurs and civil society play when we come to meeting our targets on social development?

Kant said, “One of the things this government has done is that it has focused very strongly on providing last mile in terms of housing, in terms of electricity, in terms of ensuring health through the Ayushman Bharat Scheme that is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, which is covers 500 million Indians and is the largest health insurance scheme. Plus about close to 80 crore people are provided ration – food, and we used our existing MNREGA scheme to provide a livelihood to the people at the grassroot level.”

“We were able to make a huge impact in terms of ensuring that nobody goes hungry, nobody goes without work and the rural poor was well taken care of. Across government schemes if you want to make a big impact in terms of better grassroot implementation then social civil society organisations are really the key to better implementation particularly in education, health and nutrition,” Kant told CNBC-TV18.

What role do you think the government has here, when you look at it from a broader perspective of providing that ground for the social entrepreneurs?

Khanna said, “I am always enamoured by the spirit of the social entrepreneur. I don’t know where they get the energy for, they keep running for money, they keep running for finance, funding. They work in difficult areas, difficult times.

So I would like to request Mr. Kant a few suggestions, especially to further these three areas he has outlined and I spoke to some of my friends and social entrepreneurs. And some of the questions they have or suggestions more in the spirit of collaborative partnership is that a there is no fixed definition of social entrepreneurs in the countries. So, therefore, there is no definition there is no specific ministry, not that we want a ministry, sometimes its better not to have a ministry. But it’s good to have a focal point and you have been the champion in the power group six to lead the social entrepreneurs. So there is no definition, there is no ministry. Even in the startup policy which the government has there is no chapter of the social entrepreneurs.”

When asked if there was any rethink in terms of the startup policy?

Mr Kant said, “Everything should not be as a part of a government policy. If, we keep introducing policy, then the social entrepreneurs will get caught up in government bureaucracy, they will get caught up in rules, regulation, procedures, laws, etc. And I think social entrepreneurs must be kept out we should never kill their enterprising spirit by the bureaucracy of the government.”

Has the pandemic world brought social entrepreneurs front and centre from the fringes that they were earlier and have made their role even more important, and crucial when we talk about rebuilding?

Neelam Chhiber Said, “I love the fact that Mr. Kant spoke about individual energy, passion, frankly, that’s what drives us, but Covid brought out, and even pre-COVID it had initiated, because the SDG goals brought out a huge collaborative spirits, phenomenon, and unseen. So Catalyst 2030 Global was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2020 and there we are seeing over 800 social entrepreneurs coming together, saying we can no longer work in our silos, because there is trillions of dollars of gap, to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goals, we have to have a voice on the table. We have to guide the governments, if someone will listen to us, right.”

She further said, “I will bring in the private sector here very strongly, our social entrepreneurs who have the solutions for not working in silos working with the government and the private sector, building more regenerative economies, helping India reach GDP targets but in more inclusive, and more climate friendly ways.”

Watch the accompanying video for the entire discussion

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