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Need To Re-energise MSMEs And PPP Models For A Promising Atmanirbhar Bharat

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The global supply chain is not different from the food chain context that we hear in our environment textbooks and discussions every now and then. The lower organism ultimately gets consumed by the organism placed higher in the food chain. In pretty much the same way, the country that fails to recognise its potential only increases its capital expenditure, thus creating a never-ending deficit that no surplus fund from IMF can abrogate!

1947 to 2020

Indian dreams have been realised in the most unique ways. Though we may not agree with each other on many policies, developments and changes, we know that India has grown by leaps and bounds – its citizens have grown. India of my dream may not be the same that as yours, but the dreams that we are dreaming are parallel and recurrent. Today, while the notion of the sixth mass extinction is gaining its grounds more prominently than ever– with the global economy going for a roller coaster ride due to the COVID-19 pandemic– one can’t deny but agree to the fact that this year we’ve faced too many curve balls simultaneously.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going – this has always been the case with India. We rise from the worst falls only to emerge higher and stronger. We know our strengths and our weaknesses. India houses a plethora of talent and hardworking people in the form of craftsmen, weavers, handloom makers, carpenters, painters, agriculturists, scientists, technicians, builders and masons.

Today, with the advancement in technology, easily available funds under various governmental schemes and a demographic dividend of 62.5%, which, as per the Economic Survey 2018-2019, will peak around 2041, when the share of working-age population, (i.e. 20-59 years) is expected to hit 59%. With two decades in hand, more people in the labour force and fewer children to support, India has a window of opportunity for economic growth if the right social and economic investments and policies are made in health, education, governance and the economy.

man writing down accounts money in his book
Representational image.

The flourishing MSME sector has been acting as a catalyst to increase the over-all exports in the country, true or false? True, if we play with the above statement a little and replace the ‘has been’ with ‘has the capability’. The MSME sector receives aid from the state as well as the central government. In our current annual financial budget also, a whopping Rs 7,572.20 crore has been allocated for this sector. Contributing almost 28% of our GDP, the MSME is not only a strong manufacturing output unit, but also showcases the dire importance of people in the growth of an economy.

MSMEs

With all the positive notions around this sector, why have we not been able to take it to a global scale? The MSME Development Act, which was framed in 2006, is pretty much untouched. It’s been over 13 years and it certainly needs a lot of changes. To name a few:

Many businesses and startups are attracted towards other countries mainly because of the ease of doing business and availability of better infrastructure, along with other conducive factors related to credit availability and risk mitigation policies. The main goal that has always been advocated should be to boost liquidity for MSMEs. With the Make in India ideology, we are marching in the right direction.

The scheme has given a great impetus to the growing talent in India — low income groups are coming forward and entrepreneurship is being realised in a way that was never possible before. The progress in socio-economic conditions looks promising. With khadi and village industries flourishing, in addition to the recent campaign started by PM Narendra Modi ‘Vocal for Local’, the promise of bettering the livelihoods of lacs of local artisans and talents stands on strong grounds.

The only factors that remain behind are India’s export figures. Our country’s underperformance in exports is mainly due to the following reasons:

  1. Availability of a range of heterogeneous products but unable to find the right place for them in the market due to low specialisation of products as well as the market.
  2. A small share in global value chains.
  3. Lack of penetration in the high-income countries’ market.

As India makes its way towards a five trillion-dollar economy by 2024-2025, simplifying and maintaining a business-friendly regulatory environment is essential. The EODB policy that we follow needs to consider the above shortcomings in its bracket — after all, EODB is the key to entrepreneurship, innovation and wealth creation.

As of today, India stands at the 63rd position among 190 countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020. Though India has improved in seven out of 10 indicators, which are kept in mind while ranking a country, we still lack in guidelines such as ease of starting a new business, registering property, paying taxes and enforcing contracts.

As per a news report by The Economic Times, “The EoDB index pertains essentially to two jurisdictions, Delhi and Mumbai, to gauge the overall national business environment.” We need to expand our horizon and take EDB nationwide, apart from strengthening our policy framework so that we can boost entrepreneurship globally. This would, in turn, generate better employment opportunities, improve tax revenue for the government and give an adequate rise to personal income as well. This will also regulate the savings along with spending power at the hands of the citizens.

India is a land of varied religions and regions, where a large population acts as boon and a bane in the road to development. This can be particularly seen in several frauds that happen under the properties selling and buying mechanism. It is then, not surprising at all if we still lack in registering property criterion under The Doing Business Report. The problem, though complex, can be solved by studying the approach laid out by Azerbaijan and China for improving their rank in ‘registering property’ area.

The CSR Way

A path of public private partnership is more important now more than ever to increase the flow of FDI in India, and the best way is by propagating and broadcasting more and more CSR initiatives, under which lucrative offers and redemptions are provided to the private players that help bring in the transformation in India – be it in the MSME sector, or increasing the export of goods produced in India or suggesting ways to improve the EDB.

More than the responsibility, CSR initiatives have become a ritual to avoid getting penalised in case of frauds. 

Under the CSR initiatives, we can settle aside a chunk of money that would go into the research or development of digital initiatives in the form of apps or other programmes to overcome the obstacles that we face in the country – ranging from an emergency distress app for people in tight situations, educational apps, etc. Research and Development wing almost always forms the backbone of any good organisation. It is here where inventions are made that attract new conglomerations, high returns and profits.

Similarly, the CSR wing also forms an important component in the growth and branding of a company. Currently, companies (with set prescriber turnover or overall valuation as per the CSR Act) are provided to contribute 2% of their profits earned in the last three years under the CSR funds, but how much of it is worth mentioning? More than the responsibility, these initiatives have become a ritual to avoid getting penalised in case of frauds.

Why can’t then we make it more elaborate and form it as a sub section of the R&D department so that the innovations (in the form of ideas, approach, techniques, products) can be grouped together for social as well as economic improvements? After all, if we look deeply, social and economic are the sides of the same coin.

Why The PPP Model?

The PPP model is not alien to us; the advent of private players in the aviation industry earlier and now railways is expected to generate more profit and revenue for our government along with bettering the producer-consumer relationship. With its wider coverage in our economy across varied sectors, it would help strengthen the infrastructure, ensure risk sharing benefits, ensure optimum allocation of resources, generate wider employment, bolster innovations and brand value of our country and attract FDI.

The Kelkar Committee has made robust recommendations to re-energise the PPP architecture in India, which, if followed religiously, will provide India a shot not just at regaining its former glory in the field of PPPs, but also ensuring their long-term viability.

Such reforms are necessary to build a strong economic base, specially now more than the past, since the economy has been deeply affected by the ongoing pandemic and once this is over, we also need to look into the climate change that is eating up the entire world like a termite.

The PPP model needs to be taken seriously to bolster growth and development, lessen the imports and increase global exports, flourish and modernise the MSME sector, take Make in India global with supply chain industry, and nourish the dream of a truly ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Note: The article was originally published here

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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