South-South Exchanges on Responsible Business: India Example
For many reasons, India holds an important role in shaping discourse and priorities on South-South Cooperation. Increasingly identified as a global power and decisive voice in geopolitics, India is one of the strongest voices in the Global South. Also trade, investment, and economic growth sit at the heart of India’s dialogue on South-South Cooperation. This focus is aligned to meet the country’s demands from a growing domestic economy and stress on infrastructure, industrial and manufacturing services. Complemented by a thriving private sector, India today emerges as a key player in global markets.
However, economic growth has not insulated India from losing momentum on its sustainable development objectives. Recovering in a post pandemic world, the country has, over the past two years, witnessed increased levels of poverty and unemployment, translating into discriminatory and unequal outcomes, leading to further marginalization of India’s most vulnerable populations including women, children, members of the schedule castes and tribes. Adverse human and environmental rights impact of public and private sector business actions has also manifested in the form of loss of jobs, diluted labour rights, deteriorating environmental conditions and loss of biodiversity, to name a few.
Witnessing this dichotomous growth story, India’s actions on ensuring Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Development are now more urgent than ever. With progress on policies and regulatory action related to Business and Human Rights positive, albeit uneven in the last couple of years, India must find balance between fueling economic aspirations and promoting respect for rights of all stakeholders particularly those most vulnerable (informal workforce, women, children) to adverse impacts caused by business actions/operations.
In this session, a 14-minute documentary tilted ‘Business with Purpose: India and Sustainable Economic Development.’ will be screened first to set the context on India’s Business and Human journey so far – capturing its priorities, challenges and watershed moments. The documentary includes a series of interviews of key stakeholders (civil society, experts, private sector, industry associations), tracing their vision, steps and contributions through independent actions and collaborations on Business and Human Rights for India.
This will be followed by a discussion with 2 speakers (featuring in the documentary) on the following points:
How prepared is India at this point to be a Global South voice on Business and Human Rights/Responsible Business?
What is the one key driver (trade, access to capital etc.) for India’s actions in strengthening its agenda and approach on Business and Human Rights? Is this driver strong enough to circumvent the criticisms related to costs of responsible & sustainable business strategies?
Is the country’s existing lead on corporate non-financial disclosures enough to drive the BHR agenda for India? How may or should this be complemented by a national policy or action plan on business and human rights?
The key objectives of this session are to:
To provide an opportunity for actors to exchange on challenges and the way forward on Business and Human rights in South Asia
To create engaging conversations among those interested in the development of Business and Human Rights in India and explore actionable solutions