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National, May 2022: Founder General Secretary of Prayas JAC Society, Mr Amod Kanth Spoke at Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) & Sustainability Conclave 2022 organised by Coal India Limited (a Maharatna company) in Ranchi, Jharkhand.  It was a wonderful session, some of the key highlights from Mr Kanth’s speech at the CSR and Sustainability Conclave. Mr. Kanth spoke about one of the main concerns that is the disconnect between Government-People and Government-Civil Society Organisations/Voluntary Organisations. He said, “there is a distinct gap between the not-so-efficient public administration and the profit-oriented private sector that is getting stronger by the day, particularly in crisis situations that we face”. This situation creates the big space and the need for the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) or CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) to act as the ‘Third Sector’ of governance and developmental process, or perhaps the ‘Fourth Sector’ if we consider the democratic institutions and elected bodies separately from the bureaucratic structures and the corporate, as three other sectors.

Mr Kanth briefly shared about Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS), 271 units running across India, Skill Development Programmes by various institutions, Government being the major stakeholder. He also spoke about with Prayas’ evolution since 1988 until today. He said Prayas is a chance creation with was created for providing shelter to homeless children. Today Prayas has 164 centres/units providing education, skilling, life skill program, health services, etc and also 38 Homes/Shelters across India. Mr Kanth emphasized on India’s neglected population of youth, women and children often phrased as deprived and marginalised. He said, “India has the largest share of the deprived and the marginalized among the one 1.3 billion plus, out of the 7.9 billion plus inhabitants of the world, who are said to be living without shelter or basic amenities required for human existence.”  He further added, “Clearly, we need to introspect as to why despite being the 4th or 6th biggest economy in the world alongside our highly acclaimed democratic governance structures and an inclusive society, we have failed to associate our mute marginalized millions in the task of re-engineering our society towards basic subsistence, equitable development and growth”. The Aspirational India has created new demands co-existing with the problems arising out of India’s huge poverty-nearly 1/3rd of the people below poverty line- which gives us 131st position in terms of the Human Development Indicators (HDIs) and the widening huge gaps between the rich and poor. Quoting Bangladesh’ s ranking on HDI, being 100th, Mr. Kanth summarised how Bangladesh’s development performance and voluntary organisations function in the neighbouring country.

He said, “The monolithic approach towards the voluntary sector does not create any positive impact while complementing the efforts of the government. Perhaps, it is debatable whether an alternative system of governance and development, as it was resorted to in the case of Bangladesh through massive NGOs like Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and Gramin Bank and in some other third world countries, might help us to some extent. The CSOs have the most crucial role to play in national development when the country is moving towards inclusive governance through a mix of governmental and voluntary actions, particularly in the crucial sectors of education, child care, protection & development, health care, environment etc”.

CSR funds allocated can be linked to the voluntary organisations important for development, there is a need for connect between the government and civil society voluntary organisations and NEP policy 2020 being aligned to employment programme.  In times to come, the regulatory provisions being more stringent, both for the CSOs and the Corporate, we can visualise the emerging role of this important sector constituted by civil society through the voluntary organizations to fill the gap. The areas like alleviation of hunger and poverty, promoting education and vocational skills particularly in the light of the unserved segments of population within the framework of the National Education policy 2020, gender equality and women empowerment besides environmental sustainability, give immense opportunities for CSR-CSOs partnerships.

Mr Kanth, justifying CSR funds to CSOs, which are not really happening and being diverted to company’s own foundation, Government relief funds and international institutions. There has been an allocation of 24,000 crores of funds from various companies to the CSR Sector. He said, “Their abilities of voluntary organisations to connect and deliver the need-based services were way higher than industry led trusts and foundations. With this, he reiterated with this there is an enhanced need for transparency within the voluntary sector which will further make us more responsible and responsive. As there are 1.3 lakh organisations registered on Darpan portal. There is a need for connect between Government – Voluntary Organisations, Government Policies- People, thereby emphasizing on the wider connect between communities, policies created for these very same people. One such step is the creation of Standing Committee on CSOs by NITI Aayog to build synergy between various stakeholders, Mr Kanth being the Jt. Coordinator of the same committee. Lastly, he mentioned about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they are aligned with Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for development with a three-pronged strategy. He said, “Hon’ble Prime Minister thoughtfully converted into three grouping, strategizing his own vision with fifteen years of NITI Aayog’s vision, seven-year strategic programmes and three-year action plans. These goals become beacon lights for us. He further added, “taking into account HDI Indicators. We aren’t doing well. Voluntary organisations can work as watchdogs for people, mobilisers of public opinion and can contribute in the development process of the country”.

Mr. Kanth covered the whole gamut of governance, accountability and the need to bridge the gaps for social good of the people. He concluded by adding, “With support of working with people on the ground – marginalised, neglected and disabled.  There is a social sector, voluntary organisation can work from policy to grassroots level. We, Prayas operates at grassroots level.” Mr Kanth was asked questions by the participants and guests, which he answered and afterwards was presented with a memento.

Mr. Amod K. Kanth is the founder of Prayas JAC Society. He was a distinguished former officer of the Indian Police Services, 1974 batch. During his last term, he served as the Director General of Police of Goa and Arunachal Pradesh, and later as the Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR)

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