Change is afoot in India, as the debate on the role of business to support inclusive growth shifts from theory to implementation. The new landscape is one where companies are mandated by government to spend a proportion of their profits on CSR initiatives while major aid agencies are scaling down development funding for NGOs in the country.
Nearly two decades ago, the UN’s Rio Declaration had the goal of “establishing a new and equitable global partnership through the creation of new levels of cooperation among States, key sectors of societies and people”. And then a decade ago, the major outcome of the Johannesburg follow-up Summit (Rio+10) was around the launching of 350 ‘partnerships for sustainable development’.
Imagine this: You manage a successful company that distributes Portable Toilet Cabins (PTC) in India. You see 24% of India’s urban population living in slums with very limited access to formal toilets, 50% of India’s population still defecating in the open, and around 6,000 children dying each day from diseases related to poor sanitation, such as diarrhoea.
I was very interested to read the new report from Vodafone – ‘Connected Agriculture: The role of mobile in driving efficiency and…, having been a participant in one of the external workshops that helped to shape it. I wasn’t disappointed.
What may once have been seen as a problem for individuals now threatens whole societies, and the threat is as great in developing as in developed countries. Although personal responsibility must play a role, good intentions are easily overcome by a world which is more and more unsupportive of living healthily: high-fat, high-salt foods are an easier choice for reasons of taste, cost, accessibility and preparation time; urbanisation and a built environment militate against physical activity; social networking and video-games are taking over from sport-based leisure activities; and jobs are increasingly desk-based and stressful.