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Rebuilding the Nation in the Post-pandemic World

24 Dec 2020

Confederation of Indian Industry embarked on its 125th year of operations which coincided with the deadliest pandemic that the world has faced in the last century. The role of the Indian industry evolved this year with the corporate sector innovating with products and processes, creating partnerships and pioneering initiatives to match the Government’s initiatives during the multiple lockdowns. As people, communities, organizations and industry were required to quickly pivot and adjust to the new normal, CII undertook multiple initiatives and created roadmaps for the nation.

As the pandemic evolved and India went into one of the strictest lockdowns across the world, it was imperative that CII recalibrated and expand into multiple areas while ensuring that the expectations of members, governments and stakeholders were met. As the country tried to cope with the crisis, CII prioritized the important area of providing feedback and inputs for Governments and policy makers through a series of meetings.

In a meeting with the Prime Minister, CII announced the COVID Code, a voluntary Code based on fundamental principles of humanity, advising companies not to retrench workers while considering a pay cut for top leadership. CII also shared its COVID-19 relief and rehabilitation initiatives at the meet. The work focused on seven pillars:

Policy advocacy during lockdown
Augmenting manufacturing of healthcare products
Ensuring delivery and manufacture of essential products through central and state coordination
Troubleshooting to assist companies on pain points
Working for migrant labourers to provide food and essential items
Mobilising funds for the CII COVID Rehabilitation Fund
Keeping a continuous stream of information on notifications, best practices, policy recommendations, and relief work.

Eight task forces were formed to drive the work under these pillars and to examine policy suggestions made by members. These included CII COVID Action, CII COVID Information, Relief and Rehabilitation Fund, Essential Services and Exempted Items, Healthcare Interventions, Manufacturing of Products for Assisting Healthcare Delivery, Banking and Financial Services, Emergency Assistance on Import and Export Policy.

Innovating in the times of crisis and understanding the need to create financially viable models to help sustain the organization, CII launched the platform CII-HIVE which enabled us to have virtual conferences and provide exhibition platforms. Since June, CII has organized more than 25,000 webinars, online meetings and conferences with over 6.36 lakh delegates participating along with several digital exhibitions with over 1,950 exhibitors and more than 1.16 lakh visitors.

Despite the hurdles, CII continued to organize its iconic conclaves through HIVE. Our AGM, which was inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been followed up by the CII Partnership Summit, India-CLMV Business Conclave, 1st Indo-ASEAN Oceanic Business Summit & Expo and the CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership.

As digital technologies were at the fore in transforming the way systems and processes work during this period, business landscapes and environments underwent massive changes. CII’s centre for Digital Transformation helped organizations across the country by supporting this transition in becoming technology centred organizations. We continued our strive for excellence and launched the CII Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Start-ups in partnership with the Government of Telangana as the 10th CII Centre of Excellence on 11 July.

While helping business adapt to the new normal, CII continued to contribute and submit recommendations to help revive the economy and various industries that have been accepted and found places in recent Government announcements such as RBI’s measures for increasing liquidity and interventions for the bottom of the pyramid.

CII has focused a lot of our efforts on healthcare and healthcare infrastructure as it has taken centre stage. During the initial lockdown period where there was a mismatch between the demand supply for various healthcare related equipment, CII helped enable production of PPEs, masks and ventilators across the country. It is with great pleasure to be able to state that India is now a global exporter of all of the above. CII’s healthcare department connected with more than 700 hospitals across India to understand shortage of COVID-19 essential products and facilitated the platform where they could connect with the manufactures.

As we move into the post-COVID world, a more resilient economy will require a greater dependence for the nation to shift to green and sustainable practises. A cohesive and robust environment in the new normal will hinge on making improvements to green and environmentally sustainable decisions. In this regard, the CII GreenCo rating system has been created, which is a first-of-its kind in the world rating systems allowing businesses to adopt to world class excellence in resource efficiency, climate change mitigation and environmental sustainability. CII will ensure that 1,000 green companies will be a part of the GreenCo rating by 2022.

As the economy evolves and adjusts to a post pandemic world, CII has been at the centre of innovation and helped the Indian industry and economy to navigate through this crisis. This seed of innovation is witnessed through the number of new initiatives that been undertaken through this period of time, while understanding the need to revamp certain sections to help India at large. CII is forging ahead to make India a silver lining in the national and global context.

The article by Mr Jamshyd N Godrej, Past President, CII and CMD, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Ltd. first appeared in the December 2020 issue of CII Communique.