Report: The 2018 India Public Affairs Forum - "Public Affairs: The New Paradigm"

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Report: The 2018 India Public Affairs Forum - 'Public Affairs: The New Paradigm'

Shri. Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation in the Government of India, while inaugurating the 2018 Forum remarked that the government would be looking to the private sector to contribute and partner in areas for building a greater infrastructure. He added that the Indian government is seeking greater private participation in developing the waterway between Varanasi and Allahabad, which would then be expanded to help companies export to neighbouring countries in the East.

The Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI) organized its 5th National Forum during 13th-14th September 2018. Being the only organised platform for public affairs professionals in the country, the Forum was marked with interesting panel discussions that had speakers and audiences from the government as well as large and medium-sized transnational Indian and Foreign Corporates.

With the theme of "Public Affairs: The New Paradigm", PAFI’s 5th National Forum focused on the direction and fulfillment of the Government’s several initiatives and various strategies that corporates needed to adopt for an effective advocacy, public policy and public affairs programme and engagement.

This year was also significant as PAFI completed 10 years of service in fields of Advocacy, Public Policy and Public Affairs. Some of the key issues & policies the Forum deliberated on include Global Geopolitical Outlook, 2019 Elections in India, Ease of doing Business, Make in India programme, Government Policies & Frontier Technologies, India’s Economic Outlook, Global Trade Issues etc.

Shri. Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation in the Government of India, while inaugurating the 2018 Forum remarked that the government would be looking to the private sector to contribute and partner in areas for building a greater infrastructure. He added that the Indian government is seeking greater private participation in developing the waterway between Varanasi and Allahabad, which would then be expanded to help companies export to neighbouring countries in the East. Shri Gadkari pointed out that the cost of using the waterways would be far more competitive than the train or road routes.

The minister emphasised the need to innovate, develop indigenous solutions and adopt technology to address several issues that the country is currently facing, including the rising cost of fuel. He said that import cost of aviation fuel can be solved through use of ingenuously produced bio-fuel for the aviation industry.

Quoting Gandhiji’s adage, that this country belongs to rural India, the minister said, ‘‘Rural development is crucial to the well-being of the overall Indian economy and the Government of India’s prioritizes the improvement in rural infrastructure, and providing quality education, clean drinking water, and employment opportunities. Agriculture is an area that faces water challenges and we are working towards harnessing our resources by building dams and different kinds of innovative models for effective water conservation.”

Shri Gadkari further remarked that the biggest agenda for the country today is to create a new paradigm that meets the aspirations of young population. This requires vision and the ability to create policies and responses that adopts a bottom-up approach so as the impact is felt by a large section of the population. He concluded that no development could be achieved until all the stakeholders worked in tandem.

At the inaugural dinner on 13th September 2018, Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, National Institution for Transforming India, NITI Aayog opined: “In the last four years, amount of work current government has done to improve governance, structural reforms, and rapid growth with reasonable macroeconomic stability, is significant. India has now come to a sweet spot.”

Speaking at the inaugural address, Mr. Hari S. Bhartia, Past President, CII and Co-Chairman & Founder, Jubilant Bhartia Group, highlighted the importance of building trust across stakeholders not just in India but globally. “Today, it is the need for companies to be seen as authentic and transparent and through this strengthen their engagement with stakeholders. This new scenario of connecting with stakeholders calls for a paradigm shift where businesses move away from quarter to quarter focus to something which is long term”, he said.

Some of the eminent speakers at the forum include: Shri Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion; Shri C. K. Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India; Shri Shyam Saran, Former Foreign Secretary Government of India; Ambassador V. S. Seshadri, Former Vice Chairman, Research & Information System for Developing Countries (RIS); Mr. Nadir Patel, High Commissioner of Canada in India; Mr. Alok Chaturvedi, Director General Directorate General of Foreign Trade; Mr. Richard van der Merwe, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Bayer CorpScience Ltd; Mr. Puneet Dalmia, Managing Director, Dalmia Bharat Group; Mr. Shardul Shroff, Executive Chairman, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co.; and Mr. Shihab Ansari Azhar, Senior Private Sector Specialist, World Bank amongst several others.

During the Panel discussions, PAFI continued with its objective to redefine perceptions of how business entities should engage with stakeholders, from Government and Media to Civil Society and Academics, in their efforts to make the overall regulatory environment conducive for economic growth. For more information, visit: www.pafi.in.

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