The government on Sunday said it set up an empowered group, chaired by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, to undertake discussions with the private sector and international organisations on actions planned and challenges faced in dealing with COVID-19 .
The empowered group — constituted on March 29, has already had several rounds of meetings with U.N. agencies, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the civil society organisations and development partners, and industry associations such as the CII, FICCI, Assocham and Nasscom on “their contribution to the response, their plans for the coming weeks and the issues they are facing, and their expectations from the government”.
The members of the Committee include Principal Scientific Adviser Dr Vijayaraghavan, Kamal Kishore (Member, NDMA), Sandeep Mohan Bhatnagar (Member, CBIC), Anil Malik (Additional Secretary, MHA), Vikram Doraiswami (Additional Secretary, MEA); P. Harish (Additional Secretary, MEA); Gopal Baglay (Joint Secretary, PMO); Aishvarya Singh (Deputy Secretary, PMO) and Tina Soni (Deputy Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat).
Since March 30, the panel has conducted six meetings, in which “all 3 groups have proactively pointed out the areas where they need support which the government is following up. They have also been put in touch with other empowered groups for faster and more effective response and coordination”.
Mr. Kant has also reached out to over 92,000 NGOs/civil society organisations, appealing to them to assist the government in identifying hotspots, deputing volunteers and care givers to deliver services to the elderly, persons with disabilities, children, transgender persons and other vulnerable groups and create awareness about prevention and combating stigma. He has also requested them to provide shelter to homeless, daily wage workers and urban poor families and set up community kitchens for migrants.
“The committee has opened up cross-sectoral dialogue within the private sector and start ups to engender collaboration among them to produce health equipment and PPEs,” the release said, adding that start-ups such as AgVa, Biodesign Innovation Lab, Kaeaenaat, Qure AIDrona Maps, mFine, MicroGo and Staqu, who are working on innovative ventilator designs, testing tools, and tracking solutions have been contacted separately to understand their scale and possible contributions.
“Further, synergies have been created by linking the specific issues raised by connecting the industry to other Empowered Groups dealing with procurement, logistics and several other EGs,” the statement said.
It also noted that following the discussion with international organisations on providing technical support in monitoring and surveillance systems, strengthening health and nutritional services, capacity building, financial resources and critical equipment support, the U.N. in India has submitted a Joint Programme Response Plan to the NITI Aayog, defining their clear activities and deliverables in different sectors and States, where they are partnering with the Union Ministries and the State governments.