World realize the importance of public systems: Azim Premji

The Covid-19 pandemic has made more people appreciate the importance of public systems, not just in healthcare, but also systems for social security, data collection, and research, said Azim Premji, founder-chairman of.

“There is a greater acceptance now that we have to cooperate, we have to have a solid amount of solidarity. We cannot leave everyone to themselves, and it is possible that this may have an effect on philanthropy which could be lasting,” Premji told Badr Jafar, a UAE-based businessman and founding patron of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy, in a podcast posted on Monday.

Premji, among the most generous philanthropists in the world, said businesses were not doing enough for society. The first responsibility of businesses is to become more sustainable, and they should also contribute to social issues, he said.

“First, businesses must become a lot more sustainable, that is to do with their environmental responsibility and climate change. They must also contribute by themselves to social matters because they are also citizens of this world,” Premji said.

On India, Premji said with the amount of wealth created in the last three decades, a lot more philanthropy could have been done.

He pointed to the Tatas, the Sarabhais and Jamnalal Bajaj whose philanthropy in the early 20th century contributed to the country’s independence movement and institution building.

Premji said their philanthropy was one that was deeply committed to nation building.

“In India, given the wealth that has been generated over the past 2-3 decades, we could be doing a lot more in philanthropy. I particularly think that philanthropy should contribute to developing and sustaining institutions at all levels,” Premji said.

Basic concerns New Public Management initiatives

Productivity: How can the government ensure more production per person while minimizing costs?

Marketisation: This aims at bringing the market forces into the organizational set up and aiming to do away with the bureaucratic maladies.

Service-orientation: This aims at keeping the consumer the focal point and ensuring the service provided to him is in sync with what has been promised.

Decentralization: The people coming in direct contact with the general public should be given the authority to use their decision-making for the benefit of those people.

The extraordinary situation of the corona pandemic forces us to think of better public systems and infrastructure. The lessons learned (or those that we will learn in the next few weeks) must be transferred into other sectors of our social and political lives. We need accountable public systems that will not only efficiently deliver services in times of peace but withstand shocks in times of crisis. It is time to demand from our elected representative offer more than personal favors. Once the crisis is over and we will begin to pick up our lives, we must demand better schools, roads, safe and unadulterated food, regular and efficient supply of water and electricity. These facilities are the basics of sustaining life, and we cannot fail ourselves with the basics again.

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