• Managing Committee

    "As India opens and the economy expands, the need for industry and government engagement is growing. PAFI is a strong start to give public affairs the boost it requires."

    Rahul Sharma,
    President &
    Managing Committee Member

  • Managing Committee

    "The key to public-private partnership is a relationship based on trust, professionalism and a shared vision for the greater good of the society. PAFI will focus on ethics; winning with integrity and fostering informed policy formulation."

    Harish Krishnan,
    Vice President &
    Managing Committee Member

  • Managing Committee

    "Public Policy is the delicate art of balancing diverse interests of society – government, academia, industry and public at large, for achieving the greatest good of the greatest numbers. PAFI will be the vehicle to
    achieve this."

    K C Ravi,
    Secretary &
    Managing Committee Member

  • Managing Committee

    "Public Affairs addresses issues around & creates 'CREDIBILITY'. By exception not visibility - which Public
    Relations does."

    Raman Sidhu,
    Treasurer &
    Managing Committee Member

  • Managing Committee

    "Don't mistake activity with achievement."

    -- John Wooden, American Basketball Coach, 1973

    T S Vishwanath,
    Managing Committee Member

  • Managing Committee

    "I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business."

    By Michael J. Fox, quoted by Lorne A. Adrain in 'The Most Important Thing I Know' US (Canadian-born), an actor

    Rajeev Batra,
    Managing Committee Member

  • Managing Committee

    "Public Affairs services enables business. It is our mandate to build an association that builds a body of professionals that provides ethical solutions to complex issues across stakeholders."

    Prema Sagar,
    Managing Committee Member

  • Managing Committee

    "PAFI seeks to recognise strategic role of public affairs, provide a platform to share best practices & work towards building a credible global network of public affairs professionals."

    Ajay Khanna,
    Founding Member

Public Affairs - New imperatives, new realities

Stakeholder engagement for the Public Affairs professional is being redefined 360 degrees in India

The Indian market is complex and varied as evidenced by the separation of federal and state governments. Sometimes finding a common language of commerce and economy is a challenge. While English and Hindi remain the lingua franca for central government and Northern India, in many other states an understanding of the local language is a necessity. Regional med ia and local understanding of the state government and panchayats are important too.

Greater Government R egulations have also left companies asking how to deal with new realities. For example, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which had in the pa st , by and large played a passive role, is now quite active. Take an example: While the cement industry has been the traditional whipping boy for CCI, the Indian automobile industry was to learn the hard way when it was collectively and individually levie d huge sums of penalty. Clearly, CCI is extending its reach and companies need to have new ways to protect their interests. Other G overnment arms like the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have also been play ing more active roles. As another example, the Non - Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) have come under greater scrutiny of both these agencies and rightly so. The big difference from the past is that companies traditionally used to take their woes to the Nor th Block where the Finance Ministry is housed. Today, it is important for Public Affairs professionals and companies to have deep roots in Mumbai as well, which is the headquarters of both SEBI and RBI.

New realities also demand that companies develop a world view of Public Affairs. With the emergence and growth of Indian multinationals, Public Affairs in India has taken on a global role. Such companies need to interact with G overnments and other stakeholders outside the country too. Typically, most of th ese functions used to be outsourced, but increasingly , wi th this being a strategic function , Public Affairs often steps in. Indian Public Affairs Professionals need to have a wider vision and canvas to put across their point of v iews collectively to get th e best international deals.

In the above milieu, there are fundamental shifts in strategies being employed to influence public policy & advocacy .

The first shift is away from the "network lobbyist" (someone with the right connections) to the "knowledge lobbyist" (someone with expertise in policy, laws and procedures). In fact, many industry associations are also reinventing themselves from being influence - based institutions to knowledge institutions. They are making a deliberate shift from "context" to "content".

The second shift is the realization that having a unique level of expertise is also necessary. Knowledge of technology allows individuals and groups to harness their political power. Professionals who work for a company, a non - profit or a public affairs firm help build alliances, mobilize constituents, influence public opinion and affect policy.

Third, Developments in countries like the United States are being mirrored in India. Consulting, PR companies and Law firms are becoming increasingly ac tive in Public Affairs. At another level, many companies have hired the young generation to help with social media. Boutique firms that integrate public relations and advocacy strategies and are savvy with social media and data analytics tools have also em erged on the horizon.

Fourth , Shift is a t another level, the CEO's role has been redefined to play a more important and integrated role in Public Affairs than ever in the past. Pressure has been building on CEOs and their companies to take a more active role in civil society and for companies to be seen as important stakeholders in society. Consequently, CEOs have become more engaged i n initiatives on sustainability and social policy.

Fifth, Imperative is Corporate social responsibility (CSR)has moved fr om traditional philanthropy to community involvement to a focus on corporate citizenship. Pure financial contribution matters less today even as managers in increasing numbers volunteer time and talent to tackle society's problems. The new Companies Act 20 13 has brought corporate strategy and CSR closer together. In sucha situation, the Public Affairs professional will have an important role as bridge between the internaland external stakeholders of a company.

Sixth , increasingly , companies are spending less time trying to control public opinion and more time trying to be part of the conversation. In a fundamental shift , one - way communication is being phased out; stakeholder engagementis coming in. Clearly, companies are also discovering the advantages of listening to anyone who can affect their business: employees, customers,activists, governments, the news media and others. They are also recognizing that effective stakeholder engagement is labour - intensive and requires co nstant attention and a longterm c ommitment.

A McKinsey global survey summed why it is so important for companies to keep an eye on the government when it concluded, "Governmentis likelier to affect companies' economic value than any other group of stakeholders except customers." Nearly t wo - thirds ofsenior execut ives surveyed said they believe government's role in their industry will increasein the next three to five years. That' s something companies cannot ignore in the future.

Ajay Khanna Co - Founder, Public Affa irs Forum of India & Chief - Strategy & Public Affairs, Jubilant Bha r tia Group