How our work in India is evolving
Sachin Sachdeva, our Director, India, outlines the considerations that have informed the new India Programme Strategic Plan 2023-33. He explains what’s changed and why, and what’s stayed the same. You can read the Hindi translation of this blog here.
I am happy to introduce readers to the new India Programme Strategic Plan 2023-33.
We are proud to support some extremely sensitive and empathetic social development initiatives in India. To adapt to the challenges they face and the fast changing social and economic development space in India, we have reworked the India Programme Strategic Plan.
What has not changed
PHF funding in India has been through ‘open grants’. By this, we mean that we do not restrict our funding to any themes. We continue to retain that openness and flexibility. We will continue to target our funding to small NGOs to support them to work towards their own aims. As before, we will continue to support work in key priority geographical areas. We will continue to be a relational funder – building the work on good faith and maintaining a light touch approach to partnerships.
We’re also retaining the focus we’ve always had on community-centric approaches to addressing issues. We believe that communities must be central to the work partners undertake and that all initiatives should help communities take decisions about their future from a position of better understanding, evolved knowledge and gained strength.
What have we brought in
The recent upheaval in the world caused by the pandemic has been a major disruptor, and we’re conscious about what that will mean in the years to come. The accompanying digital revolution and what it means to people will be crucial in understanding future social development initiatives. We will be extremely cognisant of that. We are also conscious of the large-scale use of artificial intelligence and the impact it will have.
Underemployment and unemployment in rural areas are leading to an aspirational movement away from rural ways of life towards urban centres. We realise that people will need support as they make these moves and urban societies will also see new and emerging challenges as they deal with this reality. Urban centres will have their limitations, and we will see a shift in the location of poverty. Urban poverty will be a significant concern to address going forward.
Young people make up a significant part of the population of India and despite their strengths, we sense a gap between what they’d like to do and the opportunities they have to fulfil these ambitions. We recognise this as a major challenge and will aim to prioritise the role of young people in the initiatives we fund and to support them to realise their full potential.
Corporate social responsibility has emerged as an active new player in the social development space. This increases diversity in funding and development action but also creates significant challenges resulting from differing approaches. We realise that collaborations and partnerships and thinking together are going to be important elements of the development space and will be responsive when necessary and proactive as well, to create better opportunities for our partnerships and the people and communities we support.
As development funders, we feel we have a certain responsibility for the future, and in supporting the work of partners, we realise that there are some fundamental elements that we always need to be mindful of. We call these ‘overarching considerations’ – and we hope that all the work we fund will address these in some ways. Our strategy has always focused on how the work we fund enhances the capacity of institutions of local self-governance and whether the organisations we support have become more capable and resilient over the course of our partnership.
To this we are now also adding two additional elements which are extremely relevant today. We are extremely concerned about the impact of climate change and will encourage organisations to evolve strategies that acknowledge and address these issues and ‘do no harm’ to the environment. The second is to ensure that the approaches and strategies they use in their work lead to transformation in gender relations in the communities they work with, and make them more equitable, just and respectful of each other however they self-identify.
We recognise that the rate of change in the world is going to be the fastest in the next 10 years – much faster than it has been in the past hundred. And we realise that we may have to be far quicker to respond to change. We recognise and respect that – we also hope to receive sound feedback from our partners and other stakeholders so that we can also reflect and respond, which will enable us to remain relevant even in changing times.
We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have about the India Programme Strategic Plan and look forward to building partnerships and to working together.