‘Empowered Group 6’ leading India’s COVID-19 strategy

The Government of India has set up a panel of high-ranking officials from a cross-section of national and international organisations to guide the country’s initiatives in tackling the impact of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

May 4, 2020

Empowered Group 6 has engaged with over 92,000 CSOs and NGOs, apart from development partners, UN agencies, industry associations so far

The group is guiding India’s COVID-19 efforts in the 112 most backward (aspirational) districts of the country, aiding the lives of millions

EG6 is engaging with Indian and international startups to leverage new COVID-19 innovations by linking them up with big industry platforms

EG6 has become the interface for converging the strengths of private sector stakeholders to tide over the crisis by accelerating COVID measures

The Government of India has set up a panel of high-ranking officials from a cross-section of national and international organisations to guide the country’s initiatives in tackling the impact of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Named the Empowered Group 6 (EG6), the committee is at the forefront of driving civil society organisations, NGOs and development partners, industry partners, and international organisations in creating synergies with the Government of India. The group has engaged with over 92,000 CSOs and NGOs, apart from development partners, UN agencies, industry associations so far.

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 240,000 lives between December 2019 and April 2020 while nearly 3.5 million people have contracted the disease in over 180 countries. During that period India reported around 42,500 Coronavirus cases and 1,300 deaths. With the movement of humans and goods put under a prolonged lockdown to halt the spread of the Coronavirus disease, the pandemic is expected to cost the global economy as much as US$2 trillion in 2020. India has also been under lockdown since March 25, a move that has greatly helped the nation of 1.3 billion in arresting the spread of the virus. 

Effective leadership of EG6

The Central Government is now committed to returning the nation to normalcy as early as possible and the EG6 is helping with that process. The committee is chaired by Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, a policy think tank of the Government of India. The other members of EG6 include Dr. Vijayaraghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor, Mr. Kamal Kishore (Member, National Disaster Management Authority); Mr. Sandeep Mohan Bhatnagar (Member, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs); Mr. Anil Malik (AS, Ministry of Home Affairs); and Mr. Vikram Doraiswami, (AS, Ministry of External Affairs). 

EG6 also includes Mr. P. Harish (AS, Ministry of External Affairs); Mr. Gopal Baglay (JS, Prime Minister’s Office); Ms. Aishvarya Singh (DS, Prime Minister’s Office); Ms. Tina Soni (DS, Cabinet Secretariat); with the workings of the EG6 serviced by Ms. Sanyukta Samaddar (Adviser, SDG, NITI Aayog). The group’s network of over 92,000 CSOs and NGOs is helping the Central and State Government harness the best strengths, resources and expertise from across key sectors of nutrition, healthcare, sanitation, education, among others, in providing essential services to the masses and in building capacities for the future. 

EG6 plays a crucial role in engaging leading industry associations such as CII, FICCI, NASSCOM towards mobilising relief interventions

An all-encompassing impact

EG6 is coordinating with NGO and CSO networks in all states and UTs and with 700 district magistrates in the country on a real-time basis to fight the spread of COVID-19. The mobilisation of over 92,000 NGOs has resulted in commendable outcomes as reported by different state and district administrations. Some of these organisation include Akshaya Patra, Ramakrishna Mission, Tata Trusts, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Action Aid, International Red Cross Centre (ICRC), Help-age India, SEWA, Charities Aid Foundation of India, Gaudia Math, the Salvation Army, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, etc.

The EG6 has also mobilised various UN Agencies and facilitated them in creating timely response action plans in coordination with the States and line ministries. This was achieved through collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinator for India, and the country heads of WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, ILO, UN Women, UN-Habitat, FAO, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank. The UN in India has now prepared a Joint Response Plan, which has been submitted to EG6, with disease prevention, treatment, provision of essential supplies, including PPEs, masks, ventilators, etc, as key components.

Mobilising the private sector

EG6 has become the interface for converging and leveraging the strengths of private sector stakeholders to tide over the crisis by accelerating COVID management measures. These include the creation of response systems in areas of health sector monitoring, non-health industry-driven solutions, relief and rehabilitation measures, and nation-wide awareness and advocacy. These are in addition to mitigating several challenges faced by different sectors of the industry and economy. India is now expected to come out of the pandemic as one of the strongest economies, recording growth amid a global recession. 

The group has played a crucial role in engaging leading industry associations such as CII, FICCI, NASSCOM towards mobilising relief interventions in coordination with the local administration at the state and local levels. EG6 has also boosted dialogue within the private sector and startups to drive collaboration and synergetic response action, apart from brainstorming suggestions to mitigate challenges across sectors, including MSME, tourism, aviation, exports, and manufacturing and services. The Indian industry has come together to ensure a stronger transition into the post-pandemic society and economy.  

Driving COVID-19 innovation 

EG6 and NITI Aayog have extensively engaged with Indian startups, startups run by Indians in the US and other countries to leverage new innovative, low-cost researches, designs, applications, and equipment by linking them up with big industry platforms. Several Indian researchers are currently working on new drugs, vaccines, genome sequencing, plasma therapy, PPEs, medical devices, and other innovations for COVID-19. Apart from these, next-gen technologies such as AI, IoT, automation, robotics are being employed to battle the pandemic. Herein, EG6 will help in best employing these technologies in India. 

EG6 is providing a unified platform for mobilising the key stakeholders in synergising their sector-specific efforts in COVID19 response with not only the state and district administration but also at a macro level by linking the UN agencies, CSOs, NGOs, startups and industry partners for a coordinated and effective response.