Social Protection and the impact of the Global Pandemic


The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) in collaboration with the India Office of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung organised the Virtual Dialogue VIII of the New Normal Series on “Social Protection and the impact of the Global Pandemic” on July 22, 2020. The webcast can be viewed at


The current crisis has brought to the surface the vulnerabilities of the society. Keeping in mind the current health crisis, it is important to ensure that there are social safety nets such as cash transfers, food security, healthcare benefits in not only conflict areas but also in the least developed countries or resource deficit countries.

Social Market Economy model shows comparisons across countries to be developed as a major discussion factor. As per the Article 25 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights- “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”


This FICCI-KAS Dialogue discussed the social protection measures adopted by our societies and the Key Takeaways are as follows:


- The eighth FICCI KAS Dialogue scrutinised the concept of social protection and its relevance in the current context, especially in the context of the Social Market Economy model.

- The current corona outbreak crisis has brought to the surface the vulnerabilities of the society.

- Social protection systems comprising of policies and programmes intended to lessen poverty and vulnerability through child and family benefits, maternity protection, unemployment benefits, employment injury benefits, sickness benefits, health protection, old-age pensions, disability pensions and survivors’ pensions need to be strengthened.

- Discussion revolved around the provision of basic minimum necessities for survival for life to each individual by the state and especially in the backdrop of the corona outbreak

- Social Market Economy model with comparisons across countries to be developed was a major discussion factor

- Social protection programs are at the heart of boosting human capital for the world’s most vulnerable.

- Social protection programmes and policies that empower citizens to be healthy, pursue their education, and seek opportunity to lift themselves and their families out of poverty, need to be improved globally.

- Governments all over the world are continuing to provide vulnerable individuals and families with COVID-19 social protection even as lockdown restrictions are being relaxed. These measures need to be enhanced to promote further relief to the citizens

- Keeping in mind the current health crisis, it is important to ensure that there are social safety nets such as cash transfers, food security and  healthcare benefits

- There is a need for endorsing efficient labour markets, lessening people's exposure to risks, and augmenting their capacity to cope with economic and social risks such as unemployment, exclusion, sickness, disability and old age

- It is also crucial to enhance social cohesion and strengthen social welfare schemes such as providing direct benefit transfers to the needy and affordable and accessible healthcare to all.

- Societal wellbeing is a precondition to economic progress. All nations can progress when all sections of society progress together and development is invigorated in a non- exploitative manner by promoting sustainable social protection programmes and systems.

- On the economic front, people working in the informal sector as well as those in unconventional sectors, have been badly hit by the economic downtrend.  There is an acute need to not only create quality jobs for the youth but also to effectively deal with income shocks. Societal support is required for those in the informal sector where means of collective bargaining do not exist.

- The social protection framework provided by multilateral agencies such as the social risk management framework of the World Bank, may be used for creating social safety nets with greater participation of state and non-state actors.

- There is a need to devise effective social protection measures in an affordable manner despite fiscal constraints

- Social protective systems are effective mechanisms which can change the lives of the poor and most vulnerable communities and mitigate economic and fiscal shocks.

- These systems can also help ensure equal prospects by giving the socially vulnerable an option to rise out of poverty and become productive members of our societies.

- Well-designed social protection programs are cost-effective, costing countries on an average of about 1.5 percent of GDP including that of India. Germany has contributed, at times, more than 20 percent of its GDP to social protection measures.

- Universal social protection coverage should ideally include the following: providing social assistance through cash transfers to those who need them, especially children; benefits and support for people of working age in case of maternity, disability, work injury or for those without jobs; and pension coverage for the elderly.

- Support through these social protection measures must be provided through social insurance, tax-funded social benefits, social assistance services and other schemes guaranteeing basic income security especially during health crises such as covid-19.

- Indian schemes on social protection were discussed and suggestions to improve these schemes were proposed.



Peter Rimmele