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Eminent policymakers, economists, activists in US discuss issues being faced in India

Press Trust of India  |  New York 

Leading experts from diverse fields such as the government, academia, economy and converged at the prestigious here in the US and discussed the Indian economy, blockchain, education, women's rights and the movement in

Former Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia delivered the keynote address at the event 'Dialogues' on Saturday.

Speakers at the event, organised by the students at the Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, included and former of NITI Aayog Arvind Panagariya, (CAG) of Rajiv Mehrishi, Abha Singh, (US Operations), State Bank of India, Ashwini Tewari, Deputy Director, and Capital Markets Department at the International Fund Ratna Sahay and Lead for India at the Poonam Gupta.

The experts spoke on various issues including the Indian economy, foreign policy, and governance, technology and education, women's rights and the movement in India.

In her remarks, Singh focussed on the impact of the movement on corporate culture in India. She cited statistics to show the extent to which sexual harassment was rampant in India, noting that cases of sexual harassment in the country rose by 45 per cent in the last three years and 75 per cent of sexual harassment victims experience retaliation when they speak up.

She also pointed out that several companies had not even formed Internal Grievance Committees to address the problem, thereby brazenly violating the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 (POSH Act).

Explaining the provisions of the Act, the former bureaucrat lamented that the penalty for violating the POSH Act is merely Rs 50,000 (a little over USD 700), which she said is a minuscule amount for big corporates.

Singh noted that the rise of the MeToo movement in India can directly be attributed to the failure of the POSH Act to curb sexual harassment and the absence of any strict punishment.

She stressed the need to amend Section 26 of the POSH Act and incorporate criminal liability for non-compliance with its provisions.

Directors and officers of companies violating the POSH Act must be held accountable through a prison term as well as heavy fines, she said, adding that strictness of the punishment can be increased by declaring such accused persons as 'Deemed Guilty', leaving it on them to prove their innocence during trial.

"Only then would corporate India be able to curb sexual harassment which has brought tremendous infamy to the country and has impeded the rise of women up the ranks," Singh added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, December 04 2018. 15:10 IST