As the voice of the global independent testing, inspection and certification industry, TIC Council engages governments and key stakeholders to advocate for effective solutions that protect the public, support innovation and facilitate trade. TIC Council India’s Chair, Shashibhushan Jogani, tells us about the opportunities and value delivered by the council. He also discusses the roadblocks that the council comes across when promoting best practices in safety, quality, health, ethics and sustainability.

Could you elaborate on TIC Council’s activities in India?

TIC Council India is a registered independent society in India. We regularly engage with various Indian government bodies, policymakers, and industry associations across various sectors to support development of international standards and regulations for quality and safety of products and services.  Our member organisations bring in a vast pool of technical expertise and know-how from across conventional industries to emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, cybersecurity or IoT. This expertise provides us a firm ground to extend innovative solutions, provide perspectives and insights that help to formulate effective policies and regulations which resonate with the industry, ensure compliance and sustainability.

ESG has been gaining significance across the globe. How is the government and TIC Council setting up the framework and regulations for ESG reporting and adherence in India?

Economic, Social and Governance ("ESG") regulations and framework has been gaining significance among policymakers, government bodies, investors and other key stakeholders, because it is seen as a way to safeguard businesses from future risks. Across geographies and industries, organisations have been allocating more resources towards improving their ESG performance. More than 90 percent of S&P 500 companies now publish ESG reports in some form, as do approximately 70 percent of Russell 1000 companies. In several countries and jurisdictions, reporting ESG elements is either mandatory or under active consideration. The rising profile of ESG in also evident in investor behaviour as global sustainable investments are now at an all-time high. From an investor viewpoint, money held in sustainable mutual funds and ESG-focused exchange-traded funds rose globally by 53% in 2021 to $2.7 trillion (*source: Bloomberg). This massive growth has been spurred by steadily increasing fund inflows amid concerns about climate change and other societal issues. This magnitude of global investment flow is clearly suggestive of the prominence that ESG has gained, and the global pace of adoption will necessitate the domestic regulators and companies to soon follow suit.

For India, ESG has been gaining momentum, albeit at a slower pace than in some other parts of the world. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has recently introduced the new Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report ("BRSR"), which mandates the top 1000 listed companies by market capitalisation and is mandatory for the financial year 2022-23 i.e., from 1st April 2022. The efforts are in the right direction but wider adoption by organisations across industries is still some distance away.

TIC Council has a global committee dedicated to ESG work items which is currently developing the organisation’s mission and vision on ESG. In addition, TIC Council India has a dedicated sub-committee for ESG, which works with relevant stakeholder groups to develop recommendations and guidelines for various aspects related to ESG policy implementation. The sub-committee focus work area this year includes circular economy, carbon emissions, water, carbon and net zero neutrality, BRSR promotion, and work in the area of Electric vehicles (EV).

Our member companies have very focused services for due diligence and conformity assessment to help companies to report their ESG performance and to ensure adherence to the ESG norms defined by the regulatory authorities.

TIC Council regularly publishes position papers covering various topics and criteria under ESG. These help to voice the stand of the TIC industry about these topics and to provide reference and guidance to the public.

Does TIC council have any specific sectoral focus? If so, which are the salient sectors that are a priority for India?

TIC Council India operates several ‘sectoral committees’, each of which deal with an area of specific product or market interest, and correspond to the business verticals in the member companies. Our sub-committees in the region include Public Affairs (including Medical Devices and Cybersecurity), Commodities (Metals and Minerals, Agri Commodities), ESG, Food, Health and Cosmetics, and Communications.

What are the near-term as well as long-term opportunities that you envision for TIC Council in the country and region?

Quality, safety, conformity of products and sustainability are important considerations across all industries and consumers. Owing to this, the regulatory authorities are extending their reach to formulate guidelines and standards that encompass maximum product categories and services and ensure that the industries and supply chains adhere to relevant regulatory standards. These domains present a significant opportunity for the active intervention of TIC Council in India.

Furthermore, the traditional business and digital world are more connected than ever before. Cybersecurity, IoT and Blockchain hold a lot of potential for the TIC industry. The guidelines and standards for these industries are constantly evolving and our expertise in these domains and services, including certifications, risk assessments and trainings, offer significant value to the stakeholders.

Globally, TIC Council has launched an anti-counterfeiting campaign. TIC Council in India also plans to start this campaign with participation of relevant stakeholders to raise awareness.

TIC council has the potential to be the backbone of the economy as an independent body that provides guidance to government bodies, policymakers as well as industries on the necessary quality and safety standards which must be followed across various industries.

What are the usual challenges that the council faces in its course of activities and engagements with key stakeholders?

Sometimes, the standards introduced by regulatory bodies place unnecessary burden on the industries without yielding much benefit to the relevant stakeholders. Here TIC Council faces challenges, as it needs to get all the stakeholders on a common ground for an effective implementation. This often results in multiple rounds of discussions with the regulatory authorities as well as industry bodies/manufacturers. As an independent body, TIC Council intervenes to achieve consensus in a manner that facilitates trade while maintaining high levels of compliance. Further, TIC Council strives to achieve harmonisation of relevant standards globally to make it easier for the industry members to understand these and comply.