India: The Confederation of Indian Industry publishes new report on business and human rights landscape in India for Japanese companies
"Business and Human Rights Landscape in India for Japanese Companies" 6 June 2022
India and Japan support human rights through country-specific diverse initiatives, policies, legal frameworks, and regulations. Both countries, as member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council, have committed to developing National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights. Implementation around the NAP is, however, different for both countries, as Japan adopted its NAP in 2020, while India’s NAP is yet at the drafting stage.
This report provides a comparative analysis of the business and human rights landscape in the two countries, for Japanese companies operating in India, as well as for Indian enterprises. Though India’s NAP is at the drafting stage, actions around business and human rights are visible through other related policies and disclosure frameworks already prevalent in the country, such as the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC), and the Business Responsibility Reporting Framework (BRSR). With focus on Pillar 2 (Corporate responsibility to respect human rights) of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs), the report aims to compare the NAPs of the two countries. It also looks at other policy instruments and frameworks relating to human rights, which businesses operating in India need to align with, respect, and protect.
Providing a sectoral lens, the report examines four key sectors which have a high concentration of Japanese companies in India, and which contribute significantly to India’s GDP. These sectors are Electronics, Automobiles, Fast Retailing, and Finance and Insurance. The report identifies complexities around supply chain vulnerabilities for these four sectors, which, due to their complex and long supply chains, employ a large informal workforce. Discrimination, poor working conditions, and forced and child labour are some cross-cutting potential human rights risks identified across these four sectors.
The report also examines the preparedness of Japanese companies for the requirements of that country’s NAP, as well as for the business and human rights landscape in India. It is observed that while Japanese companies are committed to the protection of human rights through an established human rights policy, there is scope to build more awareness on business and human rights within companies and in their supply chains, in a phased manner. Companies have good initiatives in place to nurture the well-being of their employees, some of which can also be extended to their contractual workforce. The next recommended step is to conduct Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) for better preparedness for potential local human rights risks, and to also fulfil any upcoming requirements for local policy frameworks.