Albert Einstein said – “The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive”.
These values of giving has its roots going deep to mythological times where Karna one of the central characters in the Hindu epic Mahabharata was a man with a phenomenal sense of integrity and generosity. Lord Indra who tricked him by disguising as a Brahmin for his Kavach and Kundal that made him invincible was amazed at Karna’s capacity to give away anything asked for. Even though he had alliance with Kauravas during the war, he is always been remembered as ‘Daanveer Karna’.
Also, ‘Maharshi Dadhichi, one of the greatest saints of all times donated his bones for the welfare of the community, a force that still drives Indian philanthropy.
We all have grown hearing such stories on power of giving and understanding the necessity of community development and humanistic approach in every way of life. Irrespective of profession, high or low profile, there are people who have made best of their capabilities provided to them for development of society.
When it comes to community service or popularly known as ‘Social Responsibility’, it has always been seen as responsibility of government and main source for social-economic development of society, particularly in rural India. When Panchayati Raj was introduced, it brought in rural independence in India.
With the advent of technologies and setting-up of big industries in remote rural areas, it led to generation of employment thus giving economic boost to villages where Agriculture has always been the main source of economy. It led to less migration and availability of growth opportunities in villages.
Gradually with time, population spurted in both villages and cities and with this their necessities also increased making it crucial for the Government to allow Corporates to pitch in for the Greater Good.
This is when Social Responsibility transformed to ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’. There are some respected and successful Organizations that primarily work towards bringing socio-economic independence in rural communities with the focus on child care, education, health, nutrition, employment, women empowerment, infrastructure development, to name a few. In the year 2015-16, 5097 companies have invested Rs. 9822 crores in India for social good.
This spend is testimony of increased involvement of private sector in social development by contributing in generation of employment and eradication of poverty in country.
With Government, Corporates and supporting NGOs coming together for nation building, it becomes imperative for communities and individual to take the ownership and work towards ‘Collective Social Responsibility’ to achieve a well-defined objective.
It is important to make the community responsible thus requires more community participation.
To work on long term, sustainable solutions based on the need of the communities, there is a need to underline high impact CSR programs like child care, education, healthcare, women empowerment, skill development, sanitation and agriculture & livestock.
For immediate attention, ‘child care’, ‘women empowerment’ and ‘Skill development’ should become part of Nation Development Projects.
There are 7.5 crore underprivileged children in rural areas who need environment to grow and nurture into responsible human resource. We have to build future of India by strengthening their foundation by providing them proper nutrition, health and education.
Women, constituting 48% of total population of country has time and again proven, when we empower them, they empower their family that empowers village/city and ultimately empowering whole nation. Rural women have immense potential to develop their skills and make that a regular source of livelihood. All they need is encouragement and skill development program to move them towards micro-enterprise.
India has target of creating 500 million skilled workers by 2022. It is essential to tap this resource who is primarily those, who could not study due to lack of facilities in their village or lack of interest. There is a need to increase their capacities through professional vocational training programs thus making them resourceful manpower.
With corporate’s engagement and communities’ support, Government can execute these programs by assigning each corporate with one focus area to address and same will be weaved into their Business Plan. This approach will give undivided attention of Corporate that will align all their resources on the execution of one project, ultimately impacting the society at a National Level.
The other approach is that Government allows Corporates to highlight 5 flagship programs in the state they are operating and start engaging their resources on the implementation of these programs for the benefit of the community.
It is to understand that when corporate come forward to drive the programs for community welfare, it is essential to get support from all sectors including Government. Corporate also need a cushion in smooth running of their Businesses as they are ultimately contributing in boosting the economy and job creation. They should be given equal opportunities to flourish by introducing transparent policies, simple regulatory framework with an offering of 10% tax rebate in running businesses. This money gained is only to be further utilized and reinvested for the Greater Good.
For a developing nation like India, it is important to recognize and strengthened the grass-root level and taking forward the whole nation together in making it the powerhouse of socio-economic development.
(Pavan Kaushik is a CSR think tank with rich experiences on social development, brand, and communications. He Heads – Corporate Communications at Hindustan Zinc Limited, a Vedanta Group Company)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are solely of the author in personal capacity and do not in any way represent views of any institution, entity or organization that the author may have been associated with.
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