Tata Trusts must work on common CSR goals with group companies, says Ratan Tata

Tata Trusts, a bunch of 14 charitable organisations that own two-third shares in Tata Sons, was at the heart of the spat between the two former chairmen last year.

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Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata

MUMBAI: Ratan Tata wants Tata Trusts to work with the group companies on social development goals for one powerful set of initiatives, breaking away from a four-year tradition. Under former chairman Cyrus Mistry, companies charted their individual corporate social responsibility road map — separate from that of Tata Trusts.

“In the years that I was chairman of the group, I tried to bring our companies together to have a more unified approach in this regard. The last four years have seen the dismantling of that approach and a return to individual companies doing their bit,” said Tata Trusts chairman Tata in an inhouse magazine., Economic Times reports.

“Consequently, instead of one powerful set of initiatives, we could end up having disparate projects run by various companies.”, Report said.

Tata Trusts, a bunch of 14 charitable organisations that own two-third shares in Tata Sons, was at the heart of the spat between the two former chairmen last year.

Mistry asked the government to intervene in the functioning of Tata Trusts, alleging misgovernance and improper interference by trustees in companies’ business decisions.

N Chandrasekaran, who took over as chairman in February, sees binding the group together as his key responsibility.

The three-tier structure has Tata Trusts at the top, promoter Tata Sons in the middle and then the operating companies. Chandra has come out with the ‘One Tata’ approach to harness the synergies and brand of the loosely-held conglomerate., report said.

“I think it’s for the new leadership to decide which model best suits the group,” said Tata.

“My preference, of course, would be a unified model that gives us considerable strength, scale, unity and multiple capabilities… whenever a Tata company is willing to work together with the Trusts, we are happy to make the connection.”

The chairman also mentioned the new approach he has taken to running Tata Trusts more dynamically, versus its previous approach to give charity grants to causes and people in need.

The objectives of Tata Trusts’ philanthropy remain largely unchanged but are now more deeply involved on the ground with how the projects they support are implemented.

“We have been judiciously backing ventures that result in sustainable benefits for individuals and communities. Our intention is to have our grants create sustainable solutions and bring self-sufficiency to communities, rather than establish long-term dependencies,” said Tata, who took the group into global markets during his tenure as chairman between 1991 and 2013.

The trusts use dividend income from Tata Sons to work on education, healthcare, livelihood and sanitation. Tata said that with resources flowing into the trusts from Tata Sons increasing, it became more difficult to find well-run NGOs capable of handling large projects.

“That’s when we started to look at getting involved in bigger causes and undertaking projects ourselves, maybe not physically but managing them and participating in them to a much greater extent than previously.”

“That’s when we started to look at getting involved in bigger causes and undertaking projects ourselves, maybe not physically but managing them and participating in them to a much greater extent than previously.”

Tata Trusts is no longer looking for non-government organisations and agencies to support but causes to take up. They have started partnering with state governments and official agencies to work on major initiatives.

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