We strive to make a positive impact on the society and environment: Kazutada Kobayashi, President & CEO, Canon India

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Canon India’s President and CEO, Kazutada Kobayashi

By Rusen Kumar

NEW DELHI: CANON is a name that requires no preface. Its worldwide business chain has ever been growing and in past couple of decades Canon India has wonderfully performed in various spheres of its deals in India, and thus too in contending the CSR barriers here. Canon takes pride in not only bringing quality products to the market; but also contributes to minimizing environmental burdens through effective application of environmental technologies. Canon focuses on the development of resource conserving products that are smaller, lighter and easy to recycle. In India, Canon has laid the yoke of Canon India Private Limited to a multi-skilled and well-learned man Kazutada Kobayashi, as its president and CEO.

In conversation with Rusen Kumar, Editor, India CSRKazutada Kobayashi shared his views on various aspects of CSR of his company and explained philosophy behind ‘Adopt a village’ initiative.The full excerpts of the interview with Kobayashi are here for the readers of India CSR.Kobayashi

Tell us about CSR mission and vision of Canon in India or what is your corporate philosophy that drives your CSR programs?

At Canon India, we don’t rest our laurels with our technological achievements, for us success is when an organization contributes to the sustainable development of the society. Our philosophy of ‘Kyosei’ – living and working together for the common good, comes foremost in our way of working and day to day operation. However, our definition of the word is much broader and encompasses “all people, regardless of race, religion or culture, harmoniously living and working together for the common good.”

Moving forward with the philosophy of ‘Kyosei’, we strive to make a positive impact on the society and the environment in which we operate. Our view of CSR extends beyond charity; it is a means to create self-sustaining communities. We would like all the people connected with us – our Employees, Customers and Partners to take pride in their association with Canon.

Eloborate on the philosophy behind ‘Adopt a village’ initiative? Presently how many villages has Canon adopted in India?

2017 marks 20 successful years of our presence in the country. Having established a strong legacy of two decades, we aim to strengthen our commitment of giving back to the community. As a responsible business, we take pride in being socially inclined, with focused and effective CSR projects. In line with this thought process, we commenced ‘Adopt a Village’ in 2012, where we undertake the task of overall development of the village for five years. We have adopted four villages across all parts of the country, including Sol Gohalia village near Kolkata in West Bengal, Ferozepur Namak village in Haryana, Maharaja Katte village near Bengaluru and Karanjoti village near Maharashtra.

Kazutada Kobayashi, President & CEO, Canon India inaugurates vocational training centre in Ferozepur Namak Village
Kazutada Kobayashi, President & CEO, Canon India inaugurates vocational training centre in Ferozepur Namak Village

The project involves engagement with children to enhance their education as well as providing eye care facilities and supporting the environment in the village, leading to the overall empowerment of communities.  These initiatives move parallel to our CSR philosophy of 4E’s, comprising of Education, Eye Care, Environment and Empowerment.

In the area of education, we aim at improving enrolment of children in the school and deliver quality education within the age group of 6-14yrs. With infrastructure development including establishment of activity resource centre equipped with education aids and a library for children, we are working towards building a learned and self-sustainable village. Being the leaders in imaging technology, we feel privileged as our products contribute in the noble endeavour of ‘Eye Care’. We have established sustainable eye care facilities called ‘Vision Centres’ across our adopted villages. The Vision centres support screening of patients, provide spectacles and refer to the base hospital for surgeries. Our commitment towards environmental conservation continues with numerous tree plantation drives in the adopted villages. As an initiative to promote a green Earth, we have set up solar panels in some of the schools in the adopted villages, thereby, solving the problem of electricity in the classrooms.

At Canon, we are always striving to make a positive and lasting impact on the environment and the community at large. We have initiated vocational trainings to support skill development among the villagers and empower them for a brighter tomorrow.  We have set up the vocational training centre in Ferozepur Namak village and would soon follow in our other three villages. Here, we are organising new laptops and e-learning system along with trained faculty. I feel privileged and delighted to share that all our four adopted villages across the country are undergoing a positive transformation and the progress being witnessed by these villages is an award for us at Canon India.

What was the motivation behind choosing Karanjoti Village for adoption?

Before commencing work in any village community, we carry out a baseline study to gauge feasibility and effectiveness. The study encompasses various parameters such as – health indicators, literacy levels, sustainable livelihood processes, population data (below the poverty line and above the poverty line) and state of infrastructure, among others. Also, all our villages are chosen keeping in mind their proximity to the office. All our villages are under the distance of 40kms from our offices in these regions, this parameter ensures increased employee engagement.

What all development has been made in the village so far?

Karanjoti village has seen numerous noteworthy developments, since its adoption in 2015. To mention a few, capacity building in the school has led to students returning to the village school, clean water supply, a resource centre with a non-formal education teacher to impart computer literacy, art and craft skills and encouraging sports among the students of all grades, ensures holistic development of these children. Along with this, indoor games like Chess, Carom, Cube, Snake & ladder, Puzzles and outdoor games like badminton, cricket along with physical fitness are being encouraged among students.

Improved infrastructure at school is making it child-friendly and is generating interest in children, leading to reduction of school dropouts. Recently, parents – teacher meetings were conducted with the help of school Principal, where parents were oriented on the overall program and its related benefits. 16 Parents attended the meeting and as a result, six new students took admission in the school. Parents are highly motivated by the school’s revamped infrastructure and facilities. Along with this, 9 awareness camps have been organized in the nearby village schools with respect to education, eye-care and environment.

How do employees at Canon engage and contribute to the village dwellers in Karanjoti Village?

One of the most important parameters we follow while selecting a village is its proximity to our office location. This criteria ensures constant engagement between our employees and the adopted villages. At Karanjoti Village, Canon employees regularly volunteer to visit the government school, organize interactive sessions with the students on the importance of hygiene in life through the Canon Involve on Each One Teach One Campaign.

Canon has launched various environmental campaigns at Karanjoti Village in which employees; teachers and students were encouraged to pledge and share their commitment towards making earth a healthier planet to live in. For example, tree plantation drives have been conducted within school premises in which teachers, students, Canon employees and villagers participated. Ground levelling has been done and entire school has been painted.

Engagement activities like these help to build a close connection with the villagers and further develop the vibrant culture of social responsibility that already exists in the company.

Who are your partners in this village adoption project?

We have CAF India and Hope Foundation who are our partners in this village adoption project. Over the years, they have been supporting us in executing this wishful vision.

Disclaimer: The thoughts captured in the interview is solely that of the interviewee. The views expressed by the interviewee in this feature are entirely his own and does not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR Network and its Editor.

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