Children in any country constitute a diverse population that reflects the actual potential of the economy. In business terms, they are a subject that is not considered to be a subject of business and yet they form a part of majority of the business/brand decisions that are taken to keep the businesses running.
Companies interact with children regularly, although often directly or indirectly and in most parts of the country they are a market force to consider. We need to remind ourselves that we are talking about unleashing the potential of more than 30% of the population that in turn will affect/effect our economy, profits, dividends and most importantly our future.
Rs 20,000 crores by no means is a small number, a small portion of this gigantic sum can create a sustainable impact that can make or break our future and in order to do so, private sector has to play its role, we have to create partnerships. The same partnerships that are being created for disinvestment in PSU’s, in creating infrastructure, in harnessing the potential of tourism, we need to have similar partnerships for children, their rights. It’s not a charity, it’s a sustainable investment and this investment will tomorrow yield manifold returns.
What we need today is a balancing act, the resources are there from the private sector and there are needs that need to be addressed, so why not combine the two? Taking into account the limitations of the organisations in their CSR activities, it is essential that organisations develop a practical and participatory approach and touch the grassroots level at which children are most affected. Industry experience has shown that working with NGOs is more worthwhile and result- oriented.
Traditionally, companies have stressed upon reducing and eliminating child labour from their factories and supply chain to ensure protection of children’s rights. While this is extremely important and should be exercised by all but a robust Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy which involves children goes beyond this. A comprehensive CSR strategy should reflect a deep understanding of many ways by which organisations may impact children’s rights.
Whether they will be the future of India or would fall into the trap of various child rights violations actually depends on what we do right now. Children are the future; they are the future stakeholders; they are the decision makers for your businesses; they are your future clients; they will soon be leaders in society, consumers of products, wives and mothers. Even as more companies assert their strong and public positions on corporate social responsibility, it is essential that children remain at the centre of the conversation in whatever we decide and implement.
*Soha Moitra is a Regional Director (North) with Child Rights and You -CRY. Article first appeared with IBN Live
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