CSR Interview with Dr. CS Kedar, Ratan Somani, Vikas Sharma 

Dr. C.S. Kedar, retd. IAS, CEO of CSR wing of JSW at Ballari; Ratan Kumar Somani President, Mahan Aluminium Project, HINDALCO; Vikas Sharma (CEO & Director, Bharat Aluminum Company Ltd (BALCO).

Tete-a-tete with three stalwarts in the extractive industry …. Dr. C.S. Kedar (retd. IAS, CEO of CSR wing of JSW at Ballari); Ratan Kumar Somani (President, Mahan Aluminium Project, Hindalco); Vikash Sharma (CEO & Director, Bharat Aluminum Company Ltd (BALCO))

By Nayan Mitra / India CSR News Network

Ratan Kumar Somani, President, Mahan Aluminium Project, HINDALCO

Mumbai: The India CSR Leadership Series always has a surprise up its sleeve for its loyal readers. Like, in this month’s series, it brings not only one, but three stalwarts from the top-management teams of three large extractive companies of India, viz. BALCO, HINDALCO and JSW in an exclusive interview with Ms. Nayan Mitra. Extractive industries, as you know,  often has more challenges to meet at the social, economic and environmental sectors than many other industry segments. This is actually a continuation of the panel discussion that occurred at the coveted India CSR Leadership Summit held at Mumbai on May 26, 2017, whereby, we thought of replicating it for those who missed out. Wishing you a very enjoyable read with Dr. C.S. Kedar (C.S.K), retd. IAS, CEO of CSR wing of JSW at Ballari; Ratan Kumar Somani (R.S) President, Mahan Aluminium Project, HINDALCO; Vikas Sharma (V.S) CEO & Director, Bharat Aluminum Company Ltd (BALCO).

Mr. Somani, what are the various challenges of an extractive industry in social, economic and environmental sustainability and how to combat this – especially with regards to community displacement and resettlement?

 R.S: The various challenges as regards to community displacement and resettlement in this pace of economic growth is how to convince the community and  generate trust in them and make them believe that it is the obligation and commitment of economic participants to take care of them.  The basic issues are always the same like education, healthcare, sustainable livelihood, infrastructure development and social causes. The only way to handle this is that economic growth participants should integrate CSR functions into their core business while conceptualizing the projects. It is this starting point where the strategy can be built for inclusive growth. The needs are very clear and has to be delivered. The agenda should be shown to the community transparently and implemented at the ground level to win the trust.  It is obvious that in the future, community will give license to operate the business. The success of economic participants will depend on their contribution to the society in uplifting the social standards.

Vikas Sharma CEO and Director Balco
Vikash Sharma (CEO & Director, Bharat Aluminum Company Ltd (BALCO))

The best way we have learned is to take the community along with you during the initial stages of implementation of projects, impart the necessary skills and train them to be available as future employees whether direct or indirect. Thus, this then becomes a win-win situation for the industry and community.

Mr. Sharma, ‘Implementation and impact analysis should go hand in hand.’ What is your opinion regarding this? 

V.S: Right impact analysis works as a radar to understand whether our efforts are in the right direction to achieve the designed solutions. If there arises a need as a result of this analysis, the implementation process gets tweaked and the impact is reassessed. The process is continual and dynamic till we arrive at the required results

Mr. Sharma, one of the 4 pillars of BALCO’s sustainable strategy is ‘Strategic Communication.’ Can you please enlighten us more about this?

V.S: We recognise that Strategic Communication is a key to success in CSR efforts. It benefits both the corporate and the community to derive the best results from their efforts. It involves – understanding the right needs of the communities; raising awareness; alignment and involvement of all; progress and impact assessment; realignment measures and finally image and brand creation.

The efforts are directed to identify the right reach to the right beneficiaries and assessment of the right impact of the designed initiatives.

Mr. Sharma, how do you choose your implementing partners?

V.S: We need different types of partners to drive our initiatives to fruition. The partners vary from academicians, health specialists, sustainability professionals, skills development experts, enterprise development advisors, consultants, civil contractors, structural fabricators to NGOs.

The primary selection criteria is the value system and belief, capability, expertise, skill sets, geographical presence, infrastructure, past performance – related to work, HSE, compliance, efficiency, transparency and ethics.

Dr CS Kedar JSW Foundation
Dr. C.S. Kedar (retd. IAS, CEO of CSR wing of JSW at Ballari)

In case of NGO or other organizations, it becomes more important to evaluate the networking, monitoring and evaluation standards and the people behind it.

Dr. Kedar, what is your analysis of the role of Government vis-a-vis Corporation (Public or Private) in social development in an emerging economy like India?

C.S.K: Two decades ago when industrialists visited locations for setting up of their industries, villagers/local communities used to receive them with bouquets and garlands. They were all looking up-to them. But in the last decade people started receiving such industrialists with brickbats and shouting. There has been a steady decline in the image of industrialists among the local people, resulting in increasing animosity between them. Thus there was a felt need to enhance synergy among villagers and industrialists willing to set up plants/industries/services/businesses, which was only possible by augmenting harmony between the existing plants and surrounding people.

Thus the CSR mandate under the Companies Act, 2013 was introduced as the Government’s way of bringing in this harmony and development. However, this growth had to be elevated in the immediate surroundings of the existing industries for which, there was a need for extra funds to be spent in these areas. Thus CSR funds were retained at the disposal of the plants/ factories and spent in their respective geographical vicinity.

The Government hopes that the efficiency and grit of private sector helps pave the development of its surrounding areas. This would ensure that islands of ideal growths are created as models across the country, thereby enhancing the quality of development by itself. That is the back drop of the Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 that prescribes the sectors or types of activities that is undertaken under CSR. Over time, a wonderful partnership between the Government and the industry is expected to  evolve in the delivery of development in the country.

Dr. Kedar, what are the challenges and opportunities you are facing (after working in the Government sector for 38 years) in your new role in the Corporate Sector?

C.S.K: Thirty eight years of Government service has moulded me to think of people or sectors holistically, whereas in the private sector, one is more focussed in particular, either for sector or for geography. Private sector outcomes are clearly measurable and every one working in it knows and follows it. In the government sector, many outcomes are targeted under just one scheme, where some of the social outcomes are not easily comprehensible and measurable. Governments concentrate on growth with stability while private sector do not mind disruptive growth. Processes become sanctity in government while outputs and outcomes are critical for private sectors.

Funds and manpower at the disposal of government for development are large when compared to the tiny CSR funds.  Industries should not try to substitute government or do more of the same. Infact, the best thing for the plants/ factories is to supplement and compliment Government efforts for far higher impactful delivery. The first option is to look at gaps in the government delivery system and fill them in effectively to enhance the impact of the schemes exponentially.  In a nutshell, out of the box thinking and innovations be in concepts, roll out processes and monitoring as thought out by the private sector can elevate government schemes to a higher stratosphere and deliver unbelievable impacts which hopefully governments could also emulate later.

Mr. Somani, how do you foresee CSR ten years hence? 

R.S: India is definitely growing in economy at a faster pace today. It is a well-known fact that any economic growth has associated social and environment cost. Today, the time lag between economic and social growth cannot be accepted by the community. Therefore I think speed is the need of the hour and any economic growth will have to include a time bound CSR program and this should happen along with the completion of the economic growth projects taken in hand.

The development of our country is no more the responsibility of only one agency. CSR shall be the appropriate mechanism for achieving the desired results through joint collaborations between the Government, Corporations and NGOs, which shall enable the development of Rural India in a faster and more sustainable manner. Here we are talking about the right mixture of right expertise of the three stakeholders, where the Government shall be responsible for Policy & Governance; Corporations will provide technical know-how & management; and the NGOs will be instrumental with their grass root experience.

As we know, India possess a larger young population and therefore, it is important that they are trained for necessary skills and made part of the India growth story. Therefore, today, we need to focus on skill development and entrepreneurship development and this will enable the young and deprived section of the society to improve their earning and lead a better life.

Interview contents are based on panel discussion chaired by Nayan Mitra at India CSR Leadership Summit, Mumbai, May 26, 2017.

About the Leaders

Dr C.S. Kedar

Dr. C.S Kedar, retired Additional Chief Secretary, belongs to IAS 1979 batch, Karnataka Cadre. He is currently working as the CEO of the CSR wing of JSW at Ballari.

Dr Kedar, holds a PhD. from the University of Mysore, and has a unique capability of blending research, advocacy and public administration for conceptualising and executing sustainable developmental initiatives.

He has had 34 years’ of rich work experience in public administration before joining JSW in 2013. He started his career as the Assistant Commissioner of Ramanagaram in 1981 and served in various capacities both in GOK and GOI including Deputy Commissioners of Bengaluru and Ballari, Director of Watershed Development Programme, both at GOK & NABARD,   and many more positions at the Commissioner, Principal Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary levels.

He has a tradition of leaving behind legacy. As Secretary, Finance, he rolled out the biggest IT project ‘KHAJANA’ digitising the financial transactions of Government treasuries; Yeshasvini, the health insurance was digitised benefitting 20 lakh members of rural cooperatives while working as Principal Secretary, Co-operation; Working as Joint Secretary at Cabinet Secretariat Rastrapathy Bhavan, he handled policy issues at the highest level. As Director General, ESI Corporation, he handled health insurance and health service provision to 62 million Indians through its own chain of 150 hospitals and 1500 dispensaries. He started post graduate courses in Medical education at 6 locations and initiated 8 medical colleges, set up 8 new modern hospitals and modernised 22 existing hospitals and rolled out one of the world’s biggest IT projects with an out lay of Rs 12,000 million involving business process reengineering and training 65,000 officials. He issued smart cards to more than 15 million insured persons and created Clinical Data Records of 62 million Indians.

As the honorary member in the past he was on the Board of Governors of IIM-Ranchi, and presently on the Boards of Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwaraa Dharmothana Trust, a revered and respected NGO in Karnataka and advisor to Ramaseva Mandali, Bengaluru, one of the highly reputed cultural organisation. At the JSW Foundation, he conceptualised the Mission Against Malnutrition and is leading the Mission team from the front.

Vikas Sharma

Vikas Sharma, CEO & Director, Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (BALCO) is known as a result-driven individual in the industry with experience of over 28 years in various national and multi-national companies. He holds the experience of serving HMT, Praxair, JSW and AMP in various key positions.

He is a mechanical engineer graduate from Kota Engineering College, Sharma took over as the Location Head of Chanderiya Unit of Hindustan Zinc Limited in 2012 and was gradually elevated to the position COO Smelters. During his tenure, he played an integral role in the growth of the company and made significant contribution in smelter production besides building harmonious relations with stakeholders.

Sharma also holds MBA (Marketing) degree from Sikkim Manipal University.

Ratan Somani

Ratan Somani is a Mechanical Engineer from Regional Engineering College, Suratkal, Karnataka. He has a rich experience of over 25 years in the Indian manufacturing industry, of which he has spent more than 20 years with HINDALCO Industries (a flagship company of $41 billion Aditya Birla Group).

By virtue of his wisdom, conceptual understanding, technical proficiency, valuable contributions, and significant achievements in the metal business operations, he was assigned the job of heading Mahan Aluminium, a mega Greenfield project of HINDALCO Industries in 2011.

Inspired by leaders, like Aditya Vikram Birla & Kumar Mangalam Birla & Mrs. Rajashree Birla, Mr. Somani devoted valuable time of his career in the CSR domain, working untiringly for more than a decade in executing and managing developmental programmes at Mahan. He has been driving CSR projects catering to sectors like Education, Healthcare, Sustainable Livelihood, Infrastructure Development, and social issues including handling one of the largest rehabilitation and resettlement project of 3,000 families at Badgawan in Madhya Pradesh.

Mr Somani has been instrumental in developing more than 12 villages in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh and has contributed towards: Watershed management projects by construction of 15 harvesting structures like small check dams & lift irrigation projects for agricultural development. Girl child education projects like skill training, computer training, Mahan Jyoti Scholarships, coaching centres and career guidance aimed at helping the girls build their career and become self-reliant. Green energy and natural resource management project where he created awareness on the use of eco-friendly energy efficient and health friendly devices like biogas units, solar lamps, etc.

About Nayan Mitra

Ms. Nayan Mitra comes with a rich mix of diverse professional experience of over sixteen years. She straddles seamlessly between academics, social and corporate sectors. As a Developmental Consultant and Researcher, she works closely with some of the eminent Corporations and not-for profits of India as well as being in their Advisory and Board level. She has conducted several social researches for multi-lateral agencies; the findings of which have become important bases for sustainable action. She has been a resource person in eminent Institutions of higher learning in the areas of CSR and Corporate Governance and has important peer reviewed research publications to her credit in double blind peer reviewed national and international Academic journals and books as well as delivered at key Conferences. Her book, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility in India: Cases and Development after the Legal Mandate’ alongwith co-editor Dr. Rene Schmidpeter is a first book of its kind that charters the development of mandated Indian CSR from a multi-stakeholder perspective, that has recently received the coveted India CSR Author Award, 2017. She spearheads the India CSR Leadership Series by India CSR. She was a finalist of the prestigious Chevening Gurukul Scholarship for Leadership and Excellence – 2013, as conferred by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the British Deputy High Commission.

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

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