CSR is Very Much a Corporate Agenda, No more a Voluntary Role – Sameer Goel, Chairman-CII Chandigarh Council

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CII LogoCHANDIGARH:  Mr Sameer Goel, Chairman, CII Chandigarh Council, said, “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is very much a corporate agenda and no more a voluntary role. The corporate sector treats it as an investment to organisational development. The energy and excitement that will generate as India aligns itself through grassroots connectivity will contribute immensely to the India of tomorrow”. He was addressing CSR Summit at Chandigarh on 28 September 2012.  Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Chandigarh Council.

Appreciating the role of SMEs and large corporates in pooling in money for the Government funds for the Social welfare through taxes, Mr K K Sharma, Adviser to Administrator, Chandigarh Administration, said “Government, contractors, corporates and NGOs should become more sensitive to the plight of labourers, especially in the construction sector”. He was speaking at the CSR Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Chandigarh Council, in Chandigarh.

Mr Sharma felt that the basic rights and decent living conditions of the workers should be spelt out in all construction and development contracts of the Government, so that they get a fair deal and a humane living environment. He said the Chandigarh Administration was very proactive as compared to other urban bodies in the country, as the residents of Chandigarh are also very much aware of their rights. He said Chandigarh was gradually becoming a happening place with many activities going on.

“CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is not an option anymore. It is a necessary element of doing business these days. It is not just philanthropy, it’s something more than that,” expressed Ms Mohini Daljeet Singh, CEO, Max India Foundation. She elaborated on the concept of CSR by saying that while philanthropy was charity, CSR is a duty. “Today, if you want the whole country to prosper and not just a few sections, then it becomes imperative for corporate houses to contribute their bit for the betterment of society,” she said, adding that development has to be holistic (social, economic and environmental) for social harmony. “One must take care of not just the needs of the present generation, but also the future ones, and there should be no depletion of natural resources,” she emphasised. The other aims of CSR should be reduction of poverty, improvement in education, creation of employment, social justice, access to healthcare, and removal of systemic evils like corruption. The benefits of CSR will accrue to all – business, society, and all stakeholders, she added.

Mr Rajesh Jogpal, Director Social Welfare, Chandigarh Administration, said that while the administration was trying its best to create an equitable society, he would like to see more corporate houses giving employment to the differently abled. He emphasised that skill development and vocational education is a must if we have to prevent the vast masses of the younger generation from taking up the path of extremism. “Development has to be sustainable,” he said.

Mr T L Satyaprakash, Director Industries & Mining, Govt of Haryana, said the concept of CSR – as we understand it – must change from one that entails expenses to one that earns revenue. “We must have a proper business model for CSR,” he stressed. Sharing his experiences in the districts of Haryana, he said change can be brought about through CSR with small but innovative ideas.

He added that the creation of sports facilities and stadia has helped Haryana immensely in sporting events at the international level too. “Change often comes from individuals, not from government or corporates,” he concluded.

Mr Pikender Pal Singh, Regional Director, CII Northern Region, shared, “CSR has become an essential element of corporate culture today. No corporate house can afford to ignore the social and environmental impact of their activities. CSR is not a donation or charity, it’s a necessity today.” In Northern Region, CII is involved in many CSR initiatives like HIV/ AIDS intervention projects for migrants in Mandi Gobindgarh and has set up HIV / AIDS Toll free help lines in collaboration with State AIDS Control Society in Punjab and Haryana. Ability placement fairs for differently abled candidates promote their employment with participation of NGOs in all the fairs.

Man Mohan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the CII Chandigarh Council said, “CII will continue to play its role in driving the promotion of CSR in the Indian business environment towards making CSR a core part of their business strategy.” He urged the participants to raise the bar on CSR in their own companies.

Panellists from Intel, Unicef India, Coca-Cola, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India, IIM Ahmedabad, Gail India, Partners in Change and Umeed shared their views on ‘Converting CSR from a philanthropic activity to a business tool’, and the other on ‘Brand-building, CSR Communications and Incentivising CSR Activities’.

 

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