IIM-A to Board: Contribute to Building Conservation Under CSR

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iicaSeminar on CSR: IICA and IndiaCSR to Organize Seminar on CSR Laws, with special Orientation Program by Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee on 9 August at Raipur

Date: August 9, 2014
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Asks corporate board members to pitch in and spread word among peers

AHMEDABAD: In a first, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has asked members of its board of governors to contribute towards conserving buildings, following the new corporate social responsibility (CSR) norms.

Recently, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had amended the list of CSR provisions under section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, saying donations to IIM-A’s building conservation was CSR activity, among other steps.

At a meeting of IIM-A’s board on Friday, Director Ashish Nanda requested board members to contribute and spread the word among peers for donations for the institute’s campus building and classroom restoration activities. Nanda said the ministry’s move was good news for the institute. He also shared with board members clarifications regarding CSR provisions under section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, released by the ministry vide a circular (general circular 21/2014) on June 18.

“The institute had sought a clarification from the ministry and their response unequivocally confirms donations to IIM-A for the conservation and renovation work on which we are embarking will be covered under CSR provisions. I requested board members to use their good offices and contacts to encourage organisations to use funds earmarked for CSR spending towards this valuable activity, which preserves and maintains the heritage of extraordinary buildings of international importance,” Nanda said.

In an annexure to the ministry’s circular, it was mentioned a clarification had been sought on whether: a) donations to IIM-A for conservation of buildings and renovation of classrooms would qualify as ‘promoting education’ and, therefore, be eligible for compliance of companies with CSR; and b) donations to IIM-A for conservation of buildings and renovation of classrooms would qualify as ‘protection of national heritage, art and culture, including restoration of buildings and sites of historical importance’ and, therefore, be eligible for compliance of companies with CSR. The circular clarified this was so.

A board member said, “The director informed us about the new CSR norms and asked us to pitch in and spread the word among peers, which we will gladly do.”

The trend of board members donating for campus and infrastructure projects at institutes is prevalent in the western educational institutions such as Harvard and Stanford. “Such a move has already been taken several times by B-schools in western markets. Though we haven’t decided yet, we will think about asking our board members for contributions,” said a director another IIM.

Recently, IIM-A had roped in Mumbai-based Somaya & Kalappa Consultants as conservation architect for Louis Kahn buildings, while London-based architecture consultant Peter Inskip + Peter Jenkins Architect Ltd was named conservation consultant for the restoration study.

The institute estimates the total cost of the restoration work at about Rs 15 crore, through a period of three years.

A board member said it was the significance of the Louis Kahn complex, designed by celebrated American architect Louis Kahn that led to building conservation being added in the list of CSR provisions. “The institute is likely to announce a list of contributors from among companies soon,” the board member said.

The IIM-A board meeting was aimed at discussing the institution’s annual financial accounts, which sources said continued to show a surplus. Represented by corporate and government officials, the IIM-A board is chaired by A M Naik executive chairman of L&T. Other members include Sanjay Lalbhai, chairman and managing director of Arvind Ltd; Pankaj Patel, chairman and managing director of Zydus Group and Chintan Parikh of Ashima Ltd.

Meanwhile, it has been learnt M N Patel, vice-chancellor of Gujarat University, has been roped in into the IIM-A board, though this couldn’t be independently confirmed.

Responding to an emailed query on MCA decision, Nanda welcomed the move and stated that it was good news for the institute. According to Nanda, he also shared with the Board members the clarifications with regard to provisions of Corporate Social Responsibility under section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 released by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs vide its circular (general circular no. 21/2014) on 18 June 2014.

“The Institute had sought this clarification from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and their response confirms unequivocally that donations to IIM-A for the conservation and renovation work on which we are embarking would be covered under CSR provisions. I requested members of the Board to use their good offices and contacts to encourage organizations to use funds earmarked for CSR spending towards this valuable activity that preserves and maintains the heritage of extraordinary buildings of international importance,” he stated.

(Business Standard, 29 June 2014)

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