With this in mind, Canon India’s President and CEO, Kazutada Kobayashi, has launched the ‘adopt a village’ concept as part of its CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiative in Ferozpur Namak village in Mewat District of Haryana, close to its office in Gurgaon.
Kobayashi spoke about the camera, copier and printer major’s efforts to do its bit for the three Es in India — eye care, education and environment.
Excerpts from the interview:
How much do you normally earmark for CSR in India?
We do not have the exact status right now…but last year our budget was a just over half a million Indian rupees for village adoption. In Ferozpur, we prepare children to get into public schools.
We help by providing, stationery, desks, water, and toilet facilities, especially for girls, which I understand, is the main reason why they don’t go to school
Why did you choose eye-care?
Since Canon’s core business is related to images — cameras, copiers and printers — without good eyesight our business cannot be done. So, this will be a core area that we will be looking at in our CSR.
Do you plan any more such models (Ferozepur) in India?
We have seven branches — other than Gurgaon — in Mumbai, Kolkata, Banaglaore, Pune and Hyderabad. Ideally, if the company can afford, we may go for village adoption near all our offices.
What is your view on the proposed move to make CSR mandatory in India?
I think the philosophy is good and matches our corporate philosophy of ‘kyosei’ (living and working together for the common good).
But should it be imposed, especially when companies face pressure on finances?
In the short run, I can sympathise with companies that are having difficult times, including us.
The exchange rate is not in our control, the rupee suddenly drops, so, as an importing company, we also face pressure.
But, if we have a longer perspective of our CSR, say, five to 10 years, then I think companies will benefit by associating with the society in a good manner.
But should CSR be made mandatory?
I have no comment (laughs).
What about future such initiatives in India?
We are investing in green belts near the upcoming Gurgaon Rapid Metro and are also greening our workplace.
Recently, we adopted a small plastic material called bio-plastic (used for the surface body of copiers), which is 100 per cent recyclable.
A normal copier machine lasts three-five years, so, we take the machine back, crush it and remould it without losing the strength of the cover.
The material has been developed with help from Japanese textile companies, Tray.
Also, we take back used cartridges and toners that are refilled in our Okhla centre. Now, we are trying to extend this to our dealers. Probably we will give them some encouragement for recycling.
To me, B2C is tougher and this where consumer awareness plays a big role.
For instance, in Japan, awareness about e-waste is high. Do you know that in Japan, consumers have to bear the cost of recycling.
So, if you finish using a certain refrigerator, you call a number, pay some money and ask them to take it away for recycling.
And, consumers are very willing to pay.
(Sourced from Business Line, 15 April 2013)