Speakers at the National Summit on CSR: Partnering the National Agenda organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the National Foundation for Corporate Governance in New Delhi on 29 April, 2015 called for the development of transformational new partnerships to address the developmental issues faced by the country.
Addressing the session on “National Schemes – The new paradigm for partnerships”, Mr. Ram Sewak Sharma, Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology highlighted the transformation that was being brought about through the Digital India Mission. He stated that a key part of the mission was the development of digital infrastructure in the form of a unique ID for every citizen i.e. Aadhar. This was to be supplemented with the Jan Dhan Yojana which is bring about financial inclusion in the country and the proliferation of mobiles to all sections of society. In his view, this combination of technologies had the power to transform the way India implemented its development agenda.
Mr. Lov Verma, Secretary, Department of Department of Empowerment of the Disabled, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, called on the corporate sector to contribute to schemes which address the needs of the disabled. He stated that the Government was currently implementing a plan which provides cochlear implants to children and invited the corporate sector to partner in this effort. He also called upon corporates to pay greater attention to the creation of disabled friendly buildings and toilets.
Addressing the participants, Mr. Sunil Arora, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship stated that while the corporate sector was contributing towards skill development in the country, there was a need to scale this up substantially to address the skill gap in the country. He stated that companies to adopt ITIs for this purpose and stated that his department would clear their proposals within a week.
Mr. V S Oberoi, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development called upon the corporate sector to address the overall issue of empowerment of women especially in the workplace. For this he stated that companies needed to pay greater attention to the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. He encouraged corporates to induct more women into the boardroom, adopt gender friendly recruitment and retention policies as well as conduct gender sensitization programmes amongst its workforce.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII stated that the CII Theme for the year was “Build India – Invest in Development, A Shared Responsibility” and a natural outcome of this theme was to find ways and means to partner the government’s development agenda.
At the Session on “The Boardroom Conversation”, Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Chairman, CII National CSR Summit 2015 and Vice Chairman, Bharti Enterprises stated that companies are seeking to partner with NGOs to develop their CSR agenda and he suggested the need for greater transparency in the functioning of these NGOs. He also felt that while PSUs were also following the same route, they were only funding the capital expenditure of these NGOs and not their operational expenditure. This, in his view, needed to change and PSUs should also fund the operational expenditure of PSUs.
Mr. Raghupati Singhania, Co-Chair, CII National CSR Summit 2015 and Chairman and Managing Director, JK Tyre & Industries Ltd. felt that the companies needed to consult the communities with which they were partnering to gauge their needs and then tailor make the projects accordingly. He felt that there was a need to involve the local community at every stage as eventually they will be the ones who will maintain the project.
Mr. Pabitra Narayan Roy Chowdhury, Advisor, Strategic Planning and Sustainability, Adani Group stated that whatever the government needed to do from the regulatory aspect had been taken care of by the Companies Act 2013. The government now needed to facilitate corporates undertake CSR projects. He felt that corporates, on their part, needed to step in and address the deficiencies in development that may have crept in over time. He called on the corporate sector to partner with the government to bring about a transformational change in India’s development.
Mr. Harpal Singh, Mentor and Chairman Emeritus, Fortis Healthcare stated that there was a need to move from the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility to a concept of Fundamentally Socially Responsible Business. He stated that the government, through the Companies Act needed to define the direction that the corporate sector should take and not the methodology and therefore there was a need to unshackle Section 7 of the Act.
Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee, Director General, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) stated that the new Companies Act had provided an opportunity for the corporate sector to partner in India’s development. He stated that the IICA had been mandated to maintain a list of credible civil society organisations and the first set of NGOs had been put up on the IICA website.
In his address, Mr. Ashish Chauhan, Managing Director and CEO, Bombay Stock Exchange stated that to facilitate interactive collaboration on Corporate Social Responsibility, CII, IICA and BSE had launched Sammaan: The CSR Exchange which would bring together the strength of CII's member corporate base and the Implementation Agency Hub (IA Hub) of the IICA.
While inaugurating the conference, The Honourable President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee unveiled the logo of Sammaan. This BSE enabled IT platform is designed to facilitate interactive collaboration on Corporate Social Responsibility. The IICA IA Hub ?will ?provide the validated credentials for the Implementation Agencies through a rigorous due diligence process and highlights their strengths?. The CII ?will ?facilitate for its members, access to such agencies, for the successful implementation and monitoring of their CSR initiatives and showcase model projects, ?while the BSE owns and maintains the platform on which such interactive and collaborative activities may take place. The Sammaan platform will formally be launched within 45 days.
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