Saturday, December 27, 2014

Businesses to rethink their approach to CSR for greater economic & social impact

Businesses to rethink their approach to CSR for greater economic & social impact
KNN Bureau | 09 12 2014 05:32:35 PM IST

Businesses to rethink their approach to CSR for greater economic & social impactNew Delhi, Dec 9 (KNN)  While the new Companies Act 2013 presents critical opportunities for Indian companies to become more socially responsible and contribute to the country’s economic future, a new report outlines steps companies can take to overcome the operational challenges and adopt new corporate responsibility (CR) programs.

The report ‘Organizing for Success on Corporate Responsibility: The Path to High Performance,’ was made by Accenture and the Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce Industries (FICCI).

According to the report, the expanding the list of activities that would classify as CSR under the Act are creating a firm ground for corporations to move beyond the by lanes of corporate social responsibility to a wider, well-paved highway of corporate responsibility (CR). The difference between the two is more than the word “social.” The report notes that corporate responsibility is about building environmentally friendly, people-sensitive, safe and ethical businesses that are also capable of generating socially responsible profits.

While the report recognizes that in the short run, a large section of businesses in India will continue to focus on building their CSR muscle, it highlights that a large section of industry will gradually embrace the CR paradigm, as they bridge capability gaps and gain experience on the way.

To achieve those objectives, the report outlines a framework that provides actionable insights to companies for organizing themselves towards: conceptualizing, designing and delivering CSR; and seamlessly transitioning from CSR to CR.  The framework guides companies through all possible requirements and options—from vision and strategy to operating model, capabilities and culture.

The study also features case studies of organizations that are already blazing a trail for others to follow.

The components of the High Performance CR framework are: CR vision, footprint and differentiation strategy, distinctive capabilities, a performance culture and an enabling environment, it said.

The research is based on a survey with senior executives from 20 companies across consumer products, resources, financial services sectors, as well as civil society, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations. The report also features several case studies of CR high performers.

Commenting on the report, “Our framework is designed to help organizations to think through a wide range of potential requirements and options – from their vision and strategy to their operating model, capabilities and culture -- as they prepare themselves to take advantage of current and future opportunities to develop impact generating CR initiatives,” said Managing Director and Lead, Accenture Strategy, India, Sanjay Dawar.  (KNN/ES)

Model Villages in Rural India Fight Massive Sanitation Problem

Model Villages in Rural India Fight Massive Sanitation Problem

Radha’s family has received one of the 50 household toilets provided by German-based organization United for Hope. The waiting list in 2,500 people strong Tirmasahun is still long.
Radha’s family has received one of the 50 household toilets provided by German-based organization United for Hope. The waiting list in 2,500 people strong Tirmasahun is still long.
NEW DELHI, Dec 22 2014 (IPS) - Rural India faces sanitation problems beyond Western imagination. With its 1.25 billion inhabitants, nearly 800 million people in the country live without basic sanitation.
Due to a major lack of toilets, some 600 million Indians are forced to defecate in the open. In rural India, this figure is as high as 65 percent. In addition to these shocking numbers, there are more mobile phones in the country than toilets.
India’s sanitation problem is, most of all, a problem for the nation’s female population. Open defecation not only spreads diseases like cholera or E. coli and contaminates unprotected water sources, but also exposes women to the risk of being harassed or raped, when they rise at night or before dawn in search of a little privacy to attend to their toiletry needs in the fields.
Furthermore, women and girls in rural India have limited access to feminine hygiene products as well as the day to day challenge of where to dispose of their makeshift pads.
Making a difference
When Irish marketing manager Tara McCartney first travelled to India in 2011, she immediately felt a sense of belonging. She concluded that her 10 year corporate career would not make the world a better place, quit her job and founded the non-governmental organisation (NGO) United for Hope in Munich, Germany in December 2013.
Since then, she has built a team of about 25 highly qualified volunteers plus one employee in India who are working together to improve living conditions in the village of Tirmasahun, Uttar Pradesh.
“At United for Hope, we are committed to communities over the long-term and there is nothing more fundamental to prosperity and sustainability than access to clean water and sanitation”, says Tara McCartney, director of United for Hope.
Tirmasahun, located in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, some 30 km away from the next major town, is a village of about 2,500 inhabitants and is representative of the aforementioned sanitation crisis. It is a typical agricultural village with poor infrastructure, limited access to electricity and clean water, a major lack of toilets and two dilapidated schools.
United for Hope has adopted the village of Tirmasahun in order to create a sustainable development model, which can then be replicated for other Indian villages.
“Challenges at the village level are complex and inter-dependant and this is why we work in a holistic approach. While school attendance is a great thing, its limited in its impact if a child is still drinking dirty water and has no access to a toilet”, McCartney told IPS.
Sustainability is the key to creating scalable and lasting impact. United for Hope works across five core pillars: water and sanitation, renewable energy, education, women empowerment and alternative income generation for the villagers.
So far, United for Hope has successfully built toilets for 50 families, set up solar street lights around the village, carried out basic repair work in the two schools and purchased land for the next project phase. This land will be used for building a community centre which will serve as a meeting point for the villagers and as a base for delivering educational and awareness programs.
Enabling community action
United for Hope aims to achieve its goals by working with the local government, the community and the environment. The organisation wants to serve as a facilitator. Community members need to be involved in decision making processes and acquire all skills that are necessary for creating an impact that lasts.
Their toilet building cooperation partner is Sulabh International. India’s largest NGO, works on promoting open defecation-free habits “by creating awareness and gaining people’s confidence to own an affordable and sustainable toilet”, A. K. Sen Gupta, director general of Sulabh International Academy of Environmental Sanitation and Public Health, told IPS.
As the waiting list for toilets in Tirmasahun is long, preference is given to households with more female members.
One way of ensuring sustainability is the participation model, which has proven to be successful so far: all recipients contribute 10 percent of the cost of the toilet.
In order to ensure that the toilets are being used correctly, United for Hope regularly conducts workshops and WASH campaigns. The organisation has placed a teacher in one of the schools to carry on its programmes, especially around topics like proper hand washing.
WASH stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and is a programme aimed at raising awareness around proper hygiene and sanitation usage.
Other villages in India have launched similar programmes. The village of Punsari in Gujarat is comparable to Tirmasahun: 6,000 inhabitants, far away from the next big city, a huge sanitation problem, lack of street lights and two primary schools.
In 2006, when Himanshu Patel became the new village head, Punsari began its transformation, which was supported by then State Chief Minister Narendra Modi, currently Prime Minister of India.
Their aim was to stop mass migration from villages to big cities and they were successful, investing about $ 2.28 million in the development of Punsari between 2006 and 2012.
Meanwhile, every household in Punsari has a toilet and a drainage system, the village has two functioning primary schools, a primary health centre and street lights around the village.
Two very different approaches with the same effect: if the Indian state and national or international NGOs work hand in hand, the concept of these model villages will be adopted across India contributing to resolving rural India’s sanitation woes.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Getting it right

volunteering_icapsingapoireSINGAPORE: Companies have ramped up their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities over the years, but the concept still eludes many firms, advocates say.
Philanthropy and volunteerism remain the main CSR activities, yet there is far more that could be undertaken.
“Singapore companies continue to take a very narrow view of their social responsibility,” says Mr Rajesh Chhabara, director of consultancy CSRWorks International.
Culture is partly to blame – tycoons looking to give back to the community have traditionally done so through charitable family foundations. But this is a limited interpretation of social responsibility, which, by definition, is not just a guiding principle for spending MONEY but of how money is made as well.
“Ultimately, what impacts the community is how you do your business,” notes Mr Christopher Ang, executive director of Singapore Compact, a non-governmental organisation promoting CSR.
Mr Rajesh says that in the West and even elsewhere in Asia, CSR means “identifying the most material social, environmental and economic impacts of a business and then making efforts to minimise those negative impacts”. This opens up a whole spectrum of social issues that would fall under CSR that firms here might prefer to avoid.
“They are reluctant to accept, discuss and disclose their roles in climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, human rights and working conditions in supply chains, anti-corruption initiatives and consumer rights, for example,” says Mr Rajesh.
But some firms have made headway by keeping things simple. Last month, property developer City Developments (CDL) launched an initiative to supply computers and free Wi-Fi connections to workers’ quarters on its new construction sites, to help migrant staff connect with their families in their home countries.
“This builds goodwill and enhances the well-being of our stakeholders,” says Mr Kwek Leng Joo, CDL’s deputy chairman and Singapore Compact president. “Construction workers are the unsung heroes of our industry.”
Other firms are hoping to make a bigger impact by using their core expertise for community initiatives. From the second half of next year, volunteers from SingTel’s call centre and information technology teams will help run training programmes and literacy courses for disabled persons with employable skills at the Enabling Innovation Centre.
Mr Andrew Buay, its group vice-president of CSR, says: “Staff are able to put their workplace knowledge and skills to good use to benefit the wider community.”
Another benefit of getting CSR right, adds Mr Ang, is that it can help avert public relations disasters, which are more treacherous in the social media age. A case in point: Online ride service Uber was slammed on social media for hiking fares as crowds tried to flee during the hostage siege at a cafe in Sydney’s city centre last week.
“It was caught with a bad pricing algorithm, and that hurt its brand name,” says Mr Ang. “It could easily have put something in place to intervene (with its pricing system), but it wasn’t thinking hard enough about its processes.”
Advocates here are optimistic that sustainability reporting will be the new CSR frontier, with the Singapore Exchange stating in October that it plans to implement mandatory sustainability reporting for listed companies.
“Since the investor has a lot of clout, a great deal of the focus has been on measurement and reporting to investors,” says Mr Willie Cheng, chairman of the Singapore Institute of Directors. “The management principle here is that what gets measured gets done.”

Employing Differently Abled Persons as Part of CSR Activity

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Corporate Affairs
23-December-2014 17:20 IST
Employing Differently Abled Persons as Part of CSR Activity
The essence of the provision relating to mandatory implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility by companies above the laid down threshold is to require these companies to deploy at least two percent of their net profits on eligible activities (elaborated in a Schedule to the Act). The provision does not envisage providing direct employment, including employment to differently abled employable youth. However, eligible activities include initiatives for enhancing employability and productivity of such persons.

The provisions of CSR under the Companies Act, 2013 and Rules made thereunder have come into force only recently, i.e., 01.04.2014. The details about CSR activities undertaken by companies will be available after statutory returns on CSR are filed by companies, which are due after September, 2015.

This was stated by Shri Arun Jaitley, Minister of Corporate Affairs in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today.

* * * * *

Ease of doing business: Companies Bill amended to remove 'POTA-type' provisions

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday approved the Companies Act (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which seeks to remove "oppressive provisions" in Companies law and to align it with international practices, with the government saying it will improve ease of doing business and attract investments.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, piloting the Bill, said the "oppressive provisions" have been removed from the Companies Act 2013 as it was felt "no body will come here to set up business if such an environment persists."
The Amendment Bill was passed by voice vote but not before opposition Congress created uproar as it wanted the legislation to be referred to the Standing Committee, a demand that was not accepted by the Chair.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the government in "its hurry", was doing away with the traditional practice of referring important Bills to a Parliamentary committee.
While winding up the debate Jaitley said, the amendments will do away with draconian POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act)-type provisions which had made it impossible for an accused for violating provisions of Companies Act to get bail.
"We are easing the environment for doing business," the Finance Minister said while justifying the amendments to the Companies Act.
Observing that some of the provisions in Companies Act had made doing business in the country extremely difficult, Jaitley said, the amendments sought to remove them as they crept in because of oversight.
"There were some (provisions) which was oversight and there were some which were left out and there were some which came in as part of this thinking that we must make doing business extremely difficult," the minister said.
Image: Thinkstock
Image: Thinkstock
The 14 amendments to the Companies Act include severe punishment for those raising illegal deposits from the public, a move that comes in the backdrop of Saradha scam in which those running chit funds duped lakhs of small investors.
To address concerns raised by the corporates, the government has also agreed to relax a number of norms including those pertaining to related-party transactions, while resolutions passed by the companies' boards would not be subjected to public inspection.
The new Companies Act came into force with effect from April 1 with some provisions yet to become operational. Many of the provisions have evoked strong criticism.
To improve ease of doing business, the proposed amendments include omitting requirement for minimum paid up share capital, and consequential changes and making common seal optional, and consequential changes for authorisation for execution of documents.
Besides, specific punishment will be prescribed for non-compliance to norms governing deposits taking activities.
Such a provision was "left out in the (existing) Act inadvertently".
None of the amendments has any "ulterior motive", Jaitley said, adding that allowing these provisions to continue would "disrupt" the investment environment of the country.
The 14 proposed amendments include provision to ensure that frauds beyond a certain threshold would need to be mandatorily reported by the auditors to the government.
This would be among the first major initiatives by the government to make changes in India's regulatory framework to improve its global ranking for ease of doing business, where the country has been ranked very low at 142nd position in the latest World Bank report.
Insisting that the Bill be referred to the Standing Committee, Kharge said this has been the practice. The former Union Minister cited the case of a labour ministry Bill in which just a word "workmen" was to be replaced with "workers" and it had to be referred to the Standing Committee.
"That Bill is still pending with the Standing Committee," Kharge said, adding he could cite innumerable such instances.
The former minister questioned whether the government ignored Congress just because its strength is too low in the House. Congress has 44 members in the 545-member Lower House.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, another Congress member, wanted to know if government was doing away with the process of Business Advisory Committee and the Standing Committee.
Members from Trinamool Congress, CPI-M, JD-U and RSP too demanded that the Bill be referred to the Standing Committee.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Govt spares firms from mandatory CSR-spend yoke

Govt spares firms from mandatory CSR-spend yoke
Cos need not report it too; govt feared clause would deter foreign investors

New Delhi: The central government has dropped provisions in Companies Bill to make it mandatory for companies to spend and report its corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Companies will not have to spend 2% of average net profit of last three years as mandated nor will they have to pay penalty for not spending the amount.
The Companies Act (Amendment) Bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday does not have the provisions.
Corporate affairs ministry sources said stiff opposition from the multinational companies led the government to soften its stand on the matter.
“Oppressive provisions have been removed from the Companies Act 2013 as nobody will come here to set up business if such an environment persists,” Arun Jaitley, finance minister, said on the Bill. “There were some provisions which was oversight and there were some which were left out,” he said. A total of 14 amendments have been approved.
The amendments, however, propose a severe penalty for the companies running chit funds and illegal deposits.
The passing of the Bill comes as a relief for the corporate sector, which has been looking up to the government to bring about mega reforms through the other Bills such as the Insurance Amendment Bill, which is stuck in the Rajya Sabha as the Congress party is opposing it.
A source close to the development told dna, “The government has not introduced any clause to make it mandatory or introduce penal provisions for not adhering to the corporate social responsibility obligations. Earlier also there were talks about the imminent penal provisions. But actually it just made obligatory on the part of the corporates to report why no CSR activity could be taken up in the Directors report. But penalty could still have been slapped invoking the Residual clause, which spooked the corporate houses.”
The Congress maintained its confrontist stance on the Bill as well and created an uproar demanding the legislation to be sent to the Standing Committee. The Chair, however, rejected the demand.As per the Companies Act, 2013, CSR disclosure was made mandatory on companies having turnover of Rs 1,000 crore, net worth of Rs 500 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore or more.
Section 135 (5) of the Act made it a responsibility of the Board of Directors to spend at 2% of the average net profit earned during the last three financial years. The Act had made it formal to do CSR mandatorily with proper implementation framework and compliance norms.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

10 Indian Villages That Set A Worthy Example For The Whole Country

Durga M Sengupta
Durga M Sengupta
SW Staff Writer
India, having an agro-based economy, depends the most on its villages for growth. The gaon always has that distinct nostalgic charm that Indians alone can understand. Sarson ke khet, tea plantations, mud houses, clean air, charpaaimitti, star-lit sky; these are just some of the happy things that we associate with life in an Indian village.
But unfortunately, that feeling is slowly waning. Poverty, lack of education, lack of sanitation, etc are the first associations that the media paints about Indian villages for our benefit.
Here's a little fact: Gaons aren't a bad place to live. In fact, some of them are way better than any metro. And these exemplary examples prove just that.

1. Mawlynnong - Asia's cleanest village

Mawlynnong, a small village in Meghalaya, was awarded the prestigious tag of 'Cleanest Village in Asia' in 2003 by Discover India Magazine. Located at about 90 kms from Shillong, the village offers a sky walk for you to take in the beauty as you explore it. According to visitors, you cannot find a single cigarette butt/plastic bag lying around there.

2. Punsari - The village with WiFi, CCTVs, AC classrooms and more

Punsari, located in Gujarat, puts most metros to shame. Funded by the Indian government and the village's own funding model, Punsari is no NRI-blessed zone. The village also boasts of a mini-bus commute system and various other facilities. Believe it.

3. Hiware Bazar - The village of 60 millionaires

Hiware Bazar, located in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, has transformed from being a place fraught with issues to being possibly the richest village in India. The sole reason for this fairy-tale change is one man called Popatrao Pawar. He banned all addictive substances to minimize expense and encouraged the villagers to invest in rain-water harvesting, milch cattle, etc.
There are a record 60 millionaires in the village and barely any poor. From 168 Below Poverty Line families in 1995, Hiware Bazar now has just three. The villagers continue to strive to see a day when not one person is poor.

4. Dharnai - First fully solar-powered village

Dharnai, a village in Bihar, beat 30 years of darkness by developing its own solar-powered system for electricity. With the aid of Greenpeace, Dharnai declared itself an enery-independent village in July. Students no long need to limit their studies to the day time, women no longer limit themselves to stepping out in the day in this village of 2400 residents. Now if only cities could do the same, right?

5. Chappar - A village that distributes sweets when a girl is born

Chappar village in Haryana has a woman Sarpanch. But Neelam is no ordinary Sarpanch. She made it her life's mission to change the attitude of the villagers towards women, and she succeeded. Not only do the women of the village not wear the ghunghat anymore, but despite Haryana being the state with the lowest girls ratio (an abysmal 877) in this village every newborn, regardless of his/her sex, is welcomed into the world with sweets and festivities.

6. Kokrebellur - A village that really loves its birds

Kokrebellur, a small village in Karnataka, believes in the conservation of nature. While most other villages consider birds a nuisance because they harm crops, Kokrebellur boasts of rare species of birds that fly around and don't even mind humans much. The villagers treat their winged compatriots as family and have even created an area for wounded birds to rest and heal. Wonderful, isn't it?

7. Ballia - The village that beat arsenic poisoning with an indigenous method 

Ballia village of Uttar Pradesh had an itchy problem to deal with. The water that the villagers were drinking contained arsenic, which causes serious skin problems and even physical deformation. What is arsenic, you ask? A harmless element on its own, but when combined with oxygen or water, it turns toxic.
Ironically, the village faced the problem after the government introduced many hand-pumps in the area for easy water access. The level at which the hand-pumps were dug led to excessive interaction between arsenic and water. When the villagers realised what had happened, instead of waiting for the government to act on it, they (physically) fixed their old wells and went back to an older, safer time. The best part? Even 95-year-old Dhanikram Verma joined in.

8. Pothanikkad - The village with a 100% literacy rate

Unsurprisingly in Kerala, Pothanikkad village was the first in the country to achieve a 100% literacy rate. Not only does the village boast of city-standard high-schools, but it also has primary schools and private schools. Guess the number of people the village has educated? Well, according to the 2001 census there are 17563 residents living in the village. The best part is that it answers the question.

9. Bekkinakeri - The village that rid itself of open defecation by 'greeting' lota-bearers

Bekkinakeri village in Karnataka has redefined the point of wishing someone a 'Good morning'. Frustrated with the practice of open defecation, the village council attempted to curb it by requesting people to not do so. When that didn't work, they stationed themselves early morning near 'popular' defecation sites and wished every perpetrator a very good morning. The trick worked! Too embarrassed to go on with their business, the openly defecating population has now stopped the practice completely. 

10. Shani Shingnapur - A village so safe that people don't need doors

Shani Shingnapur, located in Maharashtra, is a village that defies every newspaper report you have ever read. Touted as the safest village in India, this place is known for its lack of doors to houses. Not just that, there is no police station in the village. And no, we are not making this up. 
By the way, Shani Shingnapur has 'broken' another interesting record. The village has the country's first lockless bank branch (UCO bank) now.

Friday, December 5, 2014

No specific tax exemption for companies' CSR expenses: Government

No specific tax exemption for companies' CSR expenses: Government

Tax exemptions for short-term stock market profits undermines fairness of tax policy
These activities include contribution to Prime Minister's relief fund, scientific research, rural development and skill development projects. Schedule VII of the Act pertains to CSR.
NEW DELHI: The government on Friday said there is no specific tax exemption on expenses incurred by companies under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. 

The new companies law, which came into force from April 1, requires certain class of profitable corporates to shell out at least 2 per cent of their three-year annual average net profit towards CSR works. 

" specific tax exemption has been extended to expenditure incurred on CSR," corporate affairs minister Arun Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha on Friday. 

However, he said that several activities that are part of Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013, already enjoy exemptions under the Income Tax Act, 1961. 

These activities include contribution to Prime Minister's relief fund, scientific research, rural development and skill development projects. Schedule VII of the Act pertains to CSR. 

"As regards contribution made by companies under CSR towards Swachh Bharat and Clean Ganga, no specific tax exemption has so far been made," Jaitley said in a written reply. 

Responding to a query on whether the government has taken note of private sector companies trying to evade CSR on one pretext or the other, the minister said that information with regard to compliance would be available only after September 2015. 

"This is the first year of implementation of CSR by companies under the Act. Information on compliance by companies in this regard will be available only after statutory annual returns on CSR are filed by companies, including private sector companies, which are due after September 2015," he said.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Speaker @ India's Most Ethical Companies Corporation 2014

India's Best Companies For CSR 2014: Tata Chemicals spends Rs 12 cr every year; wildlife conservation tops priority

India's Best Companies For CSR 2014: Tata Chemicals spends Rs 12 cr every year; wildlife conservation tops priority

Dibeyendu Ganguly, ET Bureau Nov 28, 2014, 05.16AM IST
(Public awareness campaign…)
Think of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and you might envision schools, hospitals and rural development. The most vivid image of CSR at Tata Chemicals, however, is a whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean, which the company has been working to save from extinction along the Gujarat coast.
Ten years ago, at a time when whale sharks were being massacred at the rate of 500 a year, Tata Chemicals joined hands with the Wildlife Trust of India to launch a series of programs to spread awareness and save the endangered species. The campaign sought to change negative perceptions of the giant fish and depict it as a daughter of Gujarat which returns home from her sasural in Australia to deliver babies.
To get the message through, Tata Chemicals roped in popular kathakar Murari Bapu. Such is the success of the initiative that fishermen today free the whale sharks that get caught in their nets, with Tata Chemicals stepping in to compensate them for the damage done to their nets by the huge fish.
Tata Chemicals spends Rs 12 crore on CSR annually, and wildlife conservation accounts for 30 per cent of the budget of the Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development. The spend is distributed over the three places the company has operations — Mithapur in Gujarat, Haldia in West Bengal and Babrala, Uttar Pradesh.
Alka Talwar, who leads Tata Chemicals' nine member CSR team says: "We've been spending more than the 2 per cent of profit the government stipulates. Whether the company has been doing well or going through a slump, we've never cut back on the CSR budget."
In Gujarat, Tata Chemicals has been responsible for sealing up the ancient wells in Gir Forest which were a danger to the Asiatic Lion and it is now working to protect the marine turtle which lands for breeding along the Gujarat coast.
In Haldia, it has a pond management project, where households are aided in cultivating ornamental fish which are in considerable demand. The company teams up with NGOs for these projects, with its own employees often volunteering to join. "That's an advantage of working close to where our plants are. Our own people can volunteer," says managing director R Mukundan.
One of Mukundan's favourite CSR projects is the SNDT Mithapur Centre, a tie-up between Tata Chemicals and SNDT Women's University. An initiative of Mangubhai Chavda, a Tata Chemicals worker, the Centre today graduates 250 young women a year, in the arts and commerce streams.
Many, Mangubhai proudly says, now earn more than him: "They are in government jobs, some are teachers, some have started their own businesses, like beauty parlors. Seeing the success, now more girls are joining."
A third generation employee of Tata Chemicals, Satish Trivedi joined the company's Mithapur plant as a purchase officer. He worked as a volunteer on various projects until the creation of a Community Development Department at Mithapur in 1992 gave him a chance to pursue his passion full time.
"Some of the work we have done, like the satellite tracking of whale sharks to monitor migration habits, is original research. For example, it has now been established that the white sharks are not expats from Australia, as everyone initially thought, but are indigenous to the Indian Ocean," he says.
The award winning whale shark project is global, but Tata Chemicals is also engaged in micro-projects aimed at improving livelihoods in the areas it operates in. In Okhamandal taluka in Gujarat, in league with the National Institute of Fashion Technology, it has organised womens self-help groups to leverage traditional handicrafts skills for a brand called Okhai.
Over 500 women are currently engaged in making garments under this brand, earning up to Rs 5,000 a month. Another project aimed at providing livelihood opportunities is rural BPOs.
Tata Chemicals has set up two BPO centres in Mithapur and Babrala, employing 200 youngsters who might have otherwise migrated to cities for work. The call centres' clients include Tata Sky, Passport Seva Kendra and Tata Chemicals itself, which uses them for order booking of soda ash, cement and salt.

India's Best Companies For CSR 2014: Tata Steel uses Human Development Index to keep track of CSR in villages

India's Best Companies For CSR 2014: Tata Steel uses Human Development Index to keep track of CSR in villages

Megha Mandavia, ET Bureau Nov 28, 2014, 05.18AM IST
(Tata Steel MD TV Narendran…)
India's oldest steel maker Tata Steel says it is listening. It is listening to local communities around its factories and mines in Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. It is also keeping an ear out for its thousands of workers and miners. And it is doing so because being attentive to the needs of local stakeholders is in the interest of the steel magnate.The top ranked company in the ET Futurescape-IIM Udaipur CSR survey 2014 believes that the culture of social responsibility has been hardwired in its DNA, thanks to the philosophy of its founder, Jamsetji Tata. "Our commitment to society stems from the guiding principles of our founder and we remain committed to facilitating inclusive growth and empowerment of communities around us," says managing director TV Narendran.
CSR may be a relatively new buzzword in India Inc but the company has been at it for over a century. At the heart of Tata Steel's CSR policy is Jamshedji Tata's dictum: a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in business, but is in fact the very purpose of its existence.
"As an organization and in our case as a manufacturing and a mining company, one will have some negative footprint. We have to reduce, minimise, mitigate and even offset some of the impact that we have not just on the environment but also on the community," says Biren Bhuta, chief, CSR, Tata Steel.
Tata Steel's project Mansi focusing on maternal and newborn survival is underway in 167 villages of Seraikela district and has brought down the infant mortality rate by 26.5 per cent and neonatal mortality rate by 32.7 per cent.
The company is in the process of scaling up this programme. It is also launching its ''1,000 schools project'' in Odisha, aimed at improving the quality of education in government primary schools.
The concept of CSR in India is gaining ground not only because of the government directive mandating companies to allocate 2 per cent of their net profits but also because industrial projects are increasingly facing headwinds of social unrest. CSR offers companies a chance to build goodwill in local communities.
"Undoubtedly CSR earns a lot of goodwill and a lot of traction from multiple stake holders, including your labour unions, workers and contractors, and also local communities, government officials," said Bhuta. "There will be people who believe we haven't done enough and we take that. We have created forums, where we listen to communities."
In recent years, Tata Steel's CSR programs have adopted a bottom-up approach to development and most of the initiatives are designed and delivered through grassroots engagements with village panchayats, say company officials.
Tata Steel's CSR interventions are more participative in nature now. The company has also developed a Human Development Index, which it uses to assess the effectiveness of its interventions in villages. "Tata Steel through its CSR penetrates internal areas where even other development agencies have not reached. They especially have the interests of the tribal population in mind," says Joe Madiath, a social entrepreneur, who is best known as the founder of awardwinning NGO Gram Vikas in Odisha.
Madiath is also on Tata Steel's CSR advisory board. Tata Steel's CSR team is 550-people strong and is run like a professional company. At the beginning of every year, after consulting various stakeholders including the government, communities, panchayats, Tata Steel puts together a business plan for the year. The plan is reviewed by the managing director TV Narendran and the board of directors.
CSR is viewed like any other line function in the company, said Bhuta. Employees work on their targets, key performance indicators and budgets. However, Bhuta is says the 'entitlement mindset' of communities is challenging. "That to me is not development. From a sarkari mai-baap, you become a corporate mai-baap. It is a difficult problem to crack but we need to put our heads into how we build this thing in communities that they need to participate in the development process rather than just we passive recipient. It will make it more sustainable."

India's Best Companies For CSR 2014: Top 5 slots split between TATA, Mahindra Group & Maruti Suzuki

India's Best Companies For CSR 2014: Top 5 slots split between TATA, Mahindra Group & Maruti Suzuki

ET Bureau Nov 28, 2014, 05.20AM IST
(ET Corporate Dossier, in…)
In the first installment of a two edition special, ET Corporate Dossier, in league with Futurescape and IIM Udaipur, presents the definitive listing of companies with the best programmes for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):
1. Tata SteelThe company uses Human Development Index to keep track of CSR in villages.
2. Tata Chemicals: The company spends Rs 12 cr on CSR every year & wildlife conservation tops priority.
3. Mahindra Group: CSR is a mix of strategic philanthropy, shared values & sustainability.
4. Maruti SuzukiCommunity development and road safety propel Maruti's CSR in the fast lane.
5. Tata MotorsThe company drives CSR through healthcare and education.
6. Siemens
7. Larsen & Toubro
8. Coca-Cola India
9. Steel Authority of India
10. Infosys