The country has been going through many tumultuous social upheavals starting from the natural cataclysms like earthquakes, floods etc. to the growing intolerance of civil society on various issues viz. terrorism, economic policies etc. which is undoubtedly as one of the outcome of the prevailing social inequity. The policy of the State plays a pivotal role in shaping the nature of the development process and extent of inclusiveness in terms of caste, creed, sex, religion etc. which gets reflected from the commitment of the State towards’ various dimensions of human welfare. Further, on one hand where the responsibility of ensuring the inclusiveness in the development process lies with the State, on the other hand it is equally true that businesses have also an important role to play because the limits to future growth will be defined more by the vulnerabilities flowing from social inequities, environmental degradation and climate change than by any other factor. Thus, ambit of the business houses and industries are beyond contributing in the country’s economy through sustaining profitable enterprises as growth engines but also to contribute meaningfully to building social equity.
My exposure to this field may be witnessed through my professional association with the CSR program of ITC Limited which accompanied projects enhancing the environmental and natural capital, undertaking the affirmative action interventions such as skill building and vocational training to enhance the employability of the unemployed educated youths, promoting the quality of the primary education in schools and above all initiatives complementing the rural development. The association with these programs may be further elaborated in terms of contributing in the selection of the appropriate implementing agencies, verification and the assessment of the project proposals with the implementing partners and the concerned authorities, assessment of the budgets, systematic and timely monitoring and above all ensuring the objectivity of the projects through various strategic interventions from time to time. The learnings from these activities were immense in terms of seeing the indicators of success matching with the results and beyond that sensing the satisfaction amongst the targeted beneficiaries.
ITC’s Wealth-out of waste-programme, that promotes recycling and source segregation have been supported by more than 8000 households of Saharanpur city of Uttar Pradesh and beyond that it has created a sense of awareness amongst the residents of the city to believe and practice the reduce-recycle and reuse approach. Being the contributor in achieving such meaningful results brings in a sense of accomplishment but beyond that it always invokes the desire to witness the part such ambitious programmes once again in future.
It is thus to be understood that CSR is beyond spending a part of the business profit rather it should be immensely constructive, innovative fuelled with the potential of transformative capacity. It should be able to bridge the gap and thus meet the potential loss caused due to the inequality with respect to the access to health, education, public services etc. which further impacts the HDI of the country.