Fructifying Role of CSR in Nation Building « richanegi

Nation Building can be succinctly understood as the total progress and sustainable growth of the country. There has been uproar in the country on the dwindling economic growth, falling education quality, safety of its citizens, persistent state of the poor & the state stricken with poverty, food security vis-a-vis public distribution system. India witnesses co-existence of dearth of amenities and untapped resources which has pithy potential to accentuate nation building process.  

Nation Building originates with its meaning in the present scenario as the building up of nation, reconstruction, peace building, state-building transpired due to a war, devastation led by man-impeded acts or natural calamities. However, In 1990s, United Nation, emphasized in its Human Development Report on the essential components like health and education in its development processes, along with the ruling aspect of economic development. And by 2012, these parameters became indispensable features of any development programs, government policy, national or local effort towards nation building. The appendage is not only a coerced process of modernization but a steadfast approach towards tuning nation towards sustainable growth by ensuring best provisions for its main co-player, the citizens, who form the foundation of the Nation building process. As illustrated by Benedict Anderson in his Imagined Communities, ”a nation is a community socially constructed, imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group. He further said that Members of the community probably will never know each of the other members face to face; However, they may have similar interests or identify as part of the same nation.” sovereignty, solidarity and harmony in the Nation.

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Nation, inexorably, stands as one in coherence and solidarity when it has channelized motivated mass intended towards its progress. Collective Consciousness, as popularized by French Sociologist Emile Durkheim, is efficaciously an irrefutable element towards Nation Building which is definitely not a modern concept but the approach to Nation Building has been tweaked in pro-modern ways.

 For Nation Building-process to be operative, the key pillars identified in the state are Government, Civil Society and the Corporate. It will be appropriate to insinuate the key players of Nation Building as women- the progressives, children- the future, youth- the power, men- the supporters, media- the neutrals, education system- the educator, Health system- the insurers. Can we also give a brief attention to pestiferous subjects? Those are violence, illiteracy, unemployment, crime, epidemics, maternal & infant mortality, corruption, poverty, malnourishment and even insignificant subject like lack of awareness, participation, lack of three Cs- Commitment, collaboration & communication. And that is why many of the programs, initiatives fail- not because of the lack of strategy but due to successful implementation. Nation building calls for integration of all the pillars with its major players to deracinate the maladies from the society to make it surreal but a factual nation of prosperity.

Chronicle expositions elucidated that the process of Nation Building has always been a collective event, agnated by people & their kin, government & non-government entities, Art & Culture, Drama & Dance, scripture & writers, needy & the progressives. It will not be primitive to say that the demand for Corporates’ contribution and participation has emerged as inevitable & also, has the potential to play an instrumental role in Nation Building & its sustainability. Dr. APJ Abdulkalam spoke at CSR Summit 2012 organised by the ASSOCHAM with the theme “Empowering Sustainability-Promoting Responsibility” on 20 December 2012 in New Delhi and stated that “Sustainable development refers to a mode of human development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for the generations to come.” Contribution towards Nation Building has come to be considered as an investment for the corporate and not expenditure.

One of the strong examples of such social investment is the corporate social responsibility arm of Usha Martin Limited, Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra (KGVK).  Its mission is to facilitate integrated progress and prosperity in rural Jharkhand – one of India’s most impoverished states.

To bring the benefits of economic development to a community left behind. Under such a vast umbrella, KGVK minutely & innovatively ensures women-led Self-Help Groups and community-based organizations in Jharkhand. Women, who had never been inside a bank before, today maintain over Rs 35 lakh in savings. It has also strengthened local livelihood platforms by ensuring intervention in Agriculture and dairy enterprises, Forest-based livelihoods, Vocational training based on rural needs. KGVK’s program could not have been much progressively and comprehensive to have focused on education by offering quality primary education to first-time learners, including dropouts and young adults. KGVK has introduced Mouse on the Wheels program. It is a mobile computer lab mounted on a bus moves around the Ranchi Sadar and Namkum Block areas. Each four-month course teaching basic computer operations is free for needy and deserving children, especially girls.

 In a state- Jharkhand- where only 11% of it’s population has access to institutional health care; infant mortality rate is at 69 per 1000 live births; only 36% of new mothers receive the three mandated antenatal care visits; only 30% of infants are fully immunized; almost 80% of children suffer from anaemia, 59% children below 3 years of age are underweight. KGVK rolled down mobile health vans in remote areas well equipped with a first aid kit, an X-ray machine and pathological support for blood collection. A doctor accompanies the mobile van from time to time.

  Initiatives by corporates do not restrict here. Banking sector has shown tremendous commitment towards building its people and the society. ICICI Bank, through ICICI Foundation, fastens the process of financial inclusion and thereby, giving greater emphasize on inclusive growth. ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company launched India’s first index-based insurance to protect farmers from weather-related risks. Through a transparent and easy to administer rainfall-index, ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company reduced transaction costs, enabled quick payouts and made insurance and its benefits more accessible to small and marginal farmers. In alignment with the National delivery systems and endeavours like National Rural Livelihood Mission, ICICI shows efforts in skill development by installing low input cost and high returns, and are self-sustainable. Such courses include beautician training, mobile phone repairing, tailoring, cattle breeding and vermi composting. To ensure foreward linkages, it is attempting to facilitate job placements through industry linkages.

 

When basic needs become a necessity, clean and safe drinking water has relentlessly remained, and lately much talked about in every national and international forum, a mooted challenge for India. Cadbury extended cost-sharing under National Rural Drinking Water Program, NRDWP.

  Cement Industry has been the forerunners with ACC Limited showing enduring commitment towards building community-state. Apart from continued support rendered in health & education, ACC‘s Gujarat Mason training was a remarkable initiative. Anticipating a scarcity of skilled masons, during rebuilding Gujarat out of the devastating earthquake in 2001,  ACC trained supervisors for the reconstruction work – especially in Kutch, Rajkot and Surendranagar districts, the company evolved a scheme to provide construction related training to over 2500 unemployed persons (mostly youth) in earthquake affected villages.  his was perhaps the country’s first formal training programme of this magnitude for masons and site supervisors, organised by ACC.

We have seen strong Corporate believers in Nation Building. Mr. Mittal, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharti Airtel said, “Education is quite rightly a key focus area for many of the corporate philanthropic initiatives. We, at Bharti Foundation, are running 236 primary schools catering to over 30,000 students. Many corporates are supporting skill development initiatives too. I personally believe, this is going to be a critical area of nation-building in the days to come. Today, 320 million of our population belongs to the 6-16 age group. Ten years down the line, this large section of the population is going to join the workforce. Our failure to engage this population productively could be disastrous. We already have seen signs of disturbance in the shape of the Maoist trouble” (The role of business in nation-building, December 2009, The Economic Times).

Role of women in Nation Building has been considered significant around the world that Phillippines has brought special ”Women in Development and Nation Building Act” 2012 for giving power and onus on to the women towards their remarkable commitment and notable role towards nation building.

 

The Companies Bill, 2011 was passed by the Lok Sabha on 18 December 2012, on its enactment will allow the country to have a modern legislation for growth and regulation of corporate sector in India. The existing statute for regulation of companies in the country, viz. the Companies Act, 1956 had been under consideration for quite long for comprehensive revision in view of the changing economic and commercial environment nationally as well as internationally. In view of various reformatory and contemporary provisions proposed in the Companies Bill, 2011, together with omission of existing unwanted and obsolete compliance requirements, the companies in the country will be able to comply with the requirements of the proposed Companies Act in a better and more effective manner.  Amendment in Clause 135, sub-clause (5) illustrates, that Corporate Social Responsibility as mandatory for corporates and reads as-“The Board of every company referred to in sub-section (1), shall ensure that the company spends in every financial year, at least two per cent of the average net profits of the company made during the three immediately preceding financial years, in pursuance of its Corporate Social Responsibility Policy.” (Ref: www.indiacsr.in)

Sachin Pilot, Minister, Corporate Affairs, said that “it has a suggestive list of 10 items in the bill on which companies can spend funds including vocational skills and environment sustainability. But, we have left it open for corporates to decide-what fits in with your philosophy, what’s your passion. The corporates’ association in Nation Building can be of utmost importance. Pilot added that India is perhaps going to be the first country in the world that will have corporate social responsibility in the statute. Only certain companies will qualify for CSR-those that have a turnover of over Rs 1,000 crore, value of Rs 500 crore and average net profit of Rs 5 crore in the preceding three years. These companies have to give 2% of their profits” (Economic Times, 20th Dec 2012, Corporate Social Responsibility a Leap of Faith for the Government)

 Dr Sam Pitroda, advisor to the prime minister of India, spoke at IIMA alumni association on ‘Nation building in the 21st century and challenges faced’ & emphasized that Collaboration, cooperation and new ways of thinking are the new rules of nation building. He added that “human rights, environmental concerns, democracy and people’s participation are the key elements required towards nation building in today’s time” (DNA, 16TH Jan 2011: ‘Nation building is all about people building’). It is imperative to see Corporate playing to a crucial role in Nation Building.  21st Century has witnessed a shift in the accelerated participation of corporates. Though the nation building process is a collective action and people’s participation is inevitably the prime factor, it should not ebb in the erratic fashion of pluralism of the country. Rather the nation building process should invoke and supplement to the unity of the plural India.

Nation Building needs to gain momentum to counter the rising chasm, between rich and poor, women & men, cultural heritage v/s religious extremism, population & pollution, stimulus v/s sensitivity, and address it in an ameliorative way. Hon’ ble President of India quotes “ We are all equal children before our mother; and India asks each one of us, in whatsoever role we play  in the complex drama of nation-building, to do our duty with integrity, commitment and unflinching loyalty to the values enshrined in our constitution”. The process needs to be an nrboken series of constant efforts, ensuring a possible continuum of possible values, integration and association to transmute and ensure uninterrupted & rising graph of progress. Nation Building is the confluence of intended & operational efforts & stimulus by various systems in the country & the citizens.

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