From the desk of Editor- in -Chief

The changing facets of CSR in India

Playing role of the bridge which facilitates an odyssey of exploration of the little known world of NGOs and Corporate, we take the pleasure of moving on to our fifth edition.
Looking through the prism of curiosity and assessing the objectivity the meaning of social responsibility holds varying definitions for companies worth crores of rupees. Some view it is as a method of actually returning something meaningful to society as gratitude, but a few have started using it as a deceitful meaning to evade tax.
Some are so watchful that they don’t let any penny go down the drains, as they monitor everything goes the righteous way. They keep control of the resources and inspect off and on through the social internal arm.
Some of the corporate foundations are hunting for genuine NGOs instead of creating parallel institutions while some of them are searching for business into CSR activities. At times, it looks so disappointing to observe these days how some corporate foundations sign MoUs with big corporate while the actually work is being done by smaller NGOs in far off villages or small towns.
On the flip side, if the company has its own foundation they will save 30-40 percent, as big NGOs may charge 25 percent as administration cost of which a mere 10 percent is shared with the smaller NGOs . It is due to this very reasons some prefer going the ‘Ekla Chalo’ (walk alone) way, working independently. It exists as a subset of company.

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We shouldn’t be surprised that sometimes the MLAs have own their NGOs. These are set up especially to ‘encourage’ investment or getting projects from big companies with the ‘help’ of leaders’ influence. The focus of many companies has now shifted from anticipating the change to trying to understand the ramifications of the change before implementing it.
One of our stories titled “Over view of CSR in Rajasthan” touches upon the scenario of Companies Social Responsibility sector from State perspective. It offers a bird’s view of Rajastahan, the tourism state known for its rich culture and vibrant life and folklores, how this State is fabulously utilising the corporate towards effecting the much-needed transformation where it is needed the most – healthcare, education, water management and sanitation. It is a must read for all of our readers.

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Social sector wizards meet at CSR Summit

By Lakshmi Singh

The Fifth edition of India CSR Summit 2018 highlighted upon the need for quality research and evidence in order to align CSR investments with developmental requirements. Recently held in New Delhi, the Summit involved 1,800 organizations, 3,000 + delegates and 500+ CSR heads and managers. CSR heads, policy makers and experts from various non-governmental and research organisations took onto the platform to brainstorm upon better implementation and execution of CSR.

Encouraging trend

The event opened with the launch of the India CSR Outlook Report 2018 in the presence of Anant Kumar Hedge, Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The Report showed a growth of 49 percent in CSR investments, showing a 25 percent increase in the number of projects and an increase in actual spend from six to eight percent over the FY 2017-18. The Summit focused on the role the private sector can play in catalysing development and the need for impact-driven CSR initiatives. The report provides an in-depth analysis of CSR spend of 359 big companies in the financial year 2017-2018. These companies account for almost 3/4th of total CSR spends in India.

Stress upon Skill development

Speaking at the event, the Union Minister, Anant Kumar Hedge, stressed upon the need of skill development. ”We need to be more honest and accountable as skill development is the need of the hour in every sector today,” he said. As Dr. K.G. Santhya, Senior Associate, Population Council highlighted in the panel on ‘Investing in Adolescents – Evidence from the Ground’, there is an urgent need to invest in comprehensive skilling programmes. According to the UDAYA study implemented by the Population Council, only around one in 10 unmarried adolescents aged 15-19 years have received any vocational training, despite over 80 percent of them aspiring for it. “We must believe that our youth are our future and accordingly, we should invest in them for a better skilled ecosystem. Later, they will become an asset and help in growing the economy,” added the minister at the summit. This is especially worrying, given that with over two hundred and fifty three million adolescents, India is host to every fifth adolescent in the world. These adolescents constitute India’s much-quoted ‘demographic dividend,’ but face many setbacks. Further, 25 percent of India’s adolescents live in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, States that face some of the biggest development challenges, yet receive some of the lowest investments through CSR.

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Emphasis on Impactful programmes

Speaking on the occasion, Abhijeet Sinha, India Manager, USLP HUL, emphasised the need for an in-depth understanding of beneficiaries’ situation, based on rigorous research, to develop impactful programmes responsive to local geographies. Dipa Nag Chowdhury, Deputy Director, MacArthur Foundation, stressed upon the importance of evidence-backed investments to ensure that interventions reach the most vulnerable groups. For effective interventions, donors and government bodies alike need to develop a thorough understanding of where to allocate scarce resources. Dr Niranjan Saggurti, India Country Director, Population Council, reinforced the significance of quality evidence for improving the impact of CSR programmes. He said, “CSR investments need to be more strategic, keeping in mind the larger developmental agenda, for which it is important to ask bold questions and generate quality evidence to offer effective solutions.

Awards for high impact

During the event, CSR Impact Awards were given away to CSR foundations and CSR implementing agencies which delivered high impact through CSR projects and adopted multi-stakeholder approach, leading to excellence in project outcomes. The initiative focused on identifying high impact CSR projects in 14 categories at Pan-India level. The Awards are to appreciate project specific impacts made by the organizations in particular thematic areas, to set benchmark in project planning, identification of partners and delivery of results.

The two-day summit concluded with an interactive session on Corporate-NGO partnerships, and the path to facilitate sustainable development through CSR spend.

India CSR Outlook Report 2018

Number of companies: 359
Number of Public Sector Companies:35
Number of projects implemented:5233

Key derivations:

  • Public Sector enterprise account for 1/4th of India’s total CSR spend
  • Over 1/3rd of CSR spend s education and skill development projects while 1/4th account for WASH and healthcare projects
  • The number of projects increased by 25%
  • Oil Refinery and petrochemicals companies command almost 1/4th CSR fund
  • CSR funding on education and skill development have increased by 50%
  • Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka received over 25% of India’s total CSR fund

Jindal Steel & Power Ltd bags award in environment category

The ‘5th CSR Impact Award’ in Environment Category went to Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) for its natural resource management initiatives under the CSR programmes. Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Anant Kumar Hegde presented the award to JSPL’s Group Head (CSR & Education) Prashant Kumar Hota. The prestigious CSR award for the environment was delivered to JSPL in the presence of Minister of State for Human Resource Development Satya Pal.

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‘We need to reintegrate persons with disability & support them for lifelong’

The Hans Foundation has been working tirelessly towards its mission of identifying and implementing social development projects in the area of health, education, livelihoods and disability which are scalable and replicable, in partnership with NGOs, government and institutions. The Bridge India India Editor –in- Chief, Seema Jairath speaks to Lt Gen S M Mehta (Retd), AVSM, SM, VSM** Chief Executive Officer of Hans Foundation to get an insight into the ongoing initiatives of the foundation. Excerpts of the interview:

TBI: What is the overview of your ‘Uttarakhand 2020’ programme?

Lt Gen Mehta: This project is designed significantly to mark 5th anniversary celebration of The Hans Foundation. The Hans Foundation has pledged Rs 500 crore to fund Uttarakhand 2020. It addresses all facets of progress working in tandem with the government by signing a MoU with the Uttarakhand government. The programme is a comprehensive state-wide development programme, focusing on health, children education, sanitation, forest regeneration, village electrification, providing water to every house in Uttarakhand.

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The project is designed to modernise schools The Hans Foundation Hospital has been established to bring affordable quality health care to all in Uttarakhand and the surrounding areas. Hans foundation is running ‘Bala Arogya Yojna’ for cancer treatment. In Haldwani, the cancer hospital was dysfunctional earlier. We have made it totally functional and people don’t need to go out of Uttarakhand for treatment. We are also building world class ICUs in the district hospitals which were not there earlier in the State. Hans Foundation is also involved in another big development programme called ‘Integrated Village Development Programme’, which is implemented directly by Hans foundation for the last two years.
The programme addresses all facets of development which includes creating livelihood for people, schools, providing water, providing health services. In the Integrated development programme, there are five components. Our main focus is to provide electricity and provide clean drinking water. People in these areas have to walk at least 3-4 km to fetch water for daily needs. So we are providing tap to each and every household. Once electricity and water have been provided, our primary focus will be education. There are 19 schools in the entire valley. We have adopted all these schools and started our educational programmes by providing them with furniture and tablets. Once education is established, we have approached the government for their State Allopathic Dispensary (SAD) which is the primary health centre built four years back but not operational. Once we take over that dispensary, we will run it through Hub and Spoke model –small units in every village will be set up where the doctors will visit these villages in turn.
The next areas of focus are livelihood. Youth is always moving out of the village to earn money as they don’t know anything other than cultivating potatoes. They have never grown vegetables we provided them poly houses. So they are now selling in Bageshwar mandi and in villages as well. We are teaching them about community farming and given them 13,000 apple trees and have planned to give them 10,000 more trees to enable them to sustain them for 15 years. Alongside, we have started honey and cheese making factory. So all these activities like agriculture, goat cheese, bee-keeping is connecting them to markets.

TBI: Which are the areas you have chosen for implementing “Uttarakhand 2020”? Why?

Lt Gen Mehta: We have chosen Bageshwar district in Pindal Valley to implement this project, a very difficult terrain where it is difficult to reach as there are no roads. We deliberately chose this area as a challenge. If we can implement our plan here, this model can then be replicated in all other areas. Once we establish our credentials with this pilot project in 50 hamlets and 8 villages successfully, we plan to replicate this in other districts of Uttarakhand.

TBI: Your Dhobi Ghar programme seems to be an initiative to recognise potential in people with psycho-socio disability. Please elaborate upon it.

Lt Gen Mehta: The story goes back to 2014 when I visited private hospitals and met inmates who said they are fully cured but since our families are not accepting us back, there is no way we can get out of this hospital. We tied up with one of the local NGOs there – Anjali. There was a dilapidated building which was located on the periphery of the hospital close to the entrance gate. We requested the government to hand over the building to us for setting up Dhobi Ghar for these people to work there. Government agreed to our proposal. They handed over the building which we renovated completely. We bought machines through this local NGO and started state-of-the-art Dhobi Ghar over there.
Today, there are 18 inmates working in Dhobi Ghar along with 18 men and 19 women who have been cured but have no place to go. They are working here and are very happy. They are earning their living. They have a bank balance today. They are adding another unit to this Dhobi Ghar so that they can take contract from other hospitals in Kolkata and earn more money. So it was a type of liberation though we could not bring them back to the society because somebody has to take their responsibility. But we gave them employment, freedom to work and earn their livelihood and the right they deserve.

TBI: One of the challenges for people with disability is who will look after them when their parents are no more. What is your viewpoint about it?

Lt Gen Mehta: Yes, it is a great challenge and wherever we have gone we have been asked this question by the parents. We are presently supporting almost 35 organisations across the country, starting from Mehghalaya Betney and there are four-five in Delhi. We have started two-three initiatives. We are giving training to these children who are transiting from childhood to adulthood. We are trying to absorb them into the society. We are planning to set up inclusive community homes and have started with Kerala. We have MoU with Kerala government and 200 people have been identified from the mental institute. We are setting up homes for them which are for life long. We are reintegrating them. They will be cared for. They will have valued roles in life with hygiene and sanitation. They are engaged in various activities so that they remain busy. But this is a support which is required for lifelong.
This concept is not new. In Europe and America this has been going on since 1960s where the government is spending a lot of money on this. They are closing down all institutes in the US. There are several cases where the government has granted funds to settle them into inclusive community homes. Though we cannot afford that kind of living, since it would come out to be very expensive and there they are being looked after by the State. However, we feel that ultimately the State has to step-in. No individual NGO or body of NGOs or Foundations or CSR can undertake this huge responsibility. We are just initiating the process.

TBI: In comparison to past years, your budget for health has reduced in 2017-18 despite the fact that need in health sector is increasing by each day. Why?

Lt Gen Mehta: Our maximum budget is towards health only. We were doing Cochlear implants, which is a very expensive operation. We have been doing more than 250 implants since 2013.We have reduced the number because that area has saturated now. We are now fanning out. We felt the numbers have become so large that it has become very difficult like one year costs about Rs 8 lakh and if one is doing 250-300 operations, it is a big amount in health. Though it can be called disability but we take it under medical intervention.
We have reduced the number this time to 150. Since we have done so many, we wanted to consolidate. We want to see the progress of these children that they are undergoing therapy, that they are put through normal schools or not. So we have slowed down as far as intervention is concerned. “Little Heart” also is a big programme. We restarted it with small numbers so that we could look after these children after the operation.
I don’t think we have reduced it much. In fact this is one of the biggest components we have. We have also started a hospital. It is state-of-the-art hospital with several OTs and every speciality in the remote hilly area. We are spending a lot of money here which is not included in this budget.

TBI: How challenging has been your journey so far while implementing your programmes?

Lt Gen Mehta: We did come across some good NGOs and at the same time we came across NGOs who were not implementing the programmes as per the scheduled plans. We committed mistakes and also learnt from them. Due to this, we took a dual approach and were selective in picking up partners only after indulging in due diligence and giving them grants. Some of the programmes required close monitoring. For instance, Little Heart Programme with Being Human as it was in Mumbai, it was difficult monitoring those children. We decided that in future we shall take up programmes in Delhi itself, which could be directly implemented.

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Overview of CSR in Rajasthan

By The Bridge India India Correspondent

Towards creating a sustainable impact on citizens’ lives, the vision of Rajasthan is to turn India’s most dynamic and efficient humanitarian hub with a culture of innovation and collaboration in projects with focus on health, education, water management and sanitation.
Through CSR, the Government seeks to achieve objectives such as developing knowledge-base for stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of projects, promoting social interaction amid stakeholders, developing meaningful and effective strategies to engage with all stakeholders, identifying, developing, and sustaining socio-economic interventions for inclusive growth. It also seeks to reward, recognise and emphasise citizen centric innovative projects. Also, one of the key objectives is to educate public about the value of CSR and sustainable development.
Under the vision and leadership of Vasundhara Raje, the Rajasthan government is providing assistance in terms of supporting in developing sustainable models by creating platforms for upscaling projects, encouraging innovative and progressive CSR practices by ensuring no replication of projects,

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helping companies identify projects that are aligned with the State’s priorities and company’s vision, and suggesting projects and activities aligned with Rajasthan’s priorities. The Rajasthan Government organised a grand conclave to promote CSR in February, hosted by Industries Department, Government of Rajasthan and co-hosted by NGOBOX. It is the State’s largest CSR forum which aims to explore possibilities of development through CSR in Rajasthan. It congregates companies, NGOs, Government, Social Enterprises and Advisory Firms to share and learn best practices and discuss opportunities for collaborations. It serves as a platform to showcase projects and programs; to learn from peers; to initiate new partnerships; to find new resources; and to understand how CSR is playing a vital role in developing the State.
An overview of CSR spend by big companies in 2016-17 in Rajasthan has been documented in a most recent report titled — CSR Report 2018. It is a joint research publication by Department of Industries, Government of Rajasthan and NGOBOX.
It throws light upon 165 companies’ CSR portfolios along with the CSR priorities and scope for collaborative CSR projects in the State. It also briefly presents a note on CSR foundations, implementing CSR projects in Rajasthan along with short description of a few flagship CSR initiatives.

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UNSUNG HERO

Techie who quit corporate to volunteer for social sector

By Lakshmi Singh

“If each one of us volunteers to engage with community service in some form even once a month, it can make a lot of difference to the society,” says Karthee Vidya, founder of Team Everest. Karthee is a techie, who following his conviction quit his corporate job only to educate kids from impoverished background. Teaching underprivileged children, helping the elderly, assisting those with disabilities, cleaning up neighbourhoods, or making the city green. All these can be the blue print for creating a better city. Well, this is the agenda of Team Everest, an NGO which strongly believes in volunteering network that originated in Chennai.

‘Like’ & ‘share’ set the ball rolling

It is not often that you hear of young, high-earning professionals quitting their jobs to volunteer or work fulltime in the social sector. It all began when Karthee, who worked with an IT company in Chennai, put up a Facebook post announcing his resignation in order to volunteer. The post received 12,600 ‘like’ and over 1,000 ‘share’. Karthee quit his job and with the support of few friends set out to teach kids from underprivileged background.
“We began with setting out in groups to nearby villages every weekend, to coach children there and improve their academic and English skills so as to bring them at par with the kids in city schools. Other groups set out to the government schools in their neighbourhood, orphanages, old age homes, participated in blood donation camps, or serve as scribes for visually challenged students,” shares Karthee.

Spark that ignited the notion

The conviction of teaching kids developed when Karthee as a child first stepped into the city and faced the biggest cultural shock

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himself, in terms of quality in the level of education. “Until I finished high school, I studied in a village school near Arni in Tamilnadu.When I came to Chennai for my higher secondary education, the contrast in the quality of education and other opportunities available to the village children and city children appalled me. I decided then that I would do something to change this,’’ recollects Karthee.
Team Everest operates on a two-fold strategy, one is to facilitate volunteering and promote the idea of volunteering amongst city people. “Even if I were to facilitate volunteering all through my life, I will not be able to reach an adequate number of people. But if I kindle the idea of volunteering amongst people, even in children, it can have multiple effect,” says Karthee. This is the concept that worked for Team Everest. Even a class 8 student Vanshika got so inspired by Team Everest that she ended up contributing the bright idea of using computers at her father’s office, which were not used during weekends, to teach the needy children.

10,00,000 volunteers and counting

We engage volunteers from corporate, colleges or anyone interested in various activities. The activities include teaching English, teaching computers, conduct free tuition centres in rural areas. We also provide scholarship to parentless and single parent children. Our main focus is on parentless and single parent children from impoverished background. We offer them scholarship as financial assistance to study till graduation. Most of them who have secured a job come back to us as volunteer to teach the kids in return. So that’s how our volunteers are growing in number.
The organisation has a record of working extensively in Coimbatore, Hyderabad alongwith districts and towns down south and is all set to operate in Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Nasik and Vijayawada.
“We organize a slew of activities every weekend. Volunteers can check these out and register for them on our website Team Everest on their phones and keep track of events and register” says Karthee, who was the ‘iVolunteer Hero 2012” and the Indian delegate who attended the volunteering conference – Points of Light at Washington DC in 2012. Currently, Team Everest has more than 10, 00,000 registered volunteers. In 12 years, we have successfully impacted 8 lakh lives with just one dream. While some step out to volunteer, others operate from their own homes by volunteering their skills, and a few others donate funds every month.

Instilling the joy of giving

Going one step ahead, as they conduct contests, they inspire the winners to donate a part of their cash prize to the needy so that it continues as an ongoing process. “By getting the winning kids to choose beneficiaries, we instill in children the joy of giving. Our cities and villages have too many grass-root level problems. Solving them all through a centralized body is not feasible. But if everybody did his bit for society, it would be a powerful catalyst of change”, says Karthee.
Under the program, ‘I Am the Change Scholarship’ Team Everest, provides scholarship to students who are good at academics and willing to do graduation, but are financially incapable. Team Everest has helped more than 250 college students so far. Team Everest targets to sponsoring 100 students for their UG degree alone in the present year.
Today, Team Everest has to their credit more than 10, ooo volunteers, 8 lakh lives have been impacted with just one dream. However Karthee feels there is still a long way to go.

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Development Happenings

By The Bridge India India Correspondent

Roundtable on ‘Challenges in implementing the RPWD Act of 2016 with regards reservation of jobs’

Centre of Excellence for PwDs (CoE) an initiative of SBI Foundation convened its very first quarterly roundtable on ‘Challenges in Implementing Provisions of the RPWD Act of 2016 with regards to Reservation of Jobs’ in New Delhi. Conducted as a part of CoE’s activities to bring together all the key stakeholders viz. the government, civil society organisations and corporate foundations to foster greater awareness about disability related matters and create a culture of equal opportunity and inclusion for persons with disabilities. The session commenced with an address by Shakuntala Gamlin (Secretary – Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment) who set the tone for the roundtable. She spoke about how the concept of disability had evolved over the years. Gamlin emphasised that the enforcement of the Rights of Persons with Disability ( RPWD) Act should not be seen as a social obligation but an economic argument because keeping 2.68 Cr people of the population out of the workforce does not make economic sense.
The discussions revolved around capturing the level of problems and practical potential solutions for the implementation of the RPWD Act from experts in the field.

Manisha Koirala gets together with Grameen Sneh Foundation to spread cancer awareness

In order to boost the morale of cancer patients, an initiative named Hausla Conclave – “Fight against Cancer” was organised in the national capital. The event was planned by Grameen Sneh Foundation (GSF), which is involved in awareness campaigns and public health related initiatives since 2009. Ashwani Choubey, Hon’ble Minister of State, Health and family welfare was the chief guest of the program. Rajiv Shukla, Manoj Tiwari, Manisha Koirala along with other eminent guests graced the occasion.
Health being its primary concern, Grameen Sneh Foundation’s mission is to create a world where there is no poverty and every human being lives with dignity, security and sound state of both physical and mental health without discrimination of caste, creed, color or nationality.
Hausla is a national move against cancer initiated by the Foundation. Actor cum activist Manisha Koirala, a cancer survivor herself is the brand ambassador for the movement. At the conclave, she shared her emotional trauma when the disease struck her. She sent a strong message on disciplined living, early detection and strong will-power to fight cancer. Hausla motivates cancer patients and survivors and is a sustainable and informative campaign against cancer.
In Hausla, people are enlightened on the ways to prevent cancer. They also go a step further to support cancer survivors emotionally, physically and mentally. Being the largest cancer survivors support group of India, Grameen Sneh Foundation takes up initiatives such as Health Awareness Campaign, Free Health Check up camps, E-Symposium, Sneh -Cancer App to facilitate and support maximum people and their caregivers for prevention and awareness against cancer on a regular basis.

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