The Department of Commerce and Business Studies in collaboration with Policy Times organized a national seminar on ‘role of corporate foundations in inclusive development’ on Saturday 22 December 2018 in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI).
The panelists comprised of several eminent personalities from government, corporate and NGO world like Tata Trust, Bharti foundation, and Zakat Foundation. The entire event was divided into three sessions. The event started with the welcome address by Prof. Ravinder Kumar, Head, Dept. of Commerce and Business Studies, JMI, followed by introductory remarks by Akram Hoque, founder editor, The Policy Times.
The keynote address was presented by the Chief Guest of the event Prof. Furqan Qamar, Secretary-General, Association of Indian Universities (AIU). He highlighted the importance of education in India. He said that one of the foundations of four pillars of democracy is education. If the pillars are strong and the foundation is weak the institution will collapse sooner or later. Further, he added that the main challenge in our country is to expand the capacity of the education sector and at the same time improving and maintaining the standards of quality in order to meet the growing needs of education. In the end, Prof. Qamar pointed out the need to mobilize individual contribution towards the betterment of the society and urged the corporate to come forward and invest more in the education sector.
The keynote address was followed by the first technical session engaged on the role of corporate foundation in inclusive development. The panelists of the session focused on understanding the fundamental problems the society is facing. The business houses can reach to different sectors of the society and can help in the eradication of the fundamental issues. They talked about sustainable development where they suggested as good citizens we should take care of our future and futures of other citizens of India. Each one of us is responsible for our country’s fate. They talked about the role and importance of media, suggesting that media should be non-aligned and unbiased in order to bring forth the true picture of the society. One of the speakers highlighted that our focus should shift from profit making to creating values and generating prosperity for all. The main challenges highlighted in the session were- lack of education, failure to understand the fundamental issues and focus of corporate on making profits. The speakers came up with very promising suggestions that it is important to understand the society keeping in mind that different geographical areas will have different issues to fight. Educate the society by investing more in this sector and finally the importance of professionals who can bridge the gap between corporate and NGO world. With this, the first session came to an end and it ended on the note that an educated child will be an asset not only for his family but also for the nation.
The second session discussed on CSR-NGO partnership: Assessing Strength and impact in Inclusive Development. One of the speakers very rightly said there is a part of Indian population like rural women, people with disability, transgender, etc. who are not performing up to their full capacity. Therefore, the burden comes on the working class to put in extra hard work in order to bridge the gap. They focused on providing opportunities to all because everyone has something to contribute towards the betterment of the society. They discussed how compliance with CSR gives the company a competitive edge over others. Thus, social responsibility has become an integral part of the corporate sector. The main challenges summed up in the session were lack of collaboration between different NGOs, lack of collaboration between NGOs and business houses and lastly lack of professionals at the right place. They suggested that the NGOs should not only work individually; at times there is a need to join hands to fight for a common cause by creating synergy. The second important suggestion was, corporate have management skills, NGOs have passion and people while the government has wider reach and regulatory power. Once these three sectors collaborate together they will build a sustainably developed nation India has always dreamt of. The session ended with the final suggestion that the demand of professionals is increasing. There is a need to inculcate right kind of skills and qualification among the youth to fill in the gap between these three sectors and bring them together.
The last session of the event was an interesting discussion on planning beyond statutory CSR obligations and suggesting a policy framework. During the discussion, the light was shed on some important facts that India went down by 43 positions in the World Giving Index. The speakers highlighted that there is a gradual decline in the donations and charity made in India. Further, they added that only a few companies are participating in CSR. Fifty percent of the amount comes from the top 10 companies. The volunteer efforts of companies are going down. The major problem that they talked about is how business firms have stated with their own foundations and donations are made only to these foundations. The experts advocated that the companies should go beyond 2 percent monetary compliance. They highlighted that CSR has moved from charity based to compliance based model and now there is a need to move from compliance based model to commitment based model.
To sum up, the experts emphasised the importance of collaboration among various parties involved in CSR. It was highlighted that the country needs models which are scalable, replicable and sustainable. And finally, there is need to move from mere compliance to commitment based social investing which can have lasting impact on society.
With this, the event of knowledge share came to an end. The event ended with vote of thanks by Mr. Akram Hoque.