Corporate India is capable of delivering social good in addition to profits,
but will it rise to the challenge?
During my meetings with F.C. Kohli of tcs fame, he would repeatedly point out that ‘India has no reason to be poor’. Indian executives run many of the largest companies in the world. The country has plenty of arable land, with three times the number of people as in the US.
India is a religious and spiritual country with a rich history of giving in its genes. Why then does extreme inequality persist?
Having adopted a socialistic path, what impact has the government delivered in the last 70 years? Is it tempting to lay the blame on a few leaders who took unfair advantage of existing ecosystems? Also, what impact have the three million registered ngos delivered? Have either moved the needle significantly?
The Companies Act 2013 prescribed 2 per cent of corporate profits to be dedicated to social responsibility initiatives. Some businessmen argued that mandated csr was unfair. Were they not being responsible enough by creating immense employment and paying large sums of taxes?
This issue does not ask questions of fairness amongst all sectors. This issue portrays a tremendous sense of hope, that corporates, in spite of hurdles, have indeed risen, even within artificial constraints to the csr Act challenge, and have indeed delivered some wonderful examples of initial impact.
We believe that business, with its ability to run a project in an efficient manner, is the cohesive force between ngos and government in delivering social impact. Leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation take center stage at all business schools. It is difficult to think of any business strategy talk that does not include these words. Can Corporate India bring all three to the table, along with leadership strengths and technology, put up with all the frustrations that will ensue, and stay the course to deliver social change?
Philanthropic csr capital can take risks on viable new ideas, and even accept failure, for much needed innovation in the field, bringing intrinsic business strategy skills to bear on social issues. Is government ready to submit and bend to such collective thinking and lend its infrastructure and other existing networks much needed for scaling?
Working with local ngos, can business help change dysfunctional mindsets and behaviours on the ground? Can they rely on their advertising and public relations capabilities for this? Are ngos willing to talk about delivering agreed upon impact for the csr funds received? And are smaller ngos willing to merge so as to better move the needle?
So much necessary change is still needed for success in social development in the face of such large problems facing us, that collaboration is a necessary condition for scaling up social projects. It should not be difficult for all the necessary sectors to come to the table to share visions, partake with agreed upon congruent actions, and agree on success metrics. All sectors must sit together, especially government, if the idea is to be scaled. Can India do this?
Our featured stories portray initial corporate successes. And our outstanding expert columnists tell us how more such impact can be delivered. As this Social Enterprise field evolves at a rapid rate around the world, there is an enormous amount of knowledge of successful efforts inside and outside India. Imported successful strategies ought to be welcomed and adapted to local conditions with the help of local ngos. Wheels definitely do not need to be reinvented in many cases. Are
corporates willing to learn from each other?
I pray that a day will come when charity and philanthropy will not be necessary. When all of us, including corporates, will do what is necessary as part of our daily lives and operations, and do this collectively. Then we shall have gone back to doing salaam to our rich and giving heritage again, that which is still in our genes.
All the necessary elements for success are present within India. So, are we going to complain and lay blame outside ourselves, or are we going to rise to the challenge and execute? Together!
— Ajit Jhangiani