Dr. Parul Agarwal, Dean & Director, and Chairperson (Research) School of Management - JECRC University, Jaipur
My Views on CSR and Sustainability
With the advent of industries and advancement, there has been adverse impact on the ecosystem. Industries have been utilising the resources made available by the society, using manpower, land and capital to the maximum. Hence, it is the moral responsibility of the corporates to return to the society what they have taken from it and to balance the ecosystem for sustainability.
The corporates can play pivotal role in facilitating socio-economic progress. CSR covers a wide range of issues such as human rights, health, renewable energy, child labour and eco-efficiency. It is a positive process of managerial interventions. This concept helps in reducing costs & risks, enhances the efficiency of employees, improves transparency, increases the brand value & reputation and improves working environment of the business houses.
CSR concept is seen as a voluntary action that businesses can take over and above compliance with minimum legal requirements to address both their own competitive interest and the interest of wider society.
Today businesses through CSR cover not only shareholders but many other constituents as well, including customers, suppliers, the local community government, non-governmental organisations, environmental groups and special interest groups. Corporates have today realised that it is not only profit making which is pertinent but they need to develop a relationship of trust with the society.
CSR can contribute immensely to sustainable development, environmental performance, pollution control and preserving of natural resources. I feel social responsibility is not just an obligation rather it is sincere responsibility of every individual and an organisation at large to work for the betterment and benefit of the society. CSR initiatives would lead to sustainability by orienting people towards efficient use of resources then use of renewable resources, further by multiple use and recycling of resources. It will lead to increase in flexibility and adaptability in the society. It would also orient people towards benefit and need.
The altruistic CSR would go beyond ethics and will help making this world a better place, whereas the strategic side of CSR would help the company in boosting brand image and reputation. It would also increase their sales and customer loyalty, reducing operating cost, increasing productivity and quality. It would also help in retaining employees.
The industries in India, irrespective of their size sector as well as location have realised that without socio-economic development of the local communities, there can be no stability and sustainability. They have also realised to compete with the global market, it is important to strengthen the local communities and develop them infrastructure wise and make them mentally and physically strong.
Well I feel in the present scenario Indian companies are engaging in CSR initiatives, focussing more on social causes, healthcare, education, women empowerment, community development, protection of environment and national heritage but some very important initiatives need to be taken yet like biodiversity protection, pollution control, preservation of water and electricity generation. There are different dimensions to company CSR efforts taking from society angle, customer perspective, environment, supplier relations, corporate governance, employee relations and human rights. If all these dimensions are addressed by corporates then certainly I feel it would lead to sustainability and development of the business and progress of the society in totality.
Activities carried on by me on this front
I have been very fortunate to be associated with the academic world for almost three decades as I have been directly interacting with the young minds. In due course of time, I came to know the probable concerns of worry of this age group. Some young professionals came from the affluent families having plenty of money but nobody to take personal care. Some young minds were confused with their career prospects. Some came from very poor backgrounds and were facing financial crunch. Some came from rural background and were ignorant with the fast changing world scenario. I personally felt the best social initiative from my side would be to give ample time to these young professionals. Hence, I devoted many hours on regular basis for the counselling of this youth with whatever resources I had. I have helped some meritorious students in depositing their tuition fees and to some students I have also made available the textbooks. Well, I have also taken initiatives to counsel the students to teach the small children of the labour in the vicinity. Well, I have also been distributing sweets and fruits to the children of the labour class. Yes, whenever there has been any blood donation camp I have always been the first person to donate my blood. Many times I have taken the initiative to counsel the students to go in the vicinity for tree plantation and many a times I have asked them to go around for social campaigns like water preservation, women empowerment and child labour etc.
By JECRC Foundation
I am presently working with JECRC University, Jaipur as Dean & Director as well as Chairperson(Research), School of Management. I feel great pride to share about our social groups, driven by our students to help the society.
ZARURAT: ‘The Help Beyond’ – Zarurat is a students’ organisation, working in the direction to provide free of cost elementary education to the underprivileged children living in the nearby slum areas of JECRC, Jaipur and introduces them to the modern world of learning in a way that every child should have. Zarurat started with 60 students from the slum areas and has now grown to more than 150 students. The team distributes clothes, stationery, food items and other essentials to the children at regular intervals to help them continue with their studies. Every year, Zarurat organises a day-long social fest for these children and other social groups(NGOs) from the city are also invited, gathering exceeding 1000. Event constitutes of various activities like health checkup, creative and fun sessions, bal bhojan, awareness campaigns, bal mahotsav and goodies distribution etc. The day is proposed to let the children live one day of their life with freedom of thought and aspiration of what they want to be.
AASHAYEIN: ‘THE LIFE SAVIOURS’ – One of the noble groups of JECRC Foundation, that works 24*7 to meet the blood requirements of families in distress. These students are available round the clock and rush to hospitals in emergencies for live blood and platelets transfusion and have saved lives of over a hundred patients suffering from dengue when the city was hit by this deadly disease. The word Aashayein itself has a deep meaning i.e hope. Started in 2013, it primarily focussed on saving the lives of patients by fulfilling the demands for fresh SDP. Serving the patients at critical times is what illuminates the purpose of the organisation. Last year these students saved lives of 138 people by donating live blood. Our Vice-Chairmen, Mr. Amit Agarwal as well as Mr. Arpit Agarwal have been phenomenal in motivating and inspiring, giving us the necessary push to keep up with our mission.
FIRST STEP – Another initiative taken by the students of JECRC to extend love and support to the senior citizens in need. It was formed 3 years ago with a motive of serving residents of Old Age homes with affection. Students visit old age homes and celebrate various festivals and occasions like Holi, Diwali and birthdays with them. The senior citizen share their life experiences and instances with the students. In just three years these students have become a part of their family and have established a deep emotional bond with them.
SOCH – A social initiative that aims to work for the betterment of the society, we are living in. It aims to help the underprivileged sections of the society and to work at grassroots level and serve the needy by providing them with the basic necessities of love and care. Apart from this SOCH encourages students of the foundation to think out of the box and realise their social responsibility. To achieve its goals, SOCH conducts health checkup camps at regular intervals. The group also organises the Vastra Samman drive where visits are made to old age homes and orphanages and blankets and other clothing items are distributed among the needy. SOCH is also actively involved in the cleanliness and tree plantation drives at JECRC.
Students and Employees as Volunteers
Students and employees should be volunteers as it would help changing their perspective towards life. They would eventually feel joy in giving and would also come out with the feeling of responsibility towards others. It would inculcate team spirit and happiness in helping others. It will further lead to develop the spirit of sharing and contributing towards society. It would also change their thought process that life is not limited only to salary but life is beyond that and they need to return to the society what they have got from it. Association of employees with CSR initiatives, would help them understand the philosophy and culture of the organisation in the better way. These initiatives would inculcate feeling of brotherhood, strengthening their networking, communication skills and enhancing their leadership qualities, they would further learn to work with targets and achievements.
Why should students study CSR
I strongly feel that CSR should be introduced from the early age of the student like moral science which is generally taught in all the convents for moral values and ethics, same way studying corporate social responsibility would inculcate the spirit of sharing and contributing towards society. The practical exposure of CSR would get radical changes in the perspective of the students and right from the childhood they would feel responsibility towards environment, human rights, community rights, gender rights and health & safety. They would feel their responsibility towards disabled people and have feeling of protection towards underprivileged section of society. When CSR is going to be introduced at the school level it will ignite feeling of responsibility towards the community when they turn out to be entrepreneurs in near future. It would enhance creativity and out-of-the-box thinking in the young minds. It would also make them respect the society and protect & properly utilise all the resources of the country.