Saturday, May 26, 2007

Inclusive growth and Corporate Social Responsibilities

This morning, while I was sitting at a bench in my bldg, lost in a thought. Just then an old lady from our bldg walked towards me and sat beside me. I warmly greeted her and began enquiring about her health. She said that she was fine, but her kids are worrying her more than her health.

To give a brief background about her family, she is a Gujarati lady from Surat settled in Mumbai after getting married. Her husband expired some 20 years back. He worked as a sales man. He always struggled and managed to meet his family needs. When he died, her eldest son, Manish, was 14 years old and Bhavin, the youngest one was 10. Manish had just completed his SSC and was planning to persue HSC in commerce. Due to the catastrophe in his family, he choose to abondon his plan for further studies and start to work so that he can help his mother run the family. They did have their cousin's help for sometime, but then how long would they survive on that. He and his mother worked hard and helped Bhavin to complete his engineering. After completing his engg, Bhavin got a cool job in an infotech firm. He worked there for a couple of years and got married. Bhavin was a hard working fellow and due to his work, the company had sent him for an overseas assignment. He stayed in US for 2 years and is now back in town. While Bhavin had a good career growth all along, his brother still suffered. He got married before Bhavin went to the US. Manish was just an SSC passout. He remained a small time salesman like his father and would manage to gather some more money through his side business as an insurance agent. Though they were not enough to live a luxery life, but it was reasonably good enough to run a family of 3 comfortably.

Aunty continued telling me, when Bhavin came back from the US, all we wanted him is to get married. Even Bhavin wanted the same. He readily agreed. He is now buying a new house, a big one, a 3BHK. Aunty was happy as she would get a chance to leave the chawl and move on to a bigger house where Manish and Bhavin would stay together with their own wife and kids. That was what Aunty had wished all along. But her happiness was short lived. When Bhavin told them that he would want him to stay in that house alone with his wife and kids. He said that he has bought the house with his money. He wont be getting anything in inheritance from his parent. Whatever he is now is earned by him.

Aunty was very upset with all these. Manish abondoned his further studies so that Bhavin could move ahead in life and would earn for them. Aunty and Manish did everything for Bhavin so that in future Bhavin would look after aunty atleast. But it didn't turn out that way.

I was hearing what aunty and was really upset over Bhavins attitude. She advised me not to do this to my mother and my father. Our talk broke when Manish wife came out and aunty went to the market along with her.

I climbed the stairs of my building to get back home. I was really shocked and really surprised with Bhavins behaviour. How could a well educated graduate could do this to his own family. It was terrible. Aunties problem had occupied my head till I reached home and sat down to read the newspaper.

The headline of the newspaper talked about our PM Manmohan Singh appeal to the corporate world to now work towards 'inclusive growth'. The Corporate world should now work with the government to help the poor and the under previleged. The haves must now help and work for the have-nots. Initially there were opposition from the Corporate world. A thought crossed my mind. Isn't this similar to aunties problem. Here the govt had implemented policies for the Indian industry to grow rapidly and expand globally. The economies are growing and flourishing like never before. The urban India is growing. But the backward class are not benefitting it by anyway. The poor, old and the under previleged are being ignored in this growth race. All what the govt had asked was to help them for a common cause. The time has come now to include the have-nots in the growth and expansion. You just cannot ignore them in the race. After all we are Indians representing India globally. This should be treated as a part of Corporate Social Responsibility. Something which the young and dynamic Indian industry should incorporate in itself.

Lets face it, we have dependended on the govt for the last 60 years for the growth of the backward class. The effort were not that fruitful. The industry were on the growth pattern in the last decade. It would be good that the corporate bodies would also chip in and help the govt in this cause. Imagine, what would be the state of Manish and Aunty 10 years down the line. What was their fault, just that Manish and aunty helped Bhavin to grow and prosper. Is this they way how they should be treated? Is this the way the under developed should be treated?

As an individual, we cannot make a big impact when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility. Believe me, we do not own the TATAs, Birlas, Mahindras and the Ambanis. We can hardly make a difference. But since this huge growth has benefitted us with big pay packet, we can donate some amount to any of the reputed charitable organizations working for a genuine cost that we would like to support. What we earn will remain on this earth. Why dont we just keep the amount that we need and donate the rest to the people, maybe 2% - 5% of our annual salary. Instead of donating, sponsor a child for his school or college education. Does that take too much of your time?

Instead of giving economic benefits to companies building or occupying SEZs, why dont the govt provide benfits to the organizations promoting CSRs? This would surely attract Industry's attention on this.

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