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CSR initiatives in schools: Still a long way to go

CSR initiatives in schools: Still a long way to go
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CSR Initiatives In Schools: Still A Long Way To Go. Gandhiji’s idea of trusteeship which impels the corporates to part with their wealth for the benefit of poor has still not taken off as desired. Companies give funds to NGOs and other organisations, but, it’s not been done in a systematic manner.

Gandhiji’s idea of trusteeship which impels the corporates to part with their wealth for the benefit of poor has still not taken off as desired. Companies give funds to NGOs and other organisations, but, it’s not been done in a systematic manner.
In Andhra Pradesh, HSBC, Byrraju Foundation (set up in 2001 in memory of Late Byrraju Satyanarayana Raju, founder of Satyam Group of companies), Reddy Labs, Electronics Corporation of India, Mahindra, Aurobindo Pharma, Deloitte, MRF, GVK group and to a lesser extent companies such as Ascendas and Union Technologies Corporation and others have been supporting in the construction and maintenance of toilets in government schools.
In spite of so many companies pitching in, the state of toilets was still in a bad state. One of the reasons, says M S Chandra of Centre for Action Research and People’s Development (CARPED) was the overall contribution of corporates was not more than 1-2 crore per year in the area of sanitation.
Corporates continue their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities by directly approaching NGOs as it becomes easy to monitor. Most companies have their own inbuilt mechanism to monitor says Rashmi Naik, founder partner, CSR Links, a company that acts as a link between NGOs and corporates.
Some companies continue their CSR activities through their employees but few companies such as Infosys and Wipro have established their own CSR wings. Mahindra Navistar and Immersion for instance go ahead with CSR projects with employees. A senior official of Deloitte said, “We prefer conducting workshops and working with NGOs rather than directly giving funds to the government.”
O Sudhakar Reddy, consultant, Medak district for UNICEF says, “During the Year 2011-12, Rs 1.5 crore was mobilised from corporates and individual philanthropists by the district collector to develop sanitation and provide drinking water in SC, ST and BC minority welfare hostels-totaling 250 in Medak district.”
“With just Rs 1-2 crore as the contribution from corporates in the area of sanitation in AP, the Companies Act 2013 would bring in a change. There is a need to construct 45,000 toilets in the state which would amount to Rs 45 crore at Rs 10,000 per unit. The role of corporates becomes very important,” says M S Chandra.
As part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Infosys Foundation has published books to simplify computer education for children in rural areas and translated them in Telugu. Wipro too through its ‘Applying thought in schools initiative’ programme has engaged in AP. But these IT giants have focused more on pedagogy.
Today there is no proper mechanism in monitoring the funds given by companies and NGOs too were tight lipped in sharing the cost incurred in the projects. For instance, officials at Project 511 refused to share information on the projects. Project 511, a charitable trust has constructed toilets with funds from corporates and worked closely with Rajiv Vidya Mission programmes.
In Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy district Naandi Foundation, Lions Club, Rotary Club constructed schools with help from the CSR wings of corporate, but no one is willing to share information. Mahati Eswaran, a social activist says that unless there is transparency NGOs and corporates would get away with fraud in the name of social development. The need of the hour is for a transparent, pro-active role by NGOs. Educationists however are hopeful that from next fiscal the contribution from corporates would go up with the coming of Companies Act.

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