‘ISR – I Change To Change India’
Most people in corporates are still waiting for a Mahatma or Messiah to come and change India, while indulging in lip-service CSR
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As I sit to write this piece two days before Independence Day, I have in mind, fresh thoughts from the recent BW Businessworld marketing conference, where I was part of The Good Force panel. Moderated by Sushant Dash, (champion of the Tata Tea campaign), I did not get time to share my thoughts after my other co-panellist, Lynn De Souza, former chairperson of Lintas Media, said corporates will become responsible, when corporate citizens exercise ISR — Individual Social Responsibility.
Individual Social Responsibility — a phrase I coined and promoted way back in 2003, when I launched the Joy of Giving and Right Every Wrong movement — has captured the imagination of many over the years. But alas, most people in corporates are still waiting for a Mahatma or Messiah to come and change India while indulging in lip-service CSR.
Consider a business that marginalises, displaces and drives children to death by hunger, after polluting the rivers and environment, then aligns with a news channel to save the girl child with a movie actress as its ambassador! Or a business that displaces orphans to build a fancy building in South Bombay, then claims to feed 2,000 children with India’s leading cricketers as its evangelists. Or an educational institute that defrauds thousands of students with sub-standard education, then signs on two movie stars and a cricketer to claim that it was creating a great India with its so-called noble work.
Way back in 2004, I conceptualised the Karmaveer Awards. An industry confederation wanted to fund us as strategic partners. The director general and chief mentor of the organisation told us that Karmaveer should be positioned as CSR (corporate social responsibility) awards. I said to them, I do not believe in CSR, as pray how can a corporate be responsible, if people working in the organisation are not responsible. I explained to them that a tsunami happens and celebrities, business people and corporate houses organise fundraiser events, to show solidarity for 10,000 people and children affected by the tsunami. Why is it that these people and businesses cannot see thousands of children dying every day, of a tsunami called Hunger and Impoverishment? They had no answer. After that they also had no funds since the truth hurts.
IdeasForAction — No country, company or society can be responsible until and unless the people in the company, country and society start exercising individual social responsibility. None of us as individuals can change everything, but all of us can surely change something. If each of us start making those small changes then together we will make a big difference and the business, society, nation and world change for the better. There is no Mahatma, coming to save us, we need to realise that each of us is the Mahatma. Please also do remember, when we as human beings do something to make a difference, it is not altruistic, charitable, noble or selfless, since whatever we do also benefits our children. Hence it is selfish. And if each of us creates a better world for our children selfishly, then the world will become a much better place.
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