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From being viewed as a third wheel, CSR is now taken up with immense enthusiasm by corporates

Updated: Dec 31, 2015 01:07:00 PM UTC

Goodera is a global CSR & Sustainability platform, co-headquartered in Bangalore and Menlo Park. With our innovative cloud, mobile, voice and big data platform, embedded with strong domain expertise, we enable and empower corporates to manage their CSR and sustainability goals in a simple, transparent, measurable, and engaging manner. Goodera empowers every stakeholder in the ecosystem including corporates, foundations, employees, government and NGOs. With the vision to power the world of good, Goodera is our new brand identity (we were previously known as NextGen), that resonates with our objective to become a trusted and a reliable partner for every corporate in the world.

Kumar Anurag Pratap, CSR Leader at Capgemini India, shares his perspectives on CSR initiatives

The year 2015 saw the launch of nation-wide initiatives such as Digital India, Skill India, Swachh Bharat and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, which have opened up a number of avenues for carrying out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) across the country.

IT & ITeS companies have embraced the Digital India movement with great fervour and launched programmes with ‘digital technology for social good’ spanning various focus areas such as education, livelihood and skills. NextGen interviewed Kumar Anurag Pratap, CSR Leader at Capgemini India, who shared with us his perspectives on the value that these initiatives have brought to this field.

“Being a technology company, at times the scope of CSR becomes very restrictive, like a canvas with limited colours,” says Anurag. “Today, in the present context, with the law being one of the enablers, the canvas is filled with opportunities to explore,” he adds. With 20 years of CSR experience, Anurag Pratap Kumar has worked with grassroots agencies, donor agencies, the UN and a number of corporates, to make significant contributions to social responsibility strategies and programmes across the country. Having joined Capgemini around the same time when the CSR law under the Companies Act, 2013 came into effect, Anurag had the opportunity to re-strategise CSR at the company under the guidance and support of the senior leadership and board members.

Implementing the CSR law As part of their strategy, the newly formed CSR board determined that spending was not the criteria, while quality of implementation and governance were of utmost importance. Anurag says, “The law helped bring the passion of our CSR leaders to a common platform. Having identified that CSR cannot be done in isolation from the core business, the local communities around our offices were recognised as the primary stakeholders. Based on that understanding, we carried out a needs assessment and identified interventions for digital literacy, skills development, education and waste management, which aligned with government-launched schemes.”

Digitising India’s local communities
Capgemini launched Phase I of its digital literacy campaign in twelve centres across the country including metros as well as tier II cities such as Tiruchirappalli and Salem. “The aim of the campaign was to ensure that at least one person in every family is digitally literate. Basic facilities, such as applying for an Aadhaar card and getting an LPG connection, are easy today because of tools such as smartphones. Our goal is to empower at least 25,000 families every year in this way to ensure digital equality for all.”

Ensuring a cleaner India
One of the projects that Capgemini took up as part of its new CSR initiative was in the area of waste management. They piloted a project with SAAHAS, a waste management hub in Bangalore, where close to half a tonne of wet waste and 2 tonnes of dry waste were collected from across the city for composting and recycling. “The idea was to expand to other cities based on the outcome and success of this pilot. Government initiatives such as Swachh Bharat helped us connect the dots to further Capgemini’s vision and these in turn facilitated partnerships with Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).”

Education for Empowerment
As part of the Education for Girls programme, ENLIGHT, Capgemini identified a need to educate underprivileged girl children. Capgemini provides these children access to education along with developing an orientation process for their smooth integration into the mainstream of society. “We believe in reaching out to these children who otherwise lack the wherewithal and motivation in their own social systems. We intend to link each girl child with an employee of ours as mentor and as a ‘buddy’ for these children.”

Capgemini sees huge value in skill development in the urban communities. “Under this focus area, we launched a programme called Livelihood Education through Action against Poverty (LEAP), the goal of which is to provide 180-240 hours of training courses to youth with HSC qualifications in order to skill them as per the local economy’s requirements. The idea is to enhance the ecosystems for the youth to become the driving force within their local regions. Today, we are impacting 20,000 and by 2020 we hope to touch the 1 lakh mark, which is in tandem with the larger Skill India vision.”

The way forward
From being viewed as a third wheel, CSR is now taken up with immense enthusiasm by corporates. Companies like Capgemini have identified their values in-line with the government initiatives at an early stage, which will fuel India’s growth substantially in the years to come.

(Co-authored by Divya Nawale and Monica Simha)

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