Bodh Gaya: Corporate Social Responsibility has become an essential part of the business. People have started to finally understand that building a better and sustainable world to live in, is not a goal that conflicts with creating and running a business successfully. We need to instill this belief in the minds of our future leaders. With the same purpose, Pragati – the Social Responsibility Club of IIM Bodh Gaya, launched the first edition of “Kalpvriksha – The CSR Summit” on February 28th, 2021. Students got to hear from well-established people in the CSR sector of various organizations, who shared their ideologies and practices and offered eye-opening insights.
The first session of the summit was a panel discussion on the topic “CSR in COVID”. The panel consisted of Mr. Vinod Kulkarni, CSR Head – Tata Motors; Ms. Zarnain Fatima, CSR Manager – Vedanta Resources and Mr. Kishore Kumar, CSR Head – Microsoft India. Ms. Kavitha Natarajan, Senior CSR at CGI India was the moderator for the session who made the discussion very engaging and asked several questions that made the audience think about the problems that a future manager might encounter.
The session commenced with a discussion on the importance of CSR. Mr. Kulkarni shared that Tata had been investing in CSR for six years despite facing losses because they believe that “You are there, if the community is there.” Although CSR adds to social development as well, such initiatives also cater to economic progress. As the session progressed, the topic of COVID-19 came.
The guests shared how their organizations had to put their older CSR practices on hold once the lockdown started. Ms. Fatima talked about how “Phygital CSR” has become more prevalent – which came with its own sets of challenges like lack of resources, digital literacy, virtual coordination, etc. All the panelists unanimously agreed that the most important stakeholders of a CSR project are the employees and implementing partners. They are the prime movers of a project who work tirelessly – pandemic or not and an organization must be committed to supporting these people working at the grass-roots level. Mr. Kishore talked about Microsoft’s four-phase strategy of “Response, Recovery, Rebuild, and Rehabilitate”, which they adopted during COVID. He also added that this situation has helped organizations improve in three aspects – speed, scale, and sustainability. A key takeaway for students was that the goal of CSR is not to initiate new projects but to create solutions in such a way that it is integrated into the system for the long term and a larger scale – even after an organization steps out of it.
The second session took place in the afternoon and was moderated by Dr. Nidhi Mishra, Assistant Professor – IIM Bodh Gaya. The topic of discussion was “Social Entrepreneurship” wherein the panelists expressed their opinions on the same. The people on the panel were Mr. Sharad Sagar, CEO- Dexterity Global Group; Mr. Harshal Dhoke, Shashi Dream Foundation; Mr. Nivesh Raj, The Leadership 30 and Mr. Atchuta Rao, Chairman – National Farmathon. Mr. Raj said that “If we decide to make a change, we will see it tomorrow.” For the best interests of all the stakeholders, the right balance is needed between the welfare side and the profit side.
The discussions were rich and engaging with the inquisitive minds of the students gaining eye opening insights. Socially responsible leaders are the need of the hour and such opportunities give them the much needed perspectives for them to expand their horizons. The event was a success and kickstarted the trend of CSR summits among third generation IIMs.