Global Gandhian Trusteeship and Corporate Responsibility Foundation
The vision of Global Gandhian Trusteeship and Corporate Responsibility Foundation is to promote responsible and ethical business practices among corporate, government and civil society organisations in IndiaMission: Help business, civil society, government and the academia to create an inclusive society through responsible practices. The Foundation will attempt to blend Gandhian concept of Trusteeship with CSR to promote an indigenous concept of sustainability, inclusive development and responsible business practices. i-genius spoke with Suresh Kr. Pramar to find out more.
i-genius: Why did you start Global Gandhian Trusteeship & Corporate Responsibility Foundation?
Suresh Kr. Pramar: The main reason was to promote Trusteeship, Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainaility. The Foundation, through its venture the Centre for Training & Research in Responsible Business organizes Workshops and seminars for corporate and NGOs to raise awareness levels for CSR. We want to create an army of capable CSR Managers
i-genius: What difficulties did you experience setting up Global Gandhian Trusteeship & Corporate Responsibility Foundation?
Suresh: I would not say that I had difficulties in setting up the Foundation. I do have difficulties in running it. Our main area of operation is offering workshops on CSR. It is difficult to convince companies especially their HR Departments, that providing training for their CSR staff is an investment and not wasteful expenditure. This is because companies are still to understand the real worth of CSR. Incidentally we were the first organization in the country to offer such workshops for mid level managements and civil society organizations. We train participants we do not just lecture them
i-genius: What are the most crucial things you have done to grow Global Gandhian Trusteeship & Corporate Responsibility Foundation?
Suresh: Financially we are still a long way from success. Our main source of revenue is the participation fee we collect from participants. This is not very big to enable us to build enough to save. Participation fees are just enough to fund individual workshops.
i-genius: What makes a good candidate for a Managing Trustee of a company?
Suresh: I am not really sure but I guess one needs to have commitment for the issue (in this case CSR) and a determination to carry on despite problems.
i-genius: Who’s been your continued source of inspiration?
Suresh: I guess the source of inspiration is firstly Mahatma Gandhi and also the many men and women in India, and outside, who have on their own taken up causes which have helped society These are people who have devoted their time and also money to carry forward their mission without seeking returns for self. The Corporate world should learn from them
i-genius: Have partnerships helped or hindered your business/project?
Suresh: Partnerships have not helped I think this is because there are very few who believe in the type of work we are involved in. We work to actively involve people. Most partners would like us to do more PR type workshops to gain publicity. This we do not do.
i-genius: Why is CSR important?
Suresh: For a country like India, where despite the strides in economic development, we have large number of people, particularly in the rural sectors, who cannot be said to live with respect and dignity. There is still a large population below the poverty line. Government has failed to deliver,I believe, funds for people’s welfare is diverted to create island of affluence and luxury through industrial development. Recent reports suggest that the number of billionaires in the country have increased several fold. At the same time the actual number of people under the poverty line has also increased. CSR is necessary because business owes it to society and because of the fact that they have made their million on the sweat of the poor and underprivileged. Unlike in the west were the main concerns of CSR is environment in India it is the socio economic development of the poor. Mahatma Gandhi had said that the rich hold their wealth in trust for the benefit of the people.
i-genius: Is it difficult to implement CSR into an existing company/NGO model?
Suresh: Yes in India this is true. This is mainly because few, and I say few, companies understand their responsibilities towards society. We hear a lot about companies doing good work for the people. However almost all this is what the company wants to do, mainly for PR purposes. People’s participation is almost nil. Even though India is the first country to mandate CSR companies are still to integrate CSR into their system. The Act will be meaningless unless the country can create a large number of CSR Managers who have the knowledge and capacity to deliver. Training is very essential for those already in CSR
i-genius: What’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received?
Suresh: “Don’t get involved”
i-genius: What is your favourite motto in life?
Suresh: In helping others you are helping yourself
i-genius: What advice would you give to those starting up a social business/project?
Suresh: Come forward and help. No government can fulfill all the needs of all people. We are the government we the people need to help. Success will not come over night. It is a long struggle. I am sill part of that struggle.
This interview was conducted as part of the i-genius Getting Started interview series. If you would like to learn how to get started in your social business, then why not take our ‘Getting Started – Social Business Start Up’ online course with i-genius Academy. To find out more, click here!