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In India, social justice needs a disruptive push

Feb 23, 2017

Corporate and NGO leaders believe that all stakeholders need to work together to ensure social justice.

New Delhi: Corporate and civil society leaders believe that infrastructure and funds alone are not enough to tackle the present social challenges.

According to them, right kind of mindset of individuals and the way they look at the present social challenges related to caste, gender and disability is crucial for ensuring that social justice is ensured.

NGO and CSR leaders were discussing ways of taking social justice philanthropy to next levels wherein results are better defined, and stakeholders, including individuals shoulder equal responsibility.

Leaders from various sectors representing India Inc were brainstorming in the presence of civil society leaders at a panel discussion on the topic of social justice philanthropy in New Delhi. The panel discussion was organised by National Foundation for India (NFI) and OneWorld Foundation India (OneWorld).

The panel discussion was accompanied by launch of a book titled Social Justice Philanthropy: Visions and Voices.

The book features interviews of 19 corporate and civil society leaders on the issue of social justice philanthropy and CSR. The interviews were conducted for EK duniya anEK Awaaz radio programme series, which was produced by OneWorld and NFI, and broadcast on All India Radio FM Rainbow.

Amita Joseph, Director, Business Community Foundation, rued that cronyism is seeping into the entire system. She asked the society to be vigilant against the pitfalls of an increasingly unjust society wherein the fruits are distributed disproportionately. “Let's give everybody an equal chance,” she said.

Malini Gupta, Vice President, Sustainability, Royal Bank of Scotland, said that it was not easy to tackle the root causes. “When people from two different castes were not willing to aboard the same boat even during times of natural disaster such as floods, it says a lot. We are not talking about rapes and dalit rights. Nobody is discussing menstrual health within the family.”

According to her, the process of change through social justice requires structural changes in the society as well as our mindsets. “There is suspicion against each other among corporates and NGOs. We need to be clear about our thoughts on social Justice and should be mindful of the fact that the corporates are basically structured to deliver profits and not deliver justice.”

Gupta also highlighted the importance of awareness. “Dialogue is very important. Social Justice needs equal participation. Therefore, convergence is important.”

Lopamudra Priyadarshini, CSR Head, Sonalika International Tractors, said that addressing the root cause of injustice is real philanthropy.

“There is no point in having smart classes unless the basic infrastructure is there. Challenges like climate change need participation of all stake holders including individuals,” she said.

Sudhir Sinha, CEO & Chief Coach, Centre for Sustainability and Responsibility, who also moderated the discussion suggested transition from transactional CSR to transformational CSR for inching towards social justice on the ground.

Narender Kukreti, Deputy General Manager, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, shared that sustainability of the initiatives is key to the welfare programmes. “We are working on increasing livelihood opportunities around our plant in Bangalore by making the local communities employable with relevant skills.”

Manju Dhasmana, Director - Community Affairs at Microsoft India, said the corporates are now increasingly looking to work in development deprived regions like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. “More people from the development background are coming forward to work with corporates in taking the social justice agenda ahead. Corporates are steadily evolving to a stage wherein they are seriously thoughtful of making a real sense out of every penny spent and not just filling-in the gaps.”

Click here to read e-version of the book Social Justice Philanthropy: Visions and Voices.

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