Corporates have obligation to next generation: Khurshid

Union Minister of State for Corporate Affairs and Ministry of Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid on Wednesday called upon corporates to run an “ethical, responsible business.”

Inaugurating a seminar here on ‘Corporate sustainability: the driver of innovation,' organised by the FICCI Aditya Birla CSR Centre for Excellence, he said that sustainability was a concept that was just taking shape. Earlier, it was concern for environment. But, fundamentally, it meant “justice between generations.” Corporates should realise that they had a duty and obligation to the next generation.

Innovation could be a “cause and also effect.” What mattered was its usefulness to society. He said there was something that could be done even beyond charity. “Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not just charity. It is like an obligation and we owe it to the next generation.”

Despite the “worst economic recession and inflation,” the government had not slashed a single paisa from the allocation for the social welfare sector as it had great concern for the downtrodden, he said.

Later, talking to reporters, he said while the performance in terms of CSR was easily measurable with regard to public sector units as they had been directed to spend a specific portion of their profit towards CSR, there was nothing mandatory as far private sector was concerned.

The Ministry was thinking of something on these lines for the private sector as well. There could also be voluntary guidelines. Whether there is any adequate response (for such guidelines) remained to be seen, he said.

M.B. Nirmal, founder-chairman, Exnora International, listed a number of challenges facing the globe and said warming of atmosphere, soil, sea and wind were among the most disquieting ones. Lamenting that “land cancer is a more serious threat than global warming,” he pointed out that conversion of farmlands into concrete jungles might engender disastrous results. Instead of landscaping, the corporates could raise paddy in the available area in their units, he suggested.

Sudha Raghunathan, founder and chairperson of the Samudaya Foundation and eminent carnatic musician, said since the birth of the foundation, it had collected Rs.80 lakh and distributed it among underprivileged children. Ten projects had been initiated now to commemorate the 10{+t}{+h} anniversary and they included renovation of Clarke School for the Deaf, support for Tulir (organisation fighting child sexual abuse) and assistance for the Dean Foundation involved in palliative care.

A. Padamsingh Isaac, founder-chairman, Aachi Group, said his organisation had not only employed as many as 500 women, including more than 40 persons with disability, but was also responsible for the creation of 3,000 entrepreneurs across the State.

“We have made these 3,000 our exclusive agents who are now paying sales tax, excise duty and also income tax.”

M. Rafeeq Ahmed, Chairman, FICCI, Tamil Nadu State Council, said any business should be “societally and economically responsible,” and “people, planet and profit” were the three pillars of corporate sustainability.

P. Murari, advisor to the FICCI president and former civil servant, commended FICCI for adopting 12 institutes to train people. As an independent director in a number of companies, he said, he was able to ensure “social commitment.”