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Social Evils and its perils

By Celin Thomas

As I write this piece for you, my fellow reader- I’m grappled with fear that maybe this blog like many other social network sites might attract a possible arrest. However, I’m compelled by my conscience to write about the appalling events that are being reported over the last two weeks in India- our country. We are a country with million gods and goddesses and yet we find it difficult to respect human rights, let alone allow another human being to enjoy their human rights.

The gang rape of a 23 year old girl in Delhi says a lot about the kind of society we are living in. It also speaks volumes about the complacent political-governance system in our country. Redundant laws will make a separate blog post altogther (sarcasm).For the patriarchs and chauvinists  this is a definite victory as now you wont see a woman now travelling freely. For the secure men, this is a setback- you may find it increasingly challenging to take a girl out on a date- as most of the time she’ll be thinking DATE RAPE!

But anyways, I just feel as a lady that being a woman in India isnt easy afterall. Worse being a woman of Indian origin living in any other part of the globe also makes us equally deprived. I wonder in astonishment to the extent the society goes to make women uncomfortable and feeling threatened.

Mr. Botsa Satyanarayana, Chief of Congress for the state of Andhra Pradesh says that- all of this happens as women venture out late. I want to know what do the night club & pub owners have to say to that. As Mr. Narayana’s comment is really below the belt for women and pinching the bottomline for pub & restaurant owners- no more ladies night!!! What do the gigolos have to say about that, huh?!?!

Even as we debate and argue rapes continue to happen through out the nation and at an appalling rate and frequency.Socially speaking it’ll cripple the growth of women (affecting their empowerment), politically it’ll affect the ruling party, economically it’ll affect tourism & restaurateurs. So much to think about the perils of social evil like rape.

So who is at fault? the victim or the rapist, our complacent political-justice system, and oh the law enforcement officers. Does anyone like to be in centre of a controversy? Did anyone ask Nirbhaya (media christened name for the gang rape victim) if she wanted to be raped in a public transport vehicle?

How is a middle class college going girl supposed to travel, if not in bus? Providing a safe atmosphere to function smoothly in activities is not just a requirement for women, it also a necessity to men. So why complain so much, just provide people what they need?

To answer how do we stop rape? Is going to be a complicated one! Since poor congress led UPA govt has been unsuccessful at it and quite possibly it’ll show in the next election results. We need to change the attitude of people in the society that sees women progressing as a threat. Women are generally perceived as docile and non-complaining types, hence it becomes easier for certain wrongly brought up people to attack them.

I read that the psychology behind arson and rape is the same. To explain further- both the crimes involve inflict permamnent destructive damage to a property or person and gives the perpetrator the same sado-masochistic pleasure of feeling dominant and in charge of another property/person’s fate.

So maybe, this psychology which the rapists witness in their households have to be checked or corrected. Most of these men who are raping women, they dont exactly know are men who have tried their heinous acts on women they already know. Who unfortunately are in no position to complain or retaliate. This has given these men confidence to move out of their houses to commit such felonies to other women.

They say, most of the time women know the rapist- even before the crime is committed to them. It is unfair and unjust and totally illogical to claim that a woman asked for being raped. Nobody wants to be raped or sodomised, I doubt if grants any pleasure to the victim. So why deconstruct or reconstruct the victim’s background while the problem actually lies with the criminal himself.

Do we need to train and educate boys and men to behave in a society, damn right-Yes, we need to do it and ASAP!

Otherwise, we will soon be competing with the doomed Afghanistan in the state of affairs. They say, country where a woman is not honoured will never progress. So true! Please examine how far have we come post 1947?

CSR & Business gupshup

By Celin Thomas

Consider myself lucky to be able to be a participant in a CSR conclave orgnanised by Yes Bank & IICA in Mumbai on the 8th June 2012 at the Nehru Centre.

Hon. Min. Veerappa Moily was present and gave his valuable inputs and feedback on the topic of discussion. The one good point which was nicely brought out was the trust deficit primarily triggered by irresponsible business practices that lead to the global financial meltdown in 2008, which was bravely accepted by the Minister himself in his speech.

Peoples loss of faith in corporations and government was primarily due to the fact that they were being perceived as greedy and least considerate about business practices, environment and community welfare. According to Mr. Moily, businesses can bridge the trust gap by adopting effective CSR initiatives. CSR is Corporate Social Responsibility. Which is often confused as charity by many even today.

Considering the global industrial scenario, CSR which was also the main topic of discussion in the conclave- is considered or rather was projected as the saviour by the eminent panelists.The panel consisted of  noted academicians, experts from consultancies, IICA, planning commission & ministry. The best part of the conclave was the knowledgable panelists who belonged to some of the reputed firms and industrial houses such as Deloitte, Tata, Jindal, Godrej, ITC, etc.

Financial contribution to CSR fund debate
I began to wonder if Mr. Moily and IICA were lobbying with the corporates here in Mumbai through this conclave to promote the 2% of PAT contribution to CSR agenda. Which is BTW being successfully implemented by PSUs in India.
This topic bought upon funny and intriguing revelations. Like how does one go about spending 2% of the PAT and into what? Define CSR activities or whatever that may fall in the gamut of CSR initiatves? There was talk about necessary CSR guidelines that would answer all the queries which were raised.

I guess the only concensus that the conclave agreed upon was to work amicably on a set of guidelines that set the precedent for spending on CSR and how to go about the implementation of activities.

Creating social value
CSR is definitely the new mantra to revive businesses and their reputation whilst reinstating faith of people in their government. For extractive industries, CSR is huge mandate. Earlier product and businesses revolved around inducing demand and upscaling lifestyle. But after the recent economic meltdown, everyone is slowly coming to senses that available natural resources need to be used judiciously and that very soon there’ll be hardly any means to live luxurious lifestyle.

Pretty soon, having a luxurious life may seem like an outdated concept or worse could even be fined just as the largely debated carbon tax, there could also be a lifestyle tax. So things that are additional or excess may soon turn into baggage or liabilities.

Here is where social entrepreneurs and corporates can find the purpose and the future trend. Which implies in a simple manner that, produce or provide a service that adds value to life. Instead of creating a buzz and demand, therby plundering natural resources. It is better to switch your business model to suit future requirements. I think in the long run, only those companies will survive that have capacitated themselves with processes that support products and services that generate value rather than support Greed!

Two decades ago
Companies never had corporate governance or any structured policy and value system. But today a corporate functions like a huge family tree, with the head of a family and several stakeholders. The onus lies amongst the senior most to decide and act upon responsibly for the wlefare of the vulnerable stakeholders. Instilling values mid-way will be very difficult, it is always better to begin with a good set of values; however having no values can leave a company clueless about its stand on certain matters that may have legal & regulatory implications.

It is of utmost importance, to map out each and every process of the company and also its supply chain for all the applicable norms and check for compliances, here is where one can always start & never go wrong. Policies and guidelines, charters, laws, acts, regulatory bodies have sprung up to monitor and gauge performance & compliance. Performance & compliance are the first mandatory steps.

The real measurement of the company’s life comes from its social investment. This investment can be in terms of its policies,practices and processes that lead them to produce products and serve their stakeholder accordingly. Social investment or responsible businesses essentially generate value in the long haul. They command respect for the organisation and its representatives.

Certain developmental inititaves have reflected government and corporate apathy. These initiatives have given birth to naxalism, maosim even terrorism. While there have been certain inititaves and policies on the regulatory and corporate level that have bought about social awakening and reforms such as diversity & inclusivity, equal opportunity, affirmative action, etc.

It is clear that corporates play a big role in abolishing and at times even creating social evils. Needless to say, it is imperative that the corporations must have values based on ethical systems that would provide the necessary impetus in influencing profits, people and eventually the planet.