1. Digital India to get a CSR boost

Digital India to get a CSR boost

Nasscom Foundation aims to establish a CSR fund, comprising of IT and non-IT firms, for a connected India

By: | Published: March 30, 2015 12:12 AM

Most of the Indian companies have been undertaking social initiatives proactively, driven by a desire to give back to the society. With a concerted approach, it is possible to channelise these energies towards sustainable and inclusive growth, notably by making collaborative use of technology for national good by plugging gaps in India’s social development. In sync with this sentiment, over 200 leaders from IT, government and NGOs gathered at Nasscom Foundation’s CSR Leadership Conference 2015 in New Delhi last week, to discuss ways to create social impact through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.

With ‘Catalysing Change through Corporate Social Responsibility’ as the overall theme, the conference was designed to advance the cause of CSR towards sustainable and inclusive growth by bringing together leading industry figures to discuss insights, best practices and leadership experiences. The conference also showcased the efforts of companies leading socially responsible initiatives and provided a platform for industry and other stakeholders to discuss and find effective solutions to meaningfully engage with CSR.

Significantly, IT industry forum Nasscom and the Nasscom Foundation revealed that their CSR initiatives will now be aimed at participating in the Digital India programme. R Chandrasekhar, president of Nasscom, said, “We are not only thinking and talking about creating a fund for the member companies but are also trying to get non-IT industries on board as well. The CSR spend of IT companies will certainly rise from $0.5 billion to $2.5 billion and we want to direct this cash flow towards technology for good.” As a part of this initiative, Nasscom Foundation will try and brings together corporates, NGOs and the government on one platform to focus on catalysing change. “The leadership that will emerge from this summit will aid the implementation of the schemes of the government in close association with NGOs or ground-level bodies,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government after coming to power had announced several schemes that would make India a technology hub and one of them was the Digital India programme. Speaking at the event, chairman of Nasscom Foundation, Ganesh Natarajan, explained, “Most of the Indian companies have been undertaking social initiatives proactively, driven by a desire to give back to the society. With a concerted approach, it is possible to channelise these energies towards sustainable and inclusive growth and this conference aims to propel the same. Nasscom Foundation will be working as a direct partner with the government of India on the digital literacy programme under the broader Digital India initiative. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are also aiding us on the digital literacy programme,” Natarajan added.

There is a need for collaborative approach under the public private partnership model for creating collective and sustainable Digital India. The National Digital Literacy Mission, aimed to create digital literacy in one member of each family, is one of the great examples of collaborative approach for effective collective impact, Ajay Kumar, secretary of department of electronics and information technology, who was also present at the meet, said.

The Nasscom Foundation has also been involved with several other projects like the National Skills Mission which aims to educate several people across India. This enhances the digital labour pool and can be used by the country to a good extent. Explaining this, Shrikant Sinha, CEO of Nasscom Foundation, said, “Nasscom Foundation enjoys a position which only a few other non-profits can boast of, it has an active relationship with the government, its approachability towards the IT-BPM companies and a partner network of over 6,000 known and certified NGOs. This conference is a step forward towards leveraging this unique position and drive a constructive dialogue among the three pillars to maximise the impact of CSR.”

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