CSR should enrich a corporation

Updated: Jan 27 2008, 04:47am hrs
We in Voltas regard participation in social development as a whole-hearted preoccupation that enriches the corporation itself. Our corporate sustainability programme has two components: A programme around our core competency air conditioning. Another is volunteering. Employees are encouraged to contribute their talents, skills, core strengths by picking out their areas of preferences from a volunteering matrix. Core teams function in major locations of Voltas and every community development project is spearheaded by two project leaders. We have designed an online system for logging in volunteering hours and there is a formal recognition system in place.

In consultation with the Tata Council for Community Initiatives, Voltas has partnered with the Joseph Cardijn Technical Institute, Dadar. Here we have identified hands-on technical education of children who are not academically inclined. This blends with the need of the community and of the air conditioning industry for high calibre technicians. Our engineers designed the syllabus, donated equipment to set up an AC&R laboratory in the school, contributed financially and made available to the school a full time instructor.

We have several initiatives. To mention a few we have organised income generation programmes for ANZA school for the mentally and physically challenged children, Byculla, in our premises at Chinchpokli. At Our Lady's Home, Dadar, which is an orphanage for boys, our EM&R BG Division donated a LCD projector and the division has contributed over Rs 5 lakh. Regular entertainment programmes and lunches are organised by our volunteers along with study classes in mathematics.

Since 2004, over 60 volunteers have been participating in the Dream Run in the Mumbai marathon. Our Mumbai volunteers now participate in the marathon for the cause of the Voltas Organization of Women (VOW). So far they have raised over Rs 4 lakh. VOW, a registered public charitable trust run by women, assists the needy in the fields of health, education, career and vocational guidance. It also provides financial assistance for education and medical relief.

During the Mumbai floods, for five consecutive days our volunteers took part in the relief operations for flood victims at Mumbra. At Vatsalaya, an NGO for street children, we put together their library, by putting in place a system of documentation and also organised cricket matches with lunch.

Project Rain Water Harvesting has been completed in Mumbai at the Chinchpokli premises and has been operational since August 2006. We implemented both the schemes of roof top rain water and run-off surface rain water harvesting and will be using approximately 75 lakh litres of water for a year for flushing purposes, thereby reducing dependence on BMC water.

Currently we are supporting, along with our other continuing CSR activities, a project for the underprivileged youth of Assam by training them at the Joseph Cardijn Institute in the maintenance of air conditioners. This is in conjunction with the Tata Group's initiative of creating 'employability' amongst the youth of Assam. Besides this, we have the vocational training of tribal women, a tie-up with Regina Pacis in colloboration with Shramik Vidhyapith. At the Brihaspati Sports Academy, Uttaranchal, the aim is to groom young talented tribal children in volley ball to international standard and to raise the standard of men/women volleyball of India in the international arena. At Ma Niketan, an orphanage for girls, we assist in cultivating part of their land for the growth of vegetables and fruits to make the home self-sustaining; besides the renovation of the ANZA special school at a cost of Rs 8 lakh and co-ordinating two-income generation programmes for them.

(Ashok Soni is the MD, Voltas Ltd.)

As told to Sulekha Nair