No cheque book charity this

Updated: Jul 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
Its a case of reverse globalisation. With perceptible regularity, Indian companies are making inroads into foreign markets. So far so good. But, perhaps for the first time, they are also demonstrating their corporate social responsibility in the markets they operate in. Consider this. After Satyam Computer Services went global, its CSR arm, Satyam Foundation, is following the parent. Having made significant presence in five cities in India Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Bhuvaneswar and Pune the foundation will soon be spreading wings to the US, Europe, China and Australia in a couple of quarters.

Balaji Utla, director of the foundation, says that the organisation is going global with a commitment to serve the urban poor and less privileged people. We are working on a pilot project in the US to provide primary education to the inner city people. The project is being worked in Chicago and aims to set up one school for these people. He adds: Currently, we are discussing with a few NGOs to figure out how to offer supplemental teaching to the poorest and hope to start the school in the next two quarters.

Satyam Foundation, an umbrella organisation that brings together Satyam associates, spouses and volunteers, works in the areas of health, HIV/AIDS, education, environment, livelihood, street children and slum development in the country. The company started its UK chapter and hopes to develop partnerships with the government, NGOs and volunteers.

There are about 4,500 registered volunteers and the foundation claims to be the largest voluntary movement in the country. We wanted to create a voluntary movement and deliver services to the urban population in all the places where our parent company, Satyam is present, he says. He adds, We are not into cheque-book charity and our initiatives are driven by three core values that include involving people, applying knowledge and making things happen.

So what about funding On an average, the foundation receives about $3-4 million every year, both in the form of kind and cash, he points out.

Now lets look at another development of the foundation. The organisation, in conjunction with a research agency called Market Vitamins, came out with a study on the prevalence of AIDS among the youth community in Andhra Pradesh. It is a first of its kind of survey, which is qualitative in nature and provides tremendous insights into the sexual habits of todays youth, which may lead to the spread of HIV.

The study used the qualitative technique of focus group discussions to explore and understand the mindset of the young with regard to sex and sexuality in their peer circle. The study found that youth today is faced with rising middle class purchasing power, smaller family structures, increasing pressure on leisure time, longer working hours, erosion of established routines, planned socialising with friends, colleagues, even relatives, computer geeks, etc. which has led to a new-found materialism and I, me, my attitude.

We have set up an IT school for the HIV-positive people and for their livelihood, we have tied up with AC-Nielsen-ORG Marg to give business to these people. About 20 people have rolled in the first watch, he explains. Balaji says that the foundation has taken up the threat of AIDS to the society seriously and is keen to draw the attention of the community at large and involve them to stem the various open avenues that are allowing HIV/AIDS to invade our social strata so easily and effortlessly. In fact, we suggest that IT companies must have a policy and draw upon the principles of ILO on the issue, he says.