We need green solutions

Written by Natarajan Viswanathan | Updated: Mar 31 2008, 07:23am hrs
The responsibility of businesses is to make profits. So, corporations that conduct their business legally, look after their employees, produce excellent goods and services for their customers, meeting the expectations of their investorsare doing the right thing by striving to be profitable.

However, very few of them have looked at the negative impact of their business on the environment. With a renewed focus on the environment by focus groups and the government, this issue is coming to the forefront and will be on the boil for the next ten years, at least. The more developed and sensitive countries have already enacted laws and passed legislations to bring about the necessary changes, however, a perfect situation does not exist.

Indian businessmen are amongst the smartest in the world and we cannot put anything beyond their reach. As long as there is intent to achieve, they will achieve. Therefore, the first step is the sincere need to feel that the business is not environmentally sound. This evolves when the management is sensitive and aware of the issues. It is therefore a matter of character and education.

Once education is done and the need to change is established, the second step is to identify the key problems and set deadlines to make the changes. All this, while ensuring that the business carries on uninterrupted and all responsibilities are met. The third step is to actually identify products and processes that will bring about the change. Once identified, go about actually making the changes.

Easier said than done.

The greatest challenge is the stand taken by the government. A serious government will ensure that the proactive change agents will be supported and the rest will follow because of the legislations passed and the laws enacted. The entire process will take a lot of investments and appropriate tax holidays will have to be given to encourage leaders and at the same time, penalise the laggards.

The second challenge is to sensitise the business to understand and appreciate the degradation of the environment. Consistent education will achieve this. The need to leave a better world for the future generation must be felt.

The third challenge is time. All changes take time, but a momentum needs to be built up. There are no shortcuts. The best time to start is now.

The fourth challenge is the cost and the funding of the cost. It is very clear that the investments made, will definitely pay for itself over a period of timebut how does business meet the cost in the interim. The government plays a critical role here. They can reward or penalise and share the burden for a great cause.

Today, with IT playing a key role in every business, the first steps towards addressing some of the issues have been taken. Even in India, CIOs are creating awareness and pushing vendors towards offering green solutions.

IT companies the world over have joined the green initiative and are working towards offering products that need lesser power, lesser space and lesser cooling. Some others have established green standards while others have built green supply chains. If IT can take the lead and show the way, surely others can follow.

Finally, if India decides do it, there is no stopping us.

The writer is managing director, Hitachi Data System India