Governments today have the willingness to improve the social policy and the private sector has the strength to find solutions to social problems, said Prof Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, International Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during the session on “Redefining CSR in a Global Economy” at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) Annual Session 2017 in New Delhi.
While it is true that many of the world’s leading social innovation ideas such as cash transfer, phone based financial inclusiveness, universal basic income, etc. do not come from India, the country has all the right ingredients to climb up the ladder, stressed Prof Banerjee.
Primary education forms the base of development in any society. Giving an example from the education sector, Prof Banerjee said that if educational policies could be more flexible, i.e. based on learning levels, rather than class and age differentiation, learning outcomes are higher. He said, “You have to teach children what they need to know and not what they are supposed to know.” Corporates could create products to bride learning gaps. Digital and e-learning could be used to create customised learning programmes, he suggested.
Prof Banerjee stated that social experiments have shown that along with financial support, handholding is essential to help people develop productive assets. He mentioned that the ‘Ultrapoor’ programme in Bangladesh helped increase the wealth of the economically poorer classes by 20% in two years and 40 – 50 % in seven years.
Regarding 2% mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Prof Banerjee said that it was an opportunity for companies to spend money more efficiently than the Government could. He said that corporates should spend their money on three areas, namely, creating a proof of concept, evolving a prototype and embedding it into a large system such as the Government, for it to be scalable across the country.
Mr. T V Narendran, Managing Director, TATA Steel Limited, said that corporates should understand the community’s needs as well as they understand the customer. He suggested that Government, Corporates and NGOs could partner to identify the right solutions and implement them, effectively.
28 April 2017