Shrikant Sinha: ‘We will discuss how we can scale innovative models’
‘Our focus will be on using tech for large-scale impact’
Civil Society, New Delhi
The NASSCOM Foundation has been working with companies, government and voluntary organisations to develop corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts that efficiently address development concerns. A CSR Leadership Conference is being held by the Foundation on 2 February in Bengaluru and on 9 March in Delhi to bring together various stakeholders to share learning, set goals and engage on issues and challenges. The first conference of this kind was held last year. Civil Society put questions to Shrikant Sinha, CEO of the NASSCOM Foundation, on the ground the conference expects to cover. Edited excerpts:
What does your conference hope to achieve?
The CSR Leadership Conference (CLC) was initiated by the NASSCOM Foundation in 2015 as a platform to engage with CSR leaders, civil society members and policymakers.
The CSR Leadership Conference 2016 (#NFCLC16) is trying to find answers to the most relevant questions on ‘Can the IT-BPM industry CSR innovate for the underserved?’ and ‘How can CSR meaningfully address the India development agenda?’ The conference will bring together CSR leaders, ‘Technology for Good’ champions, grassroots NGO practitioners and public policy leaders to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges facing development and poverty alleviation in India while calling for actions leading the way to meaningful CSR across corporate India.
Combining innovation with technology is a clear focus. What is the IT industry’s record in this regard? What are the best examples you would like to cite?
As part of the CSR Leadership Conference, the Bengaluru event will be completely focused on how we can use technology to bring about large scale- social impact (#Tech4Good). Since the last eight years, the NASSCOM Foundation’s NASSCOM Social Innovation Forum (NSIF) has been instrumental in identifying, recognising and mentoring early adopters of technologies in the social space, giving scale, market accessibility and sustainability to a number of social innovations. The forum has helped non-profits, corporates, individuals and many aspiring social entrepreneurs by empowering them and helping them to scale and augment impact.
This year the forum, with the theme, ‘Making technologies work for the underserved’, will showcase technology-based solutions that address India’s development challenges in education, skills and employability, health, accessibility and livelihood.
The forum will discuss and debate how CSR can help scale innovative impact models, led by various social impact vehicles, including social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations. The forum will examine whether technology can play a role in scaling initiatives designed for the poor and underserved. Some of the innovations are:
SkillTrain, which is a social enterprise that leverages mobile technology to deliver quality vocational training to rural youth by uploading small videos into a basic Sim card and making them available through retail outlets at negligible costs.
CoBELs or Competency Based Experiential Learning Solution is an e-learning solution that maps curriculum into games and activities.
ReMeDi or Neurosynaptic conditioned telemedicine technology, which works even in extremely poor settings.
An IVRS-based Daily Monitoring System is a process innovation through which realtime, grassroots-level data on midday meal schemes is collected systematically every day from over 150,000 schools spread throughout Uttar Pradesh.
Among CSR applications for Technology for Good is the Target Corporation’s ‘Library Software’ that is deployed in schools for underprivileged children. The software allows the schools to maintain records and track books in a structured manner.
Accenture works in partnership with many NGOs to use technology to impart life skills to disadvantaged youth, such as retail skills and basic oral English. They have also developed an e-learning platform for easy access to learning material.
HP operates HP Life Future classrooms to impart basic digital literacy as well as entrepreneurship skills through repurposed shipping containers parked within underserved communities across India.
Cisco is using CEED Technology to provide high quality virtual classroom lessons to remote ITIs across multiple states in India.
Are there problem areas with regard to CSR policy, which you expect to address at the conference? Are there challenges which IT companies are facing?
Some of the potent questions that the conference will try and find solutions to are: How to create CSR policy and what should be included/excluded; how do foreign companies with an Indian subsidiary calculate their two per cent profit share and report back; whether the unspent money can be carried forward as corpus; should companies form their own foundations or work with existing NGOs; what are the auditing and compliance requirements and tax exemptions on CSR expenses; how can volunteering be monetised and brought into the ambit of CSR; how to account for hardware and software donations under the CSR rule.
Designing and implementing a viable CSR strategy is of utmost importance and will be a key topic of discussion wherein successful CSR leaders will share best practices towards creating an impactful and sustainable CSR initiative which falls under the ambit of the CSR law.
Partnerships are valuable. How does the NASSCOM Foundation facilitate the bringing together of government, social sector entities and companies?
The NASSCOM Foundation enjoys unique positioning with its access to decision-makers in the government, the leadership from across industry and partnership with a vast network of over 4,000 non-profits. The foundation, therefore, can act as a joining force, bridging the gap between these three fundamental development agents of society.
An example of this can be seen in the NASSCOM Foundation’s programme of the National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) which was started by the Foundation in 2011 and was adopted by the Government of India in 2014 to later make it a part of the Digital India movement.
The foundation has also taken up the responsibility of training 10 per cent of underserved citizens in the first phase of NDLM and has partnered with corporations like Amdocs, Ericsson, Atos, EXL, Mercer, Cybage, Persistent, Zensar, HP, SAP, Infrasoft, Hitachi, Cyient, Infosys, Capgemini, Wells Fargo, Cognizant, Mothercare and Sears to support the programme by creating and funding NDLM centres across India while on-ground training is provided by the NGOs who sign up as implementation partners for the programme.
To register and know more about the Conference, please log on to www.clc.nasscomfoundation.org.