Corporate Social Responsibility – Is it just for Corporations?

We do NOT have many billion dollar companies as our customers (We understand the needs of the Small and Medium Businesses and that has been our sole focus since we began. Our processes have evolved over the decade as we became more effective while being increasingly agile). But couple of months back, we were contacted by a multi billior dollar client who wanted us to do a very quick project for them. They wanted a software vendor who could do it quick yet do it right! We had the expertise- we said yes – delivered the project in time – at much lesser cost than other better-known-big-sized company in India.

But thats not the point of discussion here. What we are discussing about is the project which we did. The project was done for Corporate Social Responsibility. It was a desktop based system which inputs data from the field and connects to a central server to update the data when connected through a GPRS Wireless Datacard. The beauty of the system enabled to understand the literacy level of villagers in about 100 villages in India. We created the system and the system was launched in a press conference and things moved on. Actually they did. Personally, i have not heard anything about that system in the papers. Actually, we were lucky to read about that since it was a mammoth enterprise and they did the events with a big bang.

However, there are smaller companies as well which are relentlessly doing things silently in the background over the years. There are people who are doing it on their own and no one knows.  I was talking to Sudeep, one of our programmers at Mindfire, about the recent activity which happened over the weekend. Mindfire along with about 15-18 people had gone over to a local Blind School in Bhubaneswar, where we have one of our development centers. In a fun filled day long event, there were many fun themes which made the students laugh, sing and enjoy the day. In the evening, there was prize distribution where students were given braille watches, which the students held tight to their chest as their priced possessions.  As I was hearing Sudeep, he continued to share how couple of his friends have grouped together and they are organising such drives across the country in multiple locations in India since the last two years, on a very minuscule level.

But the size of the effort is immaterial.

The magnitude of the help or the volume of assistance does not matter. What matters is the intent, the urge to do something for someone. Any attempt at doing something is the acknowledgement that we should give back to the society. It just is not limited to helping differently able people. Even if someone is able, then also helping a poor man buy a blanket is social responsibility. If there is an orphan who is academically sound or is very good in sports, forget about sponsoring their education or sports – Buying just a football for them is more than enough. Corporates are made by people like us. If you scale it down to personal level, it is our social responsibility. Even participating in blood donation drives is our responsibility. If you could make a hungry child smile by giving her some food that is exactly what is expected from us. We may not feed all the people in the world but thats fine. The realization that it is not humanly possible to feed every hungry stomach itself takes you one step closer to execution where we start acting on our responsibility.

We need to know what we want. What we want as a person, what we want as a company and what we want as a race. The sooner we acknowledge our responsibility towards our society, the better will be the place where we live. It does not matter if you can actually give relief to Tsunami victims in some county across seven seas but if you are just able to lighten up a few moments in someone’s life, that itself is the step towards acknowledging our social responsibility.

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