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“Power Lunch” as BEDCPL CSR launched

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By Tameemuddin Humble

Since the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India became an obligation to a company in 2011, it is gaining ground in the formal sector of the economy. Whereas the informal sector which contributes to almost the half of the GNP and where approximately 93% of the Indian workforce is employed, the application of CSR is rare.

The impact of CSR of a corporate is being felt well in India also on its branding and productivity so a corporate may not like to escape from fulfilling its legal obligations in future besides getting its business benefits in disguise rather it would keep pace with its changing dynamics keeping its global eye on.

Traditionally, CSR existed philanthropically and largely revolved around activities like donations, planting trees, community development, setting up schools and hospitals, adult literacy, adoption of village, and so on.

Though the above components of CSR are important but they are not self-sustainable. Their survival is dependent on the profitability of the corporate. Therefore the CSR activities should be integrated with the official works fixed at regular intervals in a company without affecting its budget and that could only be done, if we ensure the very involvement of its managers in the program. It needs social attitude of the managers and training in order to acquire the necessary skills and competence, if one is lacking.

The Bhagalpur Electricity Distribution Company Pvt. Limited (BEDCPL) wants to tap into skills, expertise and passion of its employees to make a difference not only to the service assigned by the Bihar Government but to the society as well.

The above thoughts expressed by the Director of BEDCPL and CEO of Delhi-based infrastructure giant, SPML Infra, Mr Amanullah, while launching the unique CSR project of BEDCPL, “Power Lunch” at Saryu Devi School in Mirjanhat on 20th August 2013.

The company established its head office for now in Mirjanhat from where it is monitoring its project, designed to serve 1.5 lakh consumers of electricity spread over the 7 blocks of this historic city Bhagalpur.

The concept of “Power Lunch” as a CSR activity has been brought here in Bhagalpur from America where Mr Amanullah worked till 2006 and the idea that brings companies into schools to inspire the students to develop a love for reading and writing at lunch time by the corporate volunteers which does not necessarily consists of taking lunch together but certainly adds intellectual power to the children of that school. The engineers and managers of BEDCPL spend their lunch time with the school children taking motivational classes and inspiring them to do better in their lives. The motivated and encouraged children are then expected to go back to their regular classrooms.

This CSR idea of BEDCPL initiated a debate in the corporate sector of Bihar on how a corporate could deliver its legal obligation under “Corporate Social Responsibility”.

The company has taken up three schools of its vicinity so far for its CSR project—Saryu Devi School and Bihari kanya Vidhayalay at Mirjanhat and the Urdu Prathmic Vidhayalay of Barari.

The project is designed only for the government aided schools of Bhagalpur where most of the children belong to the underprivileged section of the society. Every officer of the company has to spend two hours per week in any one of the selected schools with prior information to that school. More such schools are to be taken on board for this CSR project.

While the CSR activities contribute a lot to the goodwill of a company, their contribution in the society’s actual success is dependent on its sustainability. Hence, it is the need of the hour to adopt the sustainable practices, that in addition to bring the goodwill to the company, the society could benefit in its totality also. The CSR should not only be for the PAFs (Project Affected Families). It should cover the whole society. The company has decided to foster and integrate the whole system of the management not only into the process of customer service but the empowerment of the vicinity where it is working.

Education is the basic tool to bring the real development to the society. That is why BEDCPL is committed to bridge the big gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in educational sector by focusing exclusively the downtrodden children of the areas around the project through the “Power Lunch” program.

Mr Amanullah said, “BEDCPL’s sustainability initiatives focus on two broad categories: delivering transmission and distribution solutions of electricity in Bhagalpur with the consumer satisfaction and operating responsibly and ethically”.

BEDCPL believes in corporate volunteerism as the only way to its sustainability and considers it to have the potential to increase employee productivity and build its reputation while contributing to the community development also. So the “Power Lunch” as a CSR strategy, an innovative idea in India for the corporate sector, has been designed as the flagship programme of BEDCPL which mobilizes its middle and upper level management to take out time from their recess and take motivational classes of the underprivileged children in their schools.

[Tameemuddin Humble is a Journalist based at Gaya, Bihar. He is also Secretary, Muslim Empowerment Forum, Gaya (Bihar). He can be reached at tameemhumble@gmail.com]
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