CORPORATE In KASHMIR

If social responsibility is an area of vast activity elsewhere in India for the corporate sector, why Kashmir doesn’t figure anywhere!

Greater Kashmir / Ejaz Ayoub
Publish Date: Oct 11 2012 12:00PM

Every organization operates within an environment from where it mobilizes resources in the form of men, natural resources, money etc in order to fulfill the objectives of profit and wealth maximization. Environment belongs to everyone and so does its resources. Therefore if a group of people (organization) are using these resources in a bigger proportion than rest of the population; they have an obligation to care for the rest who are letting them use these resources for their commercial objectives. This entire concept of corporate’s obligation towards the society is termed as “Corporate Social Responsibility”. The roots of CSR concept emanate from a bigger in scope management subject i.e. Business Ethics.
The philosophy of keeping ethics in consideration while executing a business holds the prime importance for a successful business venture. Unethical business practices do provide exponential returns but for a very short period. Therefore the motive behind CSR is fundamentally a survival tool for an organization rather than just a moral obligation towards the society within which it operates.

Corporate profile of Kashmir:
Since last few years we have witnessed an exponential increase in the number of corporates operating in Kashmir ranging from bigwig telecom players like Bharti Airtel to giant financial institutes like HDFC. Some of the industries in which big corporates are operating in Kashmir are Telecom (Bharti Airtel, Vodaphone Essar, Tata Docomo, Aircel, Reliance Infocom, Idea Cellular etc), Banking & Insurance (HDFC Bank, AXIS Bank, Yes Bank, ICICI Bank, Bajaj Allianz, HDFC Standard Life, Reliance Life, Max New York Life, ING Vyasa etc), Automobile (Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata, Fiat, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Mahindra, Toyota, Volkswagen, Skoda, Bajaj, Hero Honda, TVS, Force etc), Infrastructure (HCC, NBCC, F-CON, Ircon, NHPC,  JP constructions etc), Consumer Durables (Sony, HP, Toshiba, LG, Samsung, Canon, Nokia etc). This is surely not an exhaustive list and the type of industries and the number of corporates that have a substantial business stake in Kashmir, is quite large. Although the coming of these big corporates in Kashmir have helped in generating employment and improved the climate of consumer centrism but at the same time there is a color of exploitation observed in the way they treat human resource in this part of the world. The positions that they offer to well qualified Kashmiri youth are mostly transactional level (Front End Sales, Casher/Clerk, Agents etc) rather than middle level or strategic level positions. On top of that the qualification and experience prerequisites for a position offered in J&K office of a corporate are quite high compared to the same post offered in other Indian cities. Leaving the HR policies aside, if we go through the CSR budgets and programs that are run by the above mentioned corporates in rest of India, we will be surprised to see that Kashmir is not receiving even an iota of what Kashmir is offering in terms of business.
Current CSR programs of some corporates running in rest of India:

Bharti Airtel
Nobody has skimmed much of a cream from Kashmir’s telecom industry than Airtel. Since its operations in Kashmir, Airtel has always showed a positive year-on-year growth in terms of business and profits. What has Airtel as a corporate offered us! Although there are a number of CSR programs run by Bharti Airtel in India but the below mentioned program is specifically run in Northern India and ironically Kashmir is nowhere in the beneficiary list.
SATYA BHARTI SCHOOL PROGRAM: Number of Primary Schools Operational: 242, Number of States: 6 (Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal), Number of Children Enrolled: 30,000.
Other Programs offered as a part of CSR: Bharti Scholarship and Mentorship Program, Bharti Centre for Communication-IIT Bombay, The Airtel Lecture Series, Bharti Merit Awards, Bharti Centre for Entrepreneurial Initiatives.

HDFC Bank
HDFC Bank is one of the few private sector banks that have started operating in Kashmir and its growth in terms of branch expansion speaks about the business figures that Kashmir is offering it. If we take a look at the current CSR programs run by this bank in rest of the country we will be astonished to see that HDFC has partnered with over 190 NGOs and voluntary agencies that have undertaken diverse social and development initiatives. Following are a “few” societal projects which HDFC supported during FY2011-12:
Aavishkar Society for Development of Mentally Handicapped, Project Koshish,  Project Prayas, Population First, Premaanjali Educational Trust, Shelter Associates, HelpAge India, Association For Sarva Seva Farms, Atmashakti Trust, Madhok Foundation, Aangan Trust etc. Can anybody recall any of the above CSR projects being run by HDFC in Kashmir?

Hindustan Construction Company
Mammoth J&K based projects like 330 Mega Watt Kishen Ganga Project, Nimoo Bazgo Hydro Electric Project-Leh, Project Mughal Road, Pirpanjal railway Tunnel project etc are being executed by one of the biggest infrastructure companies of India-Hindustan Construction Company (HCC). The company has been earning billions of dollars from Kashmir based projects. As a part of its CSR, HCC has a number of campaigns running across India (except Kashmir). HCC is a part of the Disaster Resource Network (DRN) India, and Disaster Resource Partnership which is an initiative of the World Economic Forum. HCC has steered emergency response teams and rehabilitation to a number of locations struck by natural disasters. Ironically, Kashmir has witnessed earthquakes, cloud bursts, wind storms, avalanches and floods and as such has been the best eligible candidate for receiving the benefits of HCC’s DRN under those situations.

Maruti Suzuki
Maruti Suzuki India Limited- A brand which has taken Indian and likewise Kashmiri automobile market by storm since decades. As a part of its CSR initiatives, Maruti Suzuki has taken a number of steps in the areas of road safety, skill development, community development and employee engagement programs in rest of India. The company has set up an Institute of Driving and Traffic Research (IDTR) which has trained over 700,000 people in safe driving, out of which 100,000 underprivileged people have been trained free of cost. Why not any such campaigns in Kashmir?

If you don’t care for us! Why should we?
The fortune of any company is determined by its customers. Let us realize that we too have a responsibility to be rational when choosing between products or service providers. So next time you go out to buy a SIM card or open up a bank account make sure you keep CSR policy of the alternative companies (vis-a-vis Kashmir) into consideration.
A flower lets the bee suck nectar from it with an anticipation that the bee will help in spreading its seeds. Relationships develop and sustain when there is a win-win situation for both the parties, the moment any of the party feels that it is being exploited, the entire exchange of benefits between the parties get affected. We hope that these corporates realize this delicate balance and act before Kashmiri consumer reacts.

Feedback at ejaz.ayoub@gmail.com