Xethix: You are Founder of www.ekjaa.org, an organization with the vision: “Making every individual contribute to the growth of the country and society and thereby make every person live with dignity and pride.” What do you mean by that concerning the internet?
Harsha Mukherjee: India ranks 3rd in the number of Internet users. Most internet users are young and working people. At Ekjaa, we engage youth via Ekjaa Campus Leader Program in the developmental activities. This helps them imbibe the concept of Individual Social Responsibility(ISR) from young age and encourages them to associate with social projects as they grow up. Ekjaa also consults for and enables NPOs to create sustainable solutions to their requirements with minimal dependence on Philanthropy. We create the bridges among Youth, Development sector and the Corporate (Private and PSUs) to contribute towards national development. Internet plays a vital role to spread our message across and get more people engaged in our mission. Internet makes the world small and gives us an opportunity to connect with passionate hearts and minds.
Xethix: Other roles of you are IndiaCSR (Editor), Indian Center for CSR(VP – past) and CSR Development Stories Pvt Ltd (Founder). How popular is CSR in India? Are there legal requirements for companies?
Harsha Mukherjee: In India we believe in calling CSR,
Responsible Business. Making Businesses understand what is considered responsible according to the emerging CSR norms is in its evolutionary stage. ICCSR helps in spreading a clearer understanding of the concept and by introducing graduate programs for certified CSR professionals, implementing CSR aligning to their business strategy it helps change the corporate focus from philanthropy to CSRactivities.
The Indian government has taken several proactive actions with starting Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs for CSR activities, introducing National Voluntary Guidelines (NVG) in 2011, and having legal compliances for Public Sector Companies by making two percent profit mandatory for CSR activities and is in the process to make two percent of the profit mandatory for CSR activities by the Private sector companies whose profit is more then 5 Crores. It is the Developing and Transitional nations Governments can’t do all the activities on their own and there is crying need to spread an understanding of what businesses can do and there is a need to implement PPP model and engage corporates for social and financially inclusive development of the country.
Xethix: Do you think CSR might be just a marketing argument for some companies?
Harsha Mukherjee: Many companies do take it up as a marketing activity. However, if a company is genuinely doing responsible business and marketing that, then it should be acceptable because Communication is an important aspect of CSR. Alternately, if the company is only using CSR as a tool for marketing then that’s deceiving all the stakeholders.
Xethix: In Germany there is a discussion that just the countries who are in an economical more or less safe position can enjoy the luxury to discuss the topics of ethics and internet or how the internet will change the society. Do you think that countries with a huge population of people who have no access to the internet are less interested in such a discussion? Or is it as vital as in every country?
Harsha Mukherjee: According to me economy is not the overriding factor in deciding the areas of discussions, specially ethics, internet and how internet would change the world. Even Democratic Republic of Congo would speak about Ethics, it will always be unethical to murder or follow inhumane labor practices and so on. I believe computer, internet and its use has shrunk the world and the educated people would always discuss its irrelevant to economic status. Any country with limited access to internet would feel constrained in discussing larger issues surrounding internet due to ignorance even if the world assumed it was vital. They may also be content in their world and haven’t yet discovered the possibilities the internet technologies hold for them.
Harsha Mukherjee ist a social entrepreneur. She has has completed her schooling and graduation from Mumbai in 2006 then she went on for MS to pursue her interest in Computer Science. It was during her MS that she discovered her passion for entrepreneurship while helping her friend to set up and run a venture dealing with Pashimnas and Jewellery in US. She has been active in the entrepreneurial domain and has also completed her MBA from ICFAI university to further nurture her business skills. She is also very active in Social Welfare activities and has a global work experience and enjoys exploring diverse things ranging from learning about different cultures to analyzing economies to discussing international politics. At Ekjaa, a project she founded, she works from the grass root level by networking with NGOs and various financial institutions, corporate, educational institutions to get things done at tactical level to taking strategic decisions and believes in working from bottom to top approach.
Harsha Mukherjee has been conferred with the CSR Woman Leader 2012 Award by The Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE), Hyderabad. The Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE), Hyderabad is a non-profit educational society. The award will be presented on 24th November, 2012 @ Taj Lands End, Mumbai by Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE) & endorsed by World CSR Congress, World CSR Day, CMO Asia & Asian Confederation of Business . IPE is the premier Business School at Hyderabad and is recognized as a „Centre of Excellence“ by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi for doctoral studies. It has also been recognized by eight universities in India for guidance of Ph.D scholars.