After sponsoring a successful edition of Soccer for Child Rights, Bangalore, Sukumar Srinivas , Managing Director, Shankara Pipes India Ltd talks to CSRlive.in about working with Child Rights and You (CRY) to transform the lives of slum children through sports. He also shares the qualities of an ideal NGO implementation partner and why he believes in compulsory and robust monitoring of CSR initiatives.
What appealed to you most in your decision to support and sponsor CRY for the Bangalore edition of its ‘Soccer For Child Rights’ initiative? Do you believe that giving an opportunity to underprivileged children to play competitively enhances the possibilities of a brighter future for them?
For the last many years, Shankara has been focusing on three core segments for its CSR initiatives: a) Child rights, b) Women and Girl Child Empowerment and c) Health Care for Old and Elderly people. When CRY approached us for their venture ‘Soccer for Child Rights’, we could see a lot of potential in the partnership. For it aimed at transforming the lives of children from Vyasarpadi slum, one of the largest slums in Chennai, through Sports.
There is no colour, caste or religion when it comes to playing any sports. Self confidence is one of the most important characteristics a player can possess during a match and I am sure the case is not different with the children from Vyasarpadi slum also. I could see that the soccer had given them an opportunity to excel and move on in life and improve the quality of life. This prompted us to give full-fledged support to CRY’s Soccer for Child Rights.
Apart from sponsoring the Soccer match, is there any other form of support that Shankara Infrastructure Materials Ltd plans to give to CRY going forward - to further boost the NGOs’ efforts at giving deprived children their right to live a healthy life free from exploitation?
Shankara has been supporting various other NGO’s and several other causes apart from CRY. Shankara is also delving deeply in the field of women empowerment. And we are very clear in our objectives when it comes to taking up any CSR activities. If CRY comes out with another interesting project as Soccer for Child Rights, why not? If both our views match on it, we would like to go ahead with it.
With your varied experience of having partnered with several other NGOs and NPOs, like Amar Seva Sangam, Concern India and Smile Foundation – as part of your CSR, what would you say are the key qualities you look for in an NGO to be an implementation partner of the Company’s social welfare initiatives?
‘Credibility’ and ‘Transparency’ comes first in the list. The NGOs should display a fair degree of credibility, commitment and accountability. Otherwise, it’s a huge ‘NO’ from our side.
Second is the kind of projects - we only go for projects which are interesting in nature. It should not be run out of the mill. Shankara, as a company takes up projects which are unique and are not undertaken by large corporate organizations. In that way, CRY’s Soccer for Child Rights was an exceptional project and that’s why we took it up.
Above all, the kind of vibe you get from the participants on the other side. The interaction between two groups should go smoothly. If all the aforementioned elements come together, we will take up that project.
Experts believe that a robust monitoring of CSR initiatives even at the corporate level can go a long way in ensuring maximum positive impact of the funds being utilized – would you agree and can you share the monitoring and evaluation process for projects being implemented by Shankara Infrastructure Materials Ltd?
There is no dispute over the subject that a compulsory and robust monitoring of CSR initiatives even at the Corporate level can certainly go a long way in ensuring maximum positive impact of the funds being utilized.
Shankara will leave no stones unturned when it comes to evaluating a project. Each and every project Shankara undertakes is scrutinized meticulously and efficiently. The partner and their project are evaluated flawlessly. Apart from it, our representatives visit the projects concerned and check out what is really happening there. They interact with the executers and the recipients.
We also do get statements on it and as an organization we check the accountability of the funds allocated to NGOs as it is released in a phased manner.
Critics often point out that CSR is considered as an afterthought by most companies, delegated to a manager as a side project for the sake of simply ticking a box. What would you say are the key ingredients of an authentic CSR policy?
A good CSR policy does not require a government regulation and Shankara has been contributing to the CSR initiatives even before a well drafted CSR act came into effect.
Shankara never believed in gaining any mileage or publicity by undertaking CSR activities because we do believe that corporate makes profits from the same society we live in. Hence, there should not be any hesitation in giving back to the society and that’s what we have been doing for the past many years.