On the contrary: Let's get busy and do time-pass!

The bright minds who initially dreamed up the conceptwere clearly hoping it would go way beyond the mundane.

One of the fringe benefits of attaining codger-hood is that one can indulge in the quintessentially Bangalore habit of time-pass, free from the guilt that a driven Delhiite may experience when he is not in the pursuit of bijness.

One can wander into Koshy’s where time has stood still and Prem regales you over a coffee with anecdotes of his frat-boy dayswhen he roomed with a Korean and got bitten by a pit-bull, or maybe it was the other way around?

I don’t remember who owned the dog but I felt the animal should have been better behaved. Especially since one of the key commands in the Korean manual of dog-training is, “Fido, jump into the pot and don’t forget the kimchi…” Food habits aside, I love the fact that old Bangaloreans rarely use mundane greetings like, “Good Morning.” Instead, it’s “Aarama?” which one should shower liberally on every busybody Mumbaiwallah who complains about our traffic conditions or how the locals are lazy and how difficult it is to get anything done on time. Dude, we didn’t ask you to come here and build ugly high-rises, we have enough of our own locals doing that. And Tabebuia is a tree, not a porn star.

An even more endearing custom is when an old Bangalorean from Malleswaram meets a Basavangudi buddy on say, Brigade Road, when the preferred form of address is “Namaskara, aarama. Oota aayata?” representing a significant, almost profound shift. Philosophers propounding the principles of Shinto or Tao and the heads of the top 50 Japanese corporations on the Nikkei would give their eye teeth to acquire the detachment it takes to ask that question sincerely. “Hello, are you free, relaxed, chilled-out, eaten?” is perhaps the literal translation, but it lacks the pithy feel of the original, as is inevitable in most border crossings. Now that our social responsibilities are out of the way, let’s move on to CSR.

Corporate Social Responsibility is that sexy, newmanagement concept which calls for companies to integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders. I know, I too feel that way when hit by a Wikipedia definition…CSR is generally understood as being the conduit by which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives, which jargonistas call the “Triple-Bottom-Line- Approach”, while keeping shareholders and stakeholders happy. It helps to draw a distinction between CSR, essentially a strategic concept, and sponsorships or philanthropy.

The bright minds who initially dreamed up the conceptwere clearly hoping it would go way beyond the mundane. The ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) has issued a diktat under the Companies Act, 2013, which gives teeth to CSR. Companies with a net profit of 5Cr or 1,000cr+ turnover or 500 cr net worth are required to spend a minimum of 2% of turnover on CSR initiatives.

In this scenario one would imagine that the CSR job market would see a stampede of talent but sadly it’s rather like the boringAdmin job that nobody wanted or the unhappy soul who had to organize the Annual Day celebrations. Yours truly once endured the ignominy and was at my wit’s end when Nagraj, the tuneless wonder in charge of godown operations, took to the stage with a songbook.

“Saar, remove him from the stage, hissed his supervisor, after we had endured an interlude of caterwauling, “that book is having 240 pages.” I met a corporate tycoon last week who introduced a colleague of his and disparagingly remarked, “Ah, Nathan does some social responsibility stuff, he has no role to play in our bottom line.”

Despite this putdown, millennials looking for alternate career options would do well to opt for CSR: trying to bring private enterprise in sync with a more comprehensive set of working objectives than just profit can be deeply rewarding. Obviously firms must be financially secure but for worker bees spending upwards of 70 hours a week at an office commonsense dictates that any initiative that minimizes stress and makes the workplace a kinder, happier environment is also CSR. In fact the concept should be extended beyond the ambit of those wanting to slot it into the narrow category of eco-efficiency and responsible sourcing. Jargonistas love phrases that don’t mean much:stakeholder engagement, employee and community relations, social equity, gender balance, human rights, good governance, and anti-corruption measures. Sound familiar?

Top companies should depute their key officers to coach budding entrepreneurs and founders of start-ups. The incubator cell at IIM, Bangalore would be greatly helped by private sector honchos who volunteer to share their expertise, domain knowledge and life skills with others who have missed out on the convent-school background, the privileged background and the old-boy network. This too is CSR.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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