In February, executives from public-sector undertakings (PSUs) came together for a four-day capacity-building session in corporate social responsibility (CSR), held by the Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI). The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) is looking to launch similar programmes and research. The World Bank, the department of public enterprises (DPE) and the SAI are working together to assist the government by facilitating access to institutional frameworks with transparent guidelines and effective monitoring mechanisms. The programme was modelled after the CSR executive education programme developed at the Harvard Business School. Executives were from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Steel Authority of India Limited, Indian Oil Corporation, Neyvelli Lignite, Power Grid Corporation, Shipping Corporation, Vizag Steel and Oil India.
Some from private companies like Ambuja Cement, YES Bank and IBM also participated. Ashish Nanda, director of IIM-A, also a former Harvard faculty member, said these courses were relevant and important for Indian business. "The new Companies Act has thrown a spotlight on CSR. Companies are encouraged and PSUs mandated to spend two per cent of profits on CSR activities," added Nanda, who conducted some sessions in this programme. Nanda said that they intended to engage the executives attending the programme in a dialogue on howoh they thought about their respective organizations' CSR activities, how impactful those activities were, and how the CSR activities related to the business activities of their enterprises. "While the participants, senior executives responsible for CSR activities in their organizations, were enthusiastic about the programme, they felt that a programme should also be offered to the CEOs and directors of the organizations. Harvard University is working with the World Bank to offer just such a programme," said Nanda. With respect to IIM-A, its director said that the institute is very enthusiastic about conducting research and teaching on CSR, so that Indian corporations spend their CSR-allocated resources effectively and meaningfully. Nanda said that they have several individual faculty members who are active in CSR space. "We want to sit down together, along with ministry officials, institute staffers, and our Harvard colleagues and try and see how we can organize our activities at IIM-A to conduct good research and offer meaningful programmes in this space," he informed. Further, IIM-A is also looking to work closely with Harvard University for CSR education and other initiatives. "We will continue to explore ways to work together on research projects, exchange programmes, and executive education offerings," added Nanda.