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Som Mittal urges tech firms to pool their CSR for education

Says such an effort will aid in developing a single delivery platform with multi-language modules, which should be available free of cost

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

Som Mittal
Som Mittal

Former Nasscom President Som Mittal has urged IT firms to pool the mandatory two per cent corporate social responsibility (CSR) to create a nation-wide education fund.

Mittal, who stepped down as the head of the country's $118 billion IT-BPM industry body in January this year, said that such an effort will aid in developing a single delivery platform with multi-language modules, which should be available free of cost.

"If all the IT companies can come together and pool their CSR spend to create a free and massive educational repository, just imagine the opportunities it would open," Mittal told PTI.

He added that instead of individually using their CSR spends, companies can come together on education spends, especially digital literacy.

Mittal, who is part of the leadership team at Nasscom Foundation, said that less than 20 per cent Indians have access to or interface with on a regular basis.

"Technologies developed through this platform will bridge the educational gap in India, providing an array of resources that otherwise limit the country's education system," he added.

He shared that for the National Literacy Mission, he met people who had never seen a computer, but learnt that they are intuitive and can make things happen if given access to

"So out there, there are people who have the zest to learn and are looking for avenues. If we all can come together and create such a platform, just imagine the opportunities that we can create," he added.

According to section 135 of the Companies Act, certain class of entities have to spend at least two per cent of their three-year average net profit towards CSR activities.

Sharing similar views, One Globe 2014 knowledge conference convener Harjiv Singh said: "The beauty of Mittal's idea is its simplicity and immense universal relevance. If we can get even half the companies in India to pool in their 2 per cent mandatory CSR into creating a free and common education repository, the multiplier impact will be several times what they all can achieve individually."

Nasscom Foundation CEO Rita Soni said under the National Digital Literacy Mission, to get one person per household digital literate is an ambitious target.

"But, if companies, not just IT firms, come together with collaborating for this effort, I believe it can be achieved with much lesser efforts. So the idea behind Mittal's suggestion, I feel is to build a collaborative model," she added.

First Published: Wed, February 12 2014. 14:48 IST