Nature’s fury in Kerala


kerala floodsKerala has never faced such a torrential flood in its history than what the God’s own country has witnessed in August 2018. The magnitude of the crisis withered by the floods is unbelievable and reconcilable. But as a state, we also saw how the people of Kerala unitedly have been fighting the situation with the great amount of resilience and brotherhood. The crisis also brought us together irrespective of caste creed or religion to fight the situation shoulder to shoulder with support received from all possible quarters. The 1.078 million affected people would take time to come out of the tragedy, But as human beings, we have shown the strength and wherewithal to overcome the crisis. The strength of human beings as a creature lies in their audacity to adjust to the situations and fight the odds and become stronger. As a Keralite am really proud the unflinching support offered by people from all walks of life , it has been reflective of the feeling of togetherness that we exhibited to the outside world . Ever since the crisis hit us people from all walk of lives organised collection camps and mobilised other resources and helped it to reach to victims without any delay. Kerala has witnessed one of its largest mobilisation of a selfless act of compassion and empathy.
Albeit crisis also has thrown up questions regarding the various ways and means through which ecological has been severely ruptured over years. So going forward all rehabilitation and reconstruction works should be planned by accommodating aspects of sustainable environmentally friendly practices.

Unprecedented situation

In spite of opening the shutters of Idukki dam after 26 years, the people of Kerala could not stop the 164% excess rainfall in August. Overall, the region’s monsoon rainfall has been 42% higher than usual. The havoc caused by overflowing rivers has led to death, displacement and destruction which takes years to rebuild. The rescue operations continue in Kerala and the state Govt has appealed for more financial support for rehabilitation and reconstruction of houses &other infrastructure like roads, bridges and houses. The initial estimate of loss prepared by the govt come to the tune of around 20000 Cr that might go up the tune more than 50000 Cr in the months to come. So Kerala needs more support and compassion from all quarters to overcome the crisis. However, it is important to note that nation-building is not Govt job perse, But it is important that every citizen of this country has a key role to play. So let’s put up an honest and sustainable effort to rebuilt Kerala. At this juncture, the task is enormous but no matter how difficult the situation would be, Together we would overcome it.

kerala floods

Data on the loses

Please donate generously to chief ministers disaster relief fund, Every contribution of yours matters most.

Social business

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Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus from Bangladesh defines social business as a self-sustainable business created, designed to address the social problems. The social business is a not a new model per se, but it is a new approach of looking at the business with a different perspective to create maximum social impact in the society. The social business model requires new thinking with the aspect of creating maximum value in the society taking the community and the people together for a common good. When the business entity starts focussing the new path it bounds to create altruist impact in the society. However, it should be based on acceptance, embrace the problems faced by the society through collective action with an objective to bring perceptible changes in the quality of life of people. This new approach could create a lasting impact on the society by accepting, collectively to create opportunities for everyone in the community. Besides, that approach has the potential to create an environment of right balance and hence can act as a catalyst for change. Also, the new role if adopted can alter the existing business’ equation significantly in the society by becoming more inclusive in approach & behaviour.

Social business a moment of truth

Time has come for business houses to realise the moment of truth by thinking the way it conducts its business. The moment of truth means business houses need to think and behave as if they are part of the environment and society in which it operates. The moment they see themselves as a separate entity from the society, it leads to the creation of more friction with its external stakeholders and also cannot strike a right chord with the society.

Importance of shared value creation

The current business practices have created enough mess on the environment and society, So the situation certainly calls for a shared value creation means business houses need to extend their hands towards society in which they operate. The decision makers and the employers should internalise themselves the consequence of their action on the society. Henceforth a constant effort and need of the hour is to bring business and society together. Also social business to a great extent can create social harmony and sustainable growth.
Nestle the Global multinational giant has redesigned its coffee procurement process working extensively with small farmers who were trapped in low productivity and poor quality due to environmental degradation. The role of Nestle as a company in giving advice on new farming practices, providing the farmers with plant stocks, distributing fertilizer and pesticides and last but not least company paid the farmers in premium for cultivating quality coffee beans. The social impact created by this move has helped the small farmers in distress and improved their economic benefits and also helped to improve their quality of life.

Impact investment via social business.

Resourceful action seriously can create an impact in the society and could solve the problems faced by society at large, provided stakeholders of the company to act creatively with a mind to usher maximum positive impact in the society. The existing capitalistic business models has been creating unequal scenarios and sapping resources with no remorse has already weakened the nature and society . So going forward if they continue to do same means it would create detrimental effects on the community, natural resources and economy. So social business is the new model of capitalism where owners decide not to take the dividends but keep reinvesting the financial resources for new social business ideas in order to a create much larger impact in the society. Besides, that concentration of wealth in the hands of few can be reduced and effective deployment of resources to the population at the bottom of the pyramid.




Governments’ role as a facilitator

Elected government through its administration alone cannot suffice the role in bringing radical changes in the society and it has proven beyond doubt that collective effort from business houses and industry leaders could bring a very positive and impact full change in the status quo. So Government as a dispensation should become more of a facilitator in framing new laws and policies for a smooth operation of social business models across different areas. Since the magnitude of the problems faced by the majority of the population is huge, it is also equally important that all stakeholders in the society should think and act with empathy to get rid of the issues faced by the society. Hindsight issues at hand certainly ask for fundamental changes the investment made on business and how the profits made out of the business get redeployed to create maximum social impact. The government should come forward with policies to create an environment for such a smooth transition. When proper policies are in place might pursue business houses and its owners to proactively take up the most pressing issues in the society and unitedly find solutions by giving the opportunity for everyone’s sustenance.

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Calibrating CSR in India

The CSR spending in India has seen a surge at CAGR of 14 % in the last two fiscal which is a promising sign despite having only 5% growth in their net profit. However, the majority of the corporates had taken the help of  NGO’s for  CSR spending it also means internally companies had deployed minimum resources to monitor their CSR activities. Perhaps post amendment of companies acts in 2013   business houses ever since has shown good compliance prescribed by the law.  But in a larger country like  India problems are galore in the areas of healthcare, education and the environment. Hence,  CSR funds could only account for a mere 1% of the total public spending in 2015-16. The spending model of  CSR funds in India are generally are programmatic grants. So in the hindsight to make a meaningful progress in CSR spending the very nature of their involvement needs to be evolved further to create a better impact.

CSR sector wise

Need for a  participatory approach

Generally, the CSR spending trend in India needs to get evolved from individuals to an Ecosystem where corporates can play a very proactive role in creating visible changes and perceptible impact on the problems faced by the society.  In order to create a larger impact, the existing model of CSR spending need changes and corporates should take serious initiative internally if they really want to create a meaningful impact in the society. Instead of being just grant givers, corporates should transform themselves from delivering services to building capacity & enabling the market for overall development.  The participatory approach should be a continuous affair whereby companies should constantly engage with various stakeholders in the society and ensure that measurable output is generated through their engagement.  Also, business houses internally should set an objective and drive those objectives meticulously similar to the ways how their business is been driven.



Become a catalyst for development

1)To become the catalyst for development, the companies in India should take various steps

2) Better use of resources and leveraging it effectively to create a better impact.

3) They need to establish better synergy between various players for the desired impact.

4) Bring in new stakeholders to the system and gain more competencies from them.

Promoting socially responsible business

Corporates should take a keen interest in promoting micro-entrepreneurs in the community, helping the people with financial support in starting a small business that could create a multiplier effect in the economy. So forging such useful long-term association can help improve the situation on the ground. Henceforth corporates in India should focus more one such aspect frequently rather than just becoming grant givers. The synergy between the various stakeholders in the society would help to create a win-win situation for all.

Importance of shared value creation

Beyond the corporates’ pet projects and largely advertised philanthropic activities, it only helps to improve the branding of the company and leaves very little to create an impact in the society. So beyond the objective of building a company’s brand, The active involvement in the society can only be achieved through “smart partnering “. Only through smart partnering creative solutions and strategies can be devised to address the very fundamental core issues faced by the society. The successful smart partnering initiative from HUL named “Project Shakthi”  was a very good initiative that had empowered the women folks in the rural sector by providing financial independence and have helped to achieve self-reliant.

Strengthening the core values internally&externally

Business creates impact, So it does matter how an organisation lives up to its core values extrinsically and intrinsically in relation to the society and vice-versa. How far corporates leaders are serious in practising those professed values in all aspects, Besides making profit business as an entity has a social commitment to the society or towards the community it operates. So it does matter the seriousness in which companies have aligned those core values to the overall development of the society. The whole aspect of doing business through the prism of generating value to shareholders should be replaced with a much more sanguine way of taking every other stakeholder together.

Engage the entire workforce and lead by example.

 When it comes to CSR, the workforce of every organisation is very crucial in bringing maximum benefits to the society. When it comes to employees they choose an organisation whose values resonates with them.It also helps in retaining existing as well as attracting fresh talents towards the organisation. Besides that activity that encourages the core values helps in improving the motivation level of employees which further leads to foster innovation and creative thinking in many spheres both inside and outside of the organisation.

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New breed financier

The most significant issue faced by the informal sector in India has been the shortage of finances or the very limited access to resources to run one’s business. It is very evident that the informal sector in the last several years has been going through severe crisis one after the other, along with existing issues demonetisation has played havoc in the informal economy. In such circumstances, fintech like Kalediofin has started offering solutions to address the issues in the informal sector.

Product offering niche

Kalediofin has started in 2017 with an initial investment of Rs 10 million and so far added 2,500 customers have benefited from the innovative product offerings from the startup. The fintech startup is a platform that provides tailor-made financial solutions to households through its products like Ummeed, Lakshya and Udaan. The product offerings from this start-up have a unique proposition like offering tailor-made solutions based on one’s personal goals & individual’s saving habit. The product mix encompasses the aspects of savings, investment, credit. The solution gathers its strength using the latest technologies and algorithms. The delivered to the customers seamlessly at their doorstep, above all the rates offered by Kaledin are affordable and cost-effective.

Social impact

The startup has clocked a revenue of Rs 1million in FY18 and raring to expand its operation to other states also, Currently, it has a presence in Tamilnadu, Bihar & Gujarat. Kalediofin focuses on providing small loans to households, it can provide the necessary impetus to the informal sector, helps to improve households’ living standards above all it helps the women folks to be empowered by achieving financial independence. It would also lead to an increase in disposable income to rural households and thus increasing their purchasing power in the economy. Kalediofin has been a perfect example of an ecosystem which combines the power of the latest technology and innovative business idea which has the potential to create a perceptible social transformation in the informal sector.
The Idea and driving force behind Kalediofin are Sucharita Mukherjee & Puneeth Gupta who founded this entity after working together at Institute of financial management and research.

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Bandicoot to replace manual scavenging

The group of young innovators from Genrobotics couldn’t have done anything better than bringing a smile on the faces of people who are involved manual scavenging works for decades. The shocking images of the people who earn their lively hood by risking their lives cleaning the sewage by immersing themselves in neck deep of liquid waste has prompted everyone with a question , when are we going to change the ordeal of this community who risks their life every time while clearing the clogs in the sewage pipes underground. The group of young innovators from Genrobotics, Technopark Trivandrum has come up with a semi-robotic device named “Bandicoot “, which has the potential to address the problems and rescue the workers from risking their lives.
The semi-automatic robot with its inbuilt arms can get into the bottom of sewage pipes and scoop up the liquid waste and get it dumped into the collecting vessel. The Safai Karmachari Andolan has been fighting to eradicating the manual scavenging in India for many years, In spite of their mission to wipe out the manual scavenging from the society, Our deep-rooted and century-old caste system always prevailed over the basic humanity to rehabilitate all the scavengers from this undignified profession. The team of youngsters had spent weeks in the different parts of the country studying, how the manual scavenging has been done, After spending some much time watching the ordeal of cleaning the waste from the sewage pipes prompted the innovators to find a solution to address the problem through the means of the technology. The team from Genrobotics after careful analysis of the situation designed a “Bandicoot” completely functional robotic model within a span of two months. The device is equipped with a user interface and can be controlled easily by training the workers. Social Innovation by this youngster devoting their time and effort to improve the lives of this vulnerable section of the population should be considered as an activity having the elements of compassion, empathy. Great step with innovation can save the lives of people who often die breathing toxic gases emanating from the sewage pipes.

Social impact

Although in 1993, manual scavenging practice was banned, it is still very prevalent and continues to claim lives. According to Socioeconomic and caste census 2011, 182,505 households in rural India with at least one member doing manual scavenging , According Wilson Magsaysay award award winner , 2016 says as per the study carried out by his organization revealed that around 1.6lakh manual scavengers in India, But the government figures are much lower, also 99 % of them who are involved in this activity are Dalits. The apathy towards this class of people still continues unabated and the government gives less priority to rehabilitate them. The innovation by Genrobotics is a great step in the right direction to protect the interest of these peoples. The “Bandicoot” semi-automatic robot can replace the manual scavenging jobs and in future, it can save many lives which otherwise could have lost if allowed to continue without any respite.

A sample survey of manual scavengers(A Summary of documented cases submitted to the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment )

manual scavanging data 1

Manual scavengers who left manual scavenging after sample survey and awaiting for rehabilitation

manual scavanging data 2