Saturday, November 22, 2014

Report on Seminar on CSR for the Elderly 15th Nov 2014

A Note on CSR Seminar for the Elderly conducted by AOSC-H and HelpAge

15th November 2014 at Lions Bhavan Secunderabad Telangana

The seminar started at 10:30. Sri B Linga Reddy invited dignitaries to
the dais. On the dais were: Sri RN Mital, Sri Shiv Kumar Rungta, Dr
Vyasamoorthy, Dr Gayatri Subramanyam, Sri IM Bhalla.

Dr T Harish Rao, Minister for Irrigation, Government of Telangana did
not participate as a special session of the Assembly was being held on
that day. Sri S Dass joined, somewhat late, as he rushed directly from
Airport after attending an important meeting in Delhi HQ of HelpAge.

After presentation of bouquets to dignitaries on the dais, lighting of
the lamp was done. Thereafter, Dr Vyasamoorthy welcomed all – people
on the dais, participants groups like representatives from corporate
sector (BHEL, Midhani, Usha, Kabra Gas, Hetero Drugs, IOCL, Premier
Explosives etc), NGOs (HelpAge, Ramakrishna Mutt, Lions Clubs), SCAs,
Federations ( FESCO, TESCCON, TCSCCON), Media (Indian Express, Hans
India etc). He said that this seminar is the first one in India as far
as the topic is concerned and perhaps also the first in the State on
CSR initiated by SCA.

Keynote address by Sri RN Mital was very comprehensive, full of
impressive data to show that senior citizens are neglected by
corporate sector in their CSR activity. After highlighting the
lacunae, in the present CSR dispensation, he suggested some remedial
measures which have become resolutions of the event. Sri Rungta
emphasized that youngsters should be taught to respect the elderly; he
also advised that seniors should not part with their money or
property, in order to assure their own welfare and to avoid abuse.

Smt Gayatri Subramaniam presented the seminar proper. She traced the
history of evolution of CSR concept that has become mandatory under
law. Gandhi's Trusteeship Concept is forerunner to CSR. GOI spends 9
Lakh Crore rupees on developmental activities. But most of it does not
reach the target beneficiaries. Out of 13 Lakh companies registered,
some 11 lakh companies exist now; Some 16000 corporates come under the
purview of CSR. Such companies should spend 2% of their past three
years' average profits for CSR. Company Law has 400+ sections but only
one section – sec 135 – talks of CSR in entirety. Rules for this
section have also been framed. Schedule 7 of rules list activities,
expenditure relating to which, CSR obligation can be fulfilled.
Welfare of senior citizens has been added last year.

Some points that were new to most participants are:

· There is punishment if CSR obligations are not met.

· Liberal interpretation schedule 7 is advised and promoted

· What activities will not come under CSR explained and listed

· Companies that give money, NGOs who are implementers,
Communities that are targets, GOI as monitoring agency are various
arms / segments connected with CSR

Her presentation was precise, highly professional, educative and
interactive. It was listened to by a rapt audience.

Sri Dass spoke next, narrating his experiences in tapping CSR funds.
IT Companies are most reluctant group to open up, he said. HelpAge is
ready to help any SCA in preparing proper project report for
submission to corporate and act as a bridge. He requested NFCSR to
help convincing corporate to include Seniors' welfare in their
policies and budget. Companies are ready to give money for capital
expenses but are reluctant to provide for running / maintenance
expenses as monitoring such activities is a headache. It was with
their help we could ensure participation from CSR mandated companies.

Prof Visweswaraiah read out a two page memorandum addressed to the
State Government; this was to be given to the Chief Minister through
Dr Harish Rao. The memorandum listed several problems of senior
citizens that have not been attended to for the past several years.

Sri PVVGK Murthy read out five resolutions and all were passed.

Sri IM Bhalla, convener of the seminar doubled as Master of
ceremonies; His introduction of speakers and succinct summing up after
every speaker were marvelously professional.

After presentation of mementos for people on the dais, vote of thanks
by Sri Raza Mohamad, the meeting ended with National Anthem.

As against our expectation of about 150 participants, nearly 180
turned up. The hall was overflowing with every inch occupied. The
deepam decoration and Bathakamma were carried by Sobha and her team.
SCAs from districts like Adilabad, Kareemnagar, Nizambad, Nalgonda,
Warangal, Medak, Kurnool and even AP came in large numbers. Some
participants had flown from Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi as well
exclusively for this meeting. A folder containing relevant material
was distributed to all. The lunch after the meeting was appreciated by
many. Seminar was covered in Indian Express and Hans India newspapers.
A team of eight volunteers from HelpAge took active part in all

Jeevanadhara (OGH), Centre for Research and Development of Ethics
(CRDE), Impex India, TCSCCON sponsored the event with some funds.
Exide Life Insurance Limited and AASARA did not fulfill their
assurances of financial help. However their names were included in our
banner based on their commitments.

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