Monday, May 12, 2008

Good education can make for an informed society

She’s credited for having turned round the flagging fortunes of engineering major Thermax India after the death of her husband Rohinton Aga in 1996. After years of being at the top as chairperson, Anu Aga relinquished charge to her chemical engineer daughter, Meher Pudumjee to pursue all the things that she couldn’t while she was at the helm of affairs. One of those things is the welfare of society. She spoke with Priya Kanungo on the sidelines of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)-organised ‘2nd National Summit on CSR 2008’ in the capital recently, about Thermax’s initiatives in that direction and how the private sector in general perceives social responsibility (SR). Excerpts:

The private sector has been accused of not looking at the long term in matters concerning social responsibility. Your comments.

I don’t think that is true. There are a lot of corporates today that invest long term in their pursuit of a social cause. And if there are people out there who think that we are in a hurry, I will say: “Thank God we are impatient.”

We as a country have wasted enough time. Now let’s get on with the task of producing results in the social sector. And as far as Thermax is concerned, we aren’t in it just to provide lip service.

What is Thermax’s social responsibility focus?

We have established the Thermax Social Initiative Foundation (TSIF) and under that our project is to team up with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for 30 years to offer education to meritorious students who come from the underprivileged strata of society.

TSIF also assists in the running of Pune’s KC Thackeray Vidya Niketan English Medium School, starting from Class III. The government pays for the children’s books and uniforms, but we ensure that the quality of education is up to the mark. We also train teachers.

Earlier, we worked in the field of water sanitation in a village close to Pune, but then the government took over the project. That’s when we moved over to education, because I feel this is an area that needs a lot of help in the country.

So for us, setting up the Foundation was our effort to make CSR happen in a planned and methodical manner. And, as TSIF chairperson, I do believe that good education is a great leveller and can truly help a person stand on his feet.

What about funding your foundation? Where will that come from?

Thermax has decided to set aside one per cent of its profits after tax every year for its social responsibility activities. It is a commitment that we want to stand by. Later on, we could increase the percentage....

Source: http://www.financialexpress.com/news/-Good-education-can-make-for-an-informed-society-/307943/

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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