Wednesday, 13 May 2015

My Top Ten Takeaways from the CII-UNICEF CSR Conference

Chief Guest – TN Governor Dr. K. Rosaiah
Closing session chaired by Mr. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, IAS – Secretary to Govt., Dept. of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj
#1 – Need for Behavioural Modification Communication not just building/providing infrastructure for a sustainably “Swachh Bharat.” Investing in communicating and incentivising good hygiene behaviour modification programmes to make it a habit. The intangible is as essential to a CSR programme’s success and social impact as is the tangibles.
#2 The present CII Southern Region Chairperson is a dynamic lady – Ms. Rajshree Pathy, Chairman and MD of Rajshree Sugar and Chemicals Ltd.
#3 Poor representation of women as experts in a platform/institutions (CII, UNICEF) that prides itself on its work to eliminate gender gap: Of the 21 speakers in the 4 sessions (inaugural+3) only 2 were women. Both dynamic speakers, the aforementioned Ms. Rajshree Pathy at the inaugural and Dr. Aditi Mishal of Symbiosis Institute of Operations Management in the 2nd session (Technological Solutions for WASH) where she spoke of the planned pilot (@ Nasik’s Kumbhmela) to use DRDE technology Mobile Bio-digester toilets with anaerobic bacteria where 5 BOD water and methane are the byproducts & the latter is trapped to make CNG!!!
#4 The CII’s CSR Gateway as well as the BSE’s CSR Exchange that seek to connect CSR funds with developmental NGOs and projects on the state and national levels; and good to hear about BSE’s annual NGO Week at the erstwhile BSE Trading Hall.

#5 Most dynamic speakerEnvironmentalist Foundation of India’s Arun Krishnamurthy – When told by the session chairman that he would need to cut short his speech because the previous speaker overshot his time-limit, pat came the reply yes the environment always looses out to other priorities. He then made short and passionate plea to extend the Swacche Bharat efforts and CSR funding to cleaning up our environment/natural reserves – forests and water-bodies to leave behind better resources for future generations! 
Most Interesting Stalls:
#6 Stone India Ltd.’s ENBIOLET – offering a basic model bio-loo with aerobic microbes producing only water as byproduct starting at Rs. 50,000 with upgrade and additional features making it a good “green” solution for mass events and for providing instant solutions in Rural Households.
#7 IIT-Madras’ RuTAG (Rural Technology Action Group) stall showcased some viable rural products, what caught my eye was the microwavable claypots. 

Most Interesting Presentations/Speeches
#8 Job Zachariah, Chief – State Office – TN & Kerala, UNICEF India, on open defecation was very effective. His magic wand for all social ills the use of toilets, He blew one away with statistics – 1g of faeces has 1 crore bacteria, each human excretes 300g and 3.5 crore open defecators in TN!!! And open defecation caused a loss of 6.4% of the GDP (~Rs. 8,00,000 crores in TN); although I take issue with his claim that Chennai district is open defecation free, all one has to do is visit a beach in the morning to see contradictions to this claim!
#9 GREAT SHOWCASES – Mr. Ashoke Joshi of TVS’ Srinivasan Services Trust’s behaviour change success stories in the villages they support; Mr. Bharadwaj Thirunellai of WaterHealth India’s examples of involving children in community boards to build accountability in adopting good hygiene habits; Mr. Khurram Naayaab of Cairn India on their CSR success stories from Rajasthan’s Barmer district which include Any Time Water (ATW) and doorstep delivery of water in one of India’s driest and hottest (50 degrees Celsius) districts, mason-training to women to help them construct toilets and the mobile health van! Mr. Elango Rangasamy, Scientist and former panchayat president on the many successes in Kuthambakkam Pachayat including the prefabricated toilet and other instances of the road of moving the region from a black spot to a model and Kuthambakkam functioning as a panchayat academy an agent of change to inspire other villages to become models!
#10 Great Networking! Many instances of the hand of fate matching delegates with problems and funds to those without funds but with ideas and solutions in the field of social development.

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