“Power Lunch”—A CSR Idea Of “SPML Infra” In Bhagalpur
Guest Article By Tameemuddin Humble
After joining the club of “Power Distribution Companies” in India this year through its Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)—Bhagalpur Electricity Distribution Company (BEDCPL), the Delhi based infrastructure giant, SPML Infra Limited has equipped itself to seize this opportunity to serve the people of Bhagalpur through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project—“Power Lunch”.
CSR is gaining ground in the formal sector of the economy. Whereas the informal sector which contributes to almost the half of the GNP and where approximately 93% of the Indian workforce is employed, the application of CSR is rare.
To further the holistic impact of CSR in India and more so in compliance with the new Companies Act, 2013of GoI, recently a little traction has been given to this CSR activity by the Company—SPML Infra Limited in India that has wide presence in Water Utility, Waste Water, Solid Waste Management and who has recently forayed into the Electricity Distribution in the State of Bihar.
The Bihar government has asked the company to distribute power to Bhagalpur town and adjoining areas including Bhagalpur Urban which includes Tilkamanjhi, Mujahidpur, Nathnagar and two rural subdivisions Aliganj and Kahalgaon for 15 years to all households in the region which includes 1.15 million population and 1.25 lakh households. This is one of the first regions in Bihar, that the state government has decided to hand over to private companies, joining the city with the industrialised areas like Ludhiana, Gurgaon , Panipat and Khanna/Gobindgarh as this area of Bihar has a large silk cluster and a bulk of the power is needed here without interruption. Henceforth the city of Bihar, Bhagalpur, is joining the dozens of other cities in India by taking the service of the private power distribution company, SPML Infra, for the smooth flow of electricity.
Traditionally, CSR existed philanthropically and largely revolved around activities like donations, planting trees, community development, setting up schools and hospitals, adult literacy, adoption of village, and so on.
The traditional components of CSR though are important but are not self-sustainable. The survival of the traditional CSR activities are dependent on the profitability and cutting cost all across, to survive, almost always slices the CSR activities. Therefore the CSR activities should be integrated with the official works and be fixed at regular intervals, in a company without affecting its budget. That could only be done, if the very involvement of its engineers and managers in the program is ensured. But it needs the purposeful social attitude of the personnel to be involved and their training in order to acquire the necessary skills and competence, if one is lacking.
The SPML Infra Limited’s 100% subsidiary, the Bhagalpur Electricity Distribution Company Pvt. Limited (BEDCPL) wants to tap into skills, expertise and passion of its employees especially the young managers and engineers to make a difference not only to the service assigned by the Bihar Government (Electricity Distribution) but also to the society as well.
The above thoughts expressed by the Director of BEDCPL and CEO of SPML Utilities Limited, a subsidiaryof SPML Infra Limited, Mr Amanullah, while taking the SPML CSR strategy—“Power Lunch” further in Bhagalpur at Bihari Kanya Vidhayalay in Mirjanhat on 10th September’ 2013. The company established its head office for now in Mirjanhat from where it is monitoring for its Electricity Distribution Project designed to serve around 1.25 lakh household consumers of electricity spread over the 7 blocks of this historic city.
The concept of “Power Lunch” as a CSR activity has been brought here in Bhagalpur from America where Mr Amanullah himself participated in Power Lunch program at UBS Investment Bank (Connecticut USA) till 2006 and the idea that brings employees of Corporate world into schools to teach and inspire the students to develop love for reading and writing during the lunch time by corporate executives as volunteers. While this program does not necessarily consists of taking lunch together with the students but certainly adds intellectual power to the children of the school. So this CSR activity is named and through the eyes of these engineers and managers, children see the world, once a week. They spend their lunch time with the school children taking classes and inspiring them to do better in their lives. The encouraged children are then expected to go back to their regular classrooms.
On the other hand, this CSR idea of BEDCPL opened the debate in the corporate sector in Bihar on how a corporate could deliver not only its legal obligation under “Corporate Social Responsibility” but also get engaged in grass root level to inspire the next generations.
The company has taken up three schools of Bhagalpur so far under this CSR project which are Saryu Devi Girls Middle School, Bihari Kanya Vidhayalay both at Mirjanhat and the Urdu Prathmic Vidhayalay of Barari. The project is designed only for the government aided schools of Bhagalpur where most of the children belong to the underprivileged section of the society.
While the CSR activities contribute a lot to the goodwill of a company, their contribution in the Society’s actual success is dependent on its sustainability. Hence, it is the need of the hour to adopt the sustainable practices, that in addition to bring the goodwill to the company, the society could benefit in its totality also. The CSR should not only be for the PAFs (Project Affected Families). It should cover the whole society. The company has decided to foster and integrate the whole system of the management not only into the process of customer service but the empowerment of the vicinity where it is working.
Education is the basic tool to bring the real development to the society. That is why SPML is committed to bridge the big gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in educational sector by focusing exclusively the downtrodden children of the areas around the project through the “Power Lunch” program.
Mr Amanullah said, “BEDCPL’s sustainability initiatives focus on two broad categories: delivering Electricity distribution along with the solutions of the widespread malaise in it and the consumer’s delight by operating it responsibly and ethically”.
BEDCPL believes in corporate volunteerism as the only way to its sustainability and considers it to have the potential to increase employee’s productivity and build its reputation while contributing to the community development.
The “Power Lunch”, a flagship programe of BEDCPL has the potential to become a CSR strategy for the corporate India as it mobilizes its middle and upper level management to take out time from their recess to take motivational classes of the underprivileged children of the schools in their vicinity without being a financial burden to fulfill its legal obligation enshrined in the country’s constitution.