“Today companies in India are realising the importance of technologies that offer a win-win solution in terms of moving beyond business compliance to achieving leadership in demonstrating care for safety, environment and well-being of all stakeholders,” says Praveer Sinha who has over three decades of experience in the power sector and has been credited with transforming the power distribution sector and development and setting up of greenfield and brownfield power plants in India and abroad.
Besides being MD & CEO at Tata Power, Mr. Sinha is a Research Scholar at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and is also a visiting Scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA. Excerpts from an exclusive interview which features in our print magazine:
Q 1. Do you feel companies in India are deploying cutting edge eco-friendly technologies and caring for the safety, environment and well being of employees and communities more than ever before?
The increasing climate change concerns have put an immense pressure on the government and industries worldwide for immediate corrective action. If ignored today, these are going to have ill effects on our future generations to come. In alignment to UN Sustainable Development goals, the Government of India has initiated several efforts to sensitize people about the increasing environmental issues. The increasing environmental awareness is exerting pressure on day to day actions of corporations, communities, government agencies and households.
Today companies in India are realising the importance of technologies that offer a win-win solution in terms of moving beyond business compliance to achieving leadership in demonstrating care for safety, environment and well-being of all stakeholders. Also the theory of “The Business of Business is Business” has transformed into “The Business of Business Is Responsible Business”.
The corporations are being pushed to be socially responsible in their actions. Tata Power Leadership with Care credo epitomizes the same. People have started understanding the importance of sustainable usage of planet resources and ecosystems. Going forward innovators, inventors and incubations need to be further promoted and encouraged in this direction which would continue to enable companies keep shifting the paradigm for the better of present and future generation.
Q 2. Why is energy management becoming such a buzzword for India Inc?
Energy management is necessary for the efficient utilisation and management of resources. Conventional sources of energy and the fossil fuels have been the biggest sources of energy till now. These fossil fuels being limited in nature are prone to get exhausted with the regular usage. Secondly, the burning of these fuels leads to carbon emissions, causing a large proportion of air pollution. Being a rapidly growing economy, India is largely dependent upon energy to meet its growth objectives.
As of today, India is the fourth highest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. Depletion of natural resources and the rapidly growing climate concerns are shifting the focus towards cleaner and renewable sources of energy.
The COP Summit and SDG Goals strongly recommend that countries have to shift gear to meet energy requirements without compromising on the sustainability and global warming imperatives. India under its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to COP Summit has outlined and initiated actions to meet the Climate Change targets with a growing focus on responsible generation and consumption of energy.
At the same time, proactive and responsible industries have been aggressively pursuing the targets with future business like electric vehicle charging, micro grid and solar rooftop solutions, home automation and energy services transforming the utility landscape from energy management aspects.
Q 3. Although it has been 5 years for the CSR mandate, Tata Power has been committed to energy conservation for the last 2 decades. Your 500 MW units have the unique qualification of having lowest auxiliary power consumption in the country. What other efforts is the company putting into energy conservation? Why the sustained emphasis on this aspect of responsible business?
As a socially responsible organisation, Tata Power has always shown its commitment towards community and the environment. We have always been the pioneer in taking actions focused on energy efficiency & conservation.
Not just within the organization, we have also been promoting energy efficient appliances to the customers. Tata Power is actively engaged in promoting energy conservation measures through various means. A circular economy is the key to sustainable growth and we are very well poised to inculcate this in our actions.
One significant initiative taken up by Tata Power in this direction is Club Enerji. Club Enerji is a self-sustaining Initiative which is committed to energy and resources conservation. This is a decade old initiative which has been recognized by national and international forums. The same has also been part of IIM-Ahmedabad case study.
This initiative creates Energy Ambassadors at a pan-India level who are trained to spread the message of conservation of energy and resources. Till date, this initiative has reached out to more than 533 schools Pan India. More than 23.84 million citizens have been sensitized with a cumulative saving of >29.8 million units of energy which is enough to light 10,000 households per year. On the Climate Change front, this has mitigated 28,000 tonnes of CO2. Today Club Enerji has about 3.5 Lakhs Energy Champions and 3.8 Lakhs Energy Ambassadors who are institutionalized under > 2,000 mini clubs. It is being actively followed on social and digital platform with about 33,500 followers
Q 4. Enlighten us on Tata Power’s other CSR interventions in education, health and sustainable livelihoods.
Tata Power is a century-old entity of Tata Group with its presence across 15 states of the country. CSR has always been an integral part of Tata Power business ethos and culture since its inception. It is involved in undertaking CSR Initiatives based on 5 Thrust Areas as stated below.
- Health and Sanitation
- Skill Building and Livelihood
- Financial Inclusivity
- Water (Drinking and Irrigation)
Tata Power CSR initiatives have positively impacted 2.24 million lives in FY 19 through various interventions undertaken in the above-mentioned focus areas. All the initiatives are implemented through Tata Power Community Development Trust (CSR Arm of Tata Power).
The strategy entails partnerships with both national/international and local organizations for leveraging resources and knowledge to improve the quality of lives of the community. Some of the partners include UNDP (Women Empowerment), NABARD (Water and Livelihood), Win Watson (IIT Gandhinagar) & Pani Foundation (Water), BAIF (Livelihood), Tata Group Companies (Women Empowerment and Livelihood), Academic Institutions (TISS, SP Jain Management Institute, IIM Indore, Berkeley University, LSE for Knowledge Management) to name a few.
The CSR team ranges from subject matter specialist, M&E professionals to community mobilizers across all the locations who are responsible for planning, executing and evaluating the initiatives. The CSR Committee of Tata Power Board is actively involved in providing strategic guidance and regular review on a periodic basis to ensure the governance aspects.
Some of the CSR flagship initiatives include:
- Tata Power Skill Development Institute – NSDC affiliated Skill centres established across Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand engaged in skilling and enabling youth for their livelihood options under power sector. The skills training include safety, customer centricity and behavioural modules. Till date, it has trained more than 50,000 youth who have been assisted in their placement/self-enterprise as well. Besides this, Daksh is a skill development initiative which focuses on various vocational courses – retail jobs, beautician courses etc for youth and women keeping community and job market requirements in mind.
- Dhaaga (Women based Social Enterprise Development) – This initiative has enhanced the socioeconomic aspects of more than 1,050 women and is a nationally recognized initiative for women empowerment.
- Abha (Vocational Skilling for women)– This initiative focusses on vocational skill building of women/girls in non-industrial courses like retail, beautician and energy conservation aspects which adds to their livelihood and augments their household level income. More than 1,200 Abha women members are involved with an average monthly income exceeding INR 8,000/-.
- Amrutdhara (Participatory Ground Water Management) – This initiative has addressed the water management issues in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Jharkhand through community participation and involvement of technical experts and knowledge partners.
- Adhikaar (Financial Inclusivity) – This initiative has facilitated marginalized community with access to various social welfare and economic schemes of Govt benefitting more than 3.43 lakhs lives including usage of technology for enhanced coverage across geographies.
- Mamta, Sammaan and Vidya are also flagship initiatives which focus on maternal and child health, behavioural change communication for sanitation and Education initiatives respectively.
- Arpan – Under this, Tata Power volunteering initiatives are organized for employees, their family and business associates/customers which also are extended to other corporates/organizations for participating and committing for various social causes such as Mentor-Mentee for students (Shiksha Saarthi), Afforestation (Tree Mittra), Good Health and Adhikaar Champion (Financial Inclusivity).
Q 5. Your company’s CSR programme Adhikaar focusses on linkage of beneficiaries with various Government schemes for children, youth, women, men, aged, destitute, widows etc. How does it bridge the gap between individuals and government entitlements-cumschemes which are supposed to benefit them?
Adhikaar is one of the flagship Initiatives of Tata Power for promoting Social and Financial Inclusivity and was conceptualized keeping in mind the challenges faced by common citizens in accessing various Government Schemes.
It was realized through community engagement efforts that the awareness among the marginalized about the relevant schemes was very low. Further the challenge also included meeting the required documentation aspects particularly for communities who were not literate. Hence Tata Power came up with the solution of engaging employees under volunteering to reach out to communities across all locations of Tata Power to understand the challenges, coordinate with key Government Departments and facilitate the required documentation and submission of applications based on the beneficiary eligibility as laid down in the applicable Government Schemes.
Technology played a key role in scaling this initiative. Haqdarshak – A Social Enterprise was partnered through which App-based technology was used to identify the beneficiary eligibility based on the bank of all Government Schemes available in the depository. The process helped to reach out to more than 3.43 lakhs community members who were supported with their basic documents ranging from Ration Card, PAN Card, Aadhar Card which enabled access to Government Schemes including Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Janani Suraksha Yojana and many other schemes.
We believe that the role of enabler and facilitator is a crucial role to play and efforts like Adhikaar have a sustainable way of doing community development initiatives and complementing Government efforts rather than duplicating the same.
Q 6. What is Tata Power’s commitment towards renewable and clean energy?
Tata Power is highly focussed towards renewables growth and is continuously working to contribute towards the realization of India’s commitment towards clean and green energy, through solar power generation. It is expanding growth in utility-scale solar and continues to be the leader in rooftop segment.
As a responsible entity, Tata Power is committed towards combating climate change through sustainable and responsible growth, by promoting clean energy sources and thus enabling reduction in carbon emission. Clean and green energy currently accounts for more than 30% of Tata Power’s total portfolio and it aims to raise this to more than 50% in the next five to six years.
Q 7. In your opinion, how could the private sector partner with the government through CSR for nation building?
Tata Power has been actively working with Government agencies and departments with focus on Skill Building (Tata Power Skill Development Institute), Financial Inclusivity (Adhikaar) and Water (Amrutdhara). We believe that collaboration is the key in which multi-stakeholders and partners pool in their competencies, knowledge and resources to magnify the impact and demonstrate results at scale. Also, the role of International development agencies and academia is crucial to deliver results on the ground.
Tata Power and UNDP collaboration for DISHA Initiatives is to ensure that women and youth are skilled and linked to opportunities for self-employment and entrepreneurship. Collaboration with WinWatson (IIT Gandhinagar) led to Amrutdhara (Participatory Ground Water Management) which worked on the demand and supply side of water management and has become a replicable model.
In the areas of Skill Building, Tata Power Skill Development Institute (TPSDI) is a partner with Government of Maharashtra (Maharashtra State Skill Development Society and Directorate of Vocational Education and Training, Maharashtra) and imparting quality training in power sector related skills and ensuring that their skill sets match the requirements of the corporates.
Considering that the future of power lay in renewables, TPSDI has been extending support for skill upgradation and advanced courses particularly in Renewable Power sector to various Government and Private Industrial Technical Institutions and Colleges across the country. This is Tata Power commitment towards nation building and future proofing the society to meet the skill requirements in this sector going forward.
The private sector can definitely identify their core competencies and put them to develop innovative solutions which can be used for addressing the emerging and present challenges faced by the nation and society at large. Government has also been supportive of such initiatives and collectively, this can create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. The inclusion of CSR investment in research, technology and incubation-based initiative for social purposes is the latest step taken by the Government in this regard.
Q 8. Any parting words of advice for companies relatively new to corporate social responsibility?
We believe that companies have realized the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability and the phase of novelty to this concept has moved into the level of action now for all. Being a responsible company, we demonstrate care for all stakeholders, be it, shareholders, employees, community, environment, business associates, customers, Government and civil society.
It is important to understand that companies move beyond philanthropy to Sustainable CSR which have long-term impact on all stakeholders.
The focus has to be on stakeholder engagement and sustainable impact at scale for which the efforts and thought process have to be put in the right perspective from the beginning. Engaging with external thought leaders in respective domains helps to develop that perspective.
In terms of community development, companies with a larger footprint on the ground in terms of their business establishments need to look at their neighbourhood as essential partners for inclusive growth. Prioritization along with long-term engagement is the key to enable community ownership for development efforts.
For organizations with a smaller footprint, the focus can be on backward region districts or Aspirational Districts as defined by the NITI Aayog which can be a game changing initiative to go beyond business geographies to the locations with abject poverty. This can really contribute to nation building and a long-lasting change in society. In other words, the real purpose of affirmative action is committing to the real marginalized and deprived sections of society who are still unable to access the basic needs of life.
This interview appears in the current edition of our print magazine. Click here to grab a copy
Thank you for reading. In addition, your thoughts and inputs will genuinely make a difference to us. Please drop a line and help us do better.