Home Leaders Speak The Government Should Have A CSR Ministry: Deepa Menon, Senior Vice President...

The Government Should Have A CSR Ministry: Deepa Menon, Senior Vice President (CSR), PVR Ltd.

Deepa Menon, PVR Ltd.
The ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) established a centralised scrutiny and prosecution mechanism last year for enforcement of corporate social responsibility (CSR) provisions, according to P P Chaudhary, Union Minister of State for the Law and Justice and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Based on inquiry, preliminary notices have been issued to 272 companies.
On this issue, Deepa Menon feels the Indian government should have a CSR ministry “which can provide guidance, training, capacity building and have an organized platform to integrate social good with companies’ objectives”. When it comes to CSR, she believes in the Trusteeship philosophy propounded by Mahatma Gandhi.
Menon is currently employed with PVR Limited as the Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility. She is founding head of PVR’s CSR arm, PVR Nest (PVR Network for Enablement & Social Transformation) and the brain behind its flagship project ‘Childscapes’, the operational program for children at risk in Delhi-NCR. It aims to instigate basic life skills and provide non-formal education to children from disadvantaged communities by integrating sports into their learning curriculum.
“Sports have the ability to bring disciplinary skills amongst children,” Menon tells Kasmin Fernandes from The CSR Journal in an exclusive interview about how PVR Ltd. fulfills its responsibility of giving back to society by supporting vulnerable communities. Excerpts:

What do you think about the Indian govt. tightening scrutiny on non-compliance of CSR?

Being a listed company and a company which ensures compliance with MCA guidelines, PVR has always worked towards making a positive impact in the areas of education, healthcare, environment, and women empowerment.
Many companies, we have seen, following a strong CSR mandate in their companies and at times there are companies who have the CSR funds but lack the capabilities to make the optimum utilization of the same. Furthermore, lack of the right partnerships also delays the disbursement of funds for a defined outcome.
Lack of awareness on non-compliance part is another possibility in the funds remained unspent. In this case, the Government should have a CSR ministry, which can provide guidance, training, capacity building and have an organized platform to integrate social good with companies’ objectives.
There should be a collaborative way for the government to be a part of companies’ CSR policy and encourage public-private partnerships. Regular sensitisation by the government can bridge the intellect gap between the organizations and the right CSR provisions.

Which causes is PVR Cinemas most passionate about?

PVR believes in inter-twining its interest with that of societal development and constantly endeavours to render assistance for the growth and progress of the social order it caters to. Executing the corporate social responsibility through PVR Nest, it has adopted an integrated outreach strategy to drive urban sustainability through addressing the fall outs of unplanned urbanization and empowering the disadvantaged communities through educational initiatives, public health, sanitation, and environmental sustainability programs.
PVR Nest believes in educating, empowering and building a collaborative society to contribute to the Sustainable Developmental Goals.

What kind of CSR initiatives does PVR engage in?

PVR’s 12-year-long tradition of community engagement through PVR Nest entails not only financial and in-kind support for worthy causes but active involvement in a variety of volunteer activities and community partnerships.
Fostering mutually beneficial relationships with Central & State governments, embassies, national & international voluntary organizations, CSOs, societies, and other Trusts, PVR NEST works towards fulfilling the company’s celeste philosophy of Corporate Social Responsibility.
As a responsible organization, PVR via PVR Nest is currently carrying out initiatives namely, Childscape, CineArt, Eco Grants, SHE’s Ambassador, Pink Toilets, Project Eklavya, Maitri meals, Scholarship for Excellence and Academics program.

Tell us about the inception and agenda of PVR Nest.

Much before the CSR was legislated in the Companies Act, 2013, PVR Ltd was already fulfilling the corporate social responsibility commitments through a philanthropic approach. The organization has always considered a contribution to Nation Building as integral to the growth of its business.
As the company got listed in 2006-2007, we established PVR Nest as a not-for-profit nodal body aimed at providing a dedicated approach to community development. Through PVR Nest, we want to engage with the community and communicate with them. We execute all our initiatives with a focussed approach in order to improve the urban environment around us and uplift the condition of children with fewer advantages and opportunities. Watch the journey of PVR Nest below:

How is the impact measured?

PVR Nest is now 12 years old. We have always measured the impact with the number of beneficiaries being integrated into the programs and what they receive with the success of the projects. For example, Childscapes caters to the children at risk through non-formal education and the impact is measured by reporting the number of children who are in the formal education system through our intervention.
Our ‘Project Eklavya’ aims for 70,000 admissions through RTE act and we are confident that this impact will be achieved by the end of the program.

Similarly, we have curated the ‘Project COPE’ – a grant initiative dedicated to the persons with disabilities and with this program, we aim to reach out to 50,000 beneficiaries through excellence experts. PVR NEST will provide grants to the excellence experts (fellows) to work on high-impact projects that can bring a systematic change in the disability sector in India.
In addition to this, our ECO GRANTS program incubates 10 change projects from five cities who are working on bringing substantial change to environmental sustainability. Furthermore, employee participation is another contributing factor to the impact assessment.

We are further structuring the reporting and impact mechanism of the foundation by integrating the SROI tool – a technical platform that will handle the assessment studies and streamline the accounting standards.

What is your personal vision for CSR?

I personally believe in the Trusteeship philosophy propounded by Mahatma Gandhi. It is an “instrument of human dignity” and provides a simple meaning to social good.
Back in 2006, when we were formalising PVR Nest; we kept the foundation based on ‘Trusteeship’ and curated our flagship program ‘Childscapes’. We believe that it is the responsibility of the company to give back to society and extend support to the most vulnerable communities in urban settings.