A new story, a fresh perspective

Is corporate social responsibility a mere ‘social responsibility’? Does it ever stream beyond the realms of plush confines of the glass walls? Do children learn more in an environment of love and trust?

Panelists discussed and debated such questions and more during Change the Story: A Crusade against Stereotypes, organized by Child Rights and You, in association with Genius Foundation.

The notion of Corporate Social Responsibility was discussed at length during the panel discussion on Pathways to Corporate Social Responsibility.

Atul Singh, Vice-President- CSR, Emami Ltd, described how the notion of Corporate Social Responsibility has evolved, where corporates now draw up CSR strategies, keeping in mind the indicators, the final outcome and how it can be quantified. CSR has become strategic, accountable and transparent, he said.

Smita Chatterji, CEO of Centreax Group, spoke on the importance of CSR activities for corporate employees. It builds confidence and changes their perception about people on the other side of the fence. The discussion was moderated by Shaleni S. Biswas, Managing Director of Easy Note Stationery Private Limited, who was also one of the panelists.

A talk on what helps children learn brought forth interesting views from the panelists.

Actor-director, poetess and musician Satarupa Sanyal said it was important to shape up the correct learning environment of children. Activities like theatre, sports and community learning are essential factors that make learning enjoyable. Pressure on children to follow stereotypes often curtail their thirst for knowledge and they end up hating studies more than ever. Children can learn from anything and everything and learning should not merely be restricted to the pages of books. She also outlined the advantages of cinema as a powerful medium to boost the learning process.

 Founder-Director of Praajak Deep Purakayastha said learning is not a restrictive process, It’s a culture that has to be inculcated. In order to make learning and reading fun, non-academic activities have to be blended into the curriculum. Values like love and trust and also a myriad life skills, when infused into education, often inspire children to learn and not just ‘study’. 

The other highlight of the programme was a wonderful dance performance by children from Muktadhara, a project by CRY and Praajak, with support from Genius Foundation. Dressed in colour-coordinated attire, the kids matched steps with Aamra Shobai Raja Amader Ei Rajar Rajotye.

In her inaugural speech, Trina Chakrabarti, Regional Director (East), CRY, highlighted the concept of philanthropy as it has evolved in our country and the manner in which it has impacted thousands of lives and communities. Notions have changed, mindsets have transformed and the process of collective philanthropy has managed to reach out to thousands of children and communities in need.

Rajendra Prasad Yadav, Chairman and Managing Director, Genius Consultants, was the Chief Guest at the event. He said it was very important to restore the importance of the core elements of childhood – eat, play and study. The learning environment should be such that children are motivated to study and dream big. Education should be such that they fall in love with it. He also added that CSR needs to be prioritized and senior leadership in corporates needs to be passionate about it.

A 15-minute film titled Muktadhara was screened. The film, shot by budding Film-maker Romit Ganguly, captures the transformation of mindsets and lives in three wards of South Dum Dum, post intervention by the two NGOs. Some of the children, who featured in the film, were present at the screening and were thrilled to see themselves on screen.

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