In building Tata Steel at Jamshedpur over 100 years ago, the founder of the company had told his son, “You are there because of the community. You are not just building a steel plant; you are building a city.”
Jamshedpur was then a forest area with tribals living in it and there was more resistance to land acquisition than what we see in today’s India.
The founder’s vision was, however, to plant trees, to build houses, schools, hospitals, places of worship for all religions, and every other amenity that could be imagined at that time.
The result is that Tata Steel has not had a single hour of disruption or unrest in its long history. There has also been no disruption on account of Naxal activities.
To me, that vision of community being at the centre of business goes beyond CSR as performing some activities that are peripheral to the business operations.
This vision ensures that the business can be sustainable and long term, rather than unsustainable and short-term.
It’s notable that Tatas continue to provide all local services in their part of Jamshedpur city without the people there demanding that they should have a municipality.
In today’s scenario, most businesses don’t seem to take the view that CSR can be interwoven in their strategy.
So you can have triple bottomline reporting, covering people, planet, and profits, but the question is how will you check a business’s compliance with public policy and verify its claims; it’s not easy.”