Suba A
G. Kalyan Kumar

India’s corporate philanthropic scene is booming. This exciting phase is also inspiring the personal philanthropy segment profusely.

Overall there is a palpable quest to support underprivileged sections. At action are professionals who work with dedication and intuitive empathy in taking the fruits of charity to the weaker sections of the society.

Catalysts of Philanthropy in India

The surge in personal and corporate philanthropy in India has been validated by many studies with reasons pointing to the spurting in the number of millionaires and billionaires and the legal stipulation on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) spending.

In 2014, India became the first country in the world that sought a mandatory minimum CSR spending by profit-making companies, which should be at least 2 percent of their profits.

According to official estimates, India is home to 2 percent of the world’s millionaires and 5 percent of the world’s billionaires. Obviously, the flash of wealth that stands in stark contrast to the country’s under-nourished people whose population is second in the world will instill compassion.

Benefit for Social Sector

Along with companies, many industry chambers also play a positive role in enabling effective CSR implementation. They are spearheaded by dedicated social activist professionals like CII senior adviser Subha Rajan Tampi, who occupy leadership positions in industrial chambers.

“There is more activity on the CSR and philanthropic front which is a good sign for the social sector,” notes Subha who is active in the industry’s chamber’s CSR wing.  Subha’s views are authentic as she views the rising CSR action from the vantage point of the leading industry chamber.

Top CSR Spenders in India

It is a fact of life that there is high enthusiasm in corporate boardrooms to address the problems of communities whom management expert CK Prahlad called as “the bottom of the pyramid”.

In India, the prescribed target for CSR in 2016—2017 was Rs 9275 crore. The actual spent reported during the period was Rs 8446 crore, which is more than 90 percent of the target set, according to the data from NGO box. Among the Indian companies, the top 10 spenders were Wipro, Tata Steel, Indian Oil Corp, ITC, NTPC, Infosys, HDFC, Tata Consultancy Services, ONGC and Reliance Industries.

The focal areas of CSR investment and individual philanthropy initiatives are healthcare, women empowerment, education and skill development, care for the old and differently abled, livelihoods, environment, water, sanitation, rural development, and infrastructure.

CSR Contribution of Industry Chambers

Subha has been associated with CII for more than a quarter century and her philanthropic activities happen at two levels—official and personal.

The long stint in CII and leadership for many business events including World Economic Forum has chiseled her outlook on communities and she calls for more project implementation at the ground level.

Personal Charity Matters

At a personal level, Subha is passionate about women’s issues, the girl child, wildlife, environmental issues and social injustice. This personal empathy flows to the underprivileged sections through many actions, including support for needy children by way of sponsoring their educational expenses and support for old age homes and orphanages.

Another area she has been active was supporting foreign prisoners in Indian jails including Tihar jail in Delhi.

At the official level, Subha’s portfolio carries many CSR programs. Her association with globally famed SOS Villages is another facet. Subha Rajan Tampi was the first CEO of the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) jointly organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the Indian Diaspora.

In the road ahead, Subha sees a major role for her in applying her diverse experience, domain knowledge and practical wisdom in guiding CSR and individual philanthropy sectors toward better outcomes.

Africa Impact and Other Influences

Subha’s empathetic social outlook was shaped by many influences. Many iconic women leaders in India have contributed immensely to the social sector especially in empowering women. They include eminent Ela Bhatt who transformed the lives of millions of women with her SEWA that advocated self-reliance.

Another important source was her stint in Africa. Thanks to her husband’s job at an international bank, Subha had the opportunity to live in different African states and cities.

The encounter with Arica gave her a close glimpse of the communities where she found time to study, teach and engage in social work. In Egypt, Subha studied at the American University of Cairo and later taught at the Port Said College. She also taught at St. Gregory’s college in Lagos, Nigeria and Rivers State University in Port Harcourt and the University of Monrovia in Liberia.

In India, her official role in CII especially the World Economic Forum brought her in close quarters with many world leaders including heads of state with egalitarian principles to advocate. They include President Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin, Dalai Lama, Benazir Bhutto, Prince Charles, Yasser Arafat, Hamid Karzai, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Anan among others.

As a member of many International delegations, Subha travelled to more than 80 countries and is on the advisory board of social organizations like Shanthi Sahyog the body for slum kids and MAA Shyama that works for lepers.

Subha’s work in philanthropy and women empowerment has been honored with awards in India and abroad. The awards include the Dadabhai Naroji Millennium Award for the Life Time Achievement, Bharat Nirman Award, Pride of India award, Karamveer Puraskar and Indian Council for the Human Relations award.

For companies into CSR, support of talented professionals will be very crucial in improving the quality of their social programs, which require aligning CSR Policy and Strategy with customised management of CSR programmes.

World over, the role and contribution of women in philanthropy are expanding.

A discernible leadership shift in philanthropy is visible with more attention going into gender equity and women’s empowerment.

The media is also doing a positive job by bringing the spotlight on the real social change. In the US, many women are leading the charity sector from the front end. Some of the important names include Karen Ackman of Pershing Square Foundation, Jody Allen of Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Laura Arnold of Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Connie Ballmer of the Ballmer Group, Jennifer Buffett of NoVo Foundation, Susan Buffett from the Sherwood Foundation and Priscilla Chan of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Certainly, talented professionals like Subha Rajan can help the industry in taking India’s CSR to new heights.


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