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Help! Let’s start early

How MBA students are improving their social responsibility grades, reports Aalap Deboor.

mumbai Updated: Sep 20, 2009 01:26 IST
Aalap Deboor

Tanushree Banerji (23) is a second-year MBA student at IBS, a management institute in Mumbai. During the week, she is your regular student, attending lectures and grappling with project deadlines. The weekend is when she and her group earn their edge over their peers — teaching underprivileged children as part of Parivartan, the college’s student social body.

With Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) becoming an imperative for all large organisations, MBA students are hopping onto the bandwagon early.

Professors say this approach must be encouraged so students remain sensitive to social issues when they become managers. Professor Y K Bhushan, Senior Advisor and Head of IBS Mumbai, believes management must always have a social face. “In this age of rampant individualism, social work brings in a collective consciousness which helps students,” he says.

Parivartan has tied up with the PN Singh Foundation for an initiative called ‘Leaders of tomorrow’, in which students organise blood donation camps and teach children at the Arvind Gambhir school in Goregaon. Prof Rita Rangnekar, a faculty member and programme coordinator at the college, says, “To raise funds for these projects, students pitch their plans to corporates.” Adds second-year student Rakhul V, “And that’s how we get on-field experience, too.”

Hardik Dave, another second-year member of Parivartan enthuses, “Instead of teaching children the regular subjects, we impart leadership skills and help them interact better with all classes of society. We’re proud to say we get 100 per cent attendance.”

A similar effort is Project Muskaan, an initiative founded in March 2009 by Ahmed Dalvi, when he was a student of NITIE. Says Dalvi, “We have good links with the CSR cells of many companies. So we’re aiming to prepare projects on behalf of relatively unknown NGOs and pitch them to multinationals to collect funds.”

Muskaan does so by putting the TEND (time, expertise, network, donations) system of contribution to use. Rohan Paul, a member of Project Muskaan who works with Johnson & Johnson, believes, “We must leverage our management skills to promote sustainable development. Our TEND system tells companies there’s more than just money that they can help with.”

At the Somaiya Management College in Vidyavihar, the Social Cell currently has 10 projects under way. Students here are helping Warli artists from Dahanu become entrepreneurs and sell their paintings. They also conduct painting workshops at Dahanu. “We’ve sold Warli paintings at workshops in FabIndia so their artists get the recognition and financial benefits that are their due,” says Jasmeet Singh, President of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), Somaiya.

Last year, when the college was under renovation, SIFE’s Social Cell came up with Project Pehel, in which they taught the children of construction workers English, Hindi and math.

The motivation is part idealism and part career-building. Hardik Dave believes his outlook towards work has changed after Parivartan. “I worked at Wipro earlier and there was a CSR cell, but I never actively took part in it. However, when I take up a job now, I’ll definitely be part of the company’s CSR cell,” he says.

The extra mention on their CVs helps as well, especially for students who plan to study further, perhaps abroad. Says Tanushree Banerji, “Students with such a background in their resume have a competitive edge over others.”

A win-win combination that any MBA student would approve of.