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What is SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY?

The measures that are made by an organisation to be aware of concerns to the


community surrounding it. It is reflected in a commitment to health and
safety, civil and human rights and betterment of the community.





The idea of responsible business behaviour is far from new. But since the 1990s,
increasing concern over the impacts of economic globalisation has led to new demands
for corporations to play a central role in efforts to eliminate poverty, achieve equitable
and accountable systems of governance and ensure environmental security. In essence,
the approach is to view business as part of society and to find ways to maximise the
positive benefits that business endeavour can bring to human and environmental well-
being whilst minimising the harmful impacts of irresponsible business. The agenda
that has resulted from these concerns has variously been called corporate citizenship,
corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate accountability or simply corporate
responsibility.
As we all know, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an expression used to describe
what some see as a companys obligation to be sensitive to the needs of all to take
account not only of the financial/economic dimension in decision-making, but also the
social and environmental consequences.
Sustainable Development
ONE of the most significant developments in the field of CSR over the past few years
has been the growth in public expectations that the companies not only make
commitments to its stakeholders in its business operations. The principle is closely
linked with the imperative of ensuring that these operations are sustainable, that is,
that CSR is recognised as not only necessary but also develop systems to manage
implementation and systematically assess and report on progress relative to those
commitments. Corporate accountability encompasses the systems a company
establishes to develop policies, indicators, targets and processes to manage the full
range of activities. The scope of operations for which companies are expected to be
accountable has increased dramatically in recent years to include not only companys
own performance but also that of the business partners and other actors throughout
the companys value chain. The mechanisms a company uses to demonstrate
accountability are varied and inevitably need to change and grow as a company
evolves; at the same time effective systems for increasing accountability generally
allow the company to be inclusive, responsive and engaged with its stakeholders.
Accountability in its basic sense implies render-ing of accounts and, by extension,
indicate answer-ability to an external agency or group and, further, implies ensuring
propriety, legality and safeguarding public interest in satisfaction of the expectations
of the external agency or group. Social Accountability suggests accountability to the
people; this is a core value in a democratic set-up. In a decentralised democracy the
basic objec-tive is power to the people.

OVERVIEW
Our Vision
"To actively contribute to the social and economic development of the communities in
which we operate. In doing so, build a better, sustainable way of life for the weaker
sections of society and raise the country's human development index."
Mrs. Rajashree Birla, Chairperson - Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives
and Rural Development
Making a difference
Before Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) found a place in corporate lexicon, it
was already textured into our Group's value systems. As early as the 1940s, our
founding father Shri G. D. Birla espoused the trusteeship concept of management.
Simply stated, this entails that the wealth that one generates and holds, is to be held as
in a trust for our multiple stakeholders. With regard to CSR, this means investing part
of our profits beyond business, for the larger good of society.

While carrying forward this philosophy, our legendary leader, Mr. Aditya Birla,
weaved in the concept of 'sustainable livelihood', which transcended cheque book
philanthropy. In his view, it was unwise to keep on giving endlessly. Instead, he felt
that channelising resources to ensure that people have the wherewithal to make both
ends meet would be more productive.
He would say, "Give a hungry man fish for a day, he will eat it and the next day, he
would be hungry again. Instead, if you taught him how to fish, he would be able to
feed himself and his family for a lifetime."
Taking these practices forward, our chairman Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla,
institutionalised the concept of triple bottom line accountability represented by
economic success. Our community work is a way of telling the people among whom
we operate that We Care.
Our strategy
Our projects are carried out under the aegis of the "Aditya Birla Centre for
Community Initiatives and Rural Development", led by Mrs. Rajashree Birla. The
Centre provides the strategic direction, and the thrust areas for our work ensuring
performance management as well.

Our focus is on the all-round development of the communities around our plants
located mostly in distant rural areas and tribal belts. All our Group companies
Grasim, Hindalco, Aditya Birla Nuvo and UltraTech have Rural Development Cells,
which are the implementation bodies.

Our partners in development are government bodies, district authorities, village
panchayats and the end beneficiaries the villagers. The Government has, in their 5-
year plans, special funds earmarked for human development and we recourse to many
of these.
At the same time, we network and collaborate with like-minded bilateral and
unilateral agencies to share ideas, draw from each other's experiences, and ensure that
efforts are not duplicated. At another level, this provides a platform for advocacy.
Project identification mechanism
All projects are planned in a participatory manner, in consultation with the
community, literally sitting with them, and gauging their basic needs. We take
recourse to "participatory rural appraisal", which is a mapping process. Subsequently,
based on a consensus and in discussion with the village panchayats, we prioritise
requirements. And thus a project is born. Implementation is the responsibility of the
community and our team, as is the monitoring of milestones and the other aspects.
Monitoring entails physical verification of the progress and the actual output of the
project.

Village meetings are held periodically to elicit feedback on the benefits of our
community programmes and the areas where these need to be beefed up. We try and
ensure that while in the short term we have to do enormous hand-holding, the projects
become sustainable by the beneficiaries over the long haul. Once this stage is reached,
we withdraw. In this way we do not build a culture of dependence, instead we make
the villagers self-reliant.

Model villages
One of our unique initiatives is to develop model villages, so each of our major
companies is working towards the total transformation of a number of villages in
proximity to our plants. Making of a model village entails ensuring self-reliance in all
aspects viz., education, health care and family welfare, infrastructure, agriculture and
watershed management, and working towards sustainable livelihood patterns.
Fundamentally, ensuring that their development reaches a stage wherein village
committees take over the complete responsibility and our teams become dispensable.

Our project operations

The geographic reach, annual spends
The footprint of our community work straddles 3,000 villages across the length and
breadth of our country. We reach out to more than 7 million people annually. Over 60
per cent of these live below the poverty line and belong to scheduled castes and tribes.
The Group spends in excess of Rs.130 crore annually, inclusive of the running of 18
hospitals and 42 schools. The Group transcends the conventional barriers of business
and reaches out to the marginalised as a matter of duty and to bring in a more
equitable society.
Our focus areas
Our rural development activities span five key areas and our single-minded goal here
is to help build model villages that can stand on their own feet. Our focus areas are
healthcare, education, sustainable livelihood, infrastructure and espousing social
causes.
Education
Formal and non-formal education, adult education
Scholarships for girls, merit scholarships and technical education for boys
Distance education
Girl child education
Digital literacy / computer education
Health care and family welfare
Pulse polio programme
Mobile clinics doctors' visits
General and multispeciality medical camps, cleft lips
Reproductive and child health care, supplementary nutrition / mid-day meal projects
Safe drinking water, sanitation household toilets, community hospitals
HIV / AIDS, cancer, TB awareness and prevention camps
Blood donation
Responsible parenting
Social causes
Widow re-marriage / dowry-less mass marriages
Social security (insurance)
Culture and sports
Women empowerment
Infrastructure development
Community centres
Schools in villages
Health care centres and hospitals
Roads
Homes for the homeless
Rural electrification
Irrigation and water storage structures
Sustainable livelihood
Self-help groups (microfinance for women and farmers)
Integrated agriculture development
Integrated livestock development
Watershed management
Microenterprise development
Skill development / vocational training through Aditya Birla Technology Park for integrated
training programme and VT centres at most of our plants in collaboration with ITIs
Our partners
WHO, Australia India Council, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Habitat for
Humanity, CII, European Union (EU), British Council, City& Guilds (UK), Global
Compact Network, International Rotary Club, NSDC, FICCI, NABARD, NACO,
CARE, IGNOU, Aide et Action, SEWA, BAIF, MYRADA, Basix, CARD, Art of
Living Foundation, Smile Foundation, Maya Foundation, Childline India Foundation,
local NGOs, District Development Offices, Central and State governments.