A Silent Revolution captures Srinivasan Services Trust’s unique approach to CSR
Depending on where you look, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has a different shape, size, purpose and impact. From a business perspective, it very often gives back to the community and contributes to the overall development of its employees. From the viewer’s perspective, however, most CSR work is seen only as a task that companies and conglomerates take on because the government requires it. That any CSR work only serves to compensate for the bad karma that corporate greed brings.
Snigdha Parupudi’s book, A Silent Revolution, challenges these notions from the start. The book, which details the journey of Srinivasan Services Trust, explains that CSR should not be a yoke placed on the shoulders of the company, but a collective responsibility of the company and the community.
Founded in 1996 by Venu Srinivasan, President of TVS Motor Company, the Srinivasan Services Trust (SST) has, over time, successfully demonstrated why it is important to follow in social service the same strict management principles applied to factories and at the offices, writes Parupudi. The book is packed with anecdotes and stories of communities who came together to work with SST, while also explaining why the operation of this company-run trust is very different from that of other non-governmental organizations that also operate at their sides.
For example, at the very beginning, Parupudi recounts how a leaking faucet caused the villagers to ask that SST fix the faucet for them. The incident forced the Trust as well as its then chairman and former Indian administrative officer, Ashoke Joshi, to change course by asking them to also contribute to the development of their communities.
The idea, writes Parupudi, while revolutionary, faced its fair share of challenges as people wondered if TVS Motors, the company backing the trust, didn’t have enough money to complete the tasks they were assigned. companies. Over time, however, the communities where SST worked, understood the concept behind being asked to pay and would contribute regularly, starting initially with 10-15% of the project, then gradually up to 40%.
The book can also work as an easy calculation on why, despite the presence of so many NGOs on the ground in rural India, there is very little sustainable development that has been achieved in all these years. Most NGOs, Parupudi says in his book, choose to work only until they need to provide some kind of relief, or to provide food following a natural calamity. The book also goes into great detail on why SST, unlike many other corporate-run trusts and NGOs, chooses to partner with government and ensure last mile delivery instead of targeting and downplaying their projects.
Despite all of its easy storytelling, the book could have been content with more statistics and data, explaining how SST has, in just over two decades, been successful in leading and operating an NGO that does not come in by helicopter only when ‘there are tragedies. The lack of images, bars, and graphics to break up the monotony of uninterrupted storytelling is, sadly, a missed opportunity.