Past Events

8th CSR Conference: Mainstreaming CSR: Intersecting with Business and Climate

AMCHAM’s CSR Committee organized the 8th CSR Conference themed ‘Mainstreaming CSR: Intersecting with Business and Climate’ on May 7th in New Delhi. Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM, in her welcome remarks, shared that American companies have been operating in India since 1902, actively engaged in India’s inclusive growth story as responsible corporate citizens through a variety of CSR initiatives from pandemic relief and recovery, livelihood and skilling, education partnerships, women’s empowerment, financial inclusion, innovative solutions to healthcare crises and preventing hunger, amongst others. She emphasized that the largest share, i.e. 44% of the total global company spends on CSR in India, come from U.S. industry. Mr. Harish Krishnan, Chairman – CSR Committee, AMCHAM and Managing Director & Chief Policy Officer, Cisco Systems, India & SAARC set the scene for the conference by outlining the sessions and talked about the importance of technology for reaching the unconnected, social innovation, sustainability and importance of integrating climate action into all CSR efforts.

The inaugural address was made by Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee, Senior Advisor, Dua Consulting, former Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Government of India and former Director General & CEO, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. Dr. Chatterjee shared the evolution of CSR in India starting with the inclusion of Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, which took CSR from the back room to the board room for corporations. He emphasized that too much CSR money is spent in the most developed states with less than .9% spent in the Eastern Region. He shared about the positive way that CSR absorbed the ESG world seamlessly and possibility that the government may expand the activities included under Schedule VII. Dr. Alexandria Huerta, Deputy Mission Director, USAID/India, in her special address, shared about the powerful force of private enterprise for good and shared examples of the U.S.-India partnership across sectors that foster change though research and development. Dr. Huerta said, “Together with the private sector, USAID is fostering transformative partnerships that leverage finance and technology to produce scalable and replicable results, with the potential to stimulate economic growth in India, the U.S., and beyond. The role of AMCHAM in bringing stakeholders together to improve lives by addressing development challenges is vital and we are proud of our expanding partnership and combined capacities to achieve more impactful and sustainable results.”

Session 1: Role of Philanthropy and CSR in Digital Public Infrastructure was moderated by Mr. Rathish Balakrishnan, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Sattva with Mr. Neel Ratan, Senior Advisor, National Health Authority, Government of India and Distinguished Fellow, World Economic Forum, Ms. Shweta Khurana, Senior Director, Asia Pacific & Japan – Government Partnerships & Initiatives, International Government Affairs Group, Intel, India and Ms. Shalini Gupta, Head of Strategy and Policy, Sahamati. The discussion focused on demystifying DPI and solving for scale by creating systematic impact through nurturing understanding at a grassroots level. The session touched upon the significance of establishing centralized health data systems and employing algorithms to streamline access to digital infrastructure, ultimately addressing the digital divide.

Session 2: Non-Profits in India – Scaling Challenges and Opportunities was moderated by Mr. Arun Nathan, Partner – Non-Profit Advisory, Sattva with Ms. Soha Moitra, Director Programs and Regional Director, CRY India, Mr. Prateek Kanwal, Director – Social Impact, Deloitte India, Mr. Rajesh Varghese, Country Director, India, Pyxera Global and Dr. Reuben Swamickan, Deputy Director, Health, USAID/India. The session discussed scaling challenges of NGOs, responsibility of capacity building and highlighted that organizations that have successfully scaled have had great communication on all fronts — government, donor and community levels. This session emphasized maintaining a balance between innovation and consistent delivery pace, rather than rushing scaling efforts. They noted a lack of action-oriented collaborative models and advocated for investing in communication strategies to enhance the visibility of projects, as well as internal monitoring and strategy development.

Session 3: Integrating ESG in CSR: Maximizing Business Value and Impact was moderated by Mr. Vipul Arora, Senior Advisor, Sattva with Ms. Smitha Gopalkrishnan, Asia Sustainability Leader & CSR Leader, 3M India Limited, Mr. Inderjeet Singh, Partner – Financial Advisory, Deloitte India and Mr. Nishant Gupta, Head of Sustainability, Flipkart Group. The discussion provided a glimpse into the ESG integration in organizations through progress in governance structure, roles and responsibilities. Clarity in strategy and alignment as well as the enhancement of skilling potential for underrepresented groups was discussed. They talked about creating an ecosystem to raise awareness of the societal and organizational impacts of ESG issues.

Session 4: Understanding Challenges in Aspirational Districts and Blocks was moderated by Ms. Aarti Mohan, Co-Founder and Partner, Sattva with Mr. Anand Shekhar, Additional Mission Director, NITI Aayog, Government of India, Mr. Shailendra Jagtap, Vice Chairman – Western Region, AMCHAM and Managing Director & Country Manager, John Deere India, Mr. Mathew Joseph, Country Director, American India Foundation and Ms. Shweta Punetha, National Manager – CSR, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages. The launch of initiatives like the Aspirational Blocks Program (ABP), covering 500 blocks across 329 districts, signified a commitment to improving governance and enhancing the quality of life in these regions, however, the flow of CSR funds towards these areas has not been commensurate. The session explored understanding regional aspirations and recognized the necessity to invest in mindset development and skill sets to overcome challenges. Speakers emphasized the 4 p’s of political will, public financing, partnerships and people-centricity as essential to developing locally tailored development strategies.

The conference concluded with closing remarks by Ms. Rohini Kamath, Program Manager, India Cash Grant Program, Cisco. She highlighted key takeaways from each session, encouraged greater collaboration in the CSR ecosystem, importance of ESG for greater social impact and encouraged participants to reflect on the conference. Ms. Valerie Swope, Program Coordinator, AMCHAM emceed the event and closed the conference by thanking the esteemed speakers, engaging audience and valuable partners that made the conference possible: Deloitte (gold partner), Sattva (knowledge partner) and Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (supporting partner). More than 120 people participated in the full day conference.