NASSCOM Foundation, ICT for Catalysing Change, 15 February 2008, Mumbai, India

NASSCOM Foundation (NF) hosted the ‘Global CSR Conclave: ICT for Catalysing Change’ on 15 February 2008 in conjunction with the NASSCOM Leadership Forum in Mumbai. The Conclave  aimed to provide a platform for the key innovators and leaders who have impacted social development in the country. The conclave mainly focused on issues on role of IT, microfinance, public-private partnership, corporate social responsibility, best practices and inclusive growth and was attended by industry experts,development experts and civil society representatives.

The conference began with the screening of NF Film and a welcome address by Saurabh Srivastava, the Chairman NF Srivastava spoke on the efficacy of IT in improving the quality of human life. Following the inaugural note by Srivastava, Som Mittal, President of NF, shared his views on the need towards enhancement of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and added that CSR is required to foster social relations and to reach out to the under-served. He spoke on IT industry’s contribution to the development landscape. Walter Fust, Director General, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), deliberated upon multi-stakeholder partnership for ensuring sufficient public and private investment in ICT4D.

Indian IT industry’s impact on economy  and society

In the first session, the much-awaited research report ‘Indian IT/ITES Industry: Impacting economy and society’ was released by Saurabh Srivastava alongwith Ambassador Walter Fust, Jacques Attali, President, Planet Finance, Jerry Rao Former CEO of Mphasis, and Trustee-NASSCOM Foundation and Som Mittal.  The research report is a joint effort by NASSCOM, Deloitte and NASSCOM Foundation. After the formal release of the book, Roopen Roy, Head and Managing Director (MD) of Deloitte, India provided an overview of the book.

Walter Fust, while sharing his views in the first session, stated that ICT is not just only limited to Internet but there are many other tools, which can help in development. He emphasised on multi-stakeholder partnership in the achievement of development goals. The first session concluded with the ability of IT industry to bridge the economic gap.

Skills and rural employability

The second session of the conclave titled ‘Building Skills for Rural Employability & Entrepreneurship’, was chaired by Lakshmi Narayanan, Chairman, NASSCOM. Mr Harsh Manglik in his presentation emphasized on the need for inclusive growth. Speaking on the need to bridge the gap between trainers and employers, Manglik emphasised that there is a need for vocational training programs to create more employment in the rural areas. Raju Bhatnagar, Head-Indian Operations, SerWizsol, while speaking on leveraging the power of ICTs for expanding skills sets of undeserved   communities, stressed on the importance of local languages and the use of ICTs in education. Bhatnagar also shared many successful stories on rural BPO. Rajendra Pawar, Chairman, NIIT, discussed the need for linking rural skills to employability. Pawar focused on various initiatives on using IT for enhanced learning.

Innovations for outreach
The third session that focused on innovations for strategic outreach’, was chaired by Kiran Karnik, Former President of NASSCOM. The session discussed the potential of ICT in Microfinance (mf). Jacques Attali emphaised the need for innovations in MF, while Jonathan Weinstein of Unitas discussed the processes and challenges involved in ICT in microfinance. Manish Khera, CEO of Financial Information Network & Operations (FINO) shared his experience on the challenges and prospects of leveraging the community technology access centres for MF services. Samit Ghosh of Ujjivan discussed the new frontiers of ICT in microfinance.

The last session was ‘In Conversation’ between Jerry Rao and Ramalinga Raju, Chairman of Satyam Computer Services. Raju shared his experiences of the Byrajju Foundation and pointed out that applying knowledge, technology and funding go hand in hand.