Indian philanthropy won’t be taken seriously until Dalits have a seat at the table 

Gagan Sethi

Shouldn’t non-profit boards, registered as public bodies, represent the ‘public’? Shouldn’t they uphold the principle of diversity in board management? We believe they should. When we set up Dalit Foundation, we saw it as important that we didn’t limit support to scheduled castes. We took a broader view of Dalits as those who are discriminated against in order to include them in emancipatory and developmental processes. That also pushed us to have an eclectic board with members from different ethnic, religious, regional and caste background, with a similar spread of competencies in sociology, politics, state policy and grassroots engagement.

According to India’s CSR Reporting Survey 2016, compiled by global auditing firm, KPMG, Indian companies had spent Rs 6,518 crore[1] (US$980 million) on what are considered ‘developmental’ activities such as education, health, environment and rural development under the new corporate social responsibility (CSR) rules that came into effect in 2014.

However, there is nothing to suggest in the KPMG report or in other CSR studies released recently, that there have been any concerted efforts to overcome social, let alone caste, inequalities through this corporate funding.  

On the 122nd Birth Anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist Movement and campaigned against social discrimination, a national campaign on Dalit Land rights was launched across 300 districts in 20 states of India. Seen here is a peaceful gathering at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. Credit ActionAid.

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Not by representational diversity alone… 

Jacob John