PrahladKakkar is a leading Indian ad film director. He is the founder and main director for Genesis Film Productions, one of India’s leading production houses, established in 1977.He did his initial schooling from St. Joseph’s Academy, Dehradun. In 1966, he passed out from Sainik School, Kunjpura, Karnal, and 1970, he graduated with Economics (Honors) from Fergusson College, Pune.
PrahladKakar joined advertising in 1971, as an Accounts Executive at ASP (Delhi) and after a year, he was transferred to the company’s Bombay office. In 1972, he joined the renowned feature director, Shyam Benegal, as an Asst. Director for films such as Ankur,Manthan, and Bhumika.
He is renowned for his candid and outspoken nature. An avid scuba diver, in 1995 he set up ‘Lacadives’, a scuba-diving school, along with his wife MitaliKakar at Kadmat Island, in collaboration with the Govt. of Lakshadweep.
PrahladKakar is the co-founder of ReefWatch Marine Conservation, set up in 1994, which aims at creating marine-life awareness. PrahladKakar supports and plays an important role as the Chief Advisor & Trustee of Natura Outdoor Education Trust.
Prahlad Kakkar shares with Marie Banu his thoughts on CSR and how it will lead to social change.
How can CSR lead to social change?
CSR is to awaken within you; your conscience of belonging to not just your state, caste, or family, but to your country as a whole.Because of the vast country, there are many issues and problems. You need to take a certain degree of responsibility.
I realised this when Jack Daniels decided to make me their ambassador.Within a month, they sent me a certificate of ownership for one square meter plot of land in their distillery. They took a photograph of it, put my name on it, and sent it to me. I thought that they were crazy as one cannot even build a toilet in that space. But, to keep that ownership alive and the association with Jack Daniels continuing I used to get a letter every month either from a neighbor or someone else stating: “Our cattle are crossing your plot.Hope you don’t mind.” You start taking the ownership seriously as you wonder whether you should put a fence on that piece of land, else a gate. No one is going to claim that piece of land though, but this kind of approach gives a person something to own the brand. You have been included in their family!
CSR is the beginnings of ownership of the country. So, be part of a movement of a future, of the people, and take that responsibility, however small it might be. Don’t give that money with resentment and take it out of your mantle. Be proud that you have been given an opportunity not to send that money to Switzerland, but instead put it back into your country and belong to it. It is a conscience. You are allowed to be part of a larger conscience. It is a privilege!
About CSR been made mandatory. Your thoughts?
Two percent is only a beginning and will make some kind of difference. When you start giving, you realise that there is more pleasure in giving rather than taking. If you take a project, for instanceyou decide to adopting a village, it is an ongoing process.You will start to realize that two percent will not suffice,but still you will not stop supporting the project.
Use CSR as an opportunity to redeem yourself. To belong, and to have a stake.
Which of the social issues are most demanding?
Don’t take the whole responsibility of the country. The Prime Minister is trying to do that badly. You just take one thing at a time and do it well.
Poverty, water, recycling, rainwater harvesting, environment,heritage, women empowerment, etc.—all are equally important. See which of these issues grabs you with passion, realize what you feel strongly about, and go for it.
Will CSRadd more value to employer-employee relationship?
Prior to CSR being made mandatory, many corporates were contributing to society at their own will. A lot of them were doing because people started questioning. For instance, Pepsi decided to recycle water as they were using 30,000 litres of ground water in India and so ensured to put back 100,000 litres. That became their CSR.
The spirit of the giving is to the implementation as well. Let’s see how many corporates step up to the block and say:“here is the money.”
What most corporates don’t realize is that when employees are given the first right of refusal, to work on a project of their choice, and in fact CSR, you will be giving an opportunity in making the organization into a family. Employee-employer relationship becomes stronger as all are involved in the implementation of a social project. If it works, everyone takes credit.