Mr. Ravi Sam is a leading Industrialist in Coimbatore and a Philanthropist.He is a commerce graduate and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Textile Technology from University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology.
He hails from an Industrial Family and is the Director of Adwaith Lakshmi Industries Ltd; Adwaith Textiles Ltd; Titan Paints and Chemicals Ltd; Lakshmi Ring Travellers (Coimbatore) Ltd;and Parry Agro Industries Ltd.
Mr. Ravi Sam is the Founder Trustee of Siruthuli, the movement for preservation of water bodies in Coimbatore which is a famed Public movement of the State.He runs Sree Annapoorneswari Temple and a Veda Patashala which has a Gurukulam style of Vedic teaching for students belonging to the age group of 7 to15.He is an active Trustee of the Sruthi Seva Trust at Aanaikatti; and is the Founder Trustee and Correspondent of Sri Gopal Naidu School and Correspondent of Adwaith G.N.S Matriculation School.
He has been personally involved in renovation of various temples across the country through South India Art and Heritage Conservation Trust. He is the Chairperson of the Academic Wing of Academy of Archaeology and Ancient Sciences of India which is a part of the REACH (Rural Education and Conservation of Heritage) foundation.
Mr. Ravi Sam is presently the Chairman of CII Tamil Nadu State Council and Green Rameshwaram. He is a member of various associations like CODISSIA, FICCI, SIMA, SITRA, TEXPROCIL, and Textile Institute.He is also a member of the city technical advisory group (CTAG) of JNNURM scheme for the Coimbatore Corporation.
Mr. Ravi Sam shares his thoughts about CSR and social issues that needs to be focused upon.
About the Companies Act 2013. How do you think it would be feasible to engage local NGOs in the CSR programmes?
It all depends on the industries concerned. Most of them have their ongoing CSR programmes aligned to their objectives. All the managements, if they are an aware management and have considerable amount of CSR strength, already have an exposure to what is social responsibility. There are a wide range of classifications in the social sector which can be addressed by NGOs as well as those that they can’t address.Healthcare, sanitation, education, and environment issues would be the major areas that would be focused upon by Corporates.
I am sure that many corporates do not have their own projects or areas that interests them very much and for such organisations it would be good for NGOs to tell them what it is. Accountability on the NGO part is very important today.
This would be the first year of the Companies Act 2013 being implemented, so we need to see how it goes. A lot of corrections will have to happen. It all differs from company to company.
It is now mandatory to form a CSR committeeto evaluate the programmes before the board meeting. This will enable the company to know the funds spent for their CSR activities each year.
I would say that the biggest beneficiary would be the educational institutions that corporates have as most of their CSR funds would go into that.
There are organisations, mostly bigger corporates, who would like to implement programmes in their own vicinity. Because, they can have onus on it and at the end of the day they would be able to get something back in return.
What are the social issues that you feel should be focused upon?
We should ideally look at environment and sanitation issues. Reclamation of water bodies can to be looked at seriously.
There are a lot of activities happening in the area of education. In Tamil Nadu, there are government run educational institutions and we know that they could do better. Many corporates are helping in upgradingthefacilities of these institutions. I know companies in Coimbatore who have adopted 8 to 10 government schools to bring it to a certain level so that these students are exposedto the level of a normal matriculation school student in terms of access to labs, etc.
Except in the lowest socio-economic strata in Tamil Nadu, if there is a school that is mediocre and is run by the Municipal Corporation, very few parents would want to send their children here. They would rather send their child to aschool where they would have to pay the school fees,and buy uniforms and books.
People do not realize the value of what we give them. Anything given for free is not realized and not accepted the way it should be.
About Veda Patashala attached to the Sree Annapoorneswari Temple. What was the inspiration to launch this?
It is basically to keep the tradition going. All of the students hail from poor economic backgrounds. 80 percent of them are single parent children, with a parent working as a domestic help or cook. The family’s acceptance in the society is very low. But, once the child has studied Veda, the acceptability goes up. The boy has the capacity to earn an income even before completing the period of Vedic studies. When he goes home for summer, he accompanies the local priest. By chanting slokas which he had studied in the first two years he is able to earn a minimum of 1000 rupees a day.
We have stipends offered to students to encourage the child complete the Vedic studies. The funds are transferred to his bank account and he has a savings of 40,000 to 50,000 rupees when he completes his education.
Through REACH Trust you have renovated several temples across India. Has your involvement been because of religious or social commitment?
It is more on terms of protecting the monument in which I am really very interested.The monument should not lose its originality, style, and period. If it is a monument and we could revive it back to a place of worship, then sustainability happens.
The government has not clearly defined where we can work on. Giving our money to HRCE or any other organization to restore the temples, destroys the existing architecture of that monument. It would be better to leave it as it is. There are no systems on how to take care of the monument.
There are many monuments in Tamil Nadu which are uncared for. I was wanting to talk to the Erstwhile Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu about asking corporates to work on a directory on every art object – movable and unmovable – and precious jewelry which is available in our State.
About the sculptures which were taken to Australia and America and which has been retrieved recently, we had to depend upon documents that were available with the French society in Pondicherry which were all made during pre-independence. The French had the foresight to photograph all the sculptures and this is the only record we have till now.