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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability

During a recent visit to Gurgaon, touted as India's millennium city, and home to most multinationals
( just a few km out of New Delhi), I was astounded to learn that there are places in the neighbourhood-as close as within 40 km where small girls peddle sex along the national highway for as little as Rupees five. By small girls I mean some as young as 10 years old- most of whom belong to a poverty stricken community called the Mewatis.

The district officials I talked to either fiegned ignorance or said that they would "look into it", till one officer admitted that girls brought from as far as West Bengal are sold in this area "like cattle". And all this happens right under the noses of corporates like DLF, IBM, Motorola, Nokia and almost every other name worth mentioning. Deluxe hotel rooms in Gurgaon go for over Rupees twenty thousand a night, while sex with little girls is available for Rupees five.

Where is the CSR?

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How to answer this kind of situation?
Last time I've been to Gurgaon, I "luckily" haven't seen that. Working condition in factories (I travel for audit usually) was howfull enough for my days. It is maybe a poor behavior from me, but now I am focusing only on working condition, as I can't work on any horror in the world. Let's hope some other would have choose to try to improve the condition of these girls.
In this case contact me, I could help, even if not deeply involved.

Pierig
Thank you for your comment. I will be interested in knowing about the working conditions that you are concentrating on. In spite of so many laws in India, small children are employed in factories and business establishments, and as household servants. A lot can be done about them if we decide to.

Sunil
Dear Sunil,

I am involved in Industrial working condition only.
I have met the problem of child as household servant in Morocco where I have lived 7 years.
What often surprised and disgusted me is that (not often) even western people who are supposed to be more aware of consequences of child labor were having young girl as houseold servant.
It seems like to solve this topic the government and nonprofits need to play a stronger leading role, which could then be supported by the corporations working in the area. It's tough for companies to justify a lot of "hands on" work in an area if the project isn't directly tied to their strategy, afterall companies aren't charities...just a few thoughts. Are there any local projects underway to help these girls?
Hi Brad

Agreed companies aren't charities, and one doesn't expect them to go headlong into social work. My point is that how can we-the so called thinking people and corporates ignore such gross poverty right under our noses.Where local projects that are trying to help these girls are concerned, I recall only a few sporadic cases, and about the government, I had once asked a local official about what the government was doing about these girls. He had brushed me aside by saying that the local community to which these girls belong "are criminals" and not really worth helping.

I myself spend much of my time in Calcutta and support a local NGO working with children of commercial sex workers, and I can assure you that you have to see how they live to believe it! India, sadly is a huge country with too many problems, and we tend to brush what ails us under the carpet rather than tackling it directly.

Regards
Sunil
Sunil:

Perhaps you could share what remedial steps you see for this situation...it is often very easy to point out deficiencies in the system but far more difficult to put in place an implementation strategy.

If you are looking for Corporates to look into child care or girl chid care issues, I am sure this can be bought to the notice of many big companies located around Gurgaon and some action plan along with government agenices can be drafted. Such a blatant act cannot exist without there being a nexus between local authorities and the pimps who run the show, hence it would be vital to involve all the stakeholders together.

Regards,

Sarita
Hi
Absolutely agreed, but in this case even the fact that I pointed out what was happening in Mewat to the government authorities seemed like an achievement, in the sense that when I spoke to the then superintendent of police of Mewat, he first expressed surprise that such a thing was happening, and when I showed him the data I had collected and media reports (The Week, BBC etc), he said he hadn't received any complaints and that he would "look into the matter".

That a huge nexus between the bureaucracy, politicians and pimps is working is not in doubt, and even if one can think of an implementation strategy, I have a feeling that nothing will come out of it because the people we are talking about are what is called "the poorest of the poor" who don't really count. (Many of the older girls and women have been repeatedly refused voter ID cards).

Regarding bringing this to the notice of big companies in and around Gurgaon, this thing is happening in their own backyard! Also I feel that large scale "development" of Gurgaon has pushed even more and more people into poverty, and only the rich have benefitted.

Finally I must add here that I could talk to the deputy commissioners and police superintendents of Gurgaon and Mewat because I am a former senior civil servant myself, or else I am sure I wouldn't have been granted an audience.

Sunil

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