Tata's Chemestry with Human Lives: CSR Implication


Prof. Kedar Ch. Jena
Faculty in Management
Institute of Management and Information Technology

Chandrakanta Sahoo
Faculty in Management
Bhubaneswar Institute of Management and Information and Technology

Mahesh Ku. Bagarti
Faculty in Management
Bhubaneswar Institute of Management and Information and Technology

ABSTRACT: Tata Group is the largest business group and multinational company in India. It has branded for its employee friendly culture, consumer friendly products and services and community driven initiatives. The TATA culture in the critical segment of the overall corporate sustainability matrix — inclusive of working for the good of the communities in which they operate, of building India's capabilities in science and technology, of supporting art and sport has touched and transformed human life not only in India, but also across the World. This paper discusses various CSR issues; the Tata group is grappled with from its inception to the present era.


"…..There was a farmer who had some high yielding good quality seed. He sowed the seeds in his field and went home to rest with the happy thoughts of good and flourishing crops. At night he had an idea and went and sowed the same seeds in the adjoining field. Later when people asked him the reason for his bizarre action, he replied that had he not sown the same seeds in the adjoining fields, his crops might have been damaged from the low quality seeds that would have spread from the adjoining fields into his acreage" (Jadish Gulati, 'CSR Debate in India-From Philanthropy to Public-Private People Partnerships', Corporate Social Responsibility-Concepts and Cases, Excel, 1st ed. P-47)

People have different ideas of interpreting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). At one end of continuum, people interpret as compliance with laws and in the other extreme; it is purely philanthropic in nature. Another way of interpreting it is in terms of its beneficiaries. The beneficiaries range from employees to suppliers to customers to that vulnerable entity known as the community. Complying with the law is the fundamental obligation to legitimately stay in business. CSR is expanding beyond its horizon as against traditional contractual obligation. Three has been a paradigm shift in focus of the companies and this shift has been lucidly discernible when it encompasses a wide range of stakeholders: employees, suppliers, costumers, shareholders and the society at large. 

Redefining Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR is not just the function of doing good but also that of not doing bad. It has been observed that companies have become not only responsive to the needs of the community as a part of corporate social responsibility, but the restricted focus has been shifted to poverty and environmental degradation like global warming and natural calamities, may it be the case of super cyclone that hit coastal district in Orissa in 1999 or the case of killer tsunami hit the southern coast of India and many part of Indonesia in 2004 or killer earthquake that visited Bhuj district of Gujarat. The veracity of the events warrants huge participation of industries and the corporate houses to show the sign of empathy towards social cause and concern in a big way so as to free themselves from the traditional approaches of social responsibility.

This is worthwhile to mention that …

TATA as a conglomerate of growing companies is set to serve the society from multi perspectives.  Tata engagement in community development, building India's capabilities in science and technology, supporting art and sport, producing quality consumer durables have sprung from an ingrained sense of giving back to society not just for its obligation to CSR rather with a sense of commitment for it owes to society as a whole … which can be attributed to its CHR (Corporate Human Responsibility) and not just CSR.

TATA's CSR Policy

TATA's corporate policy encompasses a whole gamut of issues relating to its social responsibility towards communities, environment and many other stakeholders including its employees which reflects its deep commitment to improve the quality of life by 'redefining the power of people'. TATA's CSR policy has been implemented in many of the projects relating to the promotion of art, life, sports, health, education and self reliance

TATA's Community Concern

The TATA culture in the critical segment of the overall corporate sustainability matrix — inclusive of working for the good of the communities in which they operate, of building India's capabilities in science and technology, of supporting art and sport have touched and transformed human life to a large extent. TATA's wedding with human lives has been reflected in many of its projects it carries on for the upliftment of the down-trodden. It has touched upon the wide area such as Health and Education, Women-Children Welfare in general and specifically facilitating life process in the tribal hamlets of Jharkhand, the upliftment of Okhai ( tribal women of Okhamandal') through Self Help Groups (SHG) in the chronic drought prone region of Gujarat and many disadvantaged villages in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The courageous hands it extended to the victims of terror attack on the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mumbai; the Trident; Leopold Café; Nariman House; Cama Hospital; the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and other places have really touched millions of people not only in India, but also across the world. By establishing the Institutes of Excellence in the field of Arts, Science, Sports and Education, It has helped people to pursue life ambitions and academic excellence.  

Recognizing and Building Skills

TATA Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) for instance, through its handicraft development project, is helping out women from rural communities to earn their livelihood. It could recognize the specialized skills and talent of the tribal women residing in the region of Okhamandal in Gujarat in 2002 and rendered due assistance. The handicraft development project started with 25 women members through Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and promoted by TCSRD has grown into an empowering brand called Okhai ((meaning 'from Okhamandal'). In order to upgrade and equip them with requisite skills, the women have been imparted training in teamwork, quality, marketing basics and costing parameters. At present, 17 villages are involved in the project and the beneficiaries are more than 450 women.

Similarly, Taj has been successful in sprouting entrepreneurial spirit and confidence among several underprivileged sections. Taj has conceptualized, organized and structured training programs for the marginalized youth to equip them with the requisite skills of the hospitality industry through theory and practice sessions through its Skill Certification Centers (SCC) in Goa, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai in addition to an apprenticeship at various Taj Hotels. The course is designed to meet the skill requirement of the hotel industry and many of the students are also employed by the Taj group. Edifying livelihoods while doing business has enabled Taj group to touch the hearts and lives of the thousands of people across the country. The loyalty and commitment of those beneficiaries, in turn, has not only enabled the Taj to render better services to its customers but has also enabled it to make a difference with a human touch.

Entrepreneurship through cooperatives

As part of the corporate sustainability initiatives, Tata Group is working as a catalyst and constantly weaving the social fabric of society together with the community through sustainable livelihoods and economic independence. Tata Motors, for example, has adopted cooperative movement to champion the youth and women of various regions of India with economic independence.

The company has assisted the formation of several cooperative societies such as the Chaitnya Co-operative Society, the Sahajeevan Co-operative Society, Tata Motors Grihini Social Welfare Society, the Vividh Karyakari Industrial Cooperative Society, Shivankala Industrial Cooperative Society, the Cable Harness Industrial Cooperative Society and the Electronics Industrial Cooperative Society. These societies have not only employed thousands of youth and women from the community through various training and skill upgradation programs, but also instill a sense of pride, hope and self fulfillment in the hearts of the members of these societies, running their own enterprises. These societies work as favored vendors to Tata conglomerate as regarding wiring harnesses, uniforms, food items and condiments for its different units. These societies have become independent in their operations with an increase in the level of education and awareness among their members as well as work experience.  Besides sourcing business from Tata Motors, they now also receive contracts from other business enterprises such as Bajaj, Motherson Sumi and Vidya Niketan. 

Preserving a dying art

TATA believes art exists for life sake and should in no way be undermined. With a view to preserve and showcase India's treasure of art and culture, Taj Group of Hotels undertook initiatives to revive the traditional art of hand-woven Benarasi silk saris, which was in the verge of extinction and also rendered a new lease of life to the weavers. As a way of paying tribute to the master craftsmen, Taj Group is selling Bananas silk sarees in the Khazana Boutiques. Besides, master weavers from Bananas now also weave customized saris which are worn by the front office staff of the TaJ Hotels in India. Taj has also extended its helping hands to the weavers and craftsmen of Assam whose products are also displayed at Khazana.

Resurrecting the Dejected

In keeping with its promise to the people of Nagapattinam, devastated by the wild, wanton waves of the killer Tsunami occurred in Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004, the TATA Group has helped rebuild not only their homes but also their lives. Tata group rushed to the spot in full swing and distributed family kits containing 20 items such as utensils, personal wear, mattresses, bed sheets and blankets etc. within 20 hours. Sixty school kids who were marooned at the Port Blair airport were safely rescued.

Tata Council for Community Initiatives (TCCI) entrusted new township for 828 tsunami-affected families at a cost of Rs22 crore and christened it as Tata Colony. The colony is having requisite infrastructure such as a sewerage treatment plant and two community amenities centres, plus extras such as a desalination plant, solar powered street lights, and two Village Knowledge Centres. The colony has been built on a plot of 14.75 acres provided by the government of Tamil Nadu, and each of the 828 new houses has a plinth area of 383 sq ft (422 sq ft with common area), with a hall, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and toilet. Nagapattinam district represents a type. Over and above, TATA group has also extended helping hands to the victims in the Kancheepuram, Cuddalore, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts and got on with the relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation work. The sweeping range of these operations conveyed to the hapless, hopeless and helpless victims is the symbols of renewal and revival, of hope and resurgence what could be aptly delineated as TATA' chemistry with human life.

Fig 1: District-wise details of the relief and rehabilitation efforts


Work done


  • Houses constructed: 828
  • Sewerage treatment plant
  • Community amenities centres: 2
  • Village Knowledge Centers: 3
  • Desalination plant
  • Solar-powered street lighting
  • Kanyakumari

  • Houses constructed: 188
  • Livelihood assistance: 9 FRP vallams and 14 fibre catamarans
  • Village Knowledge Centers: 3
  • Tirunelveli

  • Houses constructed: 88
  • Cuddalore

  • Community amenities centres: 2
  • Village Knowledge Centers: 2
  • Kancheepuram

  • Houses constructed: 77
    • Livelihood assistance: 36 FRP boats with engines and nets; seaweed culture project
  • Community amenities centre: 1

  • Source:

    TATA's Environmental Concern

    The TATA Group has recognized the need to conserve and care for the world's natural resources long before it became a mantra of modern business. With the earth's natural resources being rapidly depleted and so called developed and developing nation's chanting 'go green', it is not surprising that business conglomerates are finally waking up to the need to conserve and recycle. However, the TATA Group recognized the relevance of environmentally friendly work process many years ago.

    Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS), for example, which is said to be the flag bearer of Tata Steel's community initiatives, offers the farmers of Orissa incentives to plant and nurture teak and cashew plantations in a participatory model. Realizing the impact of environmental degradation and global warming and the contemporary sense of aforestation that results in nibbling of the leaves immediately after the plantation, TSRDS offer incentives, assistance and ownership to the villagers of Keonjhar district of Orissa, who will bear sole responsibility for the growth of the saplings.

    TATA group has embarked on green projects to preserve and regenerate local economies. One such glaring example is the India Cyclothon-Mumbai 2010 and Tour de Mumbai event, organized by the TATA group to promote the cause of good health and clean environment. As global warming and its effects assume alarming proportions, the onus for change lies not just on industry but on the individual citizens as well. In an endeavor to make Mumbai clean and green and healthy, Tata group evoked cyclists of the city to pedal across Bandra, one of Mumbai's western suburbs who participated in the community event held on February 21, 2010. 

    Consumer Concern

    TATA group is not only committed to improve the quality of life through education, sports and self-reliance, but also ensures products and services that touch human lives every day. "If you want to know what business is, we have to start with purpose. And the purpose must lie outside the business itself. In fact, it must lie in society, since a business enterprise is an organ of society. There is only one valid definition of business purpose: To create a customer. The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence. He alone gives employment. And it is to supply the customer that society entrusts well producing resources to the business enterprise."  (Peter F. Drucker- The Practice of Management). All its products and services have been produced with its sense of conscience and consciousness to serve society. Tata group is branded for its consumer friendly products and services.

    JAGORE- the AD promoting its tea product, not only renders the touch of indianness and evokes people to join the war against corruption, but also sprout the seed of individual social responsibility with human consciousness. TATA's lunching of one lakh car NANO is another step forward that reflects its concern for the middle class people- Why should the upper class have all the fun? TATA truly epitomizes leadership with trust. May these be the case of salt that makes food tastier or tea that breaks the drowsiness of the dawn or the soda ash that goes into the manufacturing of glass and detergents or the fertilizers that make a farmer smile, it is committed to make a chemistry with a conscience what could be best incorporated as 'The Human Touch of Chemistry'.

    Employee concern

    TATA group is branded for its employee friendly culture. Open communication and transparency has made it possible to render equal opportunities to all its employees and all qualified applicants for employment irrespective of their race, caste, religion, colour, ancestry, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, ethnic origin or disability. Tata group is the first ever in the World to take initiatives in the matter of social security of its employees, much before the legislations relating to it came into existence. Tata Group, for example, initiated labour welfare measures such as the eight hour working day (1915), establishment of welfare department (1917) and ensuring maternity benefits (1928) to name just a few, even before The Workmen's Compensation Act (1923), Employees' State Insurance Act (1948), The Employees Provident Fund Act (1952), Payment of Gratuity Act (1972), EPF Act (1952 & 1995) were enforced by law.

    Tata Human Resource Policy respects diversity and equality in the workplace. It also complies with all local labour legislations, its Code of Conduct, right to privacy and the right to be heard, and that in all matters equal opportunity is provided to those eligible and decisions are based on merit. TATA culture is free from all forms of harassment, whether physical, verbal or psychological. Individual dignity at workplace is the hallmark of Tata culture, incorporating the best of international practices.


    TATA group has received high sense of appreciation from all its stakeholders for its brand image and consumer and employee friendly behavior. It has become one of the top destinations of employment across India. The schemes and initiatives undertaken by TATA group for its employees' welfare and its sincerity in ensuring the wellbeing of its employees and community are really praiseworthy. As management guru Peter Drucker says: "A healthy society requires three vital sectors: a public sector of effective governments; a private sector of effective businesses; and a social sector of effective community organizations". While there's not much it can do about the first sector, the Tata group is contributing all it can to the other two.

    Bibliography and Reference:

    • Jadish Gulati, 'CSR Debate in India-From Philanthropy to Public-Private People Partnerships', Corporate Social Responsibility-Concepts and Cases, Excel, 1st ed.

    Internet Sources:

    • http://www.tata.com/ourcommitment/articles/inside.aspx?artid=pSHrq3pPRBQ=
    • http://www.tata.com/ourcommitment/articles/inside.aspx?artid=qGSY/cWnN88=
    • http://www.tata.com/ourcommitment/articles/inside.aspx?artid=0mZSYyX+Rss=
    • http://www.tata.com/ourcommitment/articles/inside.aspx?artid=wE7l6Bvf3LQ=

    Prof. Kedar Ch. Jena
    Faculty in Management
    Institute of Management and Information Technology

    Chandrakanta Sahoo
    Faculty in Management
    Bhubaneswar Institute of Management and Information and Technology

    Mahesh Ku. Bagarti
    Faculty in Management
    Bhubaneswar Institute of Management and Information and Technology

    Source: E-mail September 7, 2010


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