Ratan Tata reiterates Tata group’s commitment to philanthropy

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Mumbai: The Tata Trusts have never abused their position as charity organizations. Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons Ltd, has highlighted how over the century and more since they were established, the group’s philanthropic endeavors have made a difference to society.

In an interview published in the latest edition of Tata Review, the group’s in-house journal, Tata said “We have never had trustees grab land or line their pockets in some other way, as happens from time to time in the philanthropy space.”

The interview covers the change in the Tata Trusts concept of philanthropy over the last few years. Tata, who now spends most of his time steering the trusts, talks about how as group chairman he had tried to bring its various companies together for a more unified approach to large social development programmes. “The last four years have seen the dismantling of that approach and a return to individual companies doing their bit. Consequently, instead of one powerful set of initiatives, we could end up having disparate projects run by various companies,” he said.

Tata, however, left the choice of the model to the new leadership headed by N. Chandrasekaran who took over as Tata Sons chairman in February this year, following the exit in October 2016 of Cyrus Mistry.

The octogenarian business leader also gave a thumbs up to state governments whose chief ministers have been keen to see the programmes succeed. Calling the relationship “a win-win”, he explained that the challenge initially was that state governments had not worked in this capacity with others. That challenge, he said, “is behind us”.

On the challenge being faced by the NGO community, he said that the mandatory 2% expenditure under the CSR rubric has meant that a huge amount of money has come into social uplift programmes. But the community is not equipped to handle such a large infusion of money. How it deals with the challenges will define it in the years ahead.