This discourse comes from Prasenjit Dutta, Founder of Pashupati Animal Welfare Society--P.A.W.S. at Barasat, West Bengal (www.pawsrescue.in), a well-known animal welfare NGO of West Bengal that has made its mark within a short span of just 2 years since its inception in 2016 and the founder has been instrumental in its meteoric rise.
The topic raised here is about the importance of CSR in animal welfare and how corporates can increase their sales by involving in animal welfare as a CSR activity regardless of benefits through Government schemes. It dwells upon the possibility of tangible business gains in the post COVID scenario when all industries have been hard hit by the drastic reduction in spending capacities of individuals and the Government.
Let's then start with the success story of Tata Steel that skyrocketed when Mr. Ratan Tata took over in the 80s. Some may remember that from that time onwards Tata had started their extensive forays into community development. But they also knew, what they 'do' must also be publicised as well.
So, their advertisement ran like this: (May not be accurate, because it's written out by memory recall)
We empower women.
We generate self-employment for the handicapped.
We run hospitals.
We promote childcare with emphasis on the girl child.
WE ALSO MAKE STEEL (In much smaller print)
How does that Appeal to the buyer?
There were other companies that made steel of equal or better quality. Why would the average individual buy Tata Steel for building his house? Govt Departments were not the target of that Ad surely, because they would buy as per tender and evaluate cost competitiveness as per specs regardless of CSR. But there were millions of buyers who were subjective about buying steel.
Yes, their Ad appealed to the common man and touched all the sentiments of the ordinary man who felt like doing a lot for society but didn't have the means. By buying Tata, he felt that he was contributing to society.
Now come to animal welfare.
The first thing to be realised is that there is too little or negligible Government initiative towards this end and it doesn't figure much in the budget at either the centre of the state. Whatever little is there, is there for Animal Husbandry, which's quite different from animal welfare.
The former is all about exploiting animals more fully for the economic gain of humans. That too, it's aimed at farm animals ONLY.
The latter is about selfless care of any and all animals around us that make up our environment.
COVID has churned up the human in millions of people who have become God-fearing rather than remaining as a complacent modernist with the smug confidence in human technologies and capabilities that were deemed to be enough to control and master Mother Nature.
Environmentalists have now become vocal that zoonotic diseases will rage more and more because of man's ravaging and neglecting nature--its flora and fauna, ignoring the well-being of plants and creatures. The common man has turned into an environment lover and conservationist in many ways, if not physically then mentally at least and has become aware of what shouldn't be done, what should be done.
If the common man is not a buyer of your products, then you may read something else that could be more worthwhile for you. The rest of you, please read on.
Once again, let's ask ourselves why anyone should buy your product when there are several products of equal specs or better and at a better price?
They will buy, if they feel their sentiments, are your sentiments. Yes, an industry with sentiment can become a Tata Steel!
Then again, many of your products are not bare essentials. They are lifestyle products. Love for animals is a lifestyle too. Did you know that private individuals satisfy their lifestyle need by donating to such NGOs as PAWS for the treatment of dogs and cats injured in road accidents? No, they've not been bitten by mad dogs that they would donate for the welfare of Street Animals. They know their duty to the environment and know about Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution, they know what that article demands as the fundamental duty of Indian Citizens.
Imagine whose products they will buy. They will buy from those who support the environment and its animals that are all around us--the squirrel that's nearly extinct, the sparrow that doesn't get space to build nests, the vulture that's being brought back from extinction, the owl who doesn't find a day time hiding, the snake whose extinction would turn all our grains into rat feed right in the crop fields, the stray dogs and cats that are dying because Swatch Bharat has taken away the food that they used to scavenge from the garbage.
Of very direct relevance to urban animal welfare is the stray cat or dog that appeals to most pet lovers. And remember, keeping pets at home is now a lifestyle need too for the modernist who is very lonely more often than not. What if your CSR scheme meets up with his lifestyle needs?
You're left here to mull over the last paragraph and decide whether to invest some amounts in CSR towards Street Animals and win the hearts of 50% of India that loves them.
Sh. Prasenjit Dutta may be contacted through WhatsApp at 8420386536 if you should want to donate to his NGO that is struggling to buy a piece of land where they can move their 100-capacity animal hospital to once they get evicted from their presently occupied borrowed land.