Tata Group leads India Inc’s sustainable development effort


New Delhi : Top business conglomerate the Tata Group has emerged the leader in sustainable development in India in the first-ever move to measure performance of businesses in this area by a Sustainable Development Index (SDI) launched here Tuesday by UK telecommunication major British Telecom (BT).

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The new SD index, developed in partnership with GlobeScan, an independent Canadian company that provides public opinion and stakeholder information for clients, is a means to measure the performance of Indian business houses in sustainable development.

“The index will be announced every year and it will help to measure the progress companies are making towards sustainable development,” said Noble Laureate R.K. Pachauri while launching the index at a function here.

“What gets measured gets managed,” Pachauri said to emphasis the importance of having such an index that India did not have so far.

Sustainability indices already exist for other parts of the world. For example, the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, launched in 1999, are the first global indices tracking the financial performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide.

These indices are used by licensee asset managers managing close to $6 billion worth of assets.

Hong Kong, too, has a similar, which is an annual measure of the progress that the region is making in ensuring sustainable development.

“Today we are beginning a journey that will help India to become a sustainable country because it will help raise awareness about a crucial issue,” said BT India’s chairman Arun Seth.

“The SD index is based on a survey of 215 senior opinion leaders and experts in sustainable development,” said Chris Coulter, GlobeScan’s vice president director of strategic development.

The SD index report reveals that although Indian companies are taking positive steps towards sustainable development, overall performance of the corporate sector is disappointing.

Opinion leaders surveyed blamed lack of awareness and political will as the two major obstacles to making significant progress in sustainable development.

During the survey, opinion leaders were asked to name up to two companies in India that they consider to be leading the way in sustainable development.

In total, opinion leaders mentioned approximately 100 companies from the information technology, energy, financial, communication, transport and manufacturing sectors, among others.

The most frequently mentioned corporate leaders in sustainable development in India turned out to be the Tata Goup, followed by Reliance and Infosys.

“The present crisis is a nano second in the history of the earth and this should not sidetrack the focus on sustainable development as it endangers our very survival as humans,” said BT Asia Pacific’s President Allen Ma.

“Sustainable development should remain high on the agenda of both corporates and government,” he said.

“Companies must integrate sustainable development into the mainstream of their decision making process because it is necessary for their very survival,” said Nitish Desai, former UN under secretary general for economic and social affairs and advisor to BT’s SD index.