Why was SHARDA Trust created?

Participants Speak
The management of Arvind Mills believes that the Corporate sector, in its own enlightened self interest, must make a contribution in ameliorating the grinding poverty in urban India and the resulting poor quality of life. In Ahmedabad where Arvind's headquarter is located, Arvind's investments by December 1998, would be approximately fifteen billion rupees (about three hundred and ninety-five million US dollars). Arvind has acquired the size for becoming a global company. Such a company's management, it is needless to stress, must attract the most talented people in the world to work with the company. To do so, the "quality of life" in Ahmedabad, the company's headquarters, must be of international standards. Clearly, this would not be possible when 40% of the city's population resides in "slums." Obviously, Arvind alone cannot solve the gigantic problems of the city slums. However, we argued that Arvind must play a leadership role in resolving this societal problem. To translate this belief into practice, the company registered SHARDA Trust.

Enlightened self interest is not the only force driving the company towards helping the poor. The societal values are also an important driving force on Arvind's concern for improving the quality of life of urban poor. Long ago the famous Indian poet Bhavabhuti observed "wealth is desired only for the help it affords in the discharge of social, economic religious duties and obligations." Nearer our own times, Sri Ramkrishna, spiritual leader of India, offers a similar percept. He said "in every living there exists the divine, service of the living is therefore, is worship of the divine." We can trace back the genesis of bringing SHARDA into existence to a conversation between late Mr Kasturbhai Lalbhai, the founder of the Lalbhai Group, and his cousin Chinubhai Manibhai. A few years before his death Kasturbhai called Chinubhai Manibhai and asked: "When you go out, don't people pay their respects? Don't they call you affectionately Sheth? Don't they offer you hospitality when you happen to visit them?" A flabbergasted Chinubhai, without any clue to the purpose behind these questions, answered that they did. "What have you done" shot back the older man, "what have you done to repay their debt?" Arvind's attempts to resolve major societal problems epitomize Arvind's way of repaying its debts to the society.