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Green Concepts don't Need Different Evaluation
P R Rathi, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Sudarshan Chemical Industries Limited, has played a pivotal role in the growth of the organisation, a renowned pigments company. In an exclusive interview with CEW, Rathi revealed that the company is driven by R&D, which has been the backbone of the company in the last several decades with most of the products have been indigenously developed and then scaled up. Excerpts from the interview:


Please apprise us of company's performance over the recent years.
In the past few years the company has undertaken major expansion in the area of Pigments. The company manufactures vide range of Pigments including organic, inorganic, phthalocyanine and effects. The company has created a niche for itself as it has invested substantially in R&D.

What is the current market share of the company both in Indian and international market?
The company has been exporting for the last several years. A few years back, we have started wholly owned subsidiary in Europe and North America to establish direct contact with the global customers, so as to provide better services to them.

What has been the approach of the Sudershan Chemicals towards EHS compliance, which has been recognised globally and in India?
Sudarshan takes pride in being an ethical company that ensures compliance to all laws and fiscal accountability standards. Fiscal accountability is demonstrated through external audits and internal audits. The company has set up a robust process for compliance to legal and regulatory requirement.
The safety and security of employees is of utmost importance and has been an on-going exercise since inception. To prevent any unwanted incidences training is provided at regular intervals to workers and staff. Excellence towards EHS is demonstrated though some of our critical success factors. Foremost being use of raw materials, where we are committed to mitigate the potentially significant EHS risks associated with the manufacture and use of number of raw materials. We understand the business risks associated with use of non- renewable feedstock for our manufacturing processes. Secondly, managing the supply chain, where we recognise the need to ensure our suppliers and customers improve the way in which they manage sustainability. We strongly believe in achieving excellence in manufacturing and uphold the highest standards of Environment, Health, Safety and Security across all our operations. We are reducing EHS impacts of our operations including reducing waste, GHG emissions, and energy and water intensity. Meeting the customers' expectations is another critical focus area, and to ensure the same, we communicate specific product compliance and product safety information to our customers. We are also building a portfolio of new products with enhanced sustainability performance profiles.
We closely work with our peers from the industry on the issues of disposal and recycling to develop policies and practices related to the responsible disposal of plastics. One of the current investments that I would say is developing “closed loop” thinking to ensure that the products can be used as inputs for other processes.
As a "Responsible Company", we believe in sustainable development and organise community outreach programmes and share a common platform with the local community to have dialogue which aims at enhancing EHS awareness and invite their participation. We try to follow guiding principles of responsible care across our manufacturing facilities and corporate functions, driven by strong commitment from executive management. We believe that EHS as a value not just a priority. Our slogan "Safety First, Production is Must" has kept us motivated to excel in EHS.

Though number of Indian companies has already associated with 'Responsible Care' initiative, in your opinion are we (Indian Chemical Industry) really making enough efforts? How different Indian chemical industry's approach is from that of the developed countries?
Green concepts should not have a different evaluation or mindset. Indian chemical industry has a major role to play by bringing together entire chemical industries to share their experiences on a single platform. In today’s world technology can play an important role. Conservation of our natural resources can be achieved to a greater extent with advanced science and technology. We have the best brains working in science and technology world over. Investments in R&D by Indian Industries can surely make a huge difference towards greener ideas for this world.
Organisations in India have been quite sensible to "Responsible Care" initiatives and integrating them in their business processes. It has become progressively projected in the Indian corporate setting because organisations have recognised that besides growing their businesses, it is also important to shape responsible and supportable relationships with the community at large. Companies now have specific departments and teams that develop specific policies, strategies and goals for their RC programmes and set separate budgets to support them. Most of the time, these programmes are based on well-defined social beliefs or are carefully aligned with the companies’ business domain.

Can 'Responsible Care' really thrive in India? How should India approach the concept of responsible care? What is the role of government in flourishing this concept?
Indian Industries have been there and seen and experienced progressive change over a period. There has been a realisation that companies which have taken RC in their main domain of business have benefitted by improved safety, health and environmental systems. It is an assurance to continually and consistently improve the EHS performance keeping stakeholders informed about value of their company. The RC logo helps Indian chemical industry to improve its image and become globally for being open and transparent. Aspiration to be globally recognised as a real Multinational player is quite high amongst Indian Companies in this competitive world and achieving RC recognition can be a big booster for enhancing business. Government has to play the role of facilitator in allowing and enabling Industries to invest in technology by guiding them and encouraging the members to follow an approach which accelerates the growth of the country. Interpretation of all regulation should be made easy so that even small or medium organisations are benefited. In fact, the regulators should become a model for unhindered growth.

'Water Treatment in Industries' is a major process that is unavoidable for ensuring sustainability all around. What steps have you taken towards mitigating the water footprint?
A sustainable organisation can only be created if it co-exists with the environment and community it operates in. Sudarshan's constant endeavor is to work in a manner that does not negatively impact the environment. All our plants have their own independent effluent treatment facilities that maintain stringent controls and parameters for all waste leaving the facilities.
The leaders at various levels spearheaded by the senior leadership team carry out yearly reviews of the impact of operations on the environment through the aspect-impact assessment. Based on this appropriate actions and controls are defined, implemented and reviewed.
In general there is lot of scope for industries to improve in recycle and reuse of water. Technology has made it possible for sustenence and improved treatment of water. While it is easy to adopt or rather absorb these as part of investement by larger companies, the small and medium size companies find it difficult to build this in their processes because of high cost. This is an area which has to be looked into quite differntly for holistic development of the society.

How do you evaluate the current energy situation in the country?
India is one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world, as well as an expansive populace of above 1.1 billion people. There is a very high demand for energy, which is currently satisfied mainly by coal, foreign oil and petroleum, which apart from being a non-renewable, and therefore non-permanent solution to the energy crisis, it is also detrimental to the environment. The price of crude oil has risen sharply over the last few years, and there are no signs of a change in this trend. Thus, it is imperative that India obtains energy security without affecting the booming economy, which would mean that alternative energy sources be found. This would mean that the country must switch from the nonrenewable energy - crude oil and coal - to renewable energy. India is determined to becoming one of the world's leading clean energy producers. The Government of India has already made several provisions, and established many agencies that will help it achieve its goal.

What are your plans for the future?
We are planning to become a global player in the Pigment industry and be amongst the top 5 in the near future. The Indian chemical industry has the capability of competing with the best in the world due to rich resources of technical manpower and local availability of raw materials.