THE CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

A concept that has many definitions and practices - Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a buzz word doing the corporate circles in India for the past few years. A movement that was aimed at encouraging corporate companies to grow conscious of the impact of their industries on the environment and the civil society, became a necessity for the country, now positioned as one of the fastest growing economies of the world.

Since our main focus of work will be in India, that has 46 million widows and over 100 million of their children in India – the largest number in any country of the world, the Loomba Foundation had recently participated in India’s largest development and CSR platform, held in Gurugram on the 18th and 19th September 2017.

Rotary India Literacy Mission – our partner in India to impart skill-based empowerment programmes to 30,000 widows and educational support to 2000 of their children, were also there.

Veena Lady Loomba and I were there to raise awareness about our Foundation. We were truly overwhelmed by the response.
Hundreds of corporate houses stopped by to discuss sustainable programmes for improving the lives of widows and their children, imparting skills for impoverished widows, helping us with impact assessment, and the education of widows children through educational scholarships.

These positive responses were encouraging, but we found, through research reports shared at the CSR Summit that nearly one-third of the private limited companies in India fail to meet CSR compliance, that requires 2% of the average net profit of the previous three years to be spent on CSR projects. As unlisted companies are not required to put their annual report in the public domain, the CSR data of these companies is not easily available for review.

Based on the analysis of 305 privately owned unlisted companies, including a few of the biggest brands like Google, IBM, Microsoft, Barclays, HSBC, Sony, LG, Samsung, Visa etc operating in India, and making up nearly 39% of the private unlisted companies; failed to meet the CSR compliance in 2015-2016.

 

The fields that benefitted were Education & Skilling, Poverty Allevation, Malnutrition, WASH, and Healthcare. Areas like benefits to armed forces veterans, war widows, urban Slum development were not able to get much attention of CSR committees.

The Geographic distribution of CSR funds were erratic and unequal, with Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telengana and Tamil Nadu receiving almost 2/3rd of the total CSR funds, Maharashtra 1/4th of the total CSR fund and Karnataka 11% of the funds.

The Financial Times recently defined CSR as “a very broad concept that addresses many and various topics such as human rights, corporate governance, health and safety, environmental effects, working conditions and contribution to economic development.” Whatever the definition may be, CSR is an integral part of any ethical business approach for maintaining the sustainable development of the country. Delivering communal, financial and ecological advantage to all stakeholders is their responsibility, something that that should not be shirked off at any cost.