After Education, Healthcare is getting the attention of corporates in India when comes to prioritising the development areas for their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. It is visible through their CSR fund allocation towards this area.
From 2014-15 to 2018-19, the overall CSR budget of the country was Rs 71,469. 96 crores. Out of this, Rs 19,124.82 went to Healthcare, Eradicating Hunger, Poverty, Malnutrition, Drinking Water and Sanitation. This amount was 26.75 per cent of total CSR budget as compared to 37.95 per cent spent on Education, Differently Abled and Livelihood, as per the data compiled by MCA.
Under the Companies Act 2013, Companies active in India are supposed to spend at least 2 per cent of their average net profit of the previous three years towards CSR activities in every financial year. Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has segregated several social sectors broadly on the line of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) where corporates spend based on their priority areas. The law which made CSR mandatory came into force from April 1, 2014.
Among the focus areas under this section– Healthcare, Eradicating Hunger, Poverty, Malnutrition, Drinking Water and Sanitation– major chunk of amount was spent on healthcare. In this group, Corporates gave due attention to malnutrition, poverty and eradicating hunger. In 2014-15, it received Rs 274.70 crores which increased to Rs 1,090.27 in 2018-19. Interestingly, the cause of eradicating malnutrition and hunger received highest fund in 2015-16 when corporates spent Rs 1,252.08 crores. Then it declined for next two yearsin 2016-17 and 2017-18. It should be noted that malnutrition is quite a big challenge for India where around 40 per cent of children are facing one or other type of malnutrition.
Similar trend is seen in Sanitation. Allocation to the cause reached to Rs 631.80 in 2015-16. This was the time when Government of India was pushing Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, a nationwide sanitation programme. However, the allocation to the cause declined to Rs 421.71 Crores in 2016-17, Rs 293.15 Crores in 2017-18 and Rs 440.55 in 2018-19.
Regarding healthcare, it is second after education when comes to getting attention of corporate sectors. It has seen significant rise in budget allocation from 2014-15 when it received Rs 1,847.74 crores to Rs 3,216.41 in 2018-19. However, the consistency in terms of annual increase to healthcare is lacking.
Development areas like Healthcare, malnutrition and poverty are crucial for achieving Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.
Sustainable Development Goal-3 talks about healthcare and has set several targets for 2030. It includes reducing maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.
Similarly, Goal-2 talks about ending all type of hunger by 2030. It targets to end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.