Corporate Social Responsibility not to be made mandatory: Moily

NEW DELHI: The government will encourage a voluntary approach and act as a facilitator for companies to adopt social, environmental and economic responsibilities, minister for corporate affairs Veerappa Moily said today.The trajectory of overall growth and development takes a positive turn when businesses are supported by appropriate policy regime that encourages systematic movement towards responsible thinking, decision making and progressive movement towards sustainability, he said while addressing ASSOCHAM 3rd Global CSR Summit titled ‘Indispensable to Corporate DNA.’“Such a responsible approach on part of business duly supported by government alone will secure our future and ensure that whole benefits accrue to people and our planet, as businesses continue to make surpluses that can be re-invested for economic growth.”

Mr Moily also called for putting together a new national policy on corporate social responsibility with participation from industry leaders and government representatives. He said the government is not in favour of imposing its views as the corporate sector realises the importance of CSR initiatives aimed at “bottom of the pyramid.”

Planning Commission member Arun Maira said companies must measure and report the impact of businesses on environment and people’s lives. “In India, we are getting out of touch with many people. There is a general lack of faith in institutions, governments and businesses.”

ASSOCHAM president Dilip Modi said Indian companies are gradually moving away from allocating a percentage of profits for CSR activities and making it as part of their culture and daily operations.

“The whole paradigm has changed. We can no longer be oblivious to our environment or to the needs of our workers, communities and society at large. The question is whether corporates should be made to comply by law in their CSR engagement or whether it should be left to them to voluntarily adopt standards.”

The more seriously Indian industry addresses the concerns of education, employment, healthcare and governance, easier it will be to integrate CSR in its way of doing businesses. Mr Modi said the essence of CSR is not the scale but whatever one does to contribute to one’s society, environment and economy is socially responsive and sustainable business.

India ranks as fourth with 24 companies responding to guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Given the increasing presence of Indian companies worldwide and the expectation that India will become one of the largest global economies within the next half century, the performance and behaviour of companies is under greater scrutiny than ever before.

Mr R.N. Dhoot, member of Parliament and ASSOCHAM senior vice-president, said companies must integrate CSR initiatives into their business models. “We must encourage sustainable reporting to enhance our competitive strength.

ASSOCHAM secretary general D.S. Rawat said the chamber will work with the government and corporates towards greater transparency and accountability in terms of reporting their economic, environmental and social impact, risks and opportunities.

Others who spoke during the summit were Ms Preeti Malhotra, chairperson of ASSOCHAM national council for corporate affairs, and Mr K.C. Mehra, chairperson of ASSOCHAM national council for knowledge millennium.

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