India CSR News Network
GENEVA: Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee, popularly known in India as the “father of CSR,” addressed the United Nations’ 2016 Forum on Business and Human Rights on Nov 15, 2016 sharing insights into India’s unique law on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Dr. Chatterjee Explains Benefits of India’s Unique ‘2 Percent Law’ at the U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights.
India is the only country in the world with legislation on CSR. “The 2 Percent Law” – as it has come to be known across the world – enjoins companies in India, above a certain threshold level of profits, to contribute 2 percent of profits each year to CSR.
Joining a panel titled “State regulatory approaches: the practice in emerging markets,” Chatterjee, who was instrumental in framing and issuing the CSR guidelines for Indian Public Sector Enterprises in April 2010, spoke of the relevance of the CSR legislation for a developing country such as India, whereby corporate funding can be harnessed to assist in executing programs and projects for the poor.
Chatterjee described how India’s legislation came to be drafted and how it was passed by both houses of the Indian parliament as a development measure, intended to complement and supplement government efforts to accelerate the pace of “inclusive development.”
“Our nation has found great success in regulating the legislation through the ‘comply or explain’ principle,” Chatterjee said. “Rather than mandating a penalty, we require companies which fail to spend the mandated 2 percent of profits on CSR each year to justify, on their websites and in Director’s Reports, the reasons for not doing so. Thus, the public at large is the judge to form their opinion as to how a company is discharging its responsibilities to the poorer sections.”
Chatterjee’s empathy for, and abiding commitment to the poor, the deprived, the disadvantaged and the marginalized stems from the grassroots development work he did in his early years as a young district official in the State of Orissa, India. In addition to issuing the CSR guidelines, he played a major role in the inclusion of Section 135 in the Indian Companies Act of 2013. As the Director General and CEO of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), he also spearheaded the National Foundation for Corporate Social Responsibility (NFCSR).
“The 2 Percent Law has drawn worldwide interest and is of great relevance, particularly for developing countries across the globe,” Chatterjee said.
Over the past five years, Chatterjee has spoken and lectured at a number of international meetings as the primary force for bringing a new paradigm to the realm of CSR. In September 2016, he joined The Lindell Foundation as Encircle-India Chief Advisor.
The U.N. Forum is the world’s largest annual gathering on business and human rights with some 2,300 participants from government, business, community groups and civil society, law firms, investor organizations, UN bodies, NHRIs, trade unions, academia and the media.