Is India Inc finally CSR friendly by Manjula Pooja Shroff

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Many corporates are now sensitive to the delicate balance between maintaining profitability and having a social conscience.

By Manjula Pooja Shroff

A recently concluded NGO summit at Gurgaon addressed relevant issues of coming of age of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India. Elsewhere in the world, CSR has already been recognised as an element of the complete business strategy of any organisation that gives the company long term viability by taking responsibility for community development.

Many corporates are now sensitive to the delicate balance between maintaining profitability and having a social conscience. Yet, an equal number of corporates are completely oblivious to the long term benefits that accrue out of an active CSR wing.

Social service has always been an inherent part of Indian culture and tradition. There are several selfless workers who are working tirelessly and making a considerable impact to many livelihoods. Over one million Non Government Organisations (NGOs) operate in India and address a variety of social concerns such as water harvesting, micro credit, environmental concerns, education, sanitation and other such fundamental issues that have made the NGOs an indispensable element in the social change process.

The need of the hour however is to make the Indian business houses realise their duty towards giving back to the society. There is a general opinion that business community in India is selfish and far more concerned in improving their profits and maximising shareholders’ profitability. If they respond to charity, it is through their own family trusts. The KMPG Indian Corporate Survey 2011 points to 16% of the top-listed firms which have a CSR policy as compared to 73% of their global counterparts.

The social service sector is also undergoing a sea change. With the world becoming one without walls and boundaries, international volunteers with Ivy League college degrees can be seen prowling around rural India in an effort to uplift living conditions.

If corporates simply adopt a few such volunteers or even a few of these villages, an altogether different story can be written. There are some statistics that show that India has roughly six lakh villages and about the same number of medium and large enterprises. Theoretically speaking, if each enterprise adopts one village, we can change the face of the country in the next five years.

The gap seems to lie in the understanding and appreciation of the importance of CSR in the overall scheme of things. CSR will receive a comprehensive boost if corporates understand that an effective and sustainable CSR will not only help their companies gain a competitive edge in the near future, will become critical to their existence.

India Inc needs to recognise that corporate social investments worldwide has changed from pure philanthropic spending to corporate strategy-based approach that can have an overall impact on business, stakeholders and the environment.

The writer is an entrepreneur and educationist .

(Sourced from DNA)



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