The top 100 listed companies of India spent a cumulative amount of Rs 5,240 crore in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in the financial year 2014-15, up from Rs 3,000 crore in the previous financial year.
An analysis by Institutional Investor Advisory Services (IIAS), a proxy advisory firm, found around 65 per cent of the aggregate FY15 CSR spend was philanthropic, including some instances of contribution to government’s welfare and social schemes.
IIAS is of the view that the CSR spends is expected to increase to Rs 8,500 crore in the current financial year.
According to the analysis, 19 companies contributed Rs 61 crore towards the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund and seven companies contributed Rs 47 crore towards Swachh Bharat Kosh.
According to IIAS, companies lending support to such government-backed programmes have an added advantage of “using corporate execution and managerial capabilities to achieve a larger national agenda”.
Some of the largest shares of CSR spends went to activities related to hunger, poverty, healthcare, education and environmental sustainability. Activities aimed at rural development, reducing inequalities, sports and national heritage saw some spending by these companies.
Interestingly, India is the first country to mandate a minimum spend on CSR as clause 135 of the Companies Act 2013 states that entities above a certain financial threshold have to spend at least two per cent of their average net profit of the preceding three years on CSR.
But, not all are using their CSR allocation for government schemes. As many as 39 companies undertook CSR activities linked to their respective businesses as well. For example, Tata Motors trains youth in technical and automotive trades through its project Kaushalya.
Aditya Birla Nuvo has a project with the same name — Project Kaushalya — with a skills training centre in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Under its programme, the company has trained and certified 1,036 youngsters in trades such as handling and repair of electrical equipment, auto service technicians, retailing, data entry operators, tailoring, and salon care.
Godrej Consumer Products, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Maruti Suzuki, Colgate Palmolive (India), Asian Paints and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories have CSR activities that are related to their respective business areas.
Incidentally, even as private sector companies have been increasing their spend on CSR, public sector undertakings (PSUs) that were mandated such spends since 2010 had only spent 1.3 per cent of their average profit in the preceding three years.