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CSR in Indian Environment

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not a new concept anymore (Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013). The corporate world today is very well aware of its effects, not only in in India but around the entire globe. World organizations such as World Bank, UNDP, OECD, European Commission, and various multinational corporations have all lent their support to the CSR projects.

It is still primarily humanitarian in nature, but it has progressed from nation and institution building to community development with global ramifications. India being a developing country has started sensing its need early in 2014 and since then all big names today like TATA, Reliance, Wipro, TVS etc. has emerged as a great supporter of this concept. CSR in marketing refers to the practise of managing economy in a manner that is both profitable and socially and ecologically sustainable.

Customers, particularly the common people, expect companies to be honest, trustworthy, compassionate, fair, and environmentally sensitive. A company's overall financial, legal, ethical, and social aspects in its operations can be defined as CSR. It can be described as a positive contact between business and society.

Growth of CSR in India

Phase 1- (1850- 1914)- This era was dominated by values and traditions. Setting up of temples and religious institutions by the elite was the way to help the society. Big industries like TATA, Birla, Bajaj, Godrej etc. promoted the concept of CSR in their own unique ways by setting up educational institutions, facilitating healthcare, developing charitable trusts for the betterment of the society.

Phase 2- (1914- 1960)- This is the time when the wave of independence was at its peak. The famous idea of trusteeship by great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi encourages the rich strata to contribute the wealth to the downtrodden. The idea was to uplift the society by working towards women empowerment, more and more educational facilities, eradicating poverty etc.

Phase 3- (1960-1990)- A sudden growth in PSUs i.e. Public Sector Undertakings was seen during this time. It was to ensure better distribution of wealth and other resources to the society. The sudden shift resulted into a lot of malpractices for example corruption, degrading environment etc. As PSUs had a low success rate, there was an inevitable swing in interests from the public to the private sector, with the latter being more involved in socioeconomic development. Intellectuals, lawmakers, and entrepreneurs organized a nationwide conference on CSR in 1965, with a focus on social public accountability and social opaqueness.

Phase 4- (1990 onwards)- The wave of liberalization, privatization and globalization boomed the country's economic growth. CSR by now was started to be seen as a sustainable business strategy across the nation. This accelerated industrial progress, allowing businesses to make greater contributions to social responsibility. What began as a gesture of kindness, evolved into an understanding and acceptance of responsibility.[1]

Challenges faced by CSR

Limited knowledge:
There is little or rather no knowledge of CSR along the common people. The responsibility lies solely on the companies to create awareness and impart knowledge to the commoners regarding the same so that they can avail the full benefit out of it.

NGOs inactivity: In rural and remote areas, there is a lack of well-organized voluntary groups that can assess and identify real community requirements and collaborate with businesses to ensure the successful execution of CSR initiatives.

Role of Media:
Brading is required and so are advertisements. Companies should spread the word of their ongoing CSR projects with the help of media. All this not only promotes the goodwill of the companies but also makes the general public aware of the opportunities which they can make use of.

Record keeping:
Record keeping of all the CSR activities is necessary in terms of saving time, energy and resources by not repeating the tasks which has already been worked upon. Variety is required to avoid monotonicity.

Narrow outlook towards CSR activities:
Government organizations and non-profit organizations do not value these projects as much as they should. A very limited perspective has been seen in terms of valuing and supporting CSR. As a result leaving the corporate world confused as to whether they should continue with such activities or not.

Transparency:
Some companies do not want to open up their funds which have been used for the CSR activities, in front of the public, which in turn creates a gap of trust between both the sides. This not only effects the goodwill of the whole corporate structure but also encourages hindrances in CSR activities.

CSR motive in India:

The role of CSR in India is to promote education, eradicate poverty, uplift the position of women, combating diseases like HIV/AIDS, various flues etc. They also contribute towards Prime Ministers Relief Fund and other national funds to fights against emergency situations arising in the country. Organizing skill developing programs, setting up camps, creating awareness regarding various social taboos, are a part of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Current status of CSR in India:

Although CSR has been related to all the social activities which a company performs towards the society which in turn is all a voluntary work but the times have changed now. Today the goodwill of a company depends majorly on how efficiently it is working for the society by doing donations, helping the lower strata of the society, setting up educational institutions etc. Moreover, the current times have been a bit harsh on all of us where these companies got a golden opportunity to step out and offer assistance in all ways possible. We have never been this helpless ever and it was time for all to join hands and help each other in all manners possible. As a result CSR became an inevitable part of the corporate world.

Legal ERA of CSR

In the year 2009, it was the first time when the government of India started taking the concept of CSR in a serious manner. It was ruled much before, that any company to excel in its field, it is required to promote CSR. In the year 2009, first time a clear distinction was drawn between philanthropy and CSR. The guidelines drafted out in 2009 further got revised in the year 2011.

The Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) required the top listed 100 companies, as per Clause 55 of the Listing Agreement, to disclose their CSR activities in the Business Responsibility Reports (BR Reports) that accompanied their Annual Reports, marking the transition from a voluntary to a regulated CSR era.

With the introduction of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013, CSR activities of corporations were made legally mandatory for the first time (MCA, 2013). Not only was CSR implementation made mandatory, but so was reporting. However, it is up to the corporation to decide how the CSR cash will be spent. The law has a "compliance-or-explain" approach to non-compliance, with no stated consequences for non-compliance. India is the first country in the world to make CSR expenditure and reporting a legal requirement for covered corporations.[2]

Indian companies which topped CSR in 2020-2021

  1. Infosys
    Narayan Murthy and Sudha Murthy led Infosys bagged the top position in 2020 statistics to get involved in CSR activities spending Rs. 360 crores towards the same. According to Ms. Murthy, CSR can't be merely a job, it's a passion,. As a pivotal organization for project implementation, the Infosys Foundation generally collaborates with non-governmental organizations. Humanitarian activities related to COVID-19 took the hue followed by educational and various health related projects.
     
  2. Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
    Mahindra & Mahindra has proved itself to be the most sincere company in dealing with the environmental issues. It is estimated that the company has spend approximately Rs. 93.50 crores in CSR activities during the difficult times of the pandemic. In 1996, Mr. Mahindra launched Project Nanhi Kali, which grew to become India's largest CSR initiative for the education of girls. The programme not only provides free education to low-income girls in rural and urban areas, but it also empowers their families. When you see how the same girls who benefited from Nanhi Kali are growing up and giving back to the programme by mentoring young girls, the success stories become even more fascinating.
     
  3. Tata Chemicals Ltd.
    Despite the fact that the company's CSR budget for 2019-2020 was set at 21.39 crores, it spent 37.81 crores on community development programmes. Tata Chemicals' business philosophy prioritises improving the quality of life and supporting sustainable and integrated development in the areas where it operates. Tata Chemicals invests INR 12 crores on CSR each year, with wildlife conservation accounting for 30% of the TCSRD's expenditure. The money is split across the company's three locations: Mithapur in Gujarat, Haldia in West Bengal, and Babrala in Uttar Pradesh.
     
  4. Vedanta Ltd.
    Vedanta Limited is involved in a variety of CSR programs, including water, energy, and carbon management. Vedanta has generated 1,653 units of renewable energy, with solar power projects set to produce 22 MW of power, based on its sustainability pillars of zero harm, zero waste, and zero discharge. Fly ash, slag, and plastic are among the high-volume low-effect wastes that are recycled at a rate of around 92 percent. Green mining is becoming increasingly important to the organization. footprint.
     
  5. Wipro Ltd.
    In the last few years, Wipro has spent more than the required CSR expenditure. The CSR programmes are implemented through a variety of channels, including the Wipro Foundation, a distinct trust established in April 2017, Wipro Cares, the employee contribution trust, and, in some circumstances, directly through functions and groups inside Wipro Ltd. Wipro's implementation strategy is to collaborate with partners who have a proven track record in the various domains. The majority of the initiatives are multi-year, long-term programmes.

    Apart from delivering routine health services, the focus of the company is on increasing community capacity in terms of increased awareness and increased self-reliance in handling their own primary health care needs. Wipro has assisted those affected by the Karnataka Floods, Bihar Floods, Odisha Floods, the Japan Tsunami, Hurricane Sandy, and the Philippines Cyclone in disaster recovery.[3]
     
  6. Hindustan Unilever Ltd.
    Hindustan Unilever Limited, also known as Unilever or HUL, operates under the USLP model (Unilever Sustainable Living Plan). The plan, which was unveiled in 2010, aims to achieve long-term growth by leveraging the company's world-famous brands while also saving expenses, lowering risks, and increasing goodwill. USLP has three global objectives: to assist more than a billion people in improving their health and well-being, to lessen the impact on the environment of its goods, and to strengthen economic growth as their businesses develop. It has estimated that the company spent a huge amount of Rs. 142 crores on CSR activities in the year 2020.
     
Conclusion
The above listed are few among those companies which are actively working day and night for the betterment of the society. They have a big share in supporting the economy of our country. Non-governmental groups and government agencies often have a limited perspective on corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. As a result, people are unsure if they should participate in such activities in the medium and long term.

This is mostly due to the fact that common people have little or no knowledge of CSR, since no genuine attempts have been made to raise awareness of CSR and gain the trust of local communities. As an inherent component of good business practice, there is a need to improve company understanding and active participation in equitable social development. CSR is still a very misinformed topic for many but its growing demand and success together with a zeal to work towards the betterment of the society, makes it a boon for the Indian society.

End-Notes:
  1. Sarabu, Vijay, Corporate Social Responsibility In India: An Over View. Journal Of Asian Business Management. 9. 53 67, 2017.
  2. Kuldeep Kumar Chauhan and Shuchi Dawra, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India Evolution and Challenges (From Ancient Period to Present Age), Volume 15, International Journal of Applied Business and Economic Research, 2017, https://www.chitkara.edu.in/global-week/faculty-data/cbs/Shuchi-Dawra/RP-KKC-2.pdf
  3. Available at: https://thecsrjournal.in/top-indian-companies-for-csr-in-2020/

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