CSR is an approach with various interpretation and practices. The way it is inferred and implemented varies drastically from nation to nation. It can be seen as a type of self-regulation to a business, but with so many laws being formulated, making it mandatory, CSR is now pushed beyond an individual or industry initiative. Furthermore, CSR is a vast concept that remits towards diversified topics such as women empowerment, human rights, corporate governance, health and safety, hunger, and poverty. Whatever terms we use to define CSR, the motive is to push towards social welfare and sustainability. CSR aims to ensure that companies direct their business in a way that is ‘moral’. This implies assessing their social, economic and environmental effect, and attention to human rights. It can consist of various activities, for example, working in partnership with NGOs, social innovators and self-help groups for the advancement of the society.
India is the first nation to make corporate social responsibility (CSR) mandatory. Organizations can choose and put their profits in various public welfare programmes such as education, poverty, gender equality, and hunger.
The modification in the schedule VII of the companies acts avouch that every company having
during any financial year shall contribute 2% of the average net profit of 3 years towards CSR.
The term CSR may be comparatively new to India, but the approach dates back to Mauryan dynasty. Philosophers and Philanthropists like Kautilya emphasized on morals and empathy while conducting a business. Indian scriptures have mentioned the importance of sharing one's earnings with the underprivileged section of the society.
In post-independence India, some organizations have done remarkable work in social welfare introducing various initiatives for improvement of the underprivileged section of the society, administering the programmes themselves or teaming up with NGOs and self-help groups. Some of the remarkable efforts made by organizations are mentioned below.
Ultratech Cement, India's largest cement manufacturer is involved with social welfare across over 407 villages in the nation. Its CSR cell exercises center around health care and family welfare programs, education, infrastructure, environment and social welfare.
The organization has organized various health camps, vaccination programs, hygiene programmes, built schools, started water conservation programs and organic farming programs.
•Mahindra & Mahindra
Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) set up the K. C. Mahindra Education Trust in 1954, followed by Mahindra Foundation in 1969 with the motivation of advancing education. CSR programs put resources into grants and scholarships, employment training, health care for remote zones, water conservation, and disaster relief program. Mahindra & Mahindra runs various ventures, for examples, Nanhi Kali focusing on young girls education, Mahindra Pride Schools to help people gain industrial skills and Lifeline Express provides healthcare benefits in remote regions.
The Tata Group in India does numerous CSR ventures, the vast majority of which are community improvement and poverty eradication programs. Through self-help groups, it’s involved in women empowerment activities, financial independence, rural development, and various social welfare programs. In the field of education, the Tata Group gives grants and donation to various institutions.
The initiatives mentioned above taken by various corporation shows the extensive amount of change that can be produced when corporations participate in social welfare and sustainability. Big corporations in a nation hold a gigantic financial strength and can influence and educate an extensive number of people due to their influential stature. Through CSR, a company can invest in social welfare and raise awareness for important causes like gender equality, rural development, healthcare and skill development. The financial contribution by companies can be used in achieving social welfare goals and the betterment of living conditions for those in need. Seeing corporations aware and involved in the advancement of society also creates awareness amongst individuals. If corporations and individuals are aligned with the needs of the deprived ones, I think there is still hope for betterment.
"Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community." - Anthony J. D'Angelo
(Image source: CSR Journal)