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National Issues/ Economy/ Politics

Corporate Social Responsibility – Make it Mandatory?

There comes a time for any corporate – to give back in return to the society that has provided them ample opportunity to generate profits for itself. This thought or attitude is already there in the developed world especially in the United States and it is just getting appreciated or noticed in small measure in India!

Recently in the function to distribute ‘Economic Times Awards for corporate excellence’, conducted in Mumbai – the theme was ‘Giving’. The basic premise or assumption of the argument to encourage “Giving’ is – to create an atmosphere in the society that will enable more of deserving class to survive or prosper and in turn create knowledgeable work force or surroundings for the corporate sector to chose from. Charity becomes self-interest at some point of time!! Charity leads to better infrastructure – whether in terms of primary or even graduate college education, faster access to destinations and newer markets ( creating more business profits through expanded market share), better communication, health-care to the needy, faster cure/ discovery of unsolved medical science etc. And, this is what is happening in the US – even the large state universities there are being funded by corporate philanthropists! Such charity is enabling many a deserving case in the society to grow, prosper at large.

Azim Premji, Chairman Wipro and Head – Azim Premji Foundation, concentrates on educational needs of the country through his philanthropic efforts. There is enormous scope to extend such efforts into health-care, skill development in various necessary vocations! Now, in India unlike in the past, there are many NGOs focused on their honorable objectives but they seek more help from the Indian corporate sector. It is regretful to note that the sense of “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ has not permeated into many industrialists’ minds in India!

CSR happens when profit-earning corporate activity advances the social good. In a democratic set-up, unlike in a communist country, it is not possible to make CSR mandatory by force. If it is made compulsory, CSR credits can be traded just like any other commodity. To start with, Indian companies are focusing on social awareness and its resultant responsibility – for eg., an advertisement of Hindustan Unilever re-iterates to wash hands with their soap, in their aim to create a health-conscious society for the benefit of ‘infection-prone’ children and adolescents. By doing so, it adds CSR credits to its company profile by way of corporate credibility for a social cause!

In a country like India, that has already grown into being a regional superpower along-with China, it is necessary to acknowledge the need of corporate social responsibility! NR Narayanamurthy has founded Infosys foundation with basic objectives like – to promote social causes like education, health-care and new business ventures that would encourage entrepreneurship amongst the elite. This is a welcome change in Indian Industrial scene, that is yet to have many philanthropists like there are in the developed world. Here, we are not discussing other corporate social responsibility mooted activities like Clean environment, Control of Climate Change, Eradication of endemic diseases, Social uplift of poor and underprivileged etc. These areas are getting covered by International and National NGOs with the help of funding from different sources like the UN.

Corporate Social Responsibility – is a new term coined to promote a sense of gratitude amongst the Industries at large. We have overlooked this aspect for long – but, now it is boomeranging as a result of our overlook. Nearly 60% of agricultural produce in our country are climate-driven! Can we afford a climate-change? If we continue to disturb the Nature and its resources, our progressive efforts will prove to be counter-productive. The same ‘principle’ applies to other ‘corporate growth’ enabling factors like mainly education, health-care, entrepreneurship, better social and living conditions, right corporate governance which is free from corruption, infrastructure by way of National highways, faster communication through satellite etc – and at this point, Charity becomes self-interest! I hope you can see the strength of my argument.

Don’t you feel we should make corporate social responsibility as a mandatory obligation or a trade-able credit??

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About Raman Ramamurthy

I am a Management consultant, an avid reader, play Lawn tennis in my leisure time and love Music. Presently, I am settled in India along with my wife and my son.

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