Skip to main content

Charity leaders have a geographic bias: Companies fund projects closer to where they are based

By Moin Qazi*
The recent years have seen a growing realisation among countries for evolving a doctrine of social responsibility. Like individual citizens who have moral and social responsibilities, business houses are perceived as corporate citizens. Thus they too have r social responsibilies. Apart from the socialist countries which consider this doctrine as a vital element of their policies and programme, the capitalist countries also feel that industries, banks and business corporations should commit a part of their time, talent and resources for the welfare of the society from which they draw their sustenance.
This idea has now been corporatized under the appellation, ‘Corporate social responsibility’ (CSR It ) is a way of managing a business by considering the impact of activities on customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders, as well as the environment.
India has a unique law: It’s Companies Act, 2013, and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Rules, which came into effect from April 1, 2014, make it mandatory for companies having a net worth of Rs 500 crore or more, or a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or more, or a net profit of Rs 5 crore or more in a given financial year, to spend 2% of their profits on CSR programmes. 
‘India’s CSR reporting survey 2016’, a report released by well-known consultants KPMG in January 2017, has revealed that in 2016, against the requirement to spend Rs 7233 crore, India Inc. spent Rs 6518 crore (90 per cent), which is higher as compared to previous year, wherein the companies had spent Rs 5115 crore (79 per cent) against the requirement of Rs 6490 crore.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a new business concept but Gandhi’s theory of trusteeship conceived this idea long back .Gandhi’s theory of trusteeship was intended to avoid the evils and combine the benefits of capitalism and communism, to socialise property without nationalizing it, to fill the form of private ownership with socialist content. Gandhi disdained the voracious greed for profits of the fat cat investors. 
Take a man owning an industry. As a trustee he was expected to do the following: 
First, he would himself work like any other employees. Second, he would take no more than what he needed for a moderately comfortable life. Third, he would look upon his employees as members of his family and jointly responsible with him for the management of the industry. Fourth, he would provide healthy working conditions and welfare schemes for the workers and their families. Fifth, they would both regard themselves as trustees of the consumers and take care not to produce shoddy goods or charge exorbitant prices. Sixth, they would aim to make a moderate profit, part of which would be devoted to the welfare of the community and the rest to the improvement of the industry. Seventh, the owner could pass on the industry to his children or whoever he liked only if they agreed to run it in the spirit of trusteeship.
It was way back in 1969 that the great industrialist J.R.D. Tata proposed that private industry look beyond its own borders and adopt villages. “Let some of the time of its managers, its engineers, doctors, and skilled specialists, be spread to help and advise the people of the villages and to supervise new developments undertaken by co-operative effect between them and the company. Assistance in family planning in the village would be particularly valuable from of service.” 
He felt that, “Industrial enterprise, whether in the private or public sector, can and could do much within their means to improve the conditions of life of the surrounding population, relieve distress where it exists, help find work for the unemployed and extend a helping hand to those who need it. Is there a village in our country which does not need some improvement to its scant services and amenities, a school dispensary, a road, a well and pump and above all opportunities for gainful employment.”
According to Friedman, “Social responsibility is a fundamentally subversive doctrine. Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundations of our society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than that to make as much for their stockholders as possible.” As against the “laissez faire” philosophy, which emphasises maximisation of profit and growth as the sole objective of the corporations, there is a strong school of thought that believes that the role of a business corporation must go much beyond making of profit and should look to the needs of the society. 
They feel that a business corporation functions and is rooted in a social environment, and on account of its constant interaction with the environment it is necessary for it to respond to the demands made by it. The corporation should be able to maintain a proper balance between business objectives and social obligations. With the growth of larger industrial enterprises, the threat of pollution, the increasing economic inequalities, the growing physical suffering for people on account of serious illnesses, together with a changing social climate, there is a growing pressure on business corporations to participate in the task of evolving solutions to social problems. 
It is now being felt that social responsibility has not to become a voluntary option with business corporations. Much more than this, business corporations have to clearly define social objectives and assess performance in this area. Social audit has to be introduced to evaluate the performance of business corporations and, if necessary, legislative enactments be made to ensure participation in this task.
But, as is their wont, many businesses are using these opportunities for brand promotion and in the process expanding their business markets. These CSR works are now the fulcrum of aggressive brand building exercises and every social intervention is leveraged to the hilt with publicity blitzkriegs.
CSR represents a powerful opportunity for business to participate in this mission. CSR is a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders
But there are marked class differences in the CSR agenda which need a course correction. Charity leaders have a geographic bias with companies funding projects closer to where they are based. Consequently, more industrialized states are winning over poorer, more remote regions where development aid is acutely needed. Politics can skew priorities too, with some companies looking to gain goodwill by backing government-led projects rather than independent initiatives.
Despite all the hyperbole, CSR has been peripheral in most organisations and is not woven into the fabric of the business. It's not always transparent and there may be strings attached. Sometimes it's driven by a need to buy profile and even worse, CSR is used as a type of moral counterbalance to practices that have had direct negative impacts on the poor.
---
*Contact: moinqazi123@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canals, work for 13,889 km ha…

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "warmest greetings"…

South Gujarat wastewater carrying pipeline damaged, 'harming' farmlands

The pipeline carrying industrial wastewater to the Gulf of Khambhat from Jhagadia industrial estate in Bharuch district has been found to have damaged for the eighth time over the last one and a half months. The crack, says a local environmental organisation, has occurred at Hansot, endangering agricultural farms.

US Air Force expert smells regional security threat following Chandrayaan mission

Counterview Desk
A United States Air Force expert, writing on India’s Chandrayaan -2 mission, has expressed the apprehension that Indian moon probe’s “failure” won’t stop an Asian space race that “threatens regional security.” Affiliated with the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Wendy Whitman Cobb, who is Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, believes like other space powers, India may be “seeking to improve its technology”, but advances can “also bring greater security concerns.”
Currently, admits Cobb, “These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature.” However, India’s turn toward the military uses of space, so much so that lately it has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications “with greater frequency” has begun to “concern” the neighbours.
In her disclosure statement to an article published in the e-journal “The Conversation” Cobb, however, states that whatever…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are about 180 units in in the to…