Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Sad Response to CSR by India Inc.



Just as individual lives are enriched by reserving a portion of their time, effort and money towards service of others or the world around them, corporations are similarly enriched; and just as individual lives become self centered, greedy in a paranoid way and narcissistic without that element of service so do corporations. However, a report in the Times of India today says that India Inc is complaining about a new law mandating a two percent spend on CSR (TOI, June 16, Page 9).

High performance of a company is traditionally measured against business imperatives including competitive differentiation, sales, attracting and retaining talent, operational efficiency, return on investment and profitability. But that is no longer enough. Today, a new element of leadership is making a profound difference in assessing business organizations - the attitude to Corporate Social Responsibility. Some companies are even considering going a step further by making customer satisfaction their prime goal rather than profitability while including a spend of as much as ten per cent of their net profits for corporate social responsibility programs or CSR for short.

Against this backdrop it is tragic if some companies are complaining against a new law that mandates corporations spend at least two percent of their net profits towards CSR. Rather than change the law in this direction this author has the following suggestion to modify the law:

Add an amendment to the law: If a company is unable to spend 2 percent of its net profits on CSR, an amount equal to twice the amount may be deposited in the Prime Ministers Relief fund (twice because of a penalty element for dereliction of duty) to be spent from there for distress relief.

This author intends to communicate a link of this suggestion soon after posting here, to the Finance Minister and Prime Minister of India for consideration. On the other hand if a company is having difficulties in organizing a program, this author will gladly assist any company located in the Nainital- Delhi- Jaipur region (his current base area) in a program towards improving government run and poorly funded education within India for school children for a small  fee . Similarly several other professionals retired from active service may be found anywhere, for a small fee, to assist an industry unfamiliar with a service oriented activities, fees to cover their own expenses and even to raise funds for their own individual social responsibility programs. A person without any individual level social responsibility program of his own on the other hand is unsuitable for engaging in this activity. This author has chosen education because of being an educationalist by profession, although desperate needs exist in other areas too such as health and environment.

Corporations that haven’t optimized their approach to CSR may not be considered responsible for much longer. A worldwide protest is raging against corporate greed and irresponsibility that is supported by 99 percent of the world's population. CSR is already influencing how employees, customers, and the world at large are deciding which companies are relevant over the medium and long term and which need to be be banished from the face of the planet into the trash cans of history. For a company to speak against CSR in the new informed and connected world can only be regarded as most unwise.

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