Corporate social responsibility In India : In my backyard or distant lands

csr project near you

Over the past 5 yrs or so in corporate social responsibility space in India, some of the discussions have been too centred around a particular location. The location is often determined by the potential for engaging employees. I am steering away from volunteering since many times both mean the same. While broad basing CSR by involving employees is the right thing to do. It need not be turned into a group employee engagement event every time.

CSR spends: West Vs NE

We studied the analysis done on region-wise CSR spend done by Sattva for 2014-17.
So if you compare CSR spent in Northeast region it is approx 650 Crores Vs Western region 8000 crores, it’s glaring especially when we know the level of poverty in both areas. I will add the caveat that even prosperous regions in a region may have pockets of poverty.
To be fair, the bulk of CSR funds from the west have gone to Pan- India. Somehow it doesn’t find its way to corners which don’t have many industries and hence don’t get their share of CSR to spend.

Preference doesn’t mean mandatory

This is just an example to demonstrate how a line in CSR law “the company needs to give preference to the local area and areas around where it operates, for spending the amount earmarked for corporate social responsibility activities in India ” can skew the spends. Surely give preference to region your company is based. It’s a region which you understand and maybe even can solve some of the problems. However, let us not forget that we are part of a country where things don’t work the same way everywhere. A simple thing as providing uninterrupted power in cities is not the reality in remote corners.

It comes back to original thought behind CSR which was not really to replace state/ govt for developmental needs. It was to use the energy and industry of enterprises to solve issues which govt for all its good intent hasn’t been able to. So can we put the learnings from past few years in one region and apply to maybe a not so familiar location?