Indian organizations allocated a cumulative budget of over Rs. 9,000 crores towards their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities in 2017-18, says a recent news report based on data from Prime Database. It added that education and vocational skill development were the most popular focus areas for Indian organizations.
Here are some of the findings of the report:
- A total of 1,019 listed Indian companies have spent an amount to the tune of Rs. 9,034 crore in FY17 to fund their CSR projects and activities.
- Nearly 37% of these funds were used for education and vocational skill building activities. This development area also witnessed the largest absolute increase in allocation of resources and funds.
- Activities benefitting the armed veterans, war widows and their dependents saw the biggest increase in terms of percentage. The rise in the same has been attributed to the government’s decision in 2016 to double the compensation for widows and families of soldiers who have lost their lives on duty.
- Expenditure towards eradication of hunger and poverty and promotion of healthcare and sanitation has decreased by 18.6%, from Rs. 2,944 crore to Rs. 2,394 crore.
- Other key areas which witnessed an increased expenditure and interest were community development, infrastructure, environment sustainability, social welfare, sports, and slum development.
Indian organization with a minimum net worth of Rs. 500 crore, or a turnover of up to Rs. 1,000 crore, or those earning a net profit of at least Rs. 5 crore, are required by law to spend 2% of their average net profit during the last three years towards CSR activities. KPMG’s report, ‘India CSR Reporting Survey’ showed that while education and healthcare have been in focus for the past three years, organizations have slowly begun diversifying their area and geography of development in the last one year.
A separate report which came out earlier this year put the total CSR expenditure figure at Rs. 7,050 crores and said that out of India’s top 100 firms, 59 met their CSR targets. 33 companies had an expenditure of less than required 2%. It corroborated the above findings and found that educational projects, rural development, and healthcare were the key focus areas of the companies. In a positive development, 81 of the 100 companies admitted to undertaking an impact assessment, up from 59 in the last year.
While India became the first country to have a legislated CSR law back in 2014, the relative nascence of law and its implementation has left much to be desired. While most companies have CSR policies in place and make disclosures towards the same in their annual reports, there are no efficient external checks in place to assess the impact these activities and projects are making in the lives of their intended stakeholders. Furthermore, since undertaking CSR activities is now mandatory under law, it has become as much as a compliance issue, as much as a developmental one.
In order to ensure that organizations genuinely work towards giving back and building a more equitable society, any well-intentioned policy needs the backing of motivation, implementation and a sustained effort. Despite the current challenges, the trend of Indian organizations willingly increasing their CSR spending is a welcome one. Now that the basic framework and guidelines are in place, the government and corporate leaders must focus on improving the same. India Inc. has a truly unique and real opportunity to chart a story of inclusive growth in the economy and dictate the global narrative on CSR by leading with example.