Corporate Social Responsibility

csrWhat is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? As an organisation engaged in CSR for 21 years, PIC is better placed than most to provide perspectives on what it has been, what it is, and what it can be. Framings of CSR vary internationally, and also within countries and between sectors. In India the recent amendment to Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 has led to widespread identification of CSR with the redistribution of a fraction of a company’s profits for philanthropic ends. Important though this is, it is only a start; true business responsibility must extend across all the geographies in which it is active – the workplace, the supply chain, the community, and the environment. Indeed, the 2011 National Voluntary Guidelines rightly refer to the environmental and economic dimensions of business responsibility, as well as the social. Ultimately CSR, as an idea, as regulation, and as a set of practices, is a call to serious discussion about the broad responsibilities and accountabilities of businesses. For this discussion, the parameters are set not by targets of growth and profits, or even legal compliance, but by the ideals of equity, human rights and justice.

Key projects

  • Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA)-GTZ CSR Initiative was an assessment of the extent of adoption of international CSR instruments such as ISO, Global Compact and the like across India’s Top 500 companies (2008-10).
  • ‘CSR + CR 500’: 5th Corporate India Survey Research (2010) which assessed the CSR departments of the top 500 companies in India
  • A collaboration with the Planning Commission of India marked the Inclusion of the CSR agenda in Eleventh Five Year Plan (2006-2010). This development acted as a precursor to the NVGs.
  • We were a Drafting Committee member of the ‘National Voluntary Guidelines (NVGs) on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Businesses’, published in 2011 under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs
  • In 2013, PIC undertook a study of CSR spending estimates of top companies in the light of the amendment to Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013, which mandated every company of a certain size and profitability to spend 2% of the previous 3 years’ net profits “in pursuance of its Corporate Social Responsibility” policy.
  • Corporate Landscaping Study (2012) supported by the Aga Khan Foundation
  • CSR Strategy-Assessment of 15 Sectors (2012) funded by Oxfam India, was a database-building exercise of 550 Indian companies of which 125-150 were shortlisted and delineated into 15 sectors based on the nature of operations, raw material requirements and business types etc
  • A study on Corporate Engagement for Inclusive Growth in South Asia (2013) interviewed various stakeholders in order to understand why, despite so much talk, there was relatively little action when it came to corporate sector support for inclusive and equitable growth