compulsory CSR ideas
- From: Ramita Mehta <ramita@...>Dear Vinay,Today I went to HDFC Bank for some work and the person whom I need to contact had strong balm smell. I asked him if he is not well and he showed me his wrist. Because of using keyboard, he has developed wrist problem. I have interacted with these managers in so many banks and have found them suffering from all kind of physical problems at very young age. In our schools and colleges, human body, diet and exercise are all optional subjects hence most of these people working in corporate sector have no idea about balanced diet and importance of cultivating habit of exercise.I think it will be a wonderful idea if big companies start taking care of their employees' health under social corporate responsibility. Let them get their employees undergo very basic medical tests,(say a blood profile) ensure that they all do half an hour yoga or gym in the office and encourage diet related good lectures in office who can guide them about basic food habits or even teach them very basic dishes. They should keep a guest lecture at least once a month on stress management and other good topics too. This will make a very positive impact on the employees. It is sad but true that even after coming out of IITs, students need grooming and perspective on various issues effecting their day today lives including being a good citizen!Other thing which should be tried out is arranging simple breakfast and balanced lunch for them as many do not eat proper food daily. This food should be cooked by Local ladies group (NGO) under some supervision and cost should be shared by all employees.It will immensely help society in general when we have healthy people and also help companies when their employees have better physical and mental health and understand ethics and real richness in life.Thanks & regards,Ramita
Claiming the city
July 25, 2014 12:01 am
The scope of corporate social responsibility needs to be expanded.
By: Chris Doig
It is widely acknowledged that rapid urbanisation will be one of India's
largest transitions in the years to come, with the urban population
estimated to increase from 300 million to 600 million by 2030. Policymaking
in India, however, has failed to keep up with this changing reality. This is
illustrated in the ministry of corporate affairs's approach to corporate
social responsibility (CSR) under the Companies Act, 2013. The clause
mandating CSR has raised public debates ever since it was introduced earlier
this year. The ministry took a welcome step by offering some clarity on what
is considered CSR under the act, issuing a circular on June 18.
Schedule VII of the new law requires companies in a certain bracket to spend
2 per cent of net profits on CSR and outlines areas in which this money can
be spent. The Centre for Ethical Life and Leadership estimates that the new
mandate will inject close to Rs 12,000 crore into the domestic development
landscape. The move would imply that the corporate sector will be poised to
play a greater role in the nation's socio-economic development, through a
targeted infusion of funds into the development sector. As first steps go,
it is in the right direction, but the legislation and its interpretation
suffer from a crucial blind spot.
In its current form, the law and its interpretation through subsequent rules
have an extremely parochial view on areas of development. The list of
eligible CSR activities is surprisingly restrictive and shortsighted. While
Schedule VII explicitly refers to "rural development projects", India's
urban development has been overlooked.
The ministry's latest circular reiterates that petitions regarding
sustainable urban development, urban public transport systems as well as
capacity building of government officials and elected representatives in
public-private partnerships (PPP) and urban infrastructure have gone
unheeded. While the new circular encourages that Schedule VII be
"interpreted liberally" by registrars of companies, regional directors and
stakeholders, it goes on to state that city-development activities don't
fall under the purview of CSR. Slum redevelopment and affordable housing are
the only areas specifically related to the urban that the ministry says will
be considered CSR.
While the government has many legitimately competing development priorities,
cities and towns can no longer be left out. There is no denying that our
cities need fixing. Many of us experience the impact of crumbling
infrastructure, chaotic road networks, inconsistent garbage collection and
erratic supply of urban services, whether it is electricity or water, on a
Burden-sharing between key stakeholders in the urban space is key to
tackling the need for urban transformation. The onus of urban development
cannot rest on the government alone. National initiatives like the
Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission have done the
"heavy-lifting" in our cities in the past, especially by meeting the
infrastructural needs. But much more needs to be done. It is unwise to leave
out the private sector, which would want to improve the future of our cities
for its own growth and profitability.
The exclusion of urban development from Schedule VII ignores the reality of
many non-governmental organisations and corporates that work towards urban
reforms. The restrictive mandate will coerce the private sector to channel
its funds into a tightly delineated set of interventions, leaving a large
number of worthy causes and organisations excluded from the reach of
Voices in the new government have spoken about the cause of improving India's
cities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonstrated during his tenure as chief
minister of Gujarat that "inclusive urban development" was at the top of his
agenda. His efforts to fortify cities in Gujarat led to a massive influx of
international companies. Soon after taking charge, Urban Development
Minister Venkaiah Naidu had emphasised the urgent need for urban upliftment
and quality public transport. He reposed faith in PPPs to meet the agenda of
housing for all by 2020.
The government's rhetoric needs to be reflected in the policies and
regulations it puts forth. The purview of CSR needs reconsideration to
accommodate a broader spectrum of development work. Making Schedule VII more
inclusive, especially from an urban standpoint, would be one of the first
steps in building economically vibrant cities. By forcing companies to give
to certain areas of philanthropy alone, we risk inhibiting numerous other
interventions that are crucial to the development of a nation riddled with a
multitude of problems.
The writer is senior associate, planning and development, at the Janaagraha
Centre for Citizenship & Democracy, Bangalore
FIRST PUBLISHED: THU, JUL 24 2014. 05 00 PM IST
Root Cause |
When HR stands for human rights
There is a disturbing trend of businesses in most sectors 'shirking their
corporate social responsibilities', says CSR Asia
Denial. Disengagement. Distress. Despair. These traits would emerge if one
were to invite businesses to the friendly neighbourhood psychoanalyst for an
examination on attitudes towards human rights.
At least that's what CSR Asia thinks; and I am in vigorous agreement on
account of its mirroring particularly in India and South Asia. Richard
Welford, chairman of the Hong Kong- and Singapore-based strategy, research
and reporting specialists in corporate social responsibility, with offices
in several Asian capitals, published a set of revealing findings earlier in
July in the organization's in-house publication, CSR Asia Weekly.
These are derived from what Welford describes as interviews with businesses
"about human rights, human trafficking and modern day slavery". It forms
part of an ongoing project with Oxfam, designed to get businesses more aware
of human rights "challenges" in supply chains, including those of well-known
While the study is skewed towards modern day slavery it makes observations
that cut across the business and human rights universe. Though a few
companies were beginning to engage with human rights issues, CSR Asia says
it generally finds a disturbing trend of businesses in most sectors
"shirking their corporate social responsibilities". They do so in several
ways. At the top of the list is "denying that there is a problem". Welford
writes how even with clear and increasing evidence of "modern day slavery"
in supply chains, several businesses refuse to acknowledge anything could be
wrong with their supply chains. They even blame over-eager media persons
looking for "sensational stories". This attitude is extended by what is
essentially a futile head-in-the-sand approach, Welford maintains.
If you don't acknowledge a problem it will simply go away; or, to look at it
in another way, if you do engage there must be a problem-and so, "the
strategy seems to be to not engage and ignore the problem". Then there are
respondents who argue that their ongoing initiatives "have the problem
covered", based on clearly stated codes of conduct and occasional audits.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," writes Welford. "Most audits are
of first tier suppliers where there is actually a lower risk of human rights
abuses, whereas the real problem is all the way down the supply chain in
primary industries including agriculture, extractives, fishing and
forestry." Some businesses, mentions the CSR Asia report, say they feel
either they are too small or the human rights problem too big.
Either way they claim they don't have the wherewithal, limited time and
budgets inclusive, to deal with human rights issues even if they are aware
of them and want to do something about them.
This is borderline disingenuous, not unlike the topic of a seminar I
attended at a top Kolkata college a couple of years ago: "Can India afford
CSR?" A close cousin of head-in-the-sand arrives next, a phenomenon that an
iconic British satirist famously described as "SEP field"-it's somebody else's
This shifting of responsibility involves claiming that those further down a
supply chain may be too far for a business to manage effective oversight.
Indeed, it is beyond the scope of their responsibility, such businesses
insist. It is the preserve of government, as it involves regulation and
implementation. That is certainly part of the solution, CSR Asia admits, but
"the private sector cannot absolve itself from the responsibilities it has".
As this ranges from ensuring products are "slave free" to matters of land
rights and "land grabs", given the reality of "poor governance.in the
region, not much is likely to happen fast if this is the approach taken."
Some businesses, the CSR Asia report maintains, shy away from engaging with
human rights issues because they feel "engaging with issues and putting in
place a human rights strategy will attract the attention of NGOs who will
then attack them." Here Welford makes two points that I entirely agree with,
and I have repeatedly stressed these in this column. "Yet such businesses
need to realize that NGOs are now increasingly sophisticated and want to
actively work with the private sector to address issues," Welford writes.
"Indeed, it is those companies that are not willing to address issues in
their supply chain that will incur the wrath of NGOs. Those companies who
fail to address human rights issues are going to be the ones who run the
risk of being named and shamed in the international media."
The short point: Acknowledge and engage. Disengage and be damned.
Sudeep Chakravarti's latest book is Clear-Hold-Build: Hard Lessons of
Business and Human Rights in India. His previous books include Red Sun:
Travels in Naxalite Country and Highway 39: Journeys through a Fractured
This column, which focuses on conflict situations in South Asia that
directly affect business, runs on Fridays. Respond to this column at
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- Dear Vinay and Ramita.It was a very nice incident that you shared and the suggestion was very warm. Now that CSR spendings are mandatory, there are certain rules that have come along. Companies are not allowed to show spendings on staff/ employees welfare under CSR spendings. It is considered as an HR activity and CSR activity. Though I completely agree with your suggestion of big corporate start taking care of employees' health. If they do, the CSR will look even better from the outset. There is a lot that can be done inside an organisation for the employees and their families. Wish the best health to all.Regards,Amar PawarFor Samavedana, Pune.
- The ideas given by Ramita are good. I have a suggestion that the employees suffering from Pain and Weakness can see videos on Art & Science of Self Healing by Lions Club Mumbai Sujok on You Tube and on their website www.lionsactiontv.com so that they can treat themselves. They will be surprised that the nonmedicinal treatment suggested by Lions Clubs offers instant pain relief and cures the problem. Lions are offering free demonstration in Siddhi Vinayak Temple at Prabhadevi Dadar every day and patients express great satisfaction. There is nothing wrong in trying Self Treatment.