Indian and Global CSR Perspectives and Practices

Dr. D. Mukhopadhyay
As it is evident from the contemporary research on  CSR practices, in  India CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives  are primarily  people  and society focused besides  being environment focused.  The CSR practitioners  are found to be much more  concerned about  framing  CSR policies  to  focus on  welfare of the society  in general and  health, safety awareness, community building and providing general  basic education to the members of the society. Moreover,  it deals with  transparent corporate governance,  transparent dealing with creditors, healthy industrial relations etc.  As far as  adoption of CSR guidelines are concerned,  they try to comply with  the  CSR related provisions within the meaning of the Companies Act, 2013 and in addition to that the   best practices  of the concerned industry. The core CSR initiatives remained confined  within the scope of  waste recycling,  solid waste treatment and use of renewable resources. At the same time, initiatives  with respect of   energy saving, controlling water pollution, protecting soil depletion etc are found  to be  back seated.
The Indian corporate sector  faces problems  relating to  employment of child labour,   rampant industrial disputes with the employees,  payment of minimum wages, employees health insurance relating problems,  etc. on the other hand,  employee- community issues,  employee retirement benefits, special rights of women employees, employees compensation for meeting accidents during employment are not given due importance and weight  by the  corporate India.  As far as CSR practices with reference  to donation  for school/college buildings  constructions,  donation for setting in hospitals,  providing mid-day meals in the schools, providing books  and learning aids  to the students belonging to the marginalized  group of people in the society, creation of general awareness  about cleanliness and sanitation among the common  people, setting up local libraries are concerned, they  are getting    gradually more importance  than providing old age pension,  donation for the cause of housing  for the marginalized community etc  by the CSR practitioners.  In India, CSR initiatives are adopted    mostly in order to comply with the regulatory formalities,   building  brand of the products  and services,  to  promote corporate image in the society and to emerge as a model corporate citizen,  gaining confidence   and support of the society etc. As far as  the  limiting factors with reference to CSR practices are concerned,  the  corporate sector is found to  be  constrained  to have good CSR practices due to non availability of  people having necessary   skill  ,  experience , knowledge  and  technical knowhow. Moreover, sometimes, CSR practices appear to be cost prone and   non  availability of  adequate  guidance    act as limiting factors  for  having reasonable degree of CSR practices.  As far as CSR Delivery mechanism is concerned, it is carried out  with the involvement of the middle level management and  hiring the  CSR consultants and top management is mostly  involved in the  formulating CSR policies and the same is  passed on to the  middle level management  for execution with the help of  hired CSR consultants and experts since  the  in-house capability    of the companies are yet to  be developed  to the extent   it is necessary.
It is also  seen that the   factors like the provisions of the companies Act, 2013,  environmental issues, human rights issues, industrial relations and HR policies etc are  found to be more vulnerable to the performance of the companies. As far as benchmarking  of CSR practices of corporate India is concerned against the global CSR practices,   they give due importance to  transparency in corporate governance, corporate mission, vision and corporate objectives, transparency in dealing with Government and regulatory authorities, national chambers of commerce and dealing with international trade organizations. However,  grievance control mechanism  , transparency in employees welfare policy etc are  found not in much  practice. It is also feeling of the majority of the Indian companies that the Companies Act, 2013 has  imposed the mandatory CSR provision  on  them and CSR should be   a voluntary initiative  and not legally binding  or imposable  on the companies. by legal enforcement.    Moreover, it is evident from the  findings of the contemporary research on CSR practices that  developing country like India is  seen to be struggling  to meet the  economic , legal and philanthropic needs of the society. Ethical issues are also  gaining  importance though not at accelerating rate.  It may be mentioned that  India is a developing country and labour intensive economy and she is lagging far behind the economically advanced countries  in the domain of CSR practices. From the overall   analysis,  it may  be an imperative  to provide  a sacred initiative to offer a definition of CSR that suits  Indian current practice and accordingly, CSR may be defined  as the commitment of the corporate India  to adopt  policies and pursue those  activities that have a positive impact on the  welfare of the people of India and on her environment.
Finally, Indian corporate sector should not  engage totally on profit making activities  only but  they should practice on those CSR activities which make them economically sustainable and the Three P Model i.e. People, planet and profit is the perhaps the best. In other words, CSR practice should concentrate on protecting the interest of people in first instance , planet i.e. environment in the second instance and finally profit for  perpetual existence and long term sustainability of the business.  CSR derives a lot of benefits  to the corporate India and they include  employee retention,  improving image of the  firms,  enhancing employee-commitment and  capability.
For instance,  the employee shall feel the sense of belongingness   to the firms  if they are provided with congenial working atmosphere and    treated with dignity.  It is found  by  the researchers  that employee retention is high in the  socially responsible  Indian firms  as compared to  firms having least degree of CSR practices. Reasons for the same is very plain and simple   as it plays  important role in  providing employee satisfaction and only happy employees shall  feel to have long term association with the companies.  CSR motivates the employees to work more efficiently because they  remain committed to  contribute  most  because  of  the congenial working environment provided by the employer-companies.
The purpose of this write up is to   account for global and Indian CSR perspectives and practices.  The researchers established that  developed countries that include USA, UK, Germany, France, Canada, Japan  do have robust mechanism for socially  efficient and effective  CSR initiatives and they do it on the moral and ethical compulsion  and law of the land do have  a secondary role to  assess the  degree of CSR culture in those countries.
Those countries consider  CSR practice as  the  unavoidable obligation and  they do hardly wait for any legal pronouncement for undertaking any CSR  or CSR related  activities  in their corporate agenda. On the contrary,  countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa and Pakistan  are generally found to be  CSR initiative  averse and they  feel why they should  adopt CSR initiatives since law of the land is not  asking them to  adopt any CSR activities or CSR initiatives. CSR initiatives  in the countries  like China, Malaysia , South Korea  are  also on  encouraging   stage and  the same is found to be in  practice  on voluntary basis and in significant ways.  It is   to see that ownership of  resources lies with society and therefore’ live and let  live ‘  should be the best CSR policy which  can sustain  and make the society sustainable.
(The author  is Professor of Management, School of Business and Dean-Faculty of Management, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra, J&K)