CSR Workshop & Panel Discussion

CSR and corporate charity are two separate things: Mukesh Ambani

Filed under Special Reports, What is CSR |

Mukesh AmbaniNEW DELHI: A day after voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) guidelines were released by the India Government, Mr Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries Ltd, said that India needs a unique development model for equitable economic growth.

“CSR and corporate charity are two separate things. Charity makes people dependent. We need a social business model that is independent and self-sustaining,” said Mr Ambani at the Col. Ajay Mushran memorial lecture in New Delhi on Sunday (July 10, 1011).

He said that charity-based CSR from the Western philosophical perception was narrow and a disempowering tool. CSR in India needs to be in the wider context of human progress, both social and material, and for the enrichment of the nation at large, he added.

The social business model should include 400 million marginalised Indians into the system, he asserted.

Indians should not look at CSR through the narrow vision of western society but through our own century old tradition of giving anonymously, the RIL chairman asserted. “CSR is often seen as an exercise in charity and effort to create a system where more privilege is able to share a certain portion of their wealth. This narrow definition of CSR is from western philanthropy … it increases dependency,” Ambani said in his keynote address.

Indian society had a long tradition of people doing voluntarily service. “The concept of serving society with whatever one has is deeply rooted in Indian spiritual history and social tradition. Manav sewa hi Madhav sewa hai (service is humanity is service to god),” Ambani explained. He said that his father Dhirubhai Ambani had told him “whatever we give should be for our own satisfaction.”

The chairman of India’s most valued company said that India has both necessity and opportunity of creating unique developmental model. Every Indian needs to live a better life. India needs to follow a unique developmental model to achieve equitable economic success.

He said that there is a need to see business in wider context of human progress both material and social.

Montek’s take
Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission said that calculating CSR in terms of percentage of profits in a business did not make sense.

“It is not fair for businesses to only provide a fixed percentage of funding for CSR. It has to be done in a sustained manner through the involvement of people,” said Mr Ahluwalia.

Admitting that the Government had not done as much as it should on the health front, Mr Ahluwalia said that it was trying to make amends. To supplement the Government’s efforts, the private sector would have to be at the forefront of development in India.

“The corporate sector, along with NGOs, individuals, organisations, would have to be at the fore front of the transformation of India from an emerging economy to a powerful one,” he said.

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