Trade objective is to gain profit. CSR is the human face of trade. Anything befitting human and related areas is appreciated. Thus corporate houses are very much appreciated and recognised for leaving aside their greed and contributing for society and nature., says Bibhu Prashad Mohanty.
By Bibhu Prasad Mohanty
Sustainable Development has been defined in many ways by many philosophers, politicians, thinkers and scientists of great fame and authority. But the most frequently quoted and used definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report; “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
1. the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
2. the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”
Now a days it is shown to the world that corporate houses took up sustainable development as part of their profit making economic practices where Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the major area they focus to address many socio-economic-environmental issues and concerns. India has several development concerns. We all know that much to be done in the areas of agri-production- food security, food processing, equal distribution and sharing of common properties resources, land management, soil conservation, education/ human resources development, ground water management, human trafficking, child labour, begging on street, people with disabilities (PWD), women and children concerns, elderly people and poor people having low access to quality health services, loss of biodiversity, industrial pollution, climate change, digital divide, health and food concern of livestocks, transport, communication, research and analysis and popularisation of appropriate technology, legal awareness, employment/ self employment concerns and so on. As corporates of India are socially committed people expect them to take up above issues.
For any corporate production and profit are much more important than people and planet although they claim their concern over people and planet with pomps and drums. It is seen across the world; corporate houses put maximum effort, investment and time on production and profit. It is natural and a fact also. It should be like that. A corporate house is always responsible before its customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders like human resource, market and its own vision and mission. Therefore it is natural that profit will be its main motive. But CSR is the obligatory commitment of corporate houses before nation. They have promised before the nation in legal terms at Ministry of Environment and Forest to contribute towards the growth of local villagers, environment, infrastructure, ground water resources, and livelihood of people, education etc and serve nation.
Activities under CSR as obligation towards nation to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and cares that corporate houses voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large. Unfortunately that does not happen and they do not feel the importance of planet and people in the same way as they have feelings and concern towards profit. Hence the importances of CSR in the organisation remain neglected. They do make profit at the cost of environment, natural resources, culture society and mostly people. Indian corporate sector spends around Rs 40,000 crore on social expenditure. It is observed from various reports that companies drew exemptions ranging from Rs 5,000 to 6500 crore under income-tax laws per year. These figures sound improbable as Indian companies still do not distinguish between philanthropy and internal practices to benefit stakeholders such as employees and community. Thus a big confusion still exists in industries and mines operators in relation to CSR practices.
Effect of corporate houses and changes in society
Giagantic investments of corporates bring huge changes in any geographical location effecting on life style, culture, thinking process, economy and so on. But they remain away from taking the responsibility of the changes which bring several disturbances in environment, micro to macro economy; culture, poverty reasons, unhealthy & unknown effects on life and vegetation. The speed with which the corporate grow never matches with the growth or changes of people displaced, affected and live in close vicinity of industry or mines. People suffer a lot because the changes caused by the giant profit making units and sacrifice their peace and healthy life. We people in corporate claim that there is a positive economic change across the industrial area. It is true that corporate try to build up huge infrastructures, physical facilities and bring many other people benefiting programs. The underneath aim is to keep people silent over the large scale changes they make while operate on forest, agriculture land, streams, rivers which are mostly revered as, Mother nature- natural resources . With those the culture and emotion of local people are attached. Their livelihood, life style, food, traditional knowledge, medicines, religion, language and thinking process are inter-winged. Neither any progressive Govt nor any profit making business house can value it. Because the priority and mission motive is to move forward to make physical infrastructure, profit and facilities as the urban facility is a single point focus for them.
The major CSR activities by CSR
Companies conduct events like health camps, population control measures, support a few sick persons, give some scholarships, organise a few SHGs, a few sports events, impart trainings for some livelihood practices without linking them to further growth in the process of conducting CSR. Some corporates found to work on disability, some on geriatric issues, some work on street children. All these are either time bound projects or institution run activities or supports to some NGOs. They also meet the deficiencies of Govt run schemes or programs with an aim to enhance the quality of the programme. Short term activities are mostly eye washing efforts by corporates where sustainable development approaches are usually missed. Govt authorities and people’s representatives are mostly invited in such programs to grace the occasions and their visibility in the public are taken care in such a way that the corporates get continuous illegal and quick legal favours and ultimately the profit multiplies. Thus nation looses a lot of revenue, regularity of good practices, and continual improvisation in the process development. However some of the corporates have done some exemplary work in connection with sustainable development. They are rare in different nations.
Organisations careful about the ethical expenditures of the CSR fund are also careful about sustainability of the programs, projects and effects of events they organise. Their events always satisfy and linked to the vision, mission and sustainability reasons. When they fail to identify the reasons of sustainability in the program, projects or events, mostly local people’s unrest occur in the area. Today CSR is looked as strategic approach to manage the risks from local people’s resentment and superficially meet the commitment to Govt. When there is a resentment of people in Govt, media and politics get aware of the troubled relationship between people and corporate house. Before that they remain silent. Thus another pressure and conflicting situation arises. To meet these situations and pacify people’s outcry against negligence of corporate usually a collaborating effort of Liaison Department, PR Department, Corporate Communication and CSR Department come together. All of them in collaborative coordination try to meet the situations and solve through different means and methods. In these problem solving approaches two major approaches are usually observed. One is to calm down the reactions of Govt and media by applying legal and illegal means. Other one is fulfilling the demands of people through negotiation and some kind of philanthropic approaches.
Role of Govt in monitoring CSR activities of Corporate houses
The regulatory and monitoring units of Govt have been found to be helpless / lack regulatory provisions/ insincere towards monitoring of the actual happenings or development and expenditure made by corporates. It is found that district collector or appropriate revenue officer who is responsible for monitoring of such huge funds and expenditures is also burdened with some emergency and more serious responsibilities which do not allow them to adequately vigilant on CSR funds which are usually spent by the corporate houses only. Thus there is scopes for corporate houses to either delay the expenditure of fund or knowingly use different means of operations where they only meet a portion of dedicated fund meant for CSR. Lack of concrete reports on CSR from independent body, without any prescribed indicators of development and expenditure of CSR fund the corporate get opportunities to play hide and seek role with Govt and people both. They do not play a transparent role in the process. Other aspect is that the corporate units are very pushy and adamant in making their objectives fulfilled by adhering to any means of activities including bribing and favouring Govt officials and pursuing people’s representatives.
Therefore the people and planet are least bothered and having low concern for corporate houses. Except a few those who have given autonomy to CSR Dept most of the corporates are superficial in CSR activities. They feel it is a waste of money in relation to profit. Therefore they either knowingly ignore the justified demand of development of people or delay the expenditure. This resulted with number of ill effects on people at locality of corporates. These organisation play with money and power so the poor common families suffer to a great extent and even meet uneven progress or get finished due to rapid changes in economy of the region and culture that influences the vicinity.
Human at the Centre of desired changes
Taking human at the centre it is found that poor people have very low access to information and resources both. Because of that they are either neglected or cheated or they are unable to avail the entitlements and benefits. Development denials to these people are a major concern of today. There are numerous models of solutions to the problems they face which are available across the world. Let’s replicate and improve those under CSR. That will be a great contribution to mankind by CSR activities by corporates. It will be a process not a mere camouflaging activity or altruistic behaviour of corporate houses. Thus the debate of confusion in CSR activity by corporate houses those who are focused only on profit will disappear. They will be considered as sincere socially responsible organisations which will not only gain support of nation but also buyers of their products, investors and have a human sensitive fame too. Therefore CSR should be passionately and professionally taken up by corporates.
The Human resource in CSR and Control of corporate by Human Resource Dept
The challenge is that at present HR divisions are mostly controlling CSR activitiesin most of the corporate houses. HR people are always into recruitment, counseling, training and many others activities concerning staff, workers and contractors. They are neither the professional social / development workers or nor development visionaries. Exceptional individuals are there in HR and other departments those who have passion to serve people and they developed their skill and experience in that line across time. They are people with exceptional abilities, passion and skill. Their number is very few. Development sector requires a different set of skills in conducting CSR programs. People those who get in to CSR activities should have a passion of development work and should be skilled/trained/ developed in that direction.
Therefore the management heads and senior people at decision making process of corporate house must understand that their passionate attitude towards people and planet will bring a lot of changes in environment, people and business of the organisation. There will be good wishes from people around them which is along term profit for the corporate. Secondly support of local people will strengthen them and will never restrict the growth of corporate due to resentments. Respect to own country men will be a significant visible achievement of the corporate to gain influence over several policy making policy for the country and state. Thus the face value of corporate will gain blessings of Govt. It strengthens the business too. Other aspect is becoming passionate towards growth of own people is a divinity we practice and become part of good happenings around us. We all wish to be recognised, patted and rewarded for our good works. Trade objective is to gain profit. CSR is the human face of trade. Anything befitting human and related areas is appreciated. Thus corporate houses are very much appreciated and recognised for leaving aside their greed and contributing for society and nature. It is also a spiritual aspect of trade. Unfortunately some corporate leaders and their top managements do not realise this. A smile in neglected person can bring tons of satisfaction to the person or people those who become means to it. Trade or industry will become a place to enjoy and means to real progress of nation.
( Bibhu Prasad Mohanty is a CSR Expert. He lives in Odisha. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. http://in.linkedin.com/in/bibhuprasadmohanty )
Mega CSR Conference in Mumbai on 9 May 2012
(A Conference in Support of Business Sustainability)
Date: 9th May 2012
Venue: Ramada Plaza Palm Grove, Juhu Beach, Mumbai.
Last Date of Registration: 15 April 2012
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