Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Philanthropy is CSR in India

It's official now. CSR for Indian companies means philanthropy.

A study by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India, a top industry federation in the country, says that community welfare is the primary focus of CSR initiatives by Indian companies. Education for the underprivileged and rural development are the other CSR priorities listed by the surveyed companies.

FMCG companies are at the forefront of CSR (actually philanthropy) followed by chemicals companies and IT companies.

There is no mention of workers' rights, human rights, child labour, tribal rights, bribery and ethics, governance, responsible supply chain, fair wages, workplace health and safety, discrimination, carbon reduction, product safety, consumer rights, stakeholder engagement, protecting natural resources etc.

Though there is no talk of moving toward a low carbon economy or committing to voluntary reduction of carbon emission, the report indicates that making money through carbon credits is catching the attention of companies. "The big corporate houses are now going for the carbon credits which have been a good attempt to prevent the global warming," says the Assocham press release on the report.

In most companies, CSR is being driven by PR executives who see philanthropy as a good photo-op. Many of these companies go on to win CSR awards and get invited (ok, they buy these speaking slots by way of sponsorships) to CSR conferences to lecture on CSR.

Actually, Indian companies have no pressure to embrace corporate responsibility in their operations. An enlightened civil society is missing and media is equally illiterate about corporate responsibility.

Ironically, development NGOs love these companies which are proving to be their new source of funding for philanthropic projects and saving their own jobs.

See here for more on the Assocham report.

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