From CSR VISION’S News Desk:
Business has a responsibility, to give back to the society. The need of the hour is to identify pressing and relevant social challenges and develop innovative business solutions to address them. This was the focus of discussion in the recently held seminar cum interactive session on “CSR: Touching lives and making an impact” as part of now concluded “Vibrant Gujarat 2015” held at Ahmedabad with the objective to encourage integration of corporate interventions, community participation and institutional philanthropy in India’s growth model.
Sri Alok Misra, ED-Chief CSR, ONGC along with other reputed CSR experts notably Mr. Richard Rekhy, CEO-KPMG India, Mr Shardul Shroff, Managing Partner-Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Company, Mr Vijay Chadda, CEO-Bharti Foundation and Mr Ajit Singh, Executive Vice President & Head CSR-L&T were part of a high level panel discussion on “CSR – Drivers, Barriers and Opportunities in the Indian Context” which formed an integral part of this interactive session. The panel discussion was moderated by Mr. A. B. Ravi, Editor-Special Projects, and CNBC-TV 18.
Mr. Misra shared ONGC had been pursuing CSR activities ever since it began operations, much before the word “CSR” was actually coined. The nature of job of ONGC took the organization to inhospitable and remote locations which had not tasted the fruits of development. ONGC has been operating for close to 60 years on PAN India basis. He also added that there are challenges in identifying and carrying out sustainable CSR projects which can be subsequently owned by the society. Not only the projects should be sustainable but they should lead to inclusive growth and all corporate houses should vow to carry out Vibrant CSR in their operational areas.
The following takeaways emerged as an outcome of the panel discussion
- India has become the first and only country to have a legal framework for CSR initiatives by the corporates.
- Profitable companies and corporates who are not covered under mandatory CSR and have a net profit of less than Rs. 5 crores should pool up with other companies including subsidiaries and form an CSR account and then implement projects covered under Schedule VII of the Companies Act.
- Expenditure on Training, Development and salaries of executives associated exclusively with CSR work should be part of the 5% of the CSR budget i.e. 5% of the 2% of average net profit of the preceding three years.
- In the eventuality of companies/corporates making net loss in their business during a particular year, creation of a corpus fund will help in meeting CSR expenses in the following year.
Additionally, the panellists shared some of their flagship CSR initiatives in various sectors – notably health, education and sanitation and also shared the best practices adopted in CSR initiatives within their ambit.
Prior to the panel discussion, the participants of the seminar cum interactive session which was attended by key decision makers, industry stalwarts, diplomats, etc. were addressed by a galaxy of high level dignitaries consisting of Mrs. Anandibhai Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Arun Jaitley, Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Govt. of India, Mr. Saurahbhai Patel, Minister for Planning, Finance, Energy and Petrochemicals, Govt. of Gujarat, Mrs. Nita Ambani, Chairperson, Reliance Foundation and Mrs. Rajashree Birla, Chairperson, Aditya Birla Foundation.
The discussion brought out that Post-liberalization era had placed the Indian Corporate Sector as the prime mover of economic growth. However, even after being one of the fastest growing economies of the world, India was home to a significant proportion of people living in poverty. It has thus become imperative for corporates to come forward and share the responsibilities for redistributive and inclusive growth. There seems to evolve a wide consensus about the need for corporates to contribute to nation building; to contribute to the development of the stakeholders of their businesses much as they contribute to their shareholders.
With a view to foster greater corporate participation in activities relating to social responsibility, the Companies Act 2013 has laid down ground rules for corporate social responsibility. While there are a range of opportunities; the intent is clear, to touch the lives of those at the base of pyramid and make them partners in progress. CSR in India had traditionally been seen as a philanthropic activity. With introduction of Companies Act, 2013, the concept of the structured approach to CSR has moved to the forefront, thus mandating companies to comply with the requirements of Corporate Social Responsibility.
There is thus a need to put in place systems and frameworks to facilitate this level of corporate spending on CSR activities and to channelize such interventions in a coordinated and outcome based manner. Only then we can optimize effective outcomes from this expected largesse flowing to the deserving sections of society.
Adopting this mantra of sustainable and inclusive growth, ONGC has always endeavoured to put its best foot forward to create and sustain an environment conducive to India’s growth by playing a dominant proactive role in the development process and envisaging a harmonious society in which the entire population enjoys a better quality of life. It is apropos to mention – CSR in ONGC is focused on touching lives and spreading smiles. u