India’s CSR Leaders: How much can they really change?

The BW-FICCI-SEDF CSR Awards for 2007 were given out last week. The six finalists and their CSR efforts were featured in this weeks edition of Business World magazine. The finalists include ONGC, NTPC, Tata Tea, Mahindra & Mahindra, Appollo Tyres and MSPL, out of which Mahindra& Mahindra was adjudged the winner this year.

However reading through the featured organizations, its quite clear that these organizations mostly stick to the standard protocol of writing checks to NGOs (otherwise known as random acts of kindness and PR). The foreword in BW magazine seems to acknowledge this fear:

Some companies pursuing CSR are doing it in isolated, localised islands
within their businesses. The efforts of CSR departments or foundations
of these companies are no less worthy, but do not amount to enlightened
CSR

That being said – CSR is not just an afterthought anymore among Indian companies. M&M for instance spends 1% of is PAT on CSR initiatives. Various factors have influenced this shift, including a influential speech by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year to Indian business leaders – asking their companies to adopt a ten-point social charter.

Hopefully this increased interest could eventually lead to a more mainstream role for CSR – where social responsibility is factored into every business decision made within the organization. There is wide acknowledgment that the world does not operate anymore in independent buckets of making money and giving back.

[Graphic: BW Online]

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