In the words of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has brought about an opportunity to work with the people and pay back a minimal part of the earning to the deserving society. Indian state is a vast geographical map with immense diversity of socio-eco-political fabric. The governments function within their framework at times not reachable to the real needy and shunting doors to some innovative projects because of the red tape system. CSR has opened doors for community and corporatist creativity to partner for better India.
CSR under section 135 gives an opportunity to work as partner with such projects and foundations that have devoted themselves towards social changes and development. Most of us believe that we are emerging super power having rich traditions and set of values that made us pure Desi. From a large number of NRIs, middle class Indians in urban areas to rural drop-outs from high school have started believing this hype. The technology and communication reach at the mass level during last 20 years has really spun the development process at certain level. The era of trunk call from Telephone Nigam, discount rate calling from STD booth is over. The emerging foreign machinery and facilities have given rise to our hopes and ambitions. The social media has also been involved in our new generation forcing it to act, react and participate in dialogue and reflection process as citizens.
Given this context, there are still certain sectors like education where innovative teaching and tools are required in changing social systems, health of rural women, adolescent girls is a matter of concern for social researchers in most part of rural and also urban pockets, useful vocational skill building of our youth, those who are not able to gain any professional training need to be tapped, and access to transportation in many areas is a must as it has cost lives in emergency situations.
Many innovative, grass root, benevolent and charity organisations are engaged since many years in addressing these social issues. Some of them generated their funding from local donors, certain government schemes and fund raising events. The state of such funding dependent organisations has always been a struggle and a case study of their perseverance and passion. These noble, innovative projects and organisations may have skilled manpower with passion and community support but the lack of funding gradually closed down their existence.
In this age of transparency, accountability, participation and rights based civil social consciousness governments are mostly targeted for their loose ends and limitations. The corporations can learn a lot from these experiences and plan a path to be responsible corporate. This will certainly add to the goodwill and positive impact at certain level for the corporations if due diligence in partnership will be the core area.
The development field, best practices projects and foundations are already functional in large parts of India. The skilful human resource, effective project management techniques, allowing innovations in development field ensuring CSR support for define tenure can bring desired changes that will add a feather in their cap and build up their reputation as responsible corporations. The IIT, IIM, engineering, medical institutions have been our priority all these decades and the time has come for us to also understand and recognise human development, agriculture based, social science based institutions and courses can also play a crucial role to systemise and spin the wheel of development through CSR.
The civil society organisations in recent years have been actively advocating for transparency and accountability from the governments. The corporate world can partner on best practices projects and save energy, save environment along with implementation of actual provisions mentioned in our constitution. This can lead to actual good governance envisaged in democracy. The big brands and corporate houses are already operational before CSR act came in to force the opportunity and it is now also available for even the Small & Medium Entrepreneurs to partner.
Rajesh Ingle has been working in development field since last 22 years in the south Asian context in the area of education, livelihood, child protection, human trafficking, gender, human rights and rural/urban development. He has been associated with Unicef, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Nirmala Niketan, Cross Border Anti Trafficking Network and other organisations in India and Nepal. He has been part of various task forces, committees established by the government and civil society at state & national level. He has been teaching in university along with training number of development partners having advocacy and research as base that has brought policy changes.