CSR, how many of us know what exactly it is? When a hotshot company like ITC initiates programs like e-Choupal, people get the impression about how great the company is and how concerned they are for the common people.
But, what the common Man fails to realize is that programs and activities like e-Choupal by ITC, Project Happiness with Coca-Cola, Project Shakti by Hindustan Unilever, etc. have not been born solely out of the company’s goodness of heart. These are all part of their CSR Program, which has been enforced by the Government of India under the Companies Act of 2013. The Act states that “at least two per cent of a profitable entity’s three-year annual average net profit should be shelled out towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities in a particular fiscal. In case of non-spending, the company concerned has to clarify for the same to the Ministry.” The norm came into effect from April 1st, 2014
In the current scenario, with all the elections going on around the country and all the promises being made by all the Political Parties about making India a better place and helping the youth, let’s have a look at how easily a written law of the Indian Government is neglected and trampled on due to lack of awareness as well as lack of consequences.
According to a recent data, over 530 companies across Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are in violation of the Companies Act 2013 due to “non-compliance” and “non-disclosure” of their CSR activities. These companies failed to benefit the society and give something back to the people irrespective of the Law. Why is that?
100 bills are passed every week and a lot of new laws come out into existence every other day, but how many of them are followed? The Supreme Court of India might try to burn out unethical practices or the Government might try to cure the problem of poverty through various Projects and Schemes, but do we see much difference? The Common Man is always left out to ponder and ask himself if his vote in the Elections even matter or not because, in the end, the Political Parties do whatsoever they want and very little of that actually interests the People.
If a common man is asked what they know about the Companies Act or about CSR, you would see a blank look on their face because most of the people are unaware of it. Multi-million dollar companies shell out 2-3% of their profits into programs that would help the poor or illiterate and advertise it in such good faith that their reputation soars up to the 7th Heaven. The Government might pass a Law for CSR activities and Sustainable approaches to the production and use of resources, but very little of it is followed in today’s time. The main reason for this might be the lack of enforcement of the law, and the slow Judicial System that would take months or even years to prosecute the Offender in case the Laws are broken.
All those companies that are shying away from their responsibility towards the Society and breaking the Law are getting away with it because the People are not aware about it. The Programs organized by these multinationals are not a favour to the society, but a Responsibility and their duty. The day the common Man understands that, the number of companies in violation of the Law would decrease drastically.