Whither CSR Funds?

Observing that many Union, state and municipal governments are trying to put pressure on many enterprises in the country, to divert the CSR funds to their official and unofficial initiatives and projects, instead of their being routed through the civil society organisations, the following message is sent to many office-bearers of the federations of the enterprises in the country:

Dear Sir/ Madam,

When our Parliament passed a legislation on Corporate Social Responsibility, it wanted that the dynamic enterprises in the country share a small part of their profits with the needy in the society and for social development, as an expression of their social responsibility towards the society of which they are a part. This, in fact has been happening since a long time through trusts or NGOs and other civil society organisations chosen by the pioneering and exemplary entrepreneurs like    the     Tatas,     Birlas,     Godrez, etc. Happily, philanthropy is increasing in our country on the part of successful individuals and enterprises. Through this, the enterprises want to promote a social environment of mutual solidarity, goodwill and better understanding among the people, in the place of the old concept of class conflict and caste divisions. The objective is that all people are able to gain productive employment and afford to consume the services and goods needed. This is giving back by the successful individuals and enterprises to the society and to its social institutions in gratitude. This phenomenon is reaching astronomic figures in the developed societies. The enterprises have been freely choosing their partners and the purpose for which they would like to give.

While appreciating the efforts of your organisation in promoting this spirit of voluntary exchanges between citizens, the purpose of this letter is to appeal to you to continue to devote all your voluntary energies, efforts, funds and goods and services to

support other fellow citizens’ initiatives who are working for the social development of the whole society, as much as possible; instead of placing your resources at the disposal of the government departmental programmes and projects.

Secondly, the same spirit and attitude should prevail when you support relief and   re- rehabilitation work during emergencies also. You should try to show your moral and social responsibility by pooling your volunteers, your products and services to reach them directly and visibly to the people who are suffering; instead of handing over cheques to the CM or PM relief funds, where you become anonymous to the ultimate beneficiary. Many local efforts by the associations deserve your guidance and support. In all cases, your efforts and partners should remain non-governmental in the spirit of the Act. For those who bring pressure, you may propose to use other options like buying ‘Electoral Bonds.’

The following are my reasons for the above suggestion, which you may or may not agree with. Firstly, whereas a government is raising huge amounts as tax-money from the people and particularly a great part from the enterprises, and that tax-money is meant to be spent to facilitate economic growth and social development of the people. As citizens, we are all concerned that the public expenditure is not as efficient as it should be to reach its objectives. Secondly, the government and the bureaucracy are devoting lots of tax money, every year, to keep alive many Public Sector Undertakings, whose job the private enterprises can very well do, and that too, better, cheaper and faster. If there are losses, the enterprises will bear them, without asking for tax- money. Thirdly, in terms of democratic values and social concerns, the internal management of the enterprises by the Board of Directors, auditors, teams of managers and the General Assembly is becoming increasingly more democratic than the political parties in the country which are governing us.

Hence, I reiterate my appeal to you that in all cases, the delivery of your services, efforts, resources and your volunteers should remain, as much as possible, non-governmental in the spirit of the mission.

With best regards,
Rao V.B.J. Chelikani from IFHD

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