An online session “Business as a Force for Good- Role of CSR during Covid and after” was conducted in association with Indo American Chamber of Commerce (IACC). Mr. Nixon Joseph, Former President & Chief Operating Officer, SBI Foundation was the speaker. Mr. Sathyanarayanan V., Senior Partner, Varma & Varma moderated the session.
Mr. Satyanarayanan V. in his opening remarks gave an overview of the rules for CSR – companies with turnover of more than 100 crores were required to perform CSR activities. Organizations spend on CSR activities with the realisation that economic, environmental and social wellbeing is of great importance to them. He mentioned that earlier the companies had to spend on CSR or disclose the fact that such an amount was not spent. But now with the amendment of the Companies Act, organizations have to spend on CSR to avoid penalties. He also pointed out that certain malpractices are occurring lately and the amount allocated to CSR is not being utilised for that. He stated that at this time of the pandemic and also after, the society would benefit from handholding services by organizations and NGOs.
Mr. Nixon Joseph spoke about how India has grown to be one of the largest economies in the world, but also is home to a large percentage of people living in poverty. This uneven development has brought corporates to the limelight, and certain organizations have been blamed for this. Several Indian companies have been involved in CSR for decades while some were not. To bridge this gap, the Government had made CSR mandatory – India was also one of the first countries to do this. Mr. Nixon stressed that CSR is essential to the operation of an organization rather than a burden. Companies are dependent on the resources of the society and nature and therefore it has an obligation to the community. Employees are more motivated to work for an organisation that is not just profit oriented, but also takes care of the community and environment. He mentioned that with CSR being mandatory, organizations have been partnering with NGOs for such activities while some others have set up their own foundations. He stressed that CSR is not limited to just the 2% of the total profit – but it is the way business is carried out since an organization’s inception. Factors such as – the way land is acquired, compensation payments, payment of taxes, compliance to environmental regulations, proper wage structure etc. also contribute to the public’s perception of the company. He opined that organizations rather than competing with each other should collaborate for high impact CSR initiatives with a larger scale.
Mr. Ambarish Saraf, Chairman, IACC and Mr. Vivek George, Manager, WTC Bengaluru, Kochi and Chennai also spoke at the event.