Indian companies are now expected to discharge their stakeholder responsibilities and societal obligations, along with their shareholder-wealth maximisation goal.
Nearly all leading corporates in India are involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes in areas like education, health, livelihood creation, skill development, and empowerment of weaker sections of the society. Notable efforts have come from the Tata Group, Infosys, Bharti Enterprises, ITC Welcome group, Indian Oil Corporation among others.
The 2010 list of Forbes Asia’s ‘48 Heroes of Philanthropy’ contains four Indians. The 2009 list also featured four Indians. India has been named among the top ten Asian countries paying increasing importance towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure norms. India was ranked fourth in the list, according to social enterprise CSR Asia's Asian Sustainability Ranking (ASR), released in October 2009.
According to a study undertaken by an industry body in June 2009, which studied the CSR activities of 300 corporate houses, corporate India has spread its CSR activities across 20 states and Union territories, with Maharashtra gaining the most from them. About 36 per cent of the CSR activities are concentrated in the state, followed by about 12 per cent in Gujarat, 10 per cent in Delhi and 9 per cent in Tamil Nadu.
The companies have on an aggregate, identified 26 different themes for their CSR initiatives. Of these 26 schemes, community welfare tops the list, followed by education, the environment, health, as well as rural development.
Further, according to a study by financial paper, The Economic Times, donations by listed companies grew 8 per cent during the fiscal ended March 2009. The study of disclosures made by companies showed that 760 companies donated US$ 170 million in FY09, up from US$ 156 million in the year-ago period. As many as 108 companies donated over US$ 216,199, up 20 per cent over the previous year.
Although corporate India is involved in CSR activities, the central government is working on a framework for quantifying the CSR initiatives of companies to promote them further. According to Minister for Corporate Affairs, Mr Salman Khurshid, one of the ways to attract companies towards CSR work is to develop a system of CSR credits, similar to the system of carbon credits which are given to companies for green initiatives.
Moreover, in 2009, the government made it mandatory for all public sector oil companies to spend 2 per cent of their net profits on corporate social responsibility.
Besides the private sector, the government is also ensuring that the public sector companies participate actively in CSR initiatives. The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has prepared guidelines for central public sector enterprises to take up important corporate social responsibility projects to be funded by 2-5 per cent of the company's net profits.
As per the guidelines, companies with net profit of less than US$ 22.5 million will earmark 3-5 per cent of profit for CSR, companies with net profit of between US$ 22.5 million - US$ 112.5 million, will utilise 2-3 per cent for CSR activities and companies with net profit of over US$ 112.5 million will spend 0.5-2 per cent of net profits for CSR.