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CSR For Convergence Of Multi-sectoral Development Programs

Funds are fortunately available for convergence of different central and state schemes now without any constraints. Could we look at CSR funds to be used as the glue to bind these programs together?

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As professional practitioners, we often witnessed gaps in various developmental initiatives implemented across the country in states and districts. Funds usually were not available for closing these gaps and increasing the impact of these programs.

As District Magistrates, many a time we would find weak links in the developmental chain in our areas. Having funded and installed a drinking water scheme, villages, panchayats or local bodies wouldn’t have funds to pay the salary of the pump operator. In addition, funds would be hard to come in an institutionalized manner particularly for O & M for many of such programs. Better O & M by accessing CSR funds could go a long way in increasing results from existing infrastructure.

Likewise, in MNREGA we spend in excess of rupees forty thousand Crores but we usually struggle to figure out funds in these works for the material component more so in infrastructure works. There were hardly any omnibus funds to be utilized for convergence of diverse and multifarious programs.

We have been talking on various forums for many years about the convergence of diverse programs in different sectors at the local and state levels. However, where the rubber hits the road, provision of such funds hasn’t been there although we have been discussing about ‘dovetailing’ of funds all this while. 

Funds are fortunately available for convergence of different central and state schemes now without any constraints. Could we look at CSR funds to be used as the glue to bind these programs together?

More than Rs 15000 Crores are spent every year by Corporates under the mandatory provisions of CSR of the Companies Act, 2013. This spending is slowly but surely going to go up not only with increasing profits but with the momentum provided by the results of social initiatives which would increase the spending of Corporations beyond the mandatory 2% of the net profits.

The strength of the chain is that of the weakest link. Small CSR funds can be used in the manner and method in which they strengthen this weak link acting as a force multiplier.

CSR because of multifarious stakeholders can leverage their strengths like the efficiency of the corporate sector and the passion and commitment of nonprofits. It also can be deployed very productively to reinforce, augment and strengthen existing infrastructure in addition to building new infrastructure.

For every rupee spent on CSR we should endeavour to get the biggest bang for the buck. Every incremental rupee spent should have the maximum return on investment in tangible terms. The idea is to maximize to the extent practically feasible, delta Y by delta X. Surely, we have to increase innovation in the design and execution of such programs to chart out more efficient paths in developmental initiatives.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Madhukar Gupta

Dr. Madhukar Gupta, IAS 85, Rajasthan. The officer has worked as Additional Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises for five years where he has pushed the CSR agenda and also, handled Corporate Governance, Performance Appraisal of PSUs etc. He is an Engineer, MBA, law graduate and PhD in Development Economics with a Master’s in Public Administration (Mason Fellow) from Harvard and Master’s in Public Policy from Maxwell, Syracuse.

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