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Each State Government Should Have Their Own CSR Policy: Harsha Mukherjee, IICSR
One of the biggest impacts on companies across the public and private sector after coming in the ambit of mandatory CSR initiatives under the Companies Act has been to have “trained CSR professionals”
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With the Companies Act, 2013, every company, private limited or public limited, which either has a net worth of Rs 500 crore or a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore, needs to spend at least 2 per cent of its average net profit for the immediately preceding three financial years on corporate social responsibility activities.
In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Harsha Mukherjee, Founder & Managing Director of CSR Development Stories Pvt Ltd and International Institute of Corporate Social Responsibility (IICSR) discusses the various dimensions of CSR and how CSR training can be improved and institutionalized. Edited excerpts:
What has been the impact on companies across the public and private sector after coming in the ambit of mandatory CSR initiatives under the Companies Act?
One of the biggest impacts on companies across the public and private sector after coming in the ambit of mandatory CSR initiatives under the Companies Act has been to have “trained CSR professionals”. For many corporates, this strategic shift has been difficult, which compounded with the scarcity of skilled CSR talents to create scalable long-term strategies and implement it. While several thousand jobs have been created because of this amendment, several CSR jobs at all levels lie vacant. There is a towering gap for CSR professionals with a burgeoning number of over 2, 00,000 workforce. In these testing times, a career in CSR would be the most rewarding and sought after today.
With this move, we at, International Institute of Corporate Social Responsibility (IICSR) have curated India’s first Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in CSR for MIT WPU, Pune. In order, to cope with the growing demand for CSR professionals, we have developed a CSR education eco-system that would create a pool of trained talents across the country. IICSR is committed to contribute towards social and economic development of the country and we are sure to achieve our vision to create a pool of trained CSR professionals and bring a sustainable transformation in the employment landscape across the country. I strongly believe that skilling is a critical ingredient of the overall ‘Skill India’ initiative and CSR will play a great role in skilling for better tomorrow.
Why is there a lack of proper understanding about how to comply by the CSR regulations?
In India, we made CSR compulsory without training the corporates and other stakeholders on its technicalities and confining it to Philanthropy. We need to instil trainings on CSR and Sustainability subjects and its law not only the corporate houses but also the government bureaucrats, Civil Societies, Politicians, consumers and other stakeholders involved. IICSR and CSR Development Stories Pvt Ltd are taking a lead on this for private and public companies as well as various State governments.
Should political parties also come under the ambit of spending on CSR activities? Why?
India is the largest democratic country across the globe, wherein, people are unaware about the spending or fundraising activities of the political parties and the elected representatives. It is now the right time for all the political parties voluntarily to come under the ambit of transparent, accountable and responsible spending (TAR) and set an example by leading the forefront in carrying out CSR activities. The Narendra Modi-government strongly believes in eradicating the corruption and this would be a step ahead in the direction.
How would CSR initiatives give boost to some of the flagship initiatives of the current government?
The Hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi have launched various projects – Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Make in India, Digital India, Skill Development, Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao, Solar Energy, etc. – which are remarkable and indispensable for the development of India. However, very little has been done by the government as well as its elected representatives. The biggest question is that we cannot expect our Prime Minister to work all alone and it requires a ‘magic quadrant’ to maximise on these projects.
We, at CSR Development Stories Private Limited, would like to assist the government in strategic corporate sustainability and social responsibility solutions to foster these projects to enable in India’s economic growth story and to achieve sustainable advantage by shaping the growth trajectory with a social impact. It is now the right time for CSR to play a pivotal role in development of new India more than the government. To make companies comply and succeed on CSR, we need to think about meaningful CSR and sustainability index rather than philanthropy alone and India Inc should invite more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).
How can Indian corporates help the government achieve some of the targets of the Paris Agreement through CSR?
Firstly, I am very proud that the Narendra Modi-led NDA government has taken a stand and is very committed on the Paris agreement, envisioning with the International Laws and Practices. We are working to ensure that companies focus on Environment and Sustainability activities. To achieve sustainable community development, it is important for companies to make a transition from pure philanthropy based CSR to corporate social engagement and ultimately to sustainable corporate community engagement. India Inc. have taken a lead by measuring carbon footprints but a lot more has to be done, however, most of the companies are guarded about disclosures in Sustainability reports such as Global Reporting Indicator (GRI) or International Integrated Reporting (IIR) and similar reporting frameworks.
It is very important to have the right attitude towards environment. We cannot decide to pollute our environment extensively and then neutralise it. Reduction of our carbon emission to the possible extent is very crucial and it is not only the corporates, but each state government should have their own CSR policy. A lot of emphasis is given to the infrastructural projects, in which the government needs do conduct Carbon neutral footprint for sustainable development of socio-economic impact of the States. Being carbon neutral means to counterbalance the carbon footprint we leave on this planet by removing it, doing activities that are eco-friendly. Apart from Air pollution, Waste Management is a key issue we need to address on an urgent basis thus ensuring, Zeronautics (promoting wealth creation while driving adverse environmental, social, and economic impacts toward zero).
How can CSR training be institutionalised to improve the scope of CSR activities and CSR professionals?
IICSR has taken a lead in institutionalising CSR education and developing CSR professionals by developing two year full-time MBA in CSR course. There is a need for more universities to roll out similar courses. Alongside, industry associations need to train the existing professionals with the know-how of the subject. This way, we would be successful to train the fresh breed of professionals as well as educate the matured professionals on the subjects. The government bodies should also consider of have training sessions on the subject and utilise the knowledge in more effective manner.