Dr. (Mrs) Vandana Kawadkar
Department of Commerce, L.A.D. and Smt. R.P. College for Women, Nagpur
Good quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies. Education is the backbone of every society in this world. But what matters the most is the quality education – a dream for many. The role of corporate with their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India is crucial in improving the educational conditions in India. Every country is spending much amount for enhancement of education. CSR, as a strategic practice, is a key to organizational success because it is one of the few practices that can positively impact all three elements of the Triple Bottom Line (Economic, Social, Environment), contributing to a healthy bottom line and long-term sustainability.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming an increasingly important activity to businesses nationally and internationally. Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large. Companies make profits, unhindered except by fulfilling their duty to pay taxes. Then they donate a certain share of the profits to charitable causes. It is seen as tainting the act for the company to receive any benefit from the giving.
In this present era of globalization as corporations are becoming more aware of their social responsibilities the traditional responses of companies contributing to good causes are dramatically changing from mere philanthropy. If companies each invest in one good cause with the same fervour, which they invest in their bottom lines, a huge step could be taken towards easing many social woes, particularly poverty eradication be it through investments in health education, knowledge management, etc. One of the key steps would be to thoroughly understand the local environment in which most companies operate. For corporations in the developing and underdeveloped countries, bridging the divide (digital, economic, social or environmental) in order to eliminate poverty should be the essence of the social agenda.
CSR in Indian Context
CSR is not a new concept in India. Corporates like the Tata Group, the Aditya Birla Group and Indian Oil Corporation, to name a few, have been involved in serving the community ever since their inception. Many other organizations have been doing their part for the society. CSR has become increasingly prominent in the Indian corporate scenario because organizations have realized that besides growing their businesses it is also vital to build trustworthy and sustainable relationships with the community at large.
India is one of the fastest growing economies, socio-economic problems like poverty, illiteracy, lack of healthcare etc. are still ubiquitous and the government has limited resources to tackle these challenges. This scenario has opened up several areas for businesses to contribute towards social development. Today, CSR in India has gone beyond merely charity and donations. It has become an integral part of the corporate strategy. Companies have CSR teams that devise specific policies, strategies and goals for their CSR programs and set aside budgets to support them. For example, organizations like Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, and Hindustan Unilever Limited, adopt villages where they focus on holistic development. They provide better medical and sanitation facilities, build schools and houses, and help the villagers become self-reliant by teaching them vocational and business skills.
CSR has come a long way in India. From responsive activities to sustainable initiatives, corporates have clearly exhibited their ability to make a significant difference in the society and improve the overall quality of life. In the current social situation in India, it is difficult for one single entity to bring about change, as the scale is enormous. Corporates have the expertise, strategic thinking, manpower and money to facilitate extensive social change. Effective partnerships between corporates, NGOs and the government will place India’s social development on a faster track.
Corporate Social Responsibility in Education
Companies get involved in education for a number of strategic reasons, including building a positive reputation and goodwill among consumers, employees, investors, and other stakeholders; developing brand recognition, whether to increase consumer loyalty, boost sales, or establish the company as an industry leader; building a more educated workforce; raising consumer awareness about a particular issue; and fulfilling a company mission or mandate.
One of the most significant indicators of social progress is education, which also plays a decisive role for a society to achieve self‐sustainable and equal development. With an increasing global realization of how business community can contribute to social objectives, education deserves a higher level of corporate involvement than status quo.
Business community in India should play a part in optimizing the education conditions by lifting poor society out of illiteracy and decreasing the undereducated population. For Indian Corporates in today’s world, being involved in social activities related to education can fulfill some of the following corporate strategic objectives:
- Building positive reputation
- CSR activities serve as an effective way for the company to seek better reputation while contributing to the society.
- Participation in educational endeavors gives companies a positive image as being concerned about the younger generations and a hopeful future.
2. Accessing high‐quality human resource
- By sponsoring various educational activities, companies gain the opportunity to hire students showing high potentials.
- While the specific actions vary among different levels of involvements, the purposes are generally related to maximizing influence on prospective employees.
3. Fulfilling company mission
- By undertaking activities in education, companies can broaden and enhance their mission and vision by targeting specific goals and objectives in the education ecology.
4. Direct CSR involvement at low level
- By having direct focused programs relating to education, companies can receive high visibility, make large direct impact, and capitalize on the opportunity to really leverage their strengths and resources.
5. Need for change
- Even though Govt. and NGOs are playing their part in promoting education, they lack specific skill sets that companies can bring in to enhance the quality of education. Some of these are:
- Corporate players are believed to be generally better at administrating complex tasks and managing resources effectively to meet specific needs.
- Higher involvement from a financial perspective to strengthen the education system in underdeveloped regions.
- Deeper participation of businesses will lead to greater expertise by engagement of the company’s most valuable resources in educational activities.
Current Status of CSR in India
As per the recommendations of the new Company Bill, 2012; it is estimated that a total of 8,000 companies in India would be required to meet the CSR requirements as detailed in the Bill, among the 9 lakh active companies in India. It is estimated that the 2 percent CSR expenditure would translate to companies’ spending around Rs 12,000 crore to 15,000 crore annually. In India, top five CSR investors are
- Reliance industries : Rs 357.00 Cr
- Tata Steel : Rs 146.00 Cr
- State Bank of India : Rs 123.37 Cr
- ICICI : Rs 116.55 Cr
- HDFC : Rs 89.85 Cr
India has to restructure the education system at all the levels i.e. elementary, secondary and higher education level. This is possible when the corporate also perform their responsibilities towards society. Education is the sector which is the most eligible and socially rewarding effort for any corporate to be looked upon to discharge its social responsibility. Supporting education at any level will mean, re-energized education sector which can transform our country into a true knowledge power and realize a future of prosperity and growth.
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