World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines CSR as “the continuing commitment by business to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large.” CSR policy aims to ensure that a business comply with the spirit of the law, ethical standards and good corporate governance while also simultaneously engaging in actions pertaining to larger social good, beyond the activities of regular business. Building a society which provides equal access to opportunities reducing disparities can only be undertaken as a collective responsibility and corporates can contribute significantly in this agenda of inclusive development.
Like most part of the world, in India too, the concept of CSR and business sustainability was largely limited to voluntary philanthropic actions. No strategy or systematic thought was put into implementing CSR projects and programmes. Government intervention was largely limited to the issuance of guidelines and circulars to incorporate CSR in businesses. However, the recent combination of regulatory as well as societal pressure is pushing companies to pursue their CSR activities more professionally. Revamping the age old Companies Act 1956, the new Companies Act 2013 has introduced a new section on Corporate Social Responsibility, Section 135, making CSR mandatory for all companies operating in India, with an eligible criterion based on their finances.
Establishing such a framework may prompt the leading conglomerates of India Inc to take their social responsibilities more seriously and give a wider stand to the government to hold them accountable and thus intervene strategically.