The recent Companies Bill with its guidelines for corporate social responsibility (CSR) has invoked a range of reactions. While some of them have been positive and welcoming, some others consider this as an added imposition on an already overburdened company. It is argued that considering the current global economic environment and its characteristic lack of growth it is as such difficult for a business to be viable and succeed. In this scenario CSR should not be imposed on companies. These reactions beg the question – is social welfare concerns of business and industry new to the Indian context? This paper will seek to address this question.
In most recent writings about the Companies Bill 2012 and related issues there is always a reference, even if in passing, about corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the extent that it is now almost fashionable to discuss CSR. With this column and its series of articles, we intend to analyse various aspects of CSR from different significant perspectives. In order to understand CSR and make appropriate use of it, there is a need to grasp its history, its etymology, the detailed guidelines and its ramifications for different stakeholders. The Companies Bill, no doubt, acts as the Bible for CSR of Indian companies. However, various leading agencies have provided guidelines for CSR in country specific and/or global contexts. The articles will try to examine these as well. Then there are the actual practices on ground and initiatives taken by various companies which would also be discussed. We strongly believe that a careful study of the various dimensions of CSR would contribute to the process of strengthening and fine-tuning the CSR initiatives that are still in a fledgling state in our country.