These days, corporate social responsibility has gained significant prominence. Inclusive growth is the buzzword among organisations. With the onset of economic liberalization in 1991, the Indian economy started witnessing rapid growth. Multinational companies too started setting up shop in India. New jobs were created and India’s GDP growth was touching 7 to 8 per cent per annum in some years.
Rapid economic progress eventually led to more jobs being created at every level. Also the IT/ ITES sectors created a large number of jobs for the Indian economy. Lucrative salaries and huge disposable incomes meant that Indian consumers started spending instead of saving. Saving for a rainy day became a passé as consumer started living in the concept of buy now and spend later theory.
Companies however have started hunting beyond profitability and turnover. With the onset of recession in the year 2008, a school of thought arises whether everyone has benefited from globalization. The answer is no. Even though lakhs of jobs have been created and employees were taking home a six figure salary but a large section of the community was marginalized. There is a widespread gap between the rich and the poorer sections of the society. The rich are getting richer while the poor have to survive on two square meals per day.
The focus now has shifted towards addressing the issues of people at the bottom of the pyramid. These people do not have access to food, drinking water, schools, and are deprived of the basic necessities of life. Imagine walking 2 to 3 kilometers to fetch a bucket of water. Situation has become even worse in some of the villages as there is no electricity in those areas. Students of some villages do not have a school near their home and have to go to the next village to attend their schooling.
India Inc has woken up to this fact and has formulated a policy to address these issues. Nowadays large companies like Infosys, ITC, ICICI Bank and others have started several initiatives for the poorer sections of the society.
Infosys is actively involved in the corporate social responsibility programmes. The firm’s Education and Research Department works with employee and volunteers on community development projects. Infosys leadership has set examples in the area of corporate citizenship and has actively involved itself in key national bodies.
FMCG Company, ITC Ltd works closely with the villages and has transformed the lives of farmers in rural India. The company’s information technology enabled ‘E-Choupal’ programme has revolutionized the way agriculture activities are conducted in villages. ITC has set up several kiosks in the villages which enable the farmers to get an update about the prices of foodgrains and vegetables at the wholesale market. Other activities of the firm include irrigation, rain water harvesting and also converting dry lands in to agricultural lands.
When it comes to corporate social responsibility, ICICI Bank too is not far behind. The banks ‘Social Initiatives Group’ are already transforming the lives of the poor sections of the community. The group is actively working for the promotion of children’s health, education and nutrition. By providing access to microfinance schemes to the poor, the group empowers them which in turn aid in the overall development of the economy.
A company which has made profits by selling its products and services to the society has a moral obligation to pay something back to the society. Such companies are able to sustain in the long run and are admired by one and all. Good companies should not only be interested in achieving growth, profitability and must start looking beyond numbers and look towards contributing for the well being of mankind. Mahatma Gandhi once rightly said “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”