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Understanding Corporate Philanthropy and CSR in India

by kalpesh

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In India, Corporate Philanthropy is a new name to age-old ‘cultural’ practices that business communities across the country have always followed. CSR in India, is a responsibility most entrepreneur and businesses follow though it is cloaked in religious-cultural continuum, looking to achieve ideal social balance within their environment.

In many ways, Indian corporates, especially those formed in the immediate post-Independence era can perhaps be compared quintessentially to the ‘Indian Banyan Tree’: an umbrella organization that looks beyond employee satisfaction and ensures all-round growth of the society in which they exist. Their focus remained on ‘sustainability’ and development even as early as the 1950s.

Corporate Philanthropy: Post-Independent Corporates lay foundation

Corporate Philanthropy in India, until the previous decades was not a much-publicized affair. It typically revolved around providing amenities for the immediate society. CSR in India was practiced by large corporations and companies that in the post-Independence era were building the fabric of India’s corporate world. These companies built entire townships around their factories, mills and manufacturing units, with deep cultural insight in sustainable development.

Corporate Philanthropy, during this period, included setting up of hospitals as primary healthcare was not accessible in the remote, rural areas where factories, mines and manufacturing units were being established. During this process an involuntary focus was sustainability of their programs.

CSR in India, during the decades of Industrial development, saw several schools and technical colleges being established by corporates and communities backed by wealthy businessmen.  Several of these institutions have been cradles of learning for the crème ’de la crème of Indian corporate world in the following decades.

Corporate Philanthropy in India consistent and largely limited to immediate environment

In more ways than one, Indian Corporate Philanthropy was consistent and benefitted the immediate society of the company or corporation. The quality of philanthropy rendered by these companies is legendary. Often glorious philanthropy stories are retold by beneficiaries, many of continue to practice silently even as they hold leadership positions in today’s corporate world. CSR in India remains consistent with Vedic philosophy of ‘karma’ (deeds, actions) and ‘dhana’(donation, alms, service without pay) ingrained in the psyche of businesses that are family-owned.

Corporate Philanthropy undergoes change in the post-liberalization era

CSR in India now has several international qualities to its Corporate Philanthropy practices. With several governmental policies and new regulations coming into force, CSR in India now has legal sanctity and exemptions a far cry from the Corporate Philanthropy practised in the past.

However, the positive aspect to such legislation is that CSR in India is a more responsible and accountable allowing for quantified and quality-based development in areas such as sustainable growth and more!

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