The Business Of Giving-2

CSR expert and author Meera Mitra thinks differently and maintains that even if good works are just business and branding efforts, these are still positives for society. Because, for a lot of corporations, philanthropy is engaging government to understand the key gap areas of development and then working strategically to fill these gaps. Corporations are also trying to ensure they meet future expectations of people by implementing social development projects and while this might be carried out in their own self-interest, the net result, is a ripple effect that does create better opportunities and living conditions.

Doubtless, some industrial houses have managed to imbibe the concept that ethics is an integral part of corporate governance. The Tatas, for instance, incorporated the idea of building economic and social infrastructure around their industries right from the outset. Jamsetji Tata did not just set up a steel plant in Jamshedpur at the turn of the 20th century; he also set up, perhaps, the first industrial township in the country. Housing, schools and hospitals were among the host of facilities provided at Jamshedpur. After independence, public sector companies set up in backward areas followed this model and set up virtual townships in remote rural areas with almost zero infrastructure.

Many business journalists have visited these townships spread across the country to find out how petroleum refineries, fertiliser factories and capital goods plants are being run by the public sector. Their achievement includes planned housing facilities, along with schools and hospitals to meet workers’ needs. In addition, the management often assists local communities in various development activities, the kind that come under the CSR banner now. Unlike public sector companies, private companies have normally not created infrastructure facilities in a big way — barring notable exceptions like the house of Tatas.

The Giving Pledge

Yet another development linked to CSR is the concept of giving away sizeable funds for charity. This is a global movement launched by the richest men in the world, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. It has now spread to India where philanthropy, in a big way, has finally become part of industry’s lexicon. Top industrialists like Azim Premji and Shiv Nadar have publicly pledged large chunks of their riches to charitable and philanthropy activities. This may not be strictly CSR but it does come under the category of industry allocating profits for social development.

The fact is that the concept of giving away a share of profits may be aimed at improving image, but it is also true that ultimately, it does help the less-privileged and uplifts the economy. Therefore, even if critics say the motivation is profit-oriented, it is indeed benevolent activity for society. Surely then we, as members of society, need to acknowledge, support and commend corporations for moving in the right direction.

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!


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