Sus­tain­abil­ity

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Are In­dian com­pa­nies geared up for CSR?

CSR is a de­bat­able topic in a mul­ti­far­i­ous coun­try like In­dia where sev­eral prob­lems con­tinue to be in a per­pet­ual state de­spite ef­forts by both the Gov­ern­ment and the in­dus­try...

Giv­ing to so­ci­ety is al­most ‘miss­ing’

An in-depth dis­cus­sion with a ma­jor­ity of ap­parel ex­porters re­vealed that they are un­clear about the real mean­ing of CSR. For them, it is only lim­ited to a few health check-up camps, and blood do­na­tion camps. There are oth­ers who have lim­ited them­selves to pro­vid­ing good in­house fa­cil­i­ties to their work­ers to pre­vent them from quit­ting jobs. But the ques­tion here is whether these min­i­mal ini­tia­tives can be ben­e­fi­cial to­wards CSR upgra­da­tion. At a larger level, if one looks at the mis­er­able liv­ing con­di­tions of work­ers in places like Okhla (Delhi) and Ka­pashera (Gur­gaon), one is able to un­der­stand the least ef­forts that have put by the ex­porters for suc­cess­ful CSR ex­e­cu­tion. As right­fully stated by a CSR con­sul­tant, “Mar­ket pres­sure, tight mar­gins or less or­ders are not forc­ing ap­parel ex­porters to limit them­selves to­wards con­tribut­ing to ma­jor CSR ac­tiv­i­ties. The fact is that ex­port houses with good or­ders on a reg­u­lar ba­sis don’t have enough time to think about CSR as they are fire-fight­ing to com­plete their ship­ments.” He fur­ther adds that the sit­u­a­tion only changes to some de­gree when a buyer comes in, ques­tion­ing about their in­volve­ment in CSR. This com­pels the ex­porters to do some lit­tle ben­e­fi­cial ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause they are ea­ger to have or­ders, be­sides image mak­ing and want to re­main in the good books of the buy­ers.

VK Jha, Aider NGO, Delhi em­pha­sizes, “No doubt, gar­ment ex­porters are sup­port­ing NGOs with the cause to sup­port the so­ci­ety, but these ef­forts need to in­crease and in­volve­ment of more ap­parel ex­porters is the need of the hour. I must say that ap­parel ex­porters should sup­port the NGOs which are not com­mer­cial and also mon­i­tor the pro­grammes sup­ported by them.”

How­ever, there are still some large or pub­lic lim­ited com­pa­nies which are do­ing CSR ac­tively be it due to pres­sure of law or their pop­u­lar brand name in the mar­ket. Un­doubt­edly, the CSR com­mit­tees of such com­pa­nies are working ef­fi­ciently. Some of the ar­eas where the big ex­porters or pub­lic lim­ited tex­tile com­pa­nies are do­ing com­mend­able job are dis­cussed be­low.

Fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy

K. Mo­han & Com­pany, Ban­ga­lore with the help of Geosansar, con­ducts fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion for its work­ers by pro­vid­ing them easy to ac­cess bank­ing fa­cil­i­ties. It has re­sulted in a higher level of fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy. M&S, Pri­mark, Tesco, John Lewis and many such brands/com­pa­nies have a part­ner­ship ap­proach with Geosansar. And it runs pro­grammes in many gar­ment fac­to­ries.

Ed­u­ca­tion

Some of the ex­porters are even run­ning schools, giv­ing schol­ar­ships to the chil­dren of their work­ers, sup­port­ing their em­ploy­ees for higher ed­u­ca­tion etc. For ex­am­ple, ID-Care, a pro­gram ini­ti­ated by

In­dia De­sign, Ban­ga­lore, aims at pro­vid­ing ac­cess to qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for the down­trod­den chil­dren of its em­ploy­ees. It cov­ers schol­ar­ship at var­i­ous lev­els like pri­mary, higher pri­mary, sec­ondary and pre-univer­sity. In­clu­sion of phys­i­cally dis­abled peo­ple

Ex­porters like Tex­port In­dus­tries, Ban­ga­lore and Rad­nik Ex­ports,

CBC Fash­ions, Tirupur has an un­com­mon CSR tar­get of fo­cus­ing on peace of mind for which it or­ga­nizes free of cost med­i­ta­tion camp for its work­ers once a week which re­ally help the work­ers to main­tain their men­tal re­lax­ation. Some of the top ap­parel ex­porters don’t have ei­ther CSR or Sus­tain­abil­ity sec­tion on their web­site. Off the record, their HR man­agers have shared that they do feel that their com­pa­nies need to fo­cus more on CSR but they are not un­der­tak­ing any mea­sures in this re­gard.

Delhi are fo­cus­ing on hiring phys­i­cally dis­abled peo­ple. And both the com­pa­nies have re­ceived ac­knowl­edge­ment and ac­co­lades for the same.

En­vi­ron­ment

En­vi­ron­ment has been one of the most fo­cused ar­eas for many ex­porters like rain wa­ter har­vest­ing, wind en­ergy, so­lar en­ergy, re­cy­cle, re­use, etc. with the tar­get to re­duce green­house gas (GHG) emis­sions. Ma­trix Cloth­ing, Gur­gaon is working on the con­cept of cov­er­ing which uses the en­tire na­ture earth ( prithvi), wind ( pa­van) and fire (agni/surya) through var­i­ous means of en­ergy pro­duc­tion and sav­ing.

Multi-fo­cus

Apart from ed­u­ca­tion, health­care, en­vi­ron­ment, a few com­pa­nies like Sara Tex­tiles, Noida claim to cover wa­ter sup­ply in­clud­ing drink­ing wa­ter, so­cial em­pow­er­ment, sports and cul­ture, em­ploy­ment gen­er­a­tion and in­fra­struc­ture sup­port as part of their so­ci­etal con­tri­bu­tion. GHCL Lim­ited, Noida, which is into chem­i­cals and some con­sumer prod­ucts, fo­cuses on an­i­mal hus­bandry, im­prove­ment in agri­cul­ture prac­tices apart from tex­tiles. It has a GHCL Foun­da­tion Trust as its CSR arm. In its CSR pol­icy, the com­pany has stated,

“CSR works are fo­cused on the sur­round­ing ar­eas of op­er­a­tion of the com­pany spe­cially within the range of 50 to 100 km of the plant lo­ca­tions/work lo­ca­tions.”

Al­lo­ca­tion vs. Spend­ing

Talk­ing about pub­lic lim­ited com­pa­nies, most of them try to spend as much as they can from their al­lo­cated bud­get for CSR. In­ter­est­ingly, some com­pa­nies spend more than the amount they are al­lowed to spend by the law. Sut­lej Tex­tiles and In­dus­tries Lim­ited, Mumbai claims that its amount spent in 2016-17 was of Rs. 632.53 lakhs, ex­ceed­ing the re­quired spend­ing by Rs. 296.00 lakhs. GHCK Lim­ited, on the other hand, had to spend

Rs. 5.04 crore in 2016-17 on CSR but has ac­tu­ally spent only Rs. 4 crore. “The com­pany could not get clear­ance from the au­thor­ity and also some planned ac­tiv­i­ties have been com­menced, but are still in the pipe­line. How­ever, the com­pany is com­mit­ted to spend more amount on CSR ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing FY 2017-18, to en­sure that the un­spent CSR amount for 2016-17, is spent dur­ing FY 2017-18,” it says.

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