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.
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.
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 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.
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.