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CSR NEWS: APRIL & MAY 2015 ROUND-UP

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CSR NEWS: APRIL & MAY 2015 ROUND-UP

Anant Shrivastava

As we move into the new financial year conversations on the future of CSR abound. We’ve rounded up a few of the more pertinent updates, comments, and happenings, including our take on the President’s speech at the CII’s National Summit on CSR.

The Hindu talks long-term business benefits of CSR spend

Will CSR investment pay off for the company in the long-term? The Hindu has a crack at how it might, including market development, and increasing customer buying power – we think there are some much more tangible benefits for businesses but good to see the debate is alive and kicking.

Huff Post gives an articulate overview of the watch-outs of “CSR” in India right now

Hyperlocalisation around areas of operation, paying from products instead of processes, desperate alignment with the government agenda – some CSR watch-outs from Amitangshu Acharya in the Huff Post that we are definitely inclined to agree with.

States get micro with yet more guidelines

States are now forming their own CSR guidelines, as evidenced by this piece about Odisha’s plans in the Business Standard, and rumours that the same might be happening across the country. Companies are still struggling to adopt the rules of the Companies Act, which are cloudy enough to have kept many corporate legal teams busy throughout the last year – so we’re dreading more guidelines from states that are likely to add to the confusion, make the idea of CSR even less desirable for India Inc, and prevent companies from making innovative, meaningful impact at scale.

Sammaan: Can a new mega platform bring corporates and NGOs together effectively?

Sammaan is a new platform for CSR created by the Bombay Stock Exchange, CII and IICA announced in April 2015 and set to launch this summer. It will enable companies to browse verified NGO partners and programmes, invest through the platform itself, and monitor spend through a custom dashboard. It’s an ambitious concept and one that will require intensive resource to keep it relevant and updated, let’s see if BSE can make it happen.

New financial norms from ICAI, interpret at your own risk

Companies are to debit (charge) its profit and loss account (P&L a/c) with CSR expenses incurred by it during the year – and such expenses are to be shown as a separate line item in the P&L a/c. This is according to new norms issues by ICAI in May 2015.

And finally… President fails to impress in CSR keynote

We attended the “National Summit for CSR” organised by CII in April. The President of India was scheduled to make the opening address amidst much fanfare so we were curious to see what big ideas he might table. After a long delay and six introductory speeches he finally took to the stage but the outcome was disappointing to say the least. This was his opportunity to rally the corporate community around the potential of CSR and responsible business to bring fresh energy and expertise to India’s development agenda and drive private-sector thinking in new, exciting ways. Instead he regurgitated a familiar spiel around the Companies Act mandate and the government’s priority areas, which everyone in the room was well aware of already. A disappointing morning and more reason to feel concerned that, whilst setting out a good CSR spending mandate, the government has forgotten to inspire businesses to be truly responsible and revolutionary in their everyday operations.