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Anubhav Gupta

It's been a crazy January so apologies for a rather belated round-up of the top CSR stories from December. Happy new year!

Indian corporates show serious CSR attitude

This Mercer survey shows the positive outlook of Indian companies towards CSR with more and more of them aligning CSR with their core business strategy. It's clear that the law on mandatory CSR has already made its impact and it's heartening to see that a large percentage of companies are leveraging their internal expertise in trying to make a positive social impact and some are even transforming their product and services to account for social and environmental factors. However, as with any research, it's hard to know whether what companies claim and what they action are necessarily the same thing. 

Taking toilets seriously 

Since our Prime Minister launched the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan (Clean India Initiative) on Oct 2, 2014, corporates have already pledged a few thousand crore rupees to the cause. We agree that this is a wonderful initiative and a much needed one right now. Apart from the obvious benefits it brings to people, environment, the general image of our country, it also holds an interesting significance for corporates as highlighted by this article. We feel that even though everyone may have their own reasons to take up this initiative, in the end, it is leading towards a cleaner India which is a good thing!

The hard data: are companies spending their CSR dollars, and on what?

We came across an Economic and Political Weekly report on how corporate houses in India are spending their CSR money. It compares CSR spending between public and private companies and Indian and Foreign firms, it also shows the gap that exists between the amount companies are required to spend as per the mandate and the actual current spend. But perhaps the best part of the report is on the industry wise spend areas. It gives a great idea of where the priorities on CSR spend are across different sectors.

India's CSR journey is only just beginning

It's been almost a year since the Companies Act with the mandatory CSR provision was passed, and this report shows who the leading stars are in the Indian CSR space. The study by took into account the governance structure for CSR, stakeholder integration, pervasiveness of CSR efforts etc. to come up with the overall leaders and those in the public and private space. The positive take away from the report is that companies are strong on governance. But companies still have a long way to go in terms of disclosure, stakeholder engagement and sustainability. We hope that in the coming years, corporate India will mature in these aspects and deliver better results across all areas in the CSR space.

2014's top CSR stories

As the year ends, we thought of sharing this round-up of the top 5 CSR stories of 2014. One of the major things to happen was the enhanced focus on sustainability reporting with bodies like the United States advocacy group Ceres, Singapore Stock Exchange taking up the agenda. The renewed interest in sustainability couldn't have come at a better time as 2015 onwards, companies will have to follow the G4 reporting guidelines published by the Global Reporting Initiative to showcase their sustainability efforts. The review also talks about some studies that have shown that responsible business is proving to be profitable business and makes the case for incorporating sustainability into core business strategy - something most firms have already realized but it's still good to have it backed by solid data.

The CSR Bill is not dead (wake up DNA!) 

DNA goofed up big time by saying that the government has dropped provisions in Companies Bill to make it mandatory for companies to spend and report its CSR initiatives. Though this is absolutely incorrect and we pointed out the mistake to them, sadly, they still haven't removed it. In spite of there being some talks that the government might retract the policy, our point of view is that this looks increasingly impossible for this FY – however, the financial reports that will be published in September 2015 will no doubt give fuel to the debate of whether the policy is working or not in its current form.