What are the different CSR Training programs in India?

  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has transformed from an optional initiative of a business into a highly professionally managed business segment, thanks to the mandate set by the Government of India through the Companies Act of 2013. The mandate has driven corporations and large businesses to relook and rethink their CSR initiatives to align with their own business visions and missions. Specific CSR frameworks and teams have been set up to strategise, plan, and execute the company’s yearly CSR funding effectively and efficiently to help society’s environmental, social, and economical development.   The business-like approach to CSR drives the need for qualified, skilled professionals to handle the project at various levels. There is a demand for a strategic approach to philanthropy, and that demand drives the need for able human capital. Many institutes in India offer specialised CSR training programs and courses to prepare eager and interested novices with essential skills, knowledge and hands-on experience to enter the CSR verticals of many highly coveted companies in India Inc.   Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Corporate Social Responsibility (JNICSR) CSR education goes beyond learning to manage CSR initiatives but needs to instil the urge for change and be a factor in changing the socio-economic situation. An in-depth understanding of the significance and impact of CSR projects needs to be instilled through quality CSR education. Helping many more hone their knowledge without putting their life on hold is JNICSR.   Courses Offered:   Course Objective: The courses aim to empower the students to enter the corporate CSR world with mid-level knowledge on effective utilisation of resources to achieve impactful results for sustained and long-term development.   Executive Post-Graduate Diploma in Innovative CSR (EPGDICSR) By TISS Executive Programme in Innovative CSR will adopt an entrepreneurial approach for the companies’ design and implementation of CSR and Sustainable Development initiatives. The programme targets professionals working in corporate, government and non-governmental organisations. Bringing together the interdisciplinary themes in economics, development, social policy, entrepreneurship and business management, the Executive Programme is designed to provide an interdisciplinary perspective on CSR and emerging models in CSR practices across business enterprises.   Course Objective: The programme will enable the participants to understand better sustainability challenges, drivers and tools and approaches to CSR and sustainable development. Participants will learn the socio-economic barriers and drivers that lead to poverty and hunger, gender inequality, violation of human rights, and environmental issues and see how businesses can progressively deal with such development challenges through innovation and creativity. [Source link]   Programmes Offered:
  1. Executive Post Graduate Diploma Programme in Innovative CSR (EPGDICSR)
  2. Advanced Certificate Programme in Innovative CSR (ACPICSR)
  3. Certificate Programme in Innovative CSR (CPICSR)
  Target Audience –
  • Graduates in any discipline with three years of experience in the Corporate, Government or Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Practicing CSR Professionals
  Comparative Outlook of Three Programmes – Indian School of Development Management  (ISDM) The Post Graduate Program in Development Management (PGP-DM) is ISDM’s flagship initiative designed by leading academics and practitioners from both the development and management sectors.   The yearlong program blends ideas of development with concepts of management combines in-class sessions with a two week field component on ‘Realizing India’, and promotes collaborative group work.   Course Overview: The Post-Graduate Program in Development Management is the only One-Year Program in Development Management globally that blends ideas of development with management theories, combining in-class sessions with collaborative group work and a field component. The program aims to develop a cadre of Social Sector Professionals who can design interventions, and build, lead and manage organisations for sustainable social impact at scale. Fees: Tuition Fees 5 Lakhs (Financial Assistance Available) Course Duration: 1 Year Location: New-Delhi   Certificate course on Corporate Social Responsibility by ICAI Intending to provide CSR based unique knowledge, the ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) offer a 4-weeks duration certificate course to Chartered Accountants.   Course Objective: This online Certificate course on Corporate Social Responsibility intends to equip the participants to understand the rules and regulations pertaining to CSR. The Companies Act, 2013 provides a unique CSR framework not applicable anywhere else globally; hence there are no benchmarks and learnings of a model like this. The objective of legislation needs to be viewed against two key ideas. The Corporations Act as partners in the social development process of the country and strengthen the social responsibility of business.   Certificate Course on CSR by The Institute of Companies Secretaries of India Course Objective: This course aims to apprise the mandatory rules, regulations and policy framework. It intends to develop competency in CSR audit and sensitise candidates to a career in NGO, CSR, Society etc. It intends to provide best practices in global CSRs to candidates and provide a structured framework for CSR governance and its implementation. It is a 3-month certificate course offered online.   These courses aim to apprise students on CSR policy, understand the challenges, instruments & drivers for sustainable development through CSR.   Since the mandate by Government is relatively new, the demand for a qualified and skilled workforce dedicated to CSR initiatives will only rise, which will eventually lead to many professional courses by reputed institutes.

Constructive CSR – How do the giants work it out?

Corporate Social Responsibility, while a mandate in India, mostly isn’t refined and improved according to the climate. While every organisation does it’s bit in contributing and helping society, they fail to incorporate an important element – an effectual system. Let’s learn from some of the tech giants and business leaders who have incorporated CSR in an impactful manner, while keeping it wholesome and beneficial.   LEGO The world’s biggest most influential toy brand that has streamlined into amusement parks and other wings, focuses on teaching through what they know best – “PLAY.” Children learn so much more when they are spending time playing and their CSR revolves around developing young minds with the help of Play Agents (employees who are trained by LEGO). While the numbers have risen to over 3000 Play Agents today, all of whom have helped communities around the globe to take a step closer to experiential learning, LEGO looks forward to contributing more to children across the globe.   MICROSOFT When organisations like Microsoft vow to become carbon neutral by 2030 and also to remove the carbon the company has emitted since its founding in 1975, the CSR contribution is colossal. While investing in climate solutions that could help achieve this goal, the company’s bold and public admission of their CSR goals instils more faith in their ethos and creates a transparent workspace for the employees as well. And that adds up to make space for effective CSR policies.   GOOGLE Google has been taking huge strides in helping children across developing nations to gain access to learn and educate themselves. The multinational tech giant helps organisations that focus on improving education in developing countries and has so far contributed millions to such organisations. By clubbing with organisations like Learning Equality, Google does its bit to close the educational gap. Note: Here’s what their collaborations brings to the world. To watch, visit their YouTube channel.   XEROX Corporate philanthropy isn’t new to XEROX. With student-centric community outreach, they believe in STEM education being the primary key to a better future for the younger generation. By partnering with organisations like FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) students have gained a lot by getting hand-on science and engineering experience. Note: To learn more about this beneficial partnership, you can visit the XEROX website.   BOSCH This multinational engineering company set out with ambitious goals like reducing it’s ecological footprint and the efforts paid off when 400 of its locations were announced to be climate neutral. Moving on to focus on vocational training for the under-educated youth in India, to holistic village development and helping below poverty line children with food and healthcare supplies, Bosch focusses on giving back to those who have no means to receive. Note: You can visit the Bosch CSR page to know more about their contribution in CSR for India   OUR TAKEAWAYS FROM THESE GIANTS
  • It takes more than the incorporation of a CSR, we have to build it and reinvent it
  • Contribute in your field of expertise and do it with all your heart
  • There are many others who are working on the same goals – partnering with them works wonders too
  • We must build CSR programs in a fashion that allows it to evolve over time
  • A good CSR program helps keep the organisation afloat with happy employees
  • Transparency is the key of any good CSR program
  To sum it up, many organisations, tech giants and multinational companies are breathing examples of these takeaways. From the implementation to fruition, it all starts with a though, to do good and be beneficial to the society by giving back. Let’s strive to be better with smart and constructive Corporate Social Responsibility!  

Making CSR Work at Work

Corporate Social Responsibility holds a lot of meaning in an organization, from planned programs which are in line with the Corporate CSR policy & processes to being an entity that takes employee participation seriously. Since CSR is so diverse and can be of aid for the ones who ‘really’ need the help, organizations must understand the real process involved in infusing a healthy CSR-based vision into the company’s ethos.

Considering the importance of good corporate social responsibility, in today’s climate, many businesses are making CSR their primary business strategy. Not only does it help the downtrodden, but the organization itself. Here’s how this will make it work.

 

THE STEPS

 
  • Introduce the concept
Firstly, you need to define or redefine what corporate social responsibility means to your company to ensure everyone understands it and is on the same page. Once everyone understands what CSR is, you can start talking about it without bias or misunderstandings.    
  • Create a plan that is based on your company’s core competencies
Supporting a cause that corresponds with a company’s skills, research, and understanding in a certain area will be helpful for community partners as well as a win for the company in terms of additional customer visibility and revenue streams.  
  • Identify the benefits

It’s important to devote a significant amount of time to researching and identifying the advantages of CSR. Once you’ve figured out how CSR can benefit you; you can use that information to guide your business case. 

 
  • Understand the issues that concern your clients

Consumers are more likely to buy a product when the company supports a social or environmental concern that they care about. They could appreciate socially responsible businesses, thus leading to brand loyalty, donations to charities supported by the business, and purchases of products with a social benefit.

 
  • Set goals
  These goals will demonstrate that your approach is having a beneficial influence on your company and that your CSR program is on track. The goals can be more KPI-orientated, like employee levels of engagement, lower customer churn, or online brand sentiment.  
  • Obtaining project approval

Make a business case for implementing a CSR strategy and highlight all of the potential benefits that a unique CSR project might bring to your company. 

 
  • Perform your initial research and plan

This step entails investigating social and environmental activities that you believe will complement your company’s mission and vision, as well as those that respond to employee values. 

 
  • Create a CSR program that your employees will also be proud of
 

Employees that are involved are more likely to stay with a company for a longer period of time, lowering attrition costs. They see their workplace as a place where they can make a good difference in social and environmental challenges. These programs might range from paid volunteer time off to company-wide service days to skill-based virtual volunteering possibilities.

 
  • Communicate your CSR campaign

You only have one chance to launch it as effectively as possible, so now is the time to make the most of it. Your CSR launch needs to be communicated clearly to the right stakeholders, which include employees, shareholders or investors, external stakeholders, partners, local communities, the press, customers, and lastly, your fans and followers.

 
  • Ensure the success of your program

For the final process, the company needs to maintain the CSR campaign or campaigns. It is also important to collaborate with your implementing partner on the project. Your management expertise and domain knowledge will go a long way in ensuring its success while adding to the capability of the implementing partner. Collecting qualitative input in addition to quantitative feedback is also a good decision to maintain the program.

 
  • Prepare yourself to react quickly to current events and social movements

Your CSR work must be adaptable to be sustainable. Modifying budgets, diverting time expenditures, and rapidly selecting trusted nonprofit partners to launch new initiatives.

   

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UNDERSTANDING CSR IN 2021

THE CSR PRESENCE Needless to say, CSR is a vital part of reducing the problems faced in the Indian market and to developing a sustainable socioeconomic environment. This will not only determine the complex relationship between economic systems and social structures but also the healthcare system. But how far can the corporate organisations in India go, to ensure an altered and better state of Occupational and Educational status of the ones in need? For this, we need to understand the structuralisation of CSR in corporate organisations, aligned with the poverty levels of the Indian populace and how to maneuver through the funds to maintain an effective Corporate Social Responsibility policy. EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS CSR In fact, CSR is a useful tool and can be shown in various methods. From charities and ethical labor practices to employee volunteering and so much more, Corporate Social Responsibility plays a vital role in subsiding the imbalance in our society. And if your business incorporates the basic laws of CSR, you are doing your bit to help the downtrodden. Basic laws of a business, governing the CSR world How Can CSR Benefit your Business, On a Personal Scale   CSR COSTS & HOW TO HANDLE THEM A note for all the CFOs: There are some easy ways to invest and monitor your CSR funding. ​​The consumers of today have realigned the way big and small conglomerates look at their day-to-day activities, by making them rethink their ethical and moral business standards. The real question becomes, what specific cost should you be paying attention to when it comes to your corporate social responsibilities. Let’s start with the most important and basic point, Opportunity costs: To put it simply, opportunity Costs can be overlooked, as the name suggests. Any activity that could not have been undertaken due to circumstances like certain elements like capital and labour being bound to the aforementioned activity. Sunk costs: All primary investments in inventory can be considered as Sunk Costs. These are an essential part of cost management and are something every CFO monitors to maintain good CSR. Recurrent costs: increased wages, investment in social insurance, training, benefits for workers etc. fall under Recurrent Costs. These are unavoidable but if planned well, tremendously beneficial. And why have we chosen these points as the top three points? With proper understanding of the company’s expenses in the granular level, determines the growth of an organisation’s CSR planning.   TOP CSR TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2021
  • Virtual Community Engagement
  • Initiatives Closely Aligned with Current Events
  • Closer Integration with the Internal Community (with employees) and Externally (surrounding communities)
  • Stakeholders are the Target Audience, not Just Shareholders
  Sources:    

Empowering communities through CSR

The prosperity of a country is determined by the quality and the welfare of its various communities. Only when there are balanced growth and sustainability in the community can a nation truly achieve greatness. While most of us are primarily focused on the welfare of our families, we need to be equally responsible for the development of our communities. The Government of India has launched several programmes over the years to address the needs of various communities across the country. But the problem is gigantic and hence it alone cannot solve the problem. This is where CSR can be an effective tool for creating sustainable development with a strong focus on social performance. In fact, last year in 2020, as coronavirus continued to spread across India, many private and public sector companies stepped up CSR efforts to help struggling communities fight the pandemic. According to research by CRISIL, 84 out of 130 companies analysed had contributed Rs 7,537 crore, just between March and May 2020. However, there are many areas of intervention on which CSR spends could focus for a holistic approach.   Improving the standard of living of villagers: As India is going through the process of globalisation and modernization, many villages are left behind, while the urban centers get the major chunk of attention. Improving the standards and self-reliance of the villagers at the same time preserving their lifestyle, can add great value to the larger development of the country. Organisations can focus their CSR strategies by partnering with successful NGOs and community based Organisations (CBOs) and work towards upliftment of rural societies. Wipro is well-known for its large contribution to society through its Wipro Foundation. Many of their projects are long-term multi-year programmes that are focused on build the capacity of the communities in terms of higher awareness and developing a higher degree of self-reliance to handle their own requirements.   Empowering them with employability: Youths in villages and slums face extreme hardships in terms of opportunities for being useful to society, as they do not have the necessary skills to be employed or be entrepreneurial. Focusing on setting up long-term projects, where students after school or college can train themselves to be productive members of society, can uplift the morale of the economically weaker communities. Mahindra & Mahindra in partnership with Naandi Foundation initiated Mahindra Pride School. The idea was to recruit semi-educated youth from the villages and urban slums, train them and get them corporate jobs.   Educate to recycle:   When resources are hard to come by, recycling is the best method to adapt. Especially in rural, marginalized and unprivileged communities, adapting to renewable energy, waste management and resource conservation initiatives can make big difference. Tata Power runs a programme called the Adhikaar which aims to inform, enable and empower marginalised communities. In collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation, they set up the Tata Power Renewable Microgrid Limited (TPRMG) to enable access to reliable and renewable electricity for 25 million Indians. In another example, the Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF) manages the ‘Water for Public Good’ programme. The objective of this programme is to empower local communities to govern water resources and enhance farm-based livelihoods through the adoption of judicious water management practices. Since 2010, HUF has supported grassroots interventions in 53 districts with 23 NGO partners across over 4,300 villages in India.   Innovative farming methods Although India is an agriculture-based country many farmers in villages still use outdated and ineffective methods that bring them very low yield. Educating them with innovative methods and providing them tools will empower them and enrich the whole community. Over the past years, Coca-Cola India has built significant inroads into the farming community with its focus on good agricultural practices that provide forward linkages to the Indian farmers. Fruit Circular Economy (FCE) is a step towards addressing the issues of low farm productivity, poor technology adoption and fruit wastage by harnessing the higher productivity potential of fruits – both at the farm as well as processing level. To truly put meaning behind any CSR project, the objective should be set on long-term development of aiming to empower weaker communities. Strategies inclusive of both aspects can deliver a much prosperous and equitable sustainable society that can help India to grow better and sustainable.

With better support to livelihood sector, CSRs can uplift the nation

India is home to some of the richest people on the earth, and ironically, it is also home to the poorest of the poor as well. According to the Brookings report, about a decade ago, India had approximately 73 million people who were living in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty equates to a severe lack of access to even basic livelihood like proper shelter, good food, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, education, etc. However, the Indian government over the years has taken great strides in pulling out literally millions of Indians out of poverty. From 54.7% in 2005, they helped reduce it to 17% in 2020. Yet there is still a long way to go, and they cannot do this by themselves. Indian organisations have definitely pitched in and have been addressing various livelihood issues relentlessly. According to an analysis published by CRISIL Foundation, the main focus for many companies in the past year was on improving education, healthcare and livelihoods. In fact, these accounted for 75% of the total spend on CSR. In the financial year 2019-20, in terms of both, number of companies spending (1,030) and proportion of total spend went up to 36.16% from 35.03% of the previous year. Here are some of the issues that require more support. Restoring livelihoods In an increasingly crowded world, some kind of disaster is always around the corner. Earthquakes, cyclones, floods, forest fires, pandemic, you name it, we’ve seen it all in barely last 5 years. Any kind of disaster always strikes the poor in the worst possible way, destroying their meagre livelihood. That’s why having a committed project that aims at restoring some dignity back into their lives is important. Aspire Systems India has partnered with World Vision India to support one of their landmark project, ‘Restoration of livelihood’ and focus on COVID-19 affected households in few small towns in Tamil Nadu. The programme aims to help 100 beneficiaries with livelihood options based on their needs, such as the supply of agriculture inputs, livestock, setting up of small shops, etc. The restoration efforts will help the beneficiaries in enhancing cash flow in the community to meet the daily consumption expenses and improve food and nutrition security among affected and reverse migration households Empowering women with equal opportunities For long women have been suppressed and held back citing various patriarchal reasons. It is time we create an inclusive society and change our attitude towards women as a weaker sex and provide them equal opportunities. Empowering women will transform individual lives, families ,societies and nations in a broader context. Hindustan Unilever’s ‘Project Shakti’ is an initiative that aims to financially empower and provide livelihood opportunities to women in rural India. The Shakti Entrepreneurs are given training for familiarisation with many of the company’s products and basic tenets of distribution management. This programme has helped Shakti Entrepreneurs gain selling skills, become self-confident, improve their self-esteem and learn communication skills. Creating self-reliance through skill enhancement Being a country with more than one billion population and having a significant under-skilled youth is just a recipe for disaster. Setting up long-term skill enhancement programmes will not only empower the poor to a better livelihood but also uplift the society greatly. National Aluminium Company Limited, (NALCO) has set up various skill enhancement centres in different parts of the country it operates, to improve the employability of women and youth. Some of the training are beautician course, food and nutrition, tailoring, motor winding, pump maintenance, farming etc. Welfare of the farmer is welfare of the nation If agriculture goes wrong in a nation, everything will eventually fall. That’s why farmers are one of the most valuable members of the society. In India, agriculture is the source of employment for more than 50% of the population, accounting for nearly 16% of its GDP. However, in the last few decades, India’s focus on investment has shifted from farming to IT and other sectors. Thus, the Indian farmers have been lagging behind in many areas are not educated and thus are not adapted to technological development. Mahindra & Mahindra has launched the Krishi Mitra project, in partnership with several NGOs, where it helps small and marginal farmers by educating them in updated techniques in farming. The project also provides various services leading to improvement in agricultural productivity, for the advantage of the farmers. Besides initiating several individual projects aimed at improving livelihoods, many organisations from various sectors have come together to create a first-ever multiagency partnership called India Livelihoods Collective (ILC). Its sole objective is to scale-up livelihoods interventions in farm, non-farm and urban jobs ecosystems. It will also facilitate innovative solutions in rural livelihood opportunities in partnership with technology incubators and social businesses.   Image Source & References: https://frontline.thehindu.com/ https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ The start of a new poverty narrative (brookings.edu) Annual Report (brookings.edu) Sustainability in CSR Projects for Village Development – India CSR Network Home | India Livelihoods Collective (ilc.org.in) Infographic: Education, livelihood draw most CSR spend | India News – Times of India (indiatimes.com) Opportunities for women | Sustainable Living | Unilever global company website National Farmers Day 2020: Top CSR Projects for Farmers’ Welfare in India – The CSR JournalIndia Development Review (idronline.org)
How do you solve a problem like livelihoods?
Sustainable livelihoods: Where donors need to focus
Project Shakti- CSR Projects India (csrbox.org) CSR Initiatives Benefitting Farmers in India – The CSR Journal

Where does CSR stand in saving our environment?

The world is currently facing an environmental crisis on a mammoth scale. The so-called ‘modern development’ has exerted so much pressure on our environment and its natural resources, that we are now facing a mass global degradation like never before. There is no doubt that India is suffering the worst of it, with its best cities ranking in the bottom-most of the environmental index. Hence, for any company, CSR initiatives that focus on environmental protection should be a top priority. Several organizations are starting to realize this fact and are slowly adapting their strategies. Since the damage to the environment has been huge, the area of focus for an organization also is diverse. Where companies can focus their CSR activities? 1. Clean air to breathe India’s air quality is one of the worst in the world. In fact, more than half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India. Air is after all a fundamental need for survival, and hence all businesses have a responsibility to keep the quality of air suitable for life. To tackle this, Cummins India initiated the ‘Creating Oxygen Hubs’ program. Under this program, they decided to fight against this pollution by partnering with various NGOs, communities and civic authorities in the city of Pune, to create oxygen hubs by creating forests. So far, they have planted more than 35000 trees across the city. Image Source 2. Forests cover must increase India’s forests are one of its key environmental factors that makes it such an agriculturally rich country. But this is erasing rapidly with ever-increasing encroachment and depletion of forests. What was once vast green lands, stand today as wastelands. There is a need to bring them back under vegetative cover. ITC Limited has been working towards this area with its ‘Social Forestry’ program. Under this initiative, they have greened over 33,982 acres. Together with this initiative, Farm Forestry program and Agro-Forestry initiative, the company has not only been increasing the forest cover and tackling climate change but also enhancing farm level employment and generating incomes among the tribal community. 3. Save our rivers In India, rivers were once considered goddesses. However, this is a fading reality. Currently, India is facing one of the worst water crises in history. Many of its major cities are running dangerously dry and coming close to Day Zero. That’s why companies need to focus on restoring the water quality of our rivers and other water bodies. Companies like Infosys has been actively involved in improving the local water bodies of Karnataka with their ‘Water Bodies Rejuvenation’ program, committing Rs. 15.32 crores every year. Image Source 4. Clean energy for a greener planet ‘Global warming’ – what was once just an idea has become a living reality today with many parts of the world reaching high temperatures like never before. Due to this, clean energy is getting a lot of attention from industrialists and governments across the globe. Investing in alternative energy like solar, hydroelectric, biomass and wind power, is something corporate houses can explore for their CSR activity. India has a target of installing 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022 and is still 72 GW short of it. To achieve this ambitious goal, India needs an investment of almost $65 billion. Some top corporates in India have been making substantial commitments to include renewable energy in their CSR strategy. For example, Tata Steel has installed a 3 MW solar project at Noamudi in Jharkhand. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has provided solar streetlights and solar water heaters in select villages of south India. Sasken Technologies Limited has powered up the entire village of Belagavadi in rural Karnataka with inverter-less solar DC technology covering about 250 houses. Image Source 5. Keep the soil alive One of the major threat India is facing is the erosion of our soil. India has a rich history of agriculture dating back to pre-historic times. But due to many negligent and ignorant practices, the soil is being polluted by solid and liquid waste from the industries and large-scale farm business. Soil determines the quality of the food we consume, and food security is a precondition for any kind of sustainable development. That is why sufficient CSR spending for the protection of top soil in India is the need of the hour. It is the only way to assure food security for a healthy population and the future of India.   Conclusion  These are just some of the issues that need immediate attention. However, there is a whole world of issues to tackle when it comes to environmental activities. Many experts predict that if the current trends continue many parts of the world will become uninhabitable in merely 10 to 20 years. Therefore, protecting and saving the environment shouldn’t be just a mere CSR strategy but rather a core feature of any organization. That is why it is necessary for organizations to partner with governments and other NGOs to bring about a sustainable change. And CSR is an essential way to address the numerous that India faces.

How CSR can Make a Difference in Healthcare

The healthcare sector in India is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in India. In 2017, the industry stood at US$ 61.79 billion, and by 2023, it is expected to double by US$ 132.84 billion. Yet, the Indian healthcare sector is in an ailing condition, as a majority of the investments do not reach the population that is in dire need. The problem in India is, private hospitals provide excellent care but are beyond the reach of most people. And public hospitals are affordable but are overcrowded and lacks responsiveness. While the government seems to be doing a lot by allocating a larger budget yearly, it is still far cry from what the country actually needs. In fact, India spends less than 2% of its GDP on healthcare, 1.4% to be exact, making it one of the lowest investors in the sector globally. This is where investments from private sectors as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in healthcare can make a big difference to society at large. What’s the current trend in CSR for healthcare in India? While healthcare does receive a significant amount of funds from the corporations, much of it is focused on health camps and building hospitals or upkeeping its facilities. All these solutions are merely temporary patches. The country needs solutions that will eradicate some of the fundamental problems. 1. Imbalance in infrastructure and population ration Given the growing population of the country, the current infrastructure is greatly imbalanced. To the point that the doctor-patient ratio in India is 1:1700. This is dangerously low. Major investments in India primarily focused on urban centres while in rural areas are left with a bare minimum. Under its ‘Comprehensive Healthcare Initiatives’, the NHPC Limited has been providing medical facilities, qualified doctors and medical attendants, in many rural areas of Assam. They also actively partner with government agencies in bringing awareness regarding many diseases. 2. Rural areas need more doctors Besides infrastructure, the country is short of doctors, particularly in rural areas. While many companies are working in improving in this area, there still a huge gap that needs to be filled. People in rural areas need access to quality healthcare and the government can provide incentives to doctors to spend time in rural/remote areas and take healthcare where it is desperately needed. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited runs ‘Project Dhanwantari’ across the country. Through this project, they provide basic medical needs for people in remote rural areas by door-to-door with Mobile Medical Vans (MMVs). 3. Contribution to medical insurance Quality healthcare for many is unaffordable in India. Rather than offering assistance with one-time or temporary treatments, companies could rather offer health insurance in a brand agnostic way, or tie up with pharma companies and provide cheaper medicines. 4. Focus more on mental illness Support and awareness for mental illness are almost unheard of in rural areas. While the government offers very little support, many organizations like Infosys, TCS, and IDFC are taking up this cause slowly and even those are focused on urban areas only. There is a lot that organizations can do to make quality healthcare available to all. There is a lot of money and a lot of intent too. All we need is proper channelling. 5. Reaching the unreachable India is a country with more than 60% of the population living in rural areas and a low level of health facilities. Many villagers are forced to travel hundreds of kilometres to access basic medical treatments and follow up check-ups. In this case, telemedicine can be a great way to help these communities get the best treatment or diagnosis possible. Parimal Enterprise, a pharma company, has taken up telemedicine as their corporate social responsibility to help the poor and rural households in remote areas. With their initiative like Dox-in-Box, Piramal’s telemedicine projects help people in remote areas access trained doctors. They have set up over 44 telehealth centres across the country, many in partnership with state governments. And help provide relevant information, screenings and follow-ups to patients. 6. Quality healthcare to remote areas Rural healthcare is one of the biggest challenges the Health Ministry of India is facing. Though the government implementing a lot of policies and programs in trying to reach out to remote places, the effectiveness of these programs is questionable. Wockhardt Foundation’s MOBILE1000 initiative is one program that has been spearheading in this area.  Their aim is to provide free primary healthcare to poor Indians in rural India. With a fully equipped Mobile Health Van, an MBBS doctor and medicines providing ADCR (Awareness, Diagnosis, Cure, and Referral), they have helped over 171.47 lakh patients in different villages across the country. 7. Make India more healthy India is known for having one of the largest populations of undernourished children in the world. So much so that even basic human rights are denied to millions, leading to stunted growth. Corporate houses can channelise their CSR fund towards building a healthy nation. Dabur India’s ‘Nutrition Program’ is aimed at eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition through provision of food, nutrition supplement, clothes etc. Through this program, they have partnered with various government agencies and NGOs to supplement the nutrition needs of the poor and needy. Health is a responsibility for one and all. For a country to be prosperous it requires its citizen to be in a healthy condition and think beyond basic survival. While the government is working on many projects, and a helpful hand from the corporate houses can make a huge difference.

CSR in Education and the Challenges India Inc is Facing

Since the time India got its independence, the government of India has taken great strides in improving the quality of education in the past 40 to 50 years. But, despite decades of reforms and government initiatives, a big chunk of the population remains uneducated. For reasons like lack of quality education, proper facilities, teacher quality, irrelevant curriculum, and pedagogy. This is where India Inc can step in and help close the gap. In fact, after implementation of the Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013, many organizations have indeed played their part. Corporate leaders have come to realize that the resources spent on education are bound to impact social equity. As a result, education has taken the lion’s share of their funding in their corporate social responsibility (CSR). According to an analysis conducted by CSRBOX, over 88% companies in India invested CSR fund in one or more education projects. In fact, for the year 2019, 613 companies contributed to CSR through 8501 projects and a consolidated spending of INR 12143.77 Cr. Although official reports for the year 2020 is yet to come out, the CSR spending will surely top 2019. For instance, Infosys alone has spent nearly Rs 360 Crore as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility programs in the years 2019-20. While the numbers may seem big, there are still many persisting challenges and issues the country is facing. Persisting challenges in education Given the size of India’s population, there are simply too many hurdles for anyone to solve. That’s why the corporates need to understand India’s education landscape, so they can target their spending accordingly. While many organizations are focusing on larger issues like basic infrastructure, free education and health & nutrition, there are still other issues that need to be addressed.  1. Improving quality and adequacy of teachers Oftentimes, even if there is sufficient infrastructure, there is a shortage of qualified teachers who are ready to take up the job. Due to this, quality education still eludes most school-children. Few organizations have taken up this responsibility, yet this is one space where more can focus their CSR activity. Companies like Tata Teleservices has done its best in providing education to students from the underprivileged community in government schools. Ther teacher training programs have enhanced the quality of education in many government schools across the country. 2. Assessment of student achievement Many CSR projects offer initial stage support, however, what is required is a long-term assessment of students’ achievements. A system of understanding their needs and offering them support to improve themselves is relatively low. Tech Mahindra is one company that has an extensive portfolio of CSR in just education. Their initiative like ARISE (All Round Improvement in School Education) are long-term school improvement programmes, in partnership with local governments and partner organisations. They have also adopted more than sixty schools across India and is working with 18 partners to turn them around completely into model schools of excellence.   3. Lack of maintenance The CSR funds are usually spent on improving the basic infrastructure and amenities. However, there is a lack of continued maintenance, and due to that any development towards infrastructure only seems like a cosmetic change at best.  4. Lack of consensus on implementation Lack of consensus is one of the main issues that local agencies face regarding CSR projects. This often results in duplication of activities by one or more corporates, which takes on a competitive spirit rather than a collaborative approach.   These are just a few areas of interventions that require immediate attention that corporates can focus their CSR on education. However, India Inc. has not forgotten that access to quality education is fundamental to the growth of India, and they are opening many windows of possibilities, where there were none. But with the right guidance and partnerships with government and other local agencies, they being to close the gap efficiently.  

CSR DURING COVID-19

Corporate Social Responsibility (not necessarily the mandatory 2% spend under the Companies Act) plays a very vital role now more than ever. With the rampant spread of the Coronavirus, much like the spread that knows no borders or divisions, businesses   are demanded to show loyalty to every stakeholder . Identifying with CSR-equipped business  – The ‘Was’ and ‘Is’ Was- What earlier proved to be good for business  was to meet the altruistic needs of goals that were worthy, to a society that was mostly working towards combining all the business and social goals. Is- While 2020 started off good, COVID-19 happened. So what IS, is a very different scenario that has to face long term and short term challenges created by this epidemic that leaves no business unaffected. Which is where learning the benefits of CSR plays a vital role now more than ever.

CSR starts at home

While we focus on catering to our consumers, it is easy to let our staff slip our minds. But, CSR during COVID-19 demands a newer approach where employees benefit too. Start off by ensuring your employees’ safety and security, allowing them flexibility and lesser job-related stress. Extending your helping hand to ensure their mental safety as well is crucial too.   To keep your employees comfortable and ready-for-work in an environment that is new to both entities is by listening to them, just as you’d listen to your customers.   Support small business and give them a leg up. This will be a bucket of its own under CSR as across the nation, there are so many small businesses that have already been shut down and some of which have been capsized due to tumultuous waters. Some businesses are somehow managing to hold on and it takes good CSR to lift them up with the necessary funds that will keep them afloat. Companies like Intuit have joined hands with Indian Fundraising organisations like Milaap to help uplift small businesses who suffer the worst hit. While milaap has constantly been working to help individual communities and businesses in the past as well, the COVID-19 situation has given the organisation fuel to help fight the pandemic. On the other hand, The Embassy Group of Companies brought together a consortium of companies to help support students facing SSLC exams. Many companies have contributed what they can in similar ways to uplift our society, understanding the need of the hour and realising their social responsibility.     So what are the key takeaways?
  1. Support mental wellness and consider that the highest priority to maintain good relations with your employees.
  2. Provide financial security and try not to lose out on valuable additions to the organisations.
  3. Give small business a leg up and keep them afloat.

CSR and Brand sensitivity during tough times

While it is important to self-promote and stay in the minds of people, it is also important to keep sensitivity in mind. People wouldn’t want to see you market your brand/business during these times whatever it be. So how do you find the balance?   Humanizing brands during a period of major dislocation   While It is important to let the world know what you are up against and how you are facing it, it is also important for us as people and as brands to address others with humanity, empathy and financial assistance to whoever needs it the most.   Stick to communicating about CSR via a single platform   Brands that blow their own horns are not the reassurance people are looking for. While the world falls apart, it doesn’t stand well to brand without humanity. Which is why branding about your socially responsible activities should be kept to the minimum and done with empathy, reminding people what we stand for during the most devastating change in the ways of the world. It is important to comfort them, yet remind them of the implications and the sustainable solutions.

What is the biggest takeaway from COVID-19?

REASSURANCE. The public feels like they are in safe hands when there is any form of reassurance. When someone reads a simple article about how a man fed the strays or fended for the downtrodden during a plight will uplift their spirit. But what comes with reassurance from a buisness  of any size, is BRAND LOYALTY. And thus CSR can work on multiple levels for business of different sizes now more than ever.   Continue being patient, continue being a socially responsible business. And that means more than fulfilling the statutory obligations.