Learning & Development

Jul 14, 2023 9 min read

CSR Initiatives: The Key Drivers for India’s Sustainable Development Growth

Author is currently working as Production Engineer at Naphtha Cracker Unit at Panipat Naphtha Cracker. He joined Indian Oil after completing his B.Tech as a Gold Medalist in Chemical Engineering from the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology. He is the recipient of the 2019 Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Excellence Award and the 2021 Honeywell UOP ScaleUp Sponsors Contest.

Abstract

Indian culture and its core values have social responsibilities and philanthropy engraved in the grassroots since ancient times. With the implementation of Clause 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was emerged from being a voluntary to a statuary activity.
Corporate Social Responsibility can be referred to as an initiative to evaluate and take responsibility for the corporate’s impact on socio-economic welfare and the environment. India is the first nation to identify CSR expenditure along with an integrated network to tap potential CSR activities.
Recently, GoI has taken CSR activities from the regional level to the national level for doing a world of good. There are major challenges in scaling the initiatives and the ray of hope for the well-being of the community at a larger scale.
After a V-shaped economic recovery from COVID, good health and adequate nutrition is the key driver for any economy. 19 cr. and counting is the undernourished people; therefore, there is a need to link CSR with Government policies and a unified interface. It is the need of the hour to combine Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets and CSR.

Main Content

CSR activities can be primarily classified into 3 categories:
• Environmental Responsibilities
• Socio-Economic Responsibilities
• Ethical Responsibilities.

Under Schedule VII of the Companies Act 2013 [1] there are various activities like obviating hunger, malnutrition, poverty and strengthening environmental sustainability. After the impact of COVID, our health infrastructure was completely exposed and there is an urgent need to bridge the gap. In the past, CSR activities in the local regions have benefited the population to a much greater extent significantly; therefore, GoI has planned to scale the initiative for a bigger cause.

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 2022 was a major setback and an eye-opener for India as its rank continues to slip from 94 (2020) to 101 (2021) and furthermore to 107 (2022) [2]. Although, GoI has extensively implemented schemes like Antodaya Ann Yojna, Mid-Day Meal, and Annapurna Scheme at grass root level but the scaling of these projects needs a boost [3]. As the booster dose, CPSEs have been allocated to scale the initiatives and regulate the mechanism for better health and adequate nutrition to the deprived community.

Various states like Chhattisgarh have done a commendable job in eradicating malnutrition. In the last 3 years, Chhattisgarh PRD under Mukhya Mantri Suposhan Abhiyan has taken 2.11 lac children out of the malnutrition cycle. Such initiatives should be studied and lessons could be scaled to the national level by designing a framework by CPSEs, GoI, and Nonprofit organizations [4].

Main Challenges in Steering CSR Initiatives from Regional to National Priorities:

• Lack of Connect between Corporates and NGOs may act as a barrier to the national goal; hence, the role and path should be made clear. Also, the majority of NGOs are not recognized. So, there must be initiatives to join hands with NGOs in different parts of the nation.
• Lack of Community Participation as there exists little or no information about CSR within local bodies.

Roadmap for CSR to National Priorities:

• Unified CSR Platform: Urgent need for a centralized platform where all CPSEs and states can learn and list the potential projects.
• Formulation of a national-level agency to tap the areas and implementation at the ground level

Recently, UNGA has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets due to their super nutritive characteristics such as high protein, rich fiber content, and antioxidants [5]. Apart from their nutritive characteristics their special agronomy conditions such as fitness for semi-arid zones. Millets are small-grained cereals cultivated in dry regions [6].

Figure: Groups of Millets in India

Millets could be the key to the initiative of CPSEs aligning with the national interest in health and nutrition as it can obviate the scaling factor from region to region due to their agronomic features. These Nutrient rich cereals require less amount of water to grow even in arid soils. There are also various constraints reported in recent times to scale the millet consumption as there was a sharp decline in the cultivation area of millets from 35 million hectares to 15 million hectares in the last few years [7].
 

In order to boost millet production, GoI has launched various initiatives such as India’s Wealth, Millets for Health; Milllet Startup Innovation Challenge; Hiked MSP for Millets, and declaration of millets as Nutri-Cereals[8].

In a nutshell, there is a lot to learn from past case studies from different regions in order to scale. Balancing regional differences across the nations is also a critical challenge but despite of all odds, there is a hope to strengthen nutrition and health.

References:

[1] MCA, GoI, https://www.csr.gov.in/content/csr/global/master/home/home.html.

[2] Why are corporates shying away from supporting nutrition through CSR? Times of India March 2022,https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/why-are-corporates-shying-away-from-supporting-nutrition-through-csr/

[3]Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), India Filings, https://www.indiafilings.com/learn/antyodaya-anna-yojana-aay/

[4]MukhyamantriSuposhan Abhiyan, https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/chhattisgarh/raipur/nutrition-campaign-being-successful-in-chhattisgarh-2-lakh-children-are-malnutrition-free/articleshow/94866945.cms

[5] Tasks for India’s millet revolution, TH January 2023, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/tasks-for-indias-millet-revolution/article66450922.ece

[6] Indian Institute of Millets Research, https://www.millets.res.in/millets_info.php

[7] Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Indian Millet Portal, https://apeda.gov.in/milletportal/

[8] Why India is making such a big deal out of millets, The Economic Times, April 2023, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/how-to/why-india-is-making-such-a-big-deal-out-of-millets/articleshow/99501591.cms?from=mdr


 

     

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