How to bridge gap between corporate and non-profits to initiate CSR in India?

“Ethical Businesses always strive towards improving the quality of life of people by offering safe and
excellent products. The efficient use of resources in a business to benefit all the stakeholders involved
has an across-the-board impact on financial performance which results in increased revenue for the
businesses. This typically happens if a sense of social responsibility prevails throughout the
organization in all the business processes and become a routine practice among its employees…”

These Guiding Principles of ‘The Arthashastra’ (4th Century BC), an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft,
economic policy and military strategy, written in Sanskrit by Chanakya who was a scholar at Takshashila
and the teacher and guardian of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Mauryan Empire; have
it all that manifested as the MDG or CSR in today’s modern times.

Following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration by the consensus and
commitment of 189 member states of United Nations and 23 International Organizations, the new
millennium marked a path-setting resolution – MDGs – Millennium Development Goals! These goals
dictated commitment of world leaders to address issues of peace, poverty, hunger, security,
development, human rights, environment, and global cooperation; all around the globe. Most of these
goals are meant for the social development and inclusion of the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors
of society into mainstream development along with ensuring environmental sustainability.

However, achievement of the MDGs targets are faced with the reality of the limited ability of
government funding, both at central and regional levels, thus achieving the MDGs is still difficult to
implement if only relied on public funds alone. The commitment to meet the MDGs requires further
funding and involvement of a range of stakeholders, and efforts are required to enhance the
participation of stakeholders.

Strategies are needed to harmonize the efforts of various parties to accelerate the achievement of the
MDGs. One of the high potential schemes for synergy with government programs for the MDGs is the
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) organized by the business entity (corporation). CSR has a potential
to support the achievement of MDGs due to its similar goals and benefits with those of MDGs’ program.
On the other hand, variety of Not-for-profit social organizations are working towards community
development goals similar to MDGs for years together all around the world.

India has possibly the largest number of active non-government, not-for-profit organizations in the
world. A study commissioned by the government put the number of such entities, accounted for till
2009, at 3.3 million. That is one NGO for about 400 Indians, and many times the number of primary
schools and primary health centers in India. Even this staggering number may be less than the actual
number of NGOs active in the country.

However, due to different reasons the performance of NGOs at the national as well as community level
has not been up to the expectation of the people. They are criticized for their lack of accountability,
transparency, competency, sustainability and quality. One of the important reasons for lower level of
performance of the NGOs is because of low level of capacities of the NGOs.

The NGOs have plenty of people with volunteer spirit and willingness as well as competencies to work
among the disadvantaged population in difficult situations. But a large numbers of NGOs do not have
competencies and capacities to deliver program, undertake planning and management of the program,
mobilization of local resources and their management etc. Because of lack of such competencies, most
of the NGOs face questions about their sustainability and viability of their organizations.

This understanding and analysis of the situation points to a probable and possible dimension of
synergizing the capacities, intentions and strengths of two sectors of society Corporates and NGOs
towards a unified and convergent goal of Inclusive Social Development for making this world a better
and sustainable place to live for the entire ecosystem of earth, at large.

Corporates have the reason, means and tools to facilitate the Sustainable Development, NGOs have the
knowledge, empathy and bandwidth to reach the core issues at grassroots and solve them and
Government has the authority to govern the progress, mechanism to keep it on track and above all the
structure to initiate, facilitate, measure, review and retain all projects in control.

Creative collaboration of Corporates’ CSR policy, reviewed complying with the legislative regulations,
and implementation of it by NGOs through Social Development Projects is the only win-win situation at
the given point of time. Luciano De Crescenzo said it precisely and concisely – “We are each of us angels
with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another…”

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