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Corporate Social Responsibility in India Past, Present and Future

By Sanjay Kumar Panda
ICFAI University Press, 2009, pp 373

Modern business cannot succeed in society if it does not focus on the larger issue of social responsibility for sustaining growth, is the theme that drives the book — Corporate Social Responsibility in India – Past, Present and Future–. According to the author, S K Panda, and Indian Administrative Service officer from the Orissa cadre, the key to optimisation of CSR goals was through bridging the gaps on ‘last mile connectivity’ by adopting a synergy of action where the government, corporate and civil society converge to ‘encourage and facilitate’.

As M S Swaminathan notes in his foreword to the book, “in recent years, two Indias are emerging-one shining with wealth arising from entrepreneurship and advanced management techniques, and the other suffering due to low productivity and poor infrastructure. Fortunately, he says, Indian industry is now aware of this dangerous situation. “Just as good ecology is good business, good philanthropy will also be good business in the long term.”

Panda’s book first explains the concept of CSR, highlights the global scenario before turning back to India, wherein he focuses on the part played in CSR by Indian corporates. Here, he points to the fact that much before the term CSR became fashionable, Indian businessmen had been discharging their social obligations through philanthropy. He then goes on to delineate the areas in which CSR can play an important role in nationbuilding.

Panda’s book explains the concept of CSR, highlights the global scenario before turning back to India, wherein he focuses on the part played in CSR by Indian corporates. Here, he points to the fact that much before the term CSR became fashionable, Indian businessmen had been discharging their social obligations through philanthropy.

According to him, the need of the hour is to institutionalise CSR interventions to deal with major national issues like malnutrition, education, health, unemployment and poverty.

And here, he is clear that work cannot be done just by the public sector companies alone. The private sector too has to play its role in sharing some responsibility for the society they operate in. He notes that CSR is important for corporates because “no business can succeed in a society that is failing.” This calls for building capacity to empower youth to be able to exploit market opportunities and take advantage of economic growth.

The author is clear that while CSR is relevant for business in all societies, it is particularly significant for developing countries like India, where limited resources for meeting the ever growing aspirations and diversity of a pluralistic society, make the process of sustainable development more challenging.

Covering a wide range of subjects from theory to practice, this book has outlined steps to be taken by the major stakeholders – the corporate houses, the government and the civil society- for making CSR effective in the Indian context.

While the author has successfully used several case studies to highlight the growing linkages that corporate houses in India are giving to this aspect of their business, they fail to adequately highlight the various issues and problems that dog the CSR initiatives in the country, especially since the book is meant to be a handbook and guide for practitioners in the corporate sector, the government and the civil society.

Team Inclusion

INCLUSION is the first and only journal in the country that champions the cause of social, financial and digital inclusion. With a discernable and ever- increasing readership, the quarterly relentlessly pursues the three inclusions through its rich content comprising analysis, reportage, features, interviews, grassroots case studies and columns by domain experts. The magazine caters to top decision makers, academia, civil society, policy makers and industry captains across banking, financial services and insurance.
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