CSR Spend of Services Sector Should Target J&K, North East
Strangely, there wasn’t much buzz or awakening on the part of Corporate houses as was evident during the natural disaster faced by Uttrakhand in 2013. Relief and rehabilition effort was well coordinated in Uttrakhand where State Govt supported by IDFC Foundation had setup Corporate & Civil Society Partnership for Action (CPACT) for facilitating shared and coordinated action of State Agencies, Corporate and Civil Society Organisations towards reconstruction of affected areas and rehabilitation of victims.NGOs such as Plan India, HelpAge and Pragya were quick to jump into the relief and construction activity. And the Tata group, through the Tata Relief Committee and the Himmotthan Society, in collaboration with the Government of Uttarakhand, was on a war footing towards providing relief to impacted local communities in three districts of the state. They extended support not only through manpower, but also by providing relief materials to the affected.
So why was it that while the central Govt had removed all stops in relief and rehabilitation, not much enthusiasm was visible on the part of business houses and the NGOs to help the people of Jammu and Kashmir? In it’s report ‘Emerging Philanthropy in India’ the National Foundation for India (NFI) points out that ‘a review of geographic area of philanthropic operations seems to suggest that certain regions – particularly theNorth East and Jammu and Kashmir – are underrepresented in wp spending.’ Their findings further elaborated that ‘the selection of focus areas for philanthropic giving by family foundations, and foundations linked to Corporates was primarily based on personal experience and beliefs of the donor rather than a detailed analysis of gaps, strategic fit and potential intervention strategies.’
The Indian industry faces peculiar problems particularly in the State of J&K. There are certain road blocks which prevent them from acquiring, creating and ownership of permanent assets in the State. This could possibly lead to some sort of disconnect or lack of interest on the part of the industry. Article 370 of the Constitution has effectively prevented Indian Industry from establishing and creating permanent assets in the State. However, another report by CII & PricewaterhouseCoopers Private Ltd titled ‘Handbook on Corporate Social Responsibility in India’ points to a possible solution. According to the report, ‘the Companies Act, 2013 encourages companies to target their wp interventions in their local region. While this is an obvious choice for companies that are in manufacturing, those in the services sector (like banking and telecom) with a wider footprint have no concentrated local region. Companies must decide whether their wp activities will be focused on a few geographies (this can be around their plants or specific backward districts) or whether they will prefer to particularly work anywhere in India’. And this is where regions like the North East and the state of J&K may potentially stand to benefit. While frameworking their wp Strategy Corporate companies in the Services sector can choose where they wish to work and their wp Committees could show leadership in selecting these hitherto discounted regions of India and prioritize their wp spend in addressing their needs.