Transformative…but for good or ill? Corporate philanthropy in India in the era of mandatory CSR

Andrew Milner

Over the last five years, Indian corporate philanthropy has been transformed by the introduction of mandatory CSR contributions for companies over a certain size, so much so that, to all intents and purposes, the one is practically identified with the other. Companies are evolving from a traditional cheque giving approach to more strategic and longer term engagements. CSR advisory organisation, Samhita, sees this as an evolution where the law is facilitating the shift from philanthropy to responsibility. But what has been the effect of this sudden surge of corporate funding for the social sector and what are the implications, good and bad, for the country’s development?

Roughly $1.2 billionm was spent on CSR in the financial year 2017-18

How much, where from and where to?

The 369 companies surveyed in a 2018 study by NGOBox spent INR Cr 8875.93 (roughly $1.2 billion)[1] on CSR in the financial year 2017-18. Over a third went on education and skill development projects, over a quarter on healthcare and WASH projects. Samhita’s 2016 research suggests this picture has been fairly consistent since the introduction of the Act. Transforming India notes education, health and rural development as the top three areas of expenditure.

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