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Mandatory CSR under the Companies Act, 2013 – Making it work

When the President of India gave his assent to the Companies Bill, 2013 on August 31, 2013, India became the first country to mandate corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities by companies from April 1, 2014, through a statutory provision (Sec 135 of the Act). The passage of the Act is but a first step. The new ruling has catalysed partnership between the corporate and the civil society; this is the central idea for growth of CSR Projects. The success of CSR project will depend on how effective partnerships can be forged, how the best of different worlds can be brought together. Different actors will have to play their roles in unison to achieve a common goal.

To better facilitate this co-operation, ‘India CSR Summit 2014’, a flagship event on Corporate Social Responsibility in India was organized by NGOBOX on 17-18 September 2014 at India International Centre, New Delhi. The two-day event combined a packed programme of keynote speeches and panel discussions covering a wide range of relevant topics. The event was one of the biggest CSR events in India with participation of 365 delegates (including speakers) and representation from 230+ organizations

The first panel discussion was “Creating CSR Partnership: Delivering on Expectations”. The panel was moderated by Krishnan Neelakantan, Managing Director, Samhita Social Venture, and the panellists were Dr. Muna Ali, Vice President-CSR, PepsiCo India; Abhishek Kumar, Head-CSR, Samsung India; Nirmala Nair, Country Manager, MTV EXIT India and Aparna Mahajan, Director-Resource Mobilization and Partnerships, S M Sehgal Foundation.

This discussion brought context to the importance of forging effective partnerships, the scope of innovation and leveraging capabilities of different partners. The key discussion points in this context were:

  • How does the Companies Act 2013 affect the CSR partnerships between Businesses and NGOs
  • What are the board-room expectations from CSR partnerships and how do grass-root NGOs become a vehicle to deliver that
  • What is the scope for innovation and what are the key focus areas where NGOs need to strengthen themselves
  • What is the scope for third parties in baseline, M&E etc.
  • How does the government’s focus affect the CSR priorities of the companies
  • Learning from the experiences of the panelists in their respective domain

In line with the theme of the summit, Samhita prepared a status paper that particularly highlights  an understanding of the regulatory landscape of the Companies Act, 2013.  The paper documents the way forward for companies that includes: Creating a strategic orientation, Understanding the targeted cause areas and partners in the space, Developing the appropriate structure for running the CSR effort and Establishing a robust process for monitoring and evaluation. It also captures the way forward for social organizations.

Click here to read the detailed status paper.