Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 formalised corporates as a critical stakeholder in the nation’s development, bringing in the potential to unlock INR 167-201 billion from around 16,000 eligible companies. The recent CSR report published by Samhita, ‘Transforming India: The CSR Opportunity’ supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, also emphasised the importance of private sector collaboration with the government to engineer widespread change in the socio-economic landscape of India. While the growing emphasis on collaboration for social impact has led to the establishment of various public-private partnerships, several gaps remain. The objective of this round table was to focus on designing a road map to build successful public-private partnership models by highlighting opportunities and challenges, and showcasing success stories to help maximise potential and facilitate better engagement between stakeholders.
Summary of the Discussion
The following are the key points that emerged from the discussion:
Shift focus of CSR programs from being input-based to outcome-oriented.
- Involvement of senior leadership is critical Constant support and enthusiasm from a company’s senior leadership, further strengthened by government backing, goes a long way in designing and implementing successful CSR programs, as observed by DHFL.
- Aligning interests is important Differences between the objectives of the company and that of the liaising government body poses several challenges. Thus, building a shared agenda to align interests of all the stakeholders in a collaborative model is crucial to make it work.
- Declaring specific objectives and calls to action A practice that has worked well is when the government lays out a clear and specific set of objectives, giving companies the scope and freedom to choose and affiliate with those that align with their own interests and core competencies.
- CSR programs should lie at the intersection of the companies’ interest areas and the needs of the target community
- Village Social Transformation Model Mr. Rohan Vora introduced the village social transformation model, that aims to reform the 1000 worst affected villages by drought and other social challenges in Maharashtra into model villages and scale this by 2018. For this, a sub-fund will be created within the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, to exclusively focus and drive this mission under the chairmanship of the Honourable Chief Minister in consultation with select philanthropists. This fund will be compliant with the CSR rules under section 135 of the Companies Act.
- Need for a clear definition of what legally qualifies as CSR For companies like Viacom18, leveraging their media network to drive behaviour change and awareness campaigns has been a grey area, since there is confusion with respect to the law.
- Leveraging core competencies leads to success Utilising core competencies to effect social good is probably one of the best ways in which companies can design their CSR strategy and align with the national calls to action.
- Bureaucratic red-tape is a challenge Going through all the mandatory bureaucratic processes in implementing programs is a major obstacle and the provision of single window clearance would make tasks easier and convenient.
- Institutional mechanism is necessary for effective CSR Instituting a body within the government that works in tandem with the CSR wings of companies would go a long way in enabling efficient CSR interventions.
- Developing social interventions into professional models enables stakeholder ownership To create sustainable impact, it is vital to build a sense of responsibility in the target community towards programs introduced for their development. This can be done by converting charitable activities into professional business models to create stakeholder ownership.
- Adopting a comprehensive approach is essential to tackle social problems It is necessary to adopt a holistic and wholesome approach to solve social issues, which can be fostered by creating a platform for all stakeholders (public and private sector, as well as citizens, NGOs and other relevant organisations) to come together to leverage their expertise to deliver sustainable impact.
Samhita will facilitate a meeting between the Chief Minister’s office and corporates interested in partnering on the village social transformation mission program. The meeting is scheduled to take place in early December and will be convened by Ms. Nidhi Kamdar, Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister.