Oxfam India and the National Foundation for India conducted a state level private sector and civil society consultatio
Oxfam India and the National Foundation for India conducted a state level private sector and civil society consultation on corporate social responsibility (CSR) engagements in Chhattisgarh titled “Perspectives, Idea and Development” on 29 January 2016 in Raipur. As many as 50 representatives from civil society, the media and corporate houses such as GMR, Amway India, and Sarda Energy and Mineral attended the event. Chandrashekhar Sahu, Chairperson, Finance Commission, Government of Chhattisgarh was the chief guest at the event.
Addressing the gathering, Sahu underlined that the focus of CSR should be issues such as agriculture, education, and gender justice. He recommended optimum fund utilization under CSR, and said that more funds should be allocated to the agriculture section to help boost production. Further, he appealed to those conducting CSR activities to keep in mind the imminent drought situation in the state. Sahu also referred to Oxfam’s recent report, An Economy for the 1%, which highlights the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and emphasized that action needs to be taken to address this immediately.
Private sector engagement, especially through CSR, has a lot of potential, Sunil Kumar, Deputy Chairperson, Department of Planning said. He cautioned that CSR funds should not be thought of as a substitute for public funding, and that utilization of these funds should not be divided into a need-based institutional paradigm. Instead, corporates should think of holistic utilization of the funds to bring sustained social change.
Amitabh Behar, Director, National Foundation for India and Gayatri Subrahmaniam from Indian institute for Corporate Affairs discussed the impact of the Companies Act 2013 in the context of the role of corporate entities in social progress. Subrahmaniam also conducted a presentation examining various aspects of the Act and how it can increase accountability with respect to spending of CSR funds.
The consultation ended with the following suggestions being made:
- Frequent state-wise consultations and forums such as this one
- Building sector specific linkages for direct support
- Strengthening advocacy with the private sector for more proactive engagements, particularly at the top level
- Enhancing the state’s role in bringing together different stakeholders
- Capacity building for private sector engagement
- Working closely with the media to publish stories on private sector engagement
Written by: Oxfam India staff