CSR Satyagrah

‘Doing Good’ alone is not enough for being responsible. ‘Doing Right’ is more important, even for ‘doing good’. While everyone lays focus on ‘doing good’ under CSR, ‘doing right’ is conveniently ignored which is what is making CSR ‘irresponsible’. CSR in the present form of understanding and practices is largely found to be insincere, artificial, glamorous, and commercial.

Therefore, we appeal to all, who agrees with me, to join the Satyagraha for Transformational CSR which has been launched on 2nd October 2017. The Satyagraha is aimed to preserve and protect the ‘Spirit’ of CSR and to meet the very purpose of CSR which is to make lasting developmental impact for those geographies and communities who need the services the most.

‘Satyagraha’ is a reform agenda; it will secure permanent changes in conditions by enabling improvements in understanding & practices of corporate social responsibility. A Gandhian way to bring transformation among business leaders, CSR practitioners, influencers, and policymakers and then enable change in approaches to CSR i.e.“Transformational CSR against Transactional Philanthropy”.

CSR Satyagraha will seek companies and all the stakeholders who are directly or indirectly associated with CSR to adopt and integrate ‘STHAL’ principles:

S      Sincerity
T     Transparency
H     Honesty
A     Accountability
L     Lasting impact
  • Satyagraha is a ‘reform’ platform that will consistently work to preserve and protect the ‘spirit’ of CSR which is grossly compromised. The spirit of CSR is to help the poor, the underprivileged, the vulnerable and the weaker section of society apart from mitigating the negative impact of business.
  • It is a peaceful and non-violent war against insincerity, glamorization, and commercialization of CSR.
  • Satyagraha will achieve ‘Transformational CSR’ by improving the prevailing understanding and practices of CSR through meaningful and constructive dialogues and engagements with all its stakeholders such as companies, governments, NGOs, consultants, and CSR managers, etc.
  • Satyagraha envisions to secure positive changes in the attitude and mindset of stakeholders. It will ensure a big ‘reform’ in CSR landscape in India.
  • It is a ‘movement’ that will work silently to dissuade the practices of ‘Transactional Philanthropy’ as CSR and encourage companies to embrace NVGs Framework for doing responsible business.

CSR Satyagraha is a Gandhian way to bring ‘Transformation’ and enable ‘Change’ in approaches to CSR for achieving lasting impact. Satyagraha for CSR will be seeking companies to holding steadfastly to the core principles of CSR, doing right and doing it right each time and every time.

While some companies should be loudly acknowledged for their good work and making CSR work well for society and companies both, CSR, in general, is found to have gone off track in India, away from its core objectives, more lip-singing than actual impact creation. However, for this state of affairs, it would be unfair to hold companies responsible. In fact, stakeholders of CSR such as governments, NGOs, consultants, CSR managers, and unscrupulous agencies (awards, rating, and reporting) are jointly and equally responsible for the disreputable situation. They have contributed to making CSR a cosmetic, commercial and glamorous business activity. The CSR Act mandates a certain type of companies to share a very small portion of their wealth with underdeveloped and underprivileged communities for creation of a developed and equal society. But, the Act has been found to be misused, rather abused by companies. CSR requires to undergo not an evaluation but a self-introspection. Therefore, CSR Satyagraha will engage with all stakeholders. It will facilitate them undergo introspections and then help in taking remedial measures for securing a big ‘reform & transformation’ in CSR landscape. Apart from the above reason, following specific reasons validate the need for a satyagraha - a peaceful war against ‘wrong doings, evils and odds’ in CSR. Motto: ‘Let CSR Win’.

  • CSR is currently suffering from some serious contagious infections such as doing fancy projects, advertising, and self-promotional activities which together are failing to help those communities/geographies/issues who potentially could have been immensely benefited – the spirit of CSR is defeated.
  • Current understanding and practices are found insubstantial and do not support the core principles and objectives of CSR – Poor understanding & Practices.
  • CSR Spend can’t and should not be taken as the sole indicator of CSR performance. Enabling a society to become ‘resilient’ and ‘sustainable’ should be the major focus of CSR.  Therefore, Satyagraha will work towards changing the narrative of CSR.
  • Transactional Philanthropy is the current understanding and approach to CSR which will be replaced with ‘Transformational CSR’.
  • A majority of CSR consultants lack knowledge and professional competencies. They are found to have inadequate knowledge and skills, yet companies are ending up engaging with them and paying hefty fees for their services. Satyagraha will seek consulting agencies first to acquire the required skills and competencies, else it’ll expose them on merits.
  • A large number of CSR Managers especially in the leadership or mid-level roles need proper orientation and exposure. CSR is taken as an emerging profession for job opportunities & growth, and which is why persons from diverse backgrounds, without having passions for it, taking it up as a profession. CSR is a highly specialized profession which is guided by passion and requires a different approach to it. -  CSR Managers to become Transformed leaders.
  • The increasing dominance of large size NGOs in CSR should be minimized; fair opportunities must be given to grassroots NGOs too for partnerships with corporates under CSR – Brands should be dissuaded; merit and competencies based NGO Partnerships should be encouraged.
  • Glamorization of  poverty and other social causes should be stopped .
  • A Five-Star culture in CSR has entered, needs to be removed 
  • CSR in India is found mostly ‘ineffective’. It has failed to establish the strong linkage between the services being offered and needs, and thereby help the nation bring down or up human development indices in absolute terms in their spheres of influence – work for a larger cause 
Satyagraha aims at making CSR work to its core values and principles.
  • Satyagraha will influence and remove gaps in policies and also help the ‘system’ enforce them  effectively to make the Act become user-friendly and work better. It will do advocacy for removal of “either comply or explain” interpretation of the law . “To comply” only.
  • CSR has to be properly defined. Satyagraha will engage with govt and other stakeholders to get a consensus definition of CSR.
  • The ‘spirit’ side of the Act relating to CSR will be made stronger to stop ‘misuseand ‘abuse’ of CSR.
  • Satyagraha will encourage companies to adopt and embed Mahatma Gandhi ‘s  ‘Trusteeshipmodel for doing responsible business.
  • Sincerity, Transparency, Honesty, Accountability and Lasting Impact (STHAL) will be made unwavering principles for all stakeholders
  • CSR in India is largely ‘transactional’ which Satyagraha will get discarded and replaced with ‘Transformational CSR for lasting impacts that enable communities to become ‘resilient’ and ‘sustainable’.
  • Replace the ‘Top-Down’ approach with the ‘Bottom-Up’ approach to CSR.  Make it participatory by allowing communities to take part in planning and implementation of CSR. Companies will be pursued to change their approach.
  • Discourage and remove the growing ‘Five-Star’ culture from CSR which has infected the domain very badly. CSR is made a commercial object, product or a subject to be discussed, debated and transacted in seminars, conclaves, and summits, etc.
  • CSR is commercialized. Issues such as poverty, hunger, and diseases are glamourized. Satyagraha will discourage the glamorization or commercialization of CSR.
  • Satyagraha shall stand for ‘true values’ ; shall take a firm stand against  unprofessional consulting firms and  unscrupulous agencies (awards, rating & reporting).
  • Satyagraha will decrease the dominance of big NGOs; work more for grassroots NGOs, engage with them, increase their capacity to partner with companies on CSR.
  • CSR Managers are critical stakeholders of CSR. They need a different orientation, commitment and real connect. Satyagraha will engage with CSR managers and help them make CSR a true passion than a profession for them, and let their passion drive the profession. 
No, it’s certainly not a platform against companies. Nor is it a platform to work against an individual or a group or an institution. It’s a Gandhian way to assert and reassert- peacefully and non-violently- for effecting overall transformation as well as change in CSR policies and practices that are morally, ethically and legally wrong. CSR Satyagraha is a reform agenda and quiet movement against the rudimentary thinking for CSR and conventional, cosmetic, and transactional approaches to CSR.
    “Satyagrah for making CSR work for the poor & the weaker section of society”.
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