I have always held a view that instead of Governments cajoling Companies or businesses do their bit of Corporate Social responsibility or CSR, the Governments must ensure simple bulk taxes from them, and the funds so created can be used by the governments in the best interest of people. What is CSR?… In simple words it is the obligation put on business/Corporate to contribute to the sustainable development of the society, people or the places where they run their businesses. In more simple words, CSR is the way businesses can thank people by helping them improve their level of living.
But at times, I have to rethink my view about CSR. These times are those when I see a Government misusing the CSR fund at its disposal.
Today is one of those times of rethinking.
According to some news reports, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh wants use India Inc’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds to build a 100-metre tall statue of Lord Ram on the banks of Saryu in Ayodhya. According to the Government – the move will bring ‘social development’.
How much of CSR will be spent on the statue? … Rs. 350 crore. Oh!
What is sad is how the Government is defending the lavish expenditure. According to Rita Bahuguna Joshi, MLA from Lucknow Cantt., there must be no uneasiness with the plan as CSR funds are unlimited.
It is being reported that will be half of the Government’s total CSR fund (about Rs 700 crore).
To conclude, if governments become so wasteful in spending CSR funds, then even abolishing CSR completely will not work. Because the taxes may be spent the same way… wastefully.
Today many counters will be placed as to how hundreds of crores being spent on developing tourism will bring development. If seen from some complex reasoning, then may be it will bring returns in next 5 or 10 years.
But the question is? … What relief the spending will bring today?
Ayodhya or for that matter Uttar Pradesh is a poor state where much needs to be done on poverty, health, sanitation, education etc. Will the spending make any direct impact on these human development indices?
And the interesting thing is, when CSR fund is collected, it is collected in the name of sanitation, environmental up-gradation, education, healthcare, poverty alleviation etc. What will happen if it is spent on purposes other than those?
Is 350 crore for a statue a small amount?