CSR in India is not an Old Concept
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), a popular term in the current business scenario, refers to the long-term commitment of organizations to behave ethically. The term CSR has been receiving a lot of international attention since the 1950s. But what if I say that “ten thousand years” ago, the evidence of CSR can be traced in India. Yes! 10,000 Years Ago! Would you tag me as an insane fellow and stop reading this article owing to the fact that CSR amendment came in 2014 (approximately 3 years ago)? Or, would you be surprised and quest for knowledge? Before I start to pen down the elements of Indian CSR, it is important for us to ponder over the fact that we as Indians have more inclination towards the theories that have been expounded by some international researchers as compared to the theories that we already have in existence. One of the existing scriptures that most of the Indians are aware of is “Srimad Bhagavad Gita” which is also known as the Song of The God.
Importance of Bhagavad Gita in CSR
Bhagavad Gita is primarily popular for spirituality which is associated with immaterial reality. Not only this, the Song of The God- Bhagavad Gita includes a number of theories in fields like science, psychology, sociology, and philosophy etc. But, only a few of us have understood the significance that it has in our personal & professional lives. In addition, it has beautifully outlined the meaning and importance of Dharma which means to behave in accord with order, rule, and truth. First of all, there is a need to understand that social responsibility has four strands namely Global Social Responsibility (GSR), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Individual Social Responsibility (ISR) and Personal Social Responsibility (PSR). If we look at the literature of social responsibility, it is only CSR that has received a major chunk of attention in the past few years. The remaining three strands of social responsibility are yet to be tapped upon. BG [I would be referring Bhagavad Gita as “BG” in the rest of the article), a verbal exchange between Krishna and Arjuna, has incorporated four types of Dharma in it] which are Rita Dharma, Varna Dharma, Ashrama Dharma and Swa-Dharma, that are linked to the strands of Social Responsibility. Now the question is – How? Let’s deal with the categories of Dharmas one by one.
Dharmas and Social Responsibility
Rita Dharma is a dharma towards the universe which means that wherever you go in the universe, you are required to respect and obey the rules and regulations of the physical world. It says that it is an utmost duty of an individual or any institution to look after the universe and not just the planet-Earth. Global Social Responsibility, n the other hand, refers to responsibility towards the globe. In today’s world, only a few institutions such as NASA, ISRO and ESA etc. are maintaining responsibility towards the globe. Their obligation is to take care of each and every constituent of the universe. Secondly, we have Varna Dharma which describes/explains an institution’s obligation to the nation, society, and business. This dharma can be directly linked to CSR which also refers to the welfare of all the stakeholders of an organization.
CSR in Current Scenario
Nowadays companies like Tata, Reliance, HCL and other global/multi-national firms have been implementing various CSR initiatives for the welfare of the society. It is very significant for a company to take some actions with respect to the society. But, it is also important for an individual to consider the society while undertaking any action. As indicated in Bhagavad Gita, there are four stages of Ashrama such as Brahmacharya (student); Grihastha (householder); Vanaprastha (elder advisor) and Sanyasa (religious solitaire). It is paramount for an individual to follow the guidelines in all four stages of life. Hence, Ashrama Dharma can be directly linked with ISR because it posits the individual responsibility that an individual has in his/her entire life. Lastly, we have Swa-dharma, which refers to a dharma towards oneself. This is the essential factor of social responsibility because it leads to self-development of an individual. Therefore, it is termed as Personal Social Responsibility.
Role of Bhagwad Geeta in Today’s Scenario
BG, which is an ancient literature, ten thousand years ago, unearthed the obligations that we need to fulfill. Each dharma reveals the responsibility that an institution and an individual has to perform. BG not only discloses the concept of CSR, but, it goes beyond that concept and posits individual and personal social responsibility that most of us need to understand while doing any activity in any part of our planet. As we all know that CSR amendment that took place in 2014 which is stated in section 135, under schedule VII of Companies Act, 2013, has explained the ambit of CSR. India is the only nation which has a defined framework for CSR. Moreover, India is the only nation whose Vedic texts have gained a large amount of attention because of their importance in the modern world. Not only BG, there are other ancient literatures such as Arthashastra, written by Chanakya (also known as Kautilya) which elucidate the importance of the welfare of the society, for a business. India is a very rich country in terms of culture, history, scriptures, and Vedas etc. And it is important for people like us to unveil and to understand the hidden meaning of those scriptures and the Vedas. This would not only broaden our way of thinking but, at the same time would help us in understanding the concept beyond our textbooks.
- Balakrishnan Muniapan, B. S. (2013). The ‘Dharma’ and ‘Karma’ of CSR from the Bhagavad-Gita. Journal of Human Values, Vol. 19(2), pp. 173–187.
- Shankara Bharadwaj Khandavalli, K. M. (n.d.). Dharma. Retrieved from http://www.hindupedia.com: http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Dharma#Dharma_as_Cosmic_Order
- Thasomini Palaniyandy. (2010, January 20). www.youthkiawaaz.com. Retrieved from Multinational Companies: A Curse To Developing Countries?: https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2010/01/multinational-companies-a-curse-to-developing-countries/