Letters to the editor
It was bad enough that ministers with sticky fingers introduced an amendment to the Companies Bill requiring companies above a certain size to spend 2% of their net profit on corporate social responsibility, or explain in their annual reports why they did not do so. This attempt to mandate philanthropy using shareholder funds that would otherwise have been available for dividends and investment, was an obnoxious piece of legislation. It was in keeping with the control era of Indira Gandhi, not the liberalisation brought by Manmohan Singh under instructions from Narasimha Rao. Now, the government has realised that the sums so available could be large (R20,000 crore to start with). This honey pot is too attractive. Greedy politicians and bureaucrats do not want to leave spending decisions of these monies to the companies that earned these monies. They would rather have control over the spending. This gives fresh avenues to our masters in government to add to the loot they already gather for themselves (with some going to the nation) from selling natural resources, land, etc. It is amazing that a young new minister like Sachin Pilot should introduce and defend such a proposal. Instead, he should be abandoning the whole idea of legislating CSR. Why is corporate India not screaming against this clause in the Companies Bill and the new idea of a special purpose vehicle in which these funds will be gathered? Presumably there will be more jobs for bureaucrats and politicians and opportunities to favour friends and relatives!
Former director general, NCAER
A shallow nation
We remain a shallow nation that waits for a weekend to demonstrate its social concerns and a polity that cries out death penalty for crime against women to leverage popular mood than any practical concern or cogent measures to arrest such crimes. Our political system remains archaic and immature. Look at Ireland. In just a couple of weeks this conservative nation gelled together to put in a simple but effective law on exigent abortion. To tackle crime against women, we shrink from the hard groundwork that would transform the policeman at the local thana, to a concerned friend of the victim reporting an incident from a confirmed sympathiser of the culprit as is being perceived today. A stern handling at the thana level buttressed by refinement of existing laws and a demanding judiciary would bring in the results. But no one is prepared for this genuine long-haul toil.
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