India Inc has increased its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) spending in 2017-18 to Rs 9,034 crore, with activities such as promotion of education, vocational skill development, environmental sustainability and slum development seeing increased expenditure. Notably, CSR expenditure by the listed Indian companies towards eradication of hunger and poverty, and promotion of healthcare and sanitation has undergone a drop in 2016-17, as the total spend on the activity fell Rs 549 crore or 18.6 per cent from Rs 2,944 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 2,394 crore in 2016-17, according to a report in The Indian Express.
According to the data from PRIME Database, while a 1,019 listed companies spent amount to the tune of Rs 9,034 crore towards CSR in FY17, implying that India Inc is prioritizing spends in education and vocational skills. Interestingly, 2016-17 saw a Rs 591 crore rise in CSR spends from Rs 2,793 crore in FY16 to Rs 3,384 crore in FY17. According to the report, education and vocational skills accounts for 37% of the total CSR spend by India Inc.
While education and vocational skills has registered the largest increase in absolute numbers, the expenditure towards benefitting the armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents has registered the biggest increase in percentage terms. The spend has almost trebled from Rs 24.5 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 73 crore in 2016-17.
According to the report, the commendable rise in spend towards armed forces veterans and dependents of martyrs is in line with the government’s decision in November 2016 to double the compensation for widows and families of soldiers, who die fighting for the security of the country. The government’s decision came on the back of several Indian soldiers losing their lives following ceasefire violations by Pakistan. Earlier, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had taken a similar decision way back in 1998.
The report says that community development, infrastructure, social welfare, sports and slum development have also registered significant increases in CSR spends. CSR law requires listed companies companies to invest 2 per cent of their net profit in CSR projects. Accordingly, companies with a net worth exceeding Rs 500 crore are mandated to spend 2 per cent of average net profits of the past 3 years.