Social responsibility in simple terms is a responsibility of every individual who lives or benefits from a society to act ethically and morally such that the action is beneficial to the society at large. Businesses are a larger subset of individuals and resources who draw from the society we live in and deploy the same for public good.. Therefore social responsibility is equally applicable to them as to individuals.
To act in manner such that the society benefits is a concept which is not new or alien to the Indian mind. All our religious scriptures and spiritual thought talks of the concept of giving back to the society. Charity and charitable intent which is at the heart of social responsibility is one of the key virtues which takes you closer to God or the creator and that is true for every religion. All their protocols and activities are designed with an intent to charity for upliftment of the society at large. Most of the monuments and temples have been funded through this concept of Social responsibility. Businesses who contribute for the society is do it as Corporate Social Resposibility or CSR . The only difference is that activity earlier was largely voluntary and the only mandate was the individuals moral calling as well as duty. By making it mandatory’ Responsibility’ under the statute has got a formal dimension now. Indians as per a recent survey are pretty down in the rankings for ‘Giving’. While there are incentives offered for giving donations the response has not been good and such incentives have been used for tax benefit than social benefit. However the dismal ranking could be because of the informal way of giving rather than a formal structure through which the charity is structured.
However one structures it, ‘Giving’ is something we need more than anything today. While every Government does provide all help to the citizens in times of need, most of the times it is not enough. The primary help comes in through individuals and NGO’s who work alongwith the Governments to quell such emergencies. Besides emergencies, they also help to develop education, healthcare,disability management and play a key role in development of societies and hence nations. Many names come to mind, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tata Trusts, Michael Dell Foundation, Azim Premji and the oldest of them all the Red Cross Society.
Public good however needs to be funded and that funding comes from people like us and businesses who all have a duty to pay back to the society. One needs an incentive structure to do so continually and in abundance. Recognition, Incentives and access are important ingredients of that structure. While we need to be careful that those incentives and access are not misused but without the same we would be bereft of that help. If one has been witness to the long lines of migrant families trudging back to their homes hundreds of miles away, or the homeless or jobless then we know we need this as an imperative. This COVID 19 epidemic has brought that truth home to us more than ever. Giving does not have to be a statute but needs to become a habit!
Social responsibility needs encouragement and is a necessity!
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