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Politics, Ethics and Social Responsibility of Business by K. V. Murthy, Bhanu;Krishna, Usha

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156
| POLITICS, ETHICS AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF BUSINESS
Charity seems to have disappeared from the SR agenda and more urgent issues have taken their place in
CSR. These issues are global in nature and demand cooperation among governments, industries, civil
society and rest of the stakeholders. There is very little data available to talk about the CSR issues in a
more comprehensive way because it is novel subject and at the same time, all organizations are grappling
with the def nitional framework of CSR.
22.3 CSR CONCERNS AND ISSUES IN INDIA
22.3.1 BACKGROUND
Corporate philanthropy in India can be traced back to the pre-independence days when Indian companies
supported Mahatma Gandhi’s call for the development of the nation by funding and providing education,
health and other social services. Even after independence, companies such as TISCO and other public-sector
enterprises voluntarily contributed to community development. Mahatma Gandhi’s model of trusteeship
motivated the businesspersons of India. His view of the ownership of capital was one of trusteeships. The
trusteeship model was an inspirational model, strengthening the belief that essentially society was providing
capitalists with an opportunity to manage resources that should really be seen as a form of trusteeship on
behalf of society in general. ‘Today, we are perhaps coming round full circle in emphasizing this concept
through an articulation of the principle of social responsibility of business and industry’ said R.K. Pachauri.
Indian business leaders themselves knew that business cannot succeed in a society that fails.
Historically speaking, Indian companies by virtue of the cultural ethos have been conscious of their
responsibility towards environment and society. SR of business in India is well understood as far as the
public-sector enterprises are concerned. At the same time, large private enterprises have been engaged
in philanthropic activities through the involvement of community-based programmes. Though most of
the traditional business houses in India have contributed towards philanthropic activities which could be
interpreted as CSR in today’s context.
The debate about CSR has heated in the year 2003/04. During this period, hundreds of articles appeared
in journals and newspapers that shaped the meaning of CSR and the expectations of business from society.
It resulted in number of perspectives about CSR generated within different regions of the world. In India,
the disenchantment of people with the government and its service delivery system of education and health
was at its peak. Thereby, the expectations of business as provider of good education and health services
accentuated. It was expected that the private sector will take up the role of the states in improving these by
funding the existing education and health systems. Thus, these expectations were the topics of debate by
corporate magnets, NGOs and media. Thus, the role of the states and central government was expected to
be fulf lled by the corporations. Another kind of aberration in this respect was caused by coincidence of the
phase of liberalisation with the arrival of the concept of CSR on the world scene. In India, we had barely
peeped into the domain of ethics as most actors in business community has been following unethical corrupt
practices of tax avoidance due to high incidence of taxes (generating black money ‘known as number two’).
The expectations of business from society included business to change these practices. Governments and
business were not in haste to change these because of nexus between business and political parties, whereby
political parties would benef t through business, in funding the parties for elections.
22.3.2 SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES IN INDIA
Some of the prominent business houses that have historically made contribution towards philanthropy and
are responsible for the present transition towards CSR include the public-sector enterprises that operated
on the twin objectives of social goals more than prof t motive. The basic objective of public sector was to
do business ethically. According to a study conducted by Centre for Social Markets, socially responsible

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