Mandatory CSR spending is at the heart of corporate debate these days.
A few days after Tata Group chairman emeritus Ratan had said that the 2% compulsory spending on corporate social responsibility (CSR) was similar to taxation, Sudha Murty, chairperson of Infosys Foundation, told HT that it was a blessing and not a ‘tax’ or financial burden.
Infosys Foundation is the multi-million dollar charitable arm of IT major Infosys.
Murty, who writes her surname without the “h” unlike her husband and Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, said that the 2% rule has increased the foundation’s ability to reach out to the needy by almost 10 times, from Rs 20-30 crore to Rs 260-280 crore.
“For me personally I feel the 2% CSR is very advantageous. I wish I could have got this when I was young. Now I get Rs 260-280 crore. It is 10 times more than what I used to get. It is so much money that I can work all over India. Otherwise I used to feel restricted because we had some Rs 20-30 crore. Now we can do unlimited work,” she said.
On the sidelines of a press conference in Mumbai last Sunday, Tata had said that “Philanthropy or giving is something that comes within... The mandated 2% that the government has becomes like a tax, which everyone pays.”
Stating that the larger corpus allows the foundation to look at places where Infosys has no business interest, Murty said: “The people who receive help from us will not even know what Infosys is. For the last 19 years, thanks to the founders, they gave us money and told us to do whatever felt the best. They have not asked even once why we are doing what we are doing.”
And once she had to turn down a higher education project favoured by Narayana Murthy since the foundation was focused only on primary education and funds were limited!
“Computer science is very good and only because of that we have an Infosys today. But I said chairman sir we disagree to give this money. You rich men, and directors can support higher education, not the foundation. Now when we got more money because of the 2% CSR, we are happy to give for higher education... Now we are into Murthy’s strategy of giving for higher education. That is why I say 2% is a boon for us. We are expanding into places like J&K, Chhattisgarh and Assam where Infosys does not have any direct business interest,” Murty said.