Amit Sachdeva, the man behind modern Corporate Social Responsibility in India
India, 6th August 2021; Social entrepreneur and philanthropist Amit Sachdeva’s quest to promote CSR in India was started in 2008 when he observed about many national and multinational companies were operating with a capitalist mindset rather than a system, which combines aspects of both capitalism and socialism. Many businesses were operating with the profit mindset rather than concentrating on the 3Ps, People, planet, and profit of The Triple Bottom Line. Amit believed, when companies do business, they sometimes make decisions that would typically maximize their performance, while disregarding its dramatic effect on the environment and its amplified impact on future generations. Such organizations ought to have a narrow vision and perspective of the society's welfare and they are only concerned about their short-run profits.
In the early 90's Mahatma Gandhi introduced the concept of trusteeship, helping socio-economic growth and social responsibility in India, which was influenced by family values, traditions, culture, and religion. The wealthy of the pre-independence era were prompted by the traditions of their community and encouraged by the Gandhian principle of Trusteeship, who were generous in giving back to the society.
Their philanthropic contributions were not limited to donating to the poor, but some philanthropists were also involved in setting up some of the most famous business and industrial houses in the country, for example, contributions of Jagannath Shankarshet, Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy, Sir Jamsetji Tata, and G D Birla, Jamnalal Bajaj, Gujjarmal Modi, Aditya Vikram Birla, Ratan Tata towards setting up many educational, medical and religious institutions.
But by the 1990s this ideology changed with the arrival of the new economy, the hysteria surrounding the tech bubble among new-age entrepreneurs of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The new economy was variously heralded as the knowledge economy, the data economy, the e-commerce economy, and so on. In the so-called new economy, profit-making became a winning strategy for most of the businesses and shareholders rather than giving back
Amit wanted to promote an idea, where giving back should become mandatory rather than a voluntary thing. He strongly believed that the business must take responsibility for the communities and environment they operate in. Amit felt that companies with effective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are more profitable than those that aren’t. Over the last 50 years, corporations have relied on these programs, which include social issue marketing, philanthropic efforts, employee volunteer initiatives, and diversity and inclusion work, to build their brands and satisfy customers.
Amit thought about mandatory CSR spending and laid out an extensive plan and proposed it to many business and political leaders in India. His idea was well received by many corporations and the then government. Amit realized his dream, when on April 1, 2014, when India became the first country to legally mandate corporate social responsibility. The new rules in Section 135 of India’s Companies Act make it mandatory for companies of a certain turnover and profitability to spend two percent of their average net profit for the past three years on CSR. After more than five decades, the Companies Act was being updated to bring not only much-needed reforms in the area of governance, transparency, and accountability but also an institutionalization of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Amit Sachdeva, who is today known as the ‘CSR man of India’ for his efforts and advocacy for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Bill in India. A staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Amit founded and constituted the prestigious ‘Mahatma Award’ to honor the most accomplished socially responsible efforts and initiatives within the public, private, and development sector, from sustainability to philanthropy to shared value to corporate social responsibility.
Amit is an advisor to many leading corporations in the subject matter of corporate social responsibility and business sustainability. He is a strong advocate of sustainable development goals set up by the United Nations. Amit is the ambassador of SDG Choupal initiative of NITI Aayog and is currently the editor-in-chief of CSR Good Book. He is the founder of the social impact company Liveweek and co-founded many social impact initiatives like CSR Good Book, CSR Live Week, Charitnation, Amit Sachdeva Foundation, and NGO Expo.
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