The DPE-IITB CSR Study unit is a nascent one set up with the support of the Department of Public Enterprises. It takes an academic look at the CSR programme, unlike most efforts that take only an operational view. At the same time, it also aims to look at ways of making the CSR expenditure of CPSEs more effective and assess if this has been so. The emphasis on CPSEs is purposeful. CPSEs operate in the very different environment and constraints compared to their counterparts; particularly in terms of administrative procedure and financial procedures and multiple oversight mechanisms.
The project is led by Professor Satish B Agnihotri, Head of the Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA) and Professor Bakul Rao. The Project Team supported by three RAs, Bhagyashree Patil and Pawan Kamble, both former M Tech students of CTARA students, and Oshin Dharap. Aparna Raj-a Doctoral student with the Centre for Policy Studies, Himanshu Dubey and Swagatika Priyambada-current M.Tech students of CTARA are working on CSR related issues. Vandana Pagare is the supporting staff. The team has also developed academic modules as part of the Policy in Practice course offered in the Centre for Policy Studies,also headed by Professor Agnihotri.
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Message from PI, CSR Study Unit
CSR has emerged as an important entity in the field of development both in financial terms and in terms of befitting from project management expertise of the Private Sector. India is one of the very few countries, the first one in fact, that have made CSR mandatory through an Act. From a menu of altruism, image building, licence to operate and responsible citizenship, the reasoned has narrowed down to only one – legal compliance. The consequences of making the implementation mandatory are yet to be studied.
However, implementation of the CSR programme is yet to mature. Even though CSR funds are sizeable, the implementation has to become less ad-hoc, more equitable and companies have to bring in their management expertise, not just funds. Then there is the tension between suspicion about CSR – is it just a foot soldier of philanthro-capitalism, and an optimistic view about the good it is capable of. In between, there is the pragmatic view of how best to use these funds for public good whatever be the source of the funding.
Against this backdrop, the Public sector comes with its own baggage of issues: adherence to norms of expenditure of public funds, various compliances, multiple oversight mechanisms formal and informal pressures and an overarching expectation of excellence in delivery!
CSR is therefore quite ripe for being studied academically both in philosophical and management terms and for a professional evaluation. The Study unit will attempt to do just that; an exciting journey to embark on!