A Call for Equitable Corporate Responsibility: RBI's Challenge

A Call for Equitable Corporate Responsibility: RBI's Challenge
Posted on 18-07-2023

A Call for Equitable Corporate Responsibility: RBI's Challenge


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently released a report on currency and finance, urging policy changes to mitigate climate risks and achieve India's net zero goal by 2070. While these recommendations are crucial, their implementation requires a shift towards a more equitable distribution of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding. This article explores the current state of CSR, the RBI's recommendations, and the need for collaborative efforts to address climate change and promote social progress.

The Concept of CSR:

Corporate Social Responsibility entails businesses operating in a manner that enhances society and the environment instead of degrading them. It not only contributes to various social aspects but also helps establish a positive brand image for companies. As per Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, certain companies meeting specific financial criteria are mandated to invest at least 2% of their net profit in areas such as education, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and hunger.

RBI's New Recommendations on CSR:

The recent RBI report emphasizes the need to amend the existing CSR laws to support India's transition to a greener economy. It suggests diversifying the geographical locations, businesses, and timelines of green projects undertaken by companies. The aim is to align business strategies with pro-planet goals, driven by the increasing demand from investors, shareholders, and stakeholders for environmental sustainability.

Issue with Current CSR Practices:

Concentration of Funding: The current CSR laws prioritize the deployment of funds in areas near a company's operations, leading to a concentration of funding in highly industrialized states. As of 2020-21, 80% of all CSR funding was received by only 10 states. Although the Ministry of Corporate Affairs clarified that preference for local areas is not mandatory, companies still tend to direct their CSR funding locally.

Reasons for Concentration of Funding:

Companies prefer funding local projects due to their familiarity with the communities and challenges in their operational areas. Local projects allow funders to leverage their regional knowledge, utilize existing relationships and networks, and have greater influence over outcomes through staff visits and monitoring. Supporting local communities helps corporations acquire a "social license to operate" and enhances their goodwill and influence.

Challenges Associated with CSR Funding:

Diversifying projects and funding into unfamiliar sectors and terrain poses a significant challenge for companies. Accessing remote locations, identifying local community needs, and finding trusted implementation partners are additional hurdles. Grassroots non-profit organizations often struggle to showcase their impact on national platforms, resulting in an information gap with funders.

Addressing Concentration of CSR Funds and Challenges:

To address these issues, a regulatory shift at the ecosystem level is needed to increase trust among companies, the public sector, and the social sector. Collaborations between large companies and small social enterprises can pool funding, resources, talent, and innovations to tackle complex challenges. NGOs can play a crucial role in facilitating equitable fund distribution, with larger non-profits promoting the impact of grassroots partners and assisting with compliance. Alignment of CSR programs with local government initiatives can also foster collaboration and streamline project implementation in vulnerable districts.

Ensuring Smooth Functioning of Collaborations:

Balancing the autonomy of non-profit organizations while providing accountability to funders is critical in collaborative efforts. Technology-enabled monitoring and evaluation models can compensate for remote projects where physical field visits are challenging. The pandemic has already accelerated this shift, with tools for real-time data transfer, dashboards, accounting software, virtual field visits, and video conferencing. However, more support is needed to enable non-profits to adopt technology effectively.


RBI's efforts to incorporate environmental responsibility into CSR and prioritize climate change goals are crucial for addressing climate-related challenges and their impact on the economy and society. The recommended changes by RBI necessitate corporations to establish trusted partnerships with a diverse range of non-profits and local governments to become true national partners in achieving environmental and social goals. Through collaborative initiatives, corporations can contribute to sustainable development and create a positive impact on society and the planet.

Thank You