Social Responsibility of Private Sector in Context to India

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SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF PRIVATE SECTOR IN CONTEXT TO INDIA

Introduction: the terminology of social responsibility
What constitutes the “social responsibility” (SR) of enterprises and other organizations is difficult to define. The ISO Strategic Advisory Group on Social
Responsibility (SAG) recognizes that there is no single authoritative definition of the term “corporate/organizational social responsibility,” and does not seek to provide one. However, it notes that most definitions emphasize the interrelationship between economic, environmental and social aspects and impacts of an organization’s activities, and that SR “is taken to mean a balanced approach for
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organizations to address economic, social and environmental
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In South
Africa, corporate social investment is criticized for its “add-on” nature, with little relation to companies’ core business. This was especially problematic during apartheid, when philanthropic activities co-existed with obvious human rights violations. But in India, there is a strong view that SR activities can include not only a direct responsibility for core activities and impacts (e.g., use of natural resources, pollution, social impacts of products), but also an engagement in social and/or community issues, including philanthropic activities. The latter is viewed as a means to improve the acceptability and image of the organization, and to make employees better managers by exposing them to the realities of society. In general, there is a need to allow space within the SR agenda for such noncore business activities as well as a more strategic approach. Otherwise, there is a danger that these activities are devalued and discouraged, despite the significant social and environmental benefits that they can bring.

• SR as voluntary or regulatory

It is often assumed that SR relates to voluntary commitments that go beyond compliance with legal obligations, adopted in response to a variety of market-based drivers. Voluntary and regulatory approaches have too often been treated as exclusive to each other,
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