The amended Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Rules focus on the impact and scale of CSR projects, re-emphasising that companies can come together to collaborate on initiatives.  There is also a greater emphasis on disclosure. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is of the view that the Rules will drive companies to take CSR more seriously than before.

In fact, over the last few years, CSR has assumed greater significance for corporates. According to data released by the Government, the total amount spent on CSR has been going up. It was INR 10,006 crore in FY 2014-15 and INR 18,655 crore in 2018-19 and today, companies are not only focussed on CSR but also on sustainable business practices: CSR and the triple bottom line are deeply entrenched in the corporate agenda.

It was to enable corporates for infusing inclusive development that CII set up the CII Foundation in 2011. Since its inception, the Foundation has been working towards India’s inclusive development by providing a bridge between marginalised communities and donors, especially the corporate sector, in education, gender equality and women empowerment, environment sustainability including water, and disaster management.

The CII Foundation celebrates 10 years of driving social change in 2021.

Congratulating CII Foundation on completing 10 years of driving holistic social change through a multi-stakeholder approach, Mr Jamshyd N Godrej, Chairman, CII Foundation, Past President, CII, and CMD, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited said: “The Foundation is powered by a commitment to social change by a diverse set of people.”

The Foundation has played a seminal role in driving change, working through a collaborative multi-stakeholder approach leveraging industry strength and expertise.  “As the apex industry body in India, CII has always recognised the importance of the industry’s social commitment. Recognising the disparities in India and the need for a collaborative approach to address the inequalities, we in CII have always felt that all-round development was critical for sustaining the growth process and that the corporates could play a very important and seminal role in catalysing social change,” said Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Managing Trustee, CII Foundation and Director General, CII.

Over the decade, CII Foundation has done commendable work in diverse areas. The CII Foundation has been at the forefront of disaster relief and rehabilitation, especially during the floods in Uttarakhand, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. Last year, working closely with CII and affiliated associations such as SIAM and ACMA, it reached out to over 80 lakh people across the country as part of its Covid-19 relief and rehabilitation initiatives. Food, essentials, and medicines were distributed, and awareness drives and counselling sessions were undertaken to mitigate the impact of Covid on lives. It continues to supplement healthcare interventions in tier II and III towns in Haryana and Maharashtra through a Tele-ICU initiative, a 24*7 remote ICU patient monitoring system.

The Foundation’s work in crop residue management in Punjab and Haryana to address the challenge of air pollution and climate change has helped enormously in addressing the issue. Using a multi-stakeholder approach, the CII Foundation launched the initiative in 2018 covering 19 villages in Ludhiana and Patiala, targeting 16000 acres of farmland and 3000 farmers. The pilot project showed encouraging results and burning was checked in the project villages in 75% area while 80% of farmers adopted improved straw management practices. The initiative was expanded to 147 villages in 2019, and further to 218 villages in 2020 – involving a total of 27,000 farmers and 1.57 lakh acres of farm area in eight districts in Punjab and Haryana. In 2019, 87% of farmers adopted improved straw management measures, fully or partially, and 76% of straw was saved from burning in the adopted programme villages. In 2020 too, over 80% of the intervened farm area became free of stubble burning.

The initiative has been awarded the UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Award – 2020 by UNDP and the Government of Punjab.

Women empowerment is another focus area for the Foundation. The CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Program identifies and recognises grassroots level women who have risen above poverty, discrimination and other challenges to emerge as ‘Woman Exemplars’, building their capacity through coaching and mentoring to create a network of women working to transform India. The CII Foundation has successfully created a network of about 100 ‘change-makers’ who have impacted 12 lakh people. During 2020, as the country reeled under the impact of the outbreak of Coronavirus, relief work was undertaken by the Exemplars in 6 states, benefitting 40,550 people.

To enhance education levels within the country, the Foundation has focussed on early childhood education through the Anganwadi Centres. The Foundation provides infrastructure and nutritional support, training, and capacity building of Anganwadi workers, and enhances community engagement. In the first phase of the Program, ECE activities were conducted in more than 90% of the Anganwadi Centres that were adopted.

In its 10th year, the CII Foundation continues to expand its reach and interventions to drive social change and India’s inclusive development.