While speaking at a national seminar on “The Role of Corporate Foundations (CSR) in Inclusive Development”, held at Jamia Millia Islamia, President of Institute of Policy Studies and Advocacy and Convener of Volunteers of Change, Abdul Rashid Agwan, shocked the audience by telling that though wealth is increasing in India, philanthropy is going down.
The seminar was jointly organized by The Policy Times and the Department of Commerce and Management of the central university. It was held at the Engineering Faculty Auditorium and joined by functionaries of leading corporate foundations, NGOs and academicians.
Agwan told that presently there are two diametrically opposite trends in the country; whereas the number of billionaires has surpassed 150 thousand, India is abysmally lagging behind on Human Development Index being at 130th of its current ranking and on many parameters it even stands behind most neighbouring countries. He remarked that one third slots on Forbes billionaires list is occupied by Indians but they are becoming lesser visible on the Giving ladder. There is concentration of huge 73% of the country’s wealth in the hands of one percent population, which is forcing the country to a great economic divide, he commented.The seminar was jointly organized by The Policy Times and the Department of Commerce and Management of the central university. It was held at the Engineering Faculty Auditorium and joined by functionaries of leading corporate foundations, NGOs and academicians.
He informed that the most shocking expose came 50 days back, when CAF World Giving Index 2018 slated India at 124th position out of 146 surveyed countries, 43 places down than the 2017 rank of 81st. He told that the growth of CSR funds has also slackened from 23% in 2015-16 to current 14%. Agwan mentioned that out of 171 billionaires who signed the Giving Pledge to donate most of their wealth for the common good, there are only 4 from India including the second richest Indian Azim Premji.
While pleading for the promotion of volunteerism in the field of CSR, besides an earnest compliance to the statutory contribution of 2% of the profit, he appealed that corporates should give more than that in the CSR funds. In this regard, he mentioned the example of Tata Steel which spent 67% more than the compulsory CSR funds in 2018. He wondered how the richest Reliance group reduced its CSR funds from 760 crore in 2015 to 658 crore in 2018 though the group is presently on the march of an unprecedented growth.
It should be noted here from the CAF India data that the number of giving Indians have come down from 265 million in 2017 to 191 million in 2018, i.e. 28% lesser. The gravest development in this regard is the sharp decline of 46% in the number of persons who joined voluntary activities. 256 Indians reported to have volunteered for some good cause during the previous year, their number came down to 138 million in 2018.
It is evident here that the economic growth in the country is not turning into a social oportunity and needs some serious thinking on the part of all stakeholders engaged in the field of development.