Evolution And History Of CSR Activities In India


In ancient India, kings, businessmen, and landlords understood the importance and value of social responsibility. “The more you give, the more you receive” was believed by every individual. Collective growth of the society and its economy will improve the sustainability and growth of every individual and society as a whole. The concept of Dharma and Dhanna took place in every religious scripture in various different forms. These religious sentiments pushed the men of the country to help the needy and provide for all. Every working-class family contributed its best to the society even in times of difficulties. The wealthy merchants give away cash and gold as part of ‘giving back to society. Social responsibility among Indians has been very ancient and prevalent from times unwritten.

Businessmen in India have always been charitable and philanthropic in their deeds apart from business activities. The country is known for its cultural heritage and unity in diversity. The sense of social responsibility was seeded in the minds of every child at home. Merchants and businessmen all across the Indian sub-continent have, through the ages, contributed to social causes as and when they can. People of the county with all its culture and tradition based on strong religious sentiments that promote generosity and sustainable growth of the society contribute well to all kinds of social upliftment and environmental betterment activities.

The belief that what was taken from the society must be returned to the society itself, drives the countrymen to take up CSR activities and work towards achieving those goals with utmost dedication. The Gandhian philosophy of trusteeship was popular among the people after the independence struggle. A strong sense of togetherness brings up a habit of giving which was very much prevalent in Indian society. Indians have not only contributed to education, environment and rural development. But forward thinkers of the pre-independence and post-independence era have supported and contributed to women empowerment and sanitary facilities throughout the county.

Pre-independence period:

Before the East India Company started ruling India, there were Rajputs and Mughals who ruled the kingdoms and empires. A lot of social activities were done by these men to improve the quality and standard of living of the people in their kingdom. Most were environment based activities like planting trees and cleaning river bodies. Employment was given under the king’s rule which in turn helped the head of the family to provide food and all the necessities for his family members. Women in those these weren’t treated right much. But they had been maintained well by the men of the family. Land and money to improve farming and bring up small cottage businesses were given away.

During the British Rule:

While the Whites started ruling India, the money circulation was curbed. The “giving” attitude among Indians grew less as there was nothing for them itself. Heavy taxes were levied on all businesses which stopped all CSR activity that the merchants were doing generously. But the East India Company thought it was the “White man’s burden” to improve the lives of Indian people and make them more civilized. Railways and tramps were built for the benefit of their business but also helped in the enhancement in the livelihood of the native countrymen as employment rates increased and there were many employment opportunities scattered other than agriculture. Knowingly or unknowingly, the Britishers have contributed to the growth of the nation. ‘What goes around, comes back to us’. But all this did not stop the wealthy Indians from making their mark in society. As the businesses went dull CSR was seen as a way of advertising and marketing that will attract more attention to the domestic businesses. And most of the Indians started working in the above-mentioned aspects. Their selfishness in business did end well for society as a whole.

Post-independence period:

Immediately after the independence struggle, under the leadership Mahatma Gandhi many trusts sprouted up in the name of upliftment of the Indian socio-economic status. Helping the untouchables, the needy, and downtrodden were the goals of most of the patriotic citizens at that time. Increased funds for the development of the nation seemed to pour in from within the borders of the country. Many, inspired by the work put into the breaking free from the British rule started working for the communities that need improvement. Many new philosophers, writers, and teachers who were present in this era spread a lot of awareness in the society and brought together people from all caste and creed to work for the betterment of the Indian society. Women’s empowerment took a major toll in this time. Cottage industries many women groups started coming up and the economy boomed. Foreign investors and companies were stepping foot in India which increased the expenditure of the Indian household and the attitude of CSR among Indians.

In recent times:

The capability of companies in India to contribute to society is high now and the government has realized it. Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 talks about the responsibility and the legal compulsion of corporate to spend money on CSR activities. Schedule VII of the act talks about where and how this money can be spent. The view towards CSR as of now reflects in the amount of money put in the Prime Minister’s Fund. Every company does not take the responsibility but simply, to comply by the act, transfers 2 percent allocated for the CSR activity to the Prime Minister’s Fund.


Most companies do not spend on education in their CSR activities. The recent legislation on CSR is most welcomed. But there should be proper regulations and ruled for its implementations by the corporate. Awards and incentives should be awarded for well-performing companies in an attempt to increase such activities.

This article has been written by Ritula Nizam a Final year student at VIT School of Law, Chennai.

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