Often there is a debate, particularly amongst the civil society players, whether it is right for corporates to use CSR for brand building. While corporates and policy makers do not see anything wrong in it. Infact some even talk of it as a win-win situation, which could lead to ‘sustainable’ CSR.
Now there is an interesting development and judicial pronouncements could add to this debate. Madras High Court has admitted a PIL for hearing whether tobacco companies should be allowed to build goodwill for their products through CSR activities. The PIL, filed by Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control, alleges that since CSR activities allow companies to do brand building, tobacco companies will use CSR for earning goodwill and brand building, which they should not be allowed. The PIL suggests that such companies should be asked to deposit their CSR funds with the State / Central Govt. which can be used for specific purposes, such as anti-tobacco drives, health of tobacco affected patients, etc. Same question can be raised tomorrow against companies marketing alcoholic beverages, etc.
I believe the fundamental issue is : What is the basic objective of CSR and are the drivers of CSR in alignment with these objectives ?
Any thoughts which would add to this debate ?
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