While going through my Company Law book today, I came across a very interesting section- It read Section 135 (Corporate Social Responsibility). According to the book, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. CSR is closely linked with the principles of Sustainable Development, which argues that enterprises should make decisions based not only on financial factors such as profits or dividends, but also based on the immediate and long-term social and environmental consequences of their activities. In India, the concept of CSR took flight when Mahatma Gandhi introduced the notion of “trusteeship”, according to which the industry leaders had to manage their wealth so as to benefit the common man. Today, India is the only country in the world to have a mandatory CSR regulation.
India has always dreamt of being a sporting superpower, a sempiternal yearning that is far from being realised. Cricket is perhaps the only sport where India has fared well on the global stage, the reasons being excellent infrastructure and proper administration, which all other sports in India lack. The same was possible only because of abundant corporate funding that cricket has received over the course of time because of its highly commercialized nature in India; the returns that the corporate houses get are humongous. But, does that fall within the purview of CSR? The answer would be no, because the main motive behind all the funding is “profit”.
So, should the companies in India do their bit through CSR spending to ignite sports development in the country? Let us contemplate about what Indian companies can do to help the cause.
India is country of over a billion people, with a potent talent pool which needs to be nurtured. But, with most of the rural India living under the poverty line, it is very difficult for many people to even afford two square meals a day. Sporting equipment, for them, is a luxury which they cannot afford. This, by far, is the biggest hindrance in the development of sports in India and should be seriously pondered upon. The authorities must come up and take initiative to remove this roadblock with the help of corporate houses. Another area where the CSR spending can be directed towards is academies with proper facilities and low training costs; where the best of talents, whether rich or poor, can be nurtured and be made able to compete with the very best across the sporting fraternity. TATA has a football academy of its own, which is one of the best in the country, but is far from matching the international standards. Often we see athletes suffering from mistreatment and negligence from the authorities. In a recent case, some budding state level footballers had to clean up a cricket stadium to buy football kits for themselves. One can only imagine the agony those budding footballers went through. But, situations like these can definitely be prevented in the near future and it’s the corporate houses that need to come up with the solution.
India undoubtedly has the potential to be a sporting superpower. It’s just that we need the right kind of approach from the authorities and a little help from our corporate houses. It’s every Indian’s dream to see their country surpass everyone else in the sporting world. The utopian dream may come true one day, and that day may not be very far away.