CSR Investment is important, Rural India is the backbone of Indian economy

CSR Investment is important, Rural India is the backbone of Indian economy

Rural sector of the country is the backbone of Indian economy as it contributes to many beneficial aspects like production, agriculture and growth of the country. In order to maintain and increase the development of the rural sector, it is important for businesses to take actions, initiatives and projects which would provide benefit to the sector and India as a whole. In this article we will take a look at some of the rural development projects that are being done by private businesses, in order to boost the economy by improving the rural sector conditions.

Before we get into the details of current and future rural development projects, it is essential to understand what rural sector consists of and its importance and the weightage of the rural sector of India, and why has there been limited amount of growth. A rural area is a geographic area that is located outside towns and cities. Majority of India’s population is based in rural areas, with two third of the population and 70% of the workforce residing there. Rural economy consists of 46% of national income. Despite the rise of urbanisation more than half of India’s population is projected to be rural by 2050. Thus, growth and development of rural economy and population are a key to overall growth and inclusive development of the country. Below is a table that shows the data for the rural net domestic product of India; this table really helps us portray the significance of these areas –

Globalization, demographic change, and rural migration are a few of the numerous challenges the majority of rural areas of India are facing for their development. The development projects by businesses are aimed at those areas which should strengthen their competitive activities and create more opportunities for growth. In this context, the companies seeking rural development should assess the strengths and weaknesses of their local communities before taking a course of action. Some of the issues faced by people in the rural areas where companies can target to improve are; educational issues, lack of cleanliness, healthcare issues, agricultural issues, leadership & administration related issues etc. Although companies can target any area to focus on for development but it is sensible of a company to focus on the issues where their area of expertise lies for better utilisation of their resources and better outcome. For e.g. a farming company should focus on the agricultural issues of a certain rural area and not management issues.

Some of the private sector companies and their Rural development CSR projects:

Name: HDFC Bank Ltd. – Holistic Rural Development programme (HRDP)-

Budget: 335.95 Cr.

Description: HRDP is a flagship programme under this area of intervention that attempts to provide rural communities, with the tools and means to grow in various areas. This is done through a wide variety of training and institution building programmes, supported by relevant infrastructure.

The vast majority of rural communities depend heavily on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. The availability of water and the quality of soil therefore dictate their economic health. But with the right resource management and agricultural techniques, along with skilling and training, vulnerable communities can be better placed to tackle the vagaries of nature. HRDP’s various initiatives in areas such as educational infrastructure, healthcare and natural resources management including micro-watershed management, irrigation, soil and water conservation, represent their attempts to usher in meaningful and impactful change where it matters the most.

Name: HCL Technologies Limited – HCL Samuday

Budget: 66.41 Cr.

Description: This program is an outcome of HCL’s commitment to uplift rural India. Started in 2015, HCL Samuday intends to develop a sustainable, scalable, and replicable model – a source code for economic and social development of rural areas in partnership with Central and State Governments, local communities, NGOs, knowledge institutions and allied partners. The objective of this program is achieved through optimal interventions across Agriculture, Education, Health, Infrastructure, Livelihood, and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sectors in selected villages. The program is designed to help local communities identify their problems, co-create solutions, and then implement these solutions with professional support from team Samuday. This approach helps lend the dimension of sustainability and ownership to the whole vision of development.

Name: Reliance Industries Ltd – Contribution to People’s Plan Campaign

Budget: 48.91 Cr.

Description: This year Reliance played an active role in People’s Plan Campaign of Government of India by supporting Gram Panchayats to develop a comprehensive plan for holistic economic development. In partnership with National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, awareness programmes were conducted in 1,812 Gram Panchayats on the need for participation in the development planning process. Further, it intensively supported 244 Gram Panchayats in preparing their development plans. This will lead to greater mobilisation of financial resources into the villages which will aid in their development.

Name: Maruti Suzuki India Ltd – Community Development

Budget: 32.26 Cr.

Description: The Company focuses on social development programmes in 26 villages around its areas of operations in Haryana and Gujarat in order to support the local communities. During the reporting period, the Company continued to implement village development programmes, created in consultation with village councils (panchayats), in the areas of water, sanitation, education and community assets. The Company provided potable water through financially self-sustainable water ATMs (21 in 20 villages). The Company promoted Sanitation by carrying out activities like Laying of sewer lines, Construction of household toilets (4,345 in 26 villages), Collection and disposal of solid waste Community assets, Construction and renovation of paved roads (32 km in 11 villages).

Name: Tata Steel Ltd – Rural development project

Budget: 19.72 Cr.

Description: The Company has contributed some amount for Rural Infrastructure and other development work in Odisha and Jharkhand. Alongside that. Tata has opened up many small scaled projects to motivate young kids to engage in sports like football by their ‘Grassroots football Development Programme’ – The idea behind this new initiative is to ‘catch them young’ by engaging with rural kids from the age of under 5 to 18 years. The centres aim to reach out to more than 2500 kids under the U-5, U-8, U-11, U-13, U-15 and U-18 age categories.  The program has a target of 198 players per school, i.e 120 in the grassroots program which includes U-5, U-8 & U-11 age categories, and 78 in the youth program which includes U-18, -15 & U-13 age categories. Training at each school will be carried out by 2 grassroots & 1 youth coaches, hailing from the community, who are selected and trained by JFC coaches.

In conclusion. It can be said that the efforts of various private sector giants are visible on a large scale in many Indian states. The question although lies whether these steps are for profit maximisation or government pressure or out of genuine care for rural development. CSR can’t be ignored by the corporate firms. By keeping in mind, the changing market scenario business firms have to change their work culture as per the market demands. Regardless of the cause, the output is decent in terms of its effects on the rural population. Moreover it can also be said that, companies based in or around rural areas put a huge emphasis on CSR in their 5 year plan as the developed rural areas will eventually be able to help the companies by providing cheap skilled labour whiten some years’ time, therefore companies also see this as a long-term investment in the people and the infrastructure.

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