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Individual Social Responsibility

--> We are all very much familiar with the concept for CSR or corporate social responsibility, but hardly anybody talks about ISR or our Individual Social responsibility. I came upon this concept while I was listening to Mr. Gurcharan Das the famous author and former CEO of Procter and Gamble India. Mr. Das has written many best selling books most famous being India Unbound.
He made a very interesting point that while we all are talking about CSR nobody talks or even understands the ISR. Which made me think about a few things that I mentioned in my earlier blog on giving and charity in India?

To take that idea further and relate it to ISR I am writing this blog

If we look to countries like US we find a lot of rich people like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, T. Boone Pickens give back to society. Some of them are giving the money to their Alma Mater, some to the city they grew up, and others to the church they went or go to, others to causes related to healthcare and environment. The important aspect to note is that most of this money is their private money and not the money of the company that they work for. This brings us to another important point that Mr. Das mentioned that when we talk about CSR also in India it is the money being spent by the big corporations for some social welfare activity. This money does not belong to the CEO even though he or his family may own most of the company. Since there are other stake holders in form of share holders, lenders etc the CEO or the board may not be acting with approval of the other stake holders to do this CSR part.

Since the CSR done by corporate can never match the potential that ISR has got it is very important that we actively promote the same.

We will move forward with the presumption that each one of us wants to contribute to the society. The reasons could be different for different folks. For some it may be a way to ask for pardon for the sins committed, or it could be a way of feeling good and blessed. What ever is the reason once we have decided that we want to contribute to the society the next question comes how to go ahead with the same?
The simple way to do the same is to budget for the same. Just like we budget for our groceries, petrol, holidays we can budget for some of the ISR activities we want to do. Now how much to budget can be totally up to you. You can start with 100 Rs per month and go to any amount that you feel comfortable.
Another way to approach the same would be that you make a commitment to contribute a fixed percentage of any unexpected gains to go towards ISR activities. E.g. a percentage of Diwali bonuses from your company or any shot term or long term capital gains. This money could be a small one for you but when pooled with millions of Indian it will begin to make a difference in the life of a lot of people.
One can also volunteer if money is not the only thing that you want to contribute.
The beauty of the whole ISR approach is that you are never short of causes to contribute to, e.g. if you studied in a government school and have made it big how about giving scholarship to 2 poor students?
Studied in highly subsidized IITs or IIMs let us give a small fraction of the fortune we are making to our Alma Mater, thanks to the brand equity that gave us a great launch pad in the corporate world.
Got a big fat bonus? How about sharing it with inmates of the old age home where one day you may spend your final days, what with nuclear families and kids planning to settle abroad.
Let us extrapolate in future a little bit. If all the students of highly subsidized IIMs and IITs decide to give just .5% of their annual salaries to the parent institute imagine the amount of money that would be available for further research and creating infrastructure for more such institutes.
One of the biggest reason people do not believe in ISR in India is because they think that most of the money will be siphoned off by corrupt officials that they may use as a conduit. But you can always avoid this by going to institutes of repute like CRY, Helpage India, Give India, who have mechanism in place to check the credential of the destination NGO which will finally receive money.
One of the biggest reasons of India growth story is that we have entrepreneurs in every nook and corner of this country and they are coming up with innovative solutions for the local people in a very cost effective way. This is because our government is mainly useless both in governance and in development. Our growth is due to private enterprise of people like NR Narayana Murthy and Sunil Bharti Mittal. But we have millions of Murthys and Mittals in every corner of our country all they need is a little funding and guidance. Such people are now being reached by Microfinance facilitators like Rang de, SKS Microfinance etc. Given below is a list of organizations that are either in Microfinance or providing other benefits for those who are in need of help.
CRY, Give India, Rang de. What I like about them is that these companies are technologically advanced and one can contribute online.
Rangde needs a special mention as it does not just helps poor with charity it actually helps them becoming financially independent and later scale up their business. As money is not donated in Rang De model only invested/loaned to the end looser it comes back to you after some time in form of interest and Principal. You have a choice to take the repayments back or, you can reinvest the money again to help some body else. The beauty of the system is that with the same money you can keep on helping people who need the money again once the principal is paid back to you. Since the default rate in Microfinance is extremely low you can be well assured of getting your money back and being able to really make a difference.
“As they say give a man a Fish to eat and feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and feed him for life.”
Thanks for reading, do leave your comments.


  1. the column is really good and timely one too.

    ISR - the need of the hour for every one, not limited for the BN / MN / HNIs only, but for every individual too.

    1% - if we donate / keep a side / give ONE 1% of our networth or salaries to the have-nots or needy for constructive reasons or charity purposes, then we can see a miracle change not just at Needy's lives but with in our selves too.

    service to the needy is service to the divinity.

    MH Prasadu

  2. 10+ crore households, 1+lakh villages, 40 crore Indians are still lighting excluded i.e. unelectrified.

    8crore plus children needs a simple, reliable, durable but affordable light to do their studies and for socialization and to get rid of fear of darkness.

    all it needed Rs.400 - Rs.500 per light to them, if ISR is the mantra, then we can brighten these lives at BOP.


  3. Thanks Prasadu. If each one of us just contribute half of what we spend on smoking/cold drinks or burger etc that itself can take care of a lot of problems. Most of us think that our small contribution will not make a difference, that is not true each rupee counts. Appreciate your taking time and leaving comments.