CHAPTER 2

THE ESSENTIALS: Resources that can facilitate impactful reporting on corporates

  • This chapter will equip journalists on how to find and use Corporate Social Responsibility  (CSR) related information to report effectively on businesses and their practices.

💡Pro Tip: We suggest you open the websites that have been hyperlinked and explore them simultaneously while following the directions mentioned under each section. Or you can use the corresponding chapter from the video book to guide you. This step-by-step guide complete with examples of how this information can lead to a good story has been compiled by journalists and researchers for whom  this is daily practice.

Currently the chapter can be downloaded as a PDF document in English. We are working on translations in other Indian languages.

Download PDF

💡Pro Tip: To understand the concept of CSR, and how it is related to Business Responsibility, please see Chapter 1 (section: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Business Responsibility: Are they the same?) In this section, we focus on how data on CSR can be accessed and used.

According to Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013, companies that have a turnover in excess of Rs 1,000 crore, or a net profit over Rs 5 crore have to spend two per cent  of their profits on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

What’s the scale of CSR related spending in India?

In the latest financial year (FY 2019-20) for which data is available, around 13,000 companies have together spent Rs. 21,231 crores across 31,000 projects in just one year, says John Samuel Raja, co-founder of How India Lives. “That’s the scale of money that companies are spending on CSR,” he adds.

How to access data on CSR and use it in your work

National CSR Portal

National CSR Data Portal is an online repository that tracks and monitors CSR activities of listed and unlisted companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs). On this portal you can find information and reports on

  • CSR spent.
  • CSR expenditure.
  • Company-wise CSR compliance.

⚙️ How-to Guide 

Explore CSR Data 

  • Go to csr.gov.in.
  • Click on ‘Explore CSR data’. The dropdown menu has options to check CSR data.
  1. State-wise.
  2. Development sector-wise.
  3. Company-wise.

State-wise CSR data

  • The ‘state-wise’ option opens a list of State and UTs and the CSR amount they have received in the past six financial years.
  • There are two ways to look at this data set. You can click on the state name to get an overview and comparative report of the CSR amount spent. Or click on the amount spent of a particular financial year to get company and district-wise CSR data.
  • For eg, let’s check CSR data of Delhi in FY 2019-20.

The page gives a district-wise map of the state with an overview of CSR expenditure in the state.

  • If you scroll down, you will see the top three companies with the highest CSR spent on the left. On  the right you will see the top three development sectors where most of the CSR amount was spent.
  • Click on ‘development sector-wise amount spent’ to see the list of development sectors like health, education, environment, etc and the amount they have received from companies under CSR projects in Delhi.
  • Scroll down and click on ‘district covered’ to see CSR amount spent in each district of Delhi.
  • Click on the district name to explore the district specific CSR details of companies and development sectors.
National CSR Portal: Looking for state-wise CSR data

 

Company specific CSR data

  • Go back to the ‘Explore CSR data’ tab and select ‘Company specific CSR data’.
  • It will open a search bar where you can either search by CIN or Corporate Identification Number or company name. Let’s search with a company name. Here we will search CSR data of Reliance Industries.
  • Click on CIN of Reliance Industries Ltd.
  • The company page lists CSR details of the past six financial years. Let’s check the CSR detail of the FY 2019-20.
  • The page gives details on:
    • Average net profit.
    • CSR amount spent.
    • CSR prescribed expenditure.
  • It also lists expenditure on all the CSR projects, development sectors and states.
National CSR Portal: Looking for company-specific CSR data

Development sector-wise data

  • Go back to the ‘Explore CSR data’ tab and select ‘development sector-wise data’.
  • The page gives a list of development sectors and amount spent by companies on related projects.
  • Click on the amount to get CSR details of a particular sector. Let’s check the first one.
  • Here are the CSR details of Clean Ganga Fund in FY 2019-20
  • You can explore the CSR amount spent ‘state-wise’ and ‘company-wise by clicking on its tabs.

💡Pro Tip: CSR data can also be accessed from the MCA website’s CSR data and summary section. However, there is  little data, and only information for FY 2014-15 and FY 2015-16 is available.

CSR information is also available on the BRSR Reports mandated by SEBI. Learn how to use them here.

How should reporters use CSR related information in their work? 

There are two ways  you could approach this, explains Raja. You can either navigate through sectors (such as education, health etc). You could see which sectors get prioritised. Second, you could look at specific companies and see where they spend their money in terms of region or sector. Most importantly, see who is the implementing agency for the projects the company is spending on.

One finding we have had based on a preliminary analysis of CSR data is that companies are spending money close to where their headquarters are physically located, says Raja. So, you are likely to have many projects around Mumbai and Delhi (where many of the company HQs are located). “But if you look at deprivation – where the money is actually needed – districts where health and education infrastructure is lacking, for example – there is a mismatch”, says John. “And one can use the CSR data to bring out insights like that,” he adds.

Another way reporters can use CSR data is that often companies claim that they are spending money on a particular project. As a reporter, you can access all the information about the project, and then visit the project site to cross-check if the claims match up with the ground reality.

💡Pro-tip: In addition to CSR data available on the website, you can also look at disclosures required by SEBI in Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reports. Find our detailed guide on that here. The report has information on the number of women employees, number of employees with a disability, supplier policies etc. Now match this with CSR work, and find interesting and critical stories.

Story Examples

📌 Vedanta’s Oxygen Output in Thoothukudi Is Less CSR, More Disaster Capitalism, Nityanand Jayaraman, The Wire.

📌Why this is not CSR: A study of 5 major corporates, Srishti, Tavleen Singh, Down To Earth. 

📌Ideas that CSR can fund, Osama Manzar, Livemint. 

📚 Resources

🔹Reports from Corporate Responsibility Watch (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
🔹India’s CSR Reporting Survey 2019, KPMG

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