Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 mandates every company registered under the Act, with a net worth of Rs 500 crore or more, or a turnover of over Rs 1,000 crore or a net profit exceeding Rs 5 crore in any financial year to spend 2% of its net profit on CSR. This statutory provision could be a game changer for a developing and democratic country like India. This article enunciates the priority sector for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Covid 19 a black swan event in the global context. It is a demolisher at large and propeller in bits. In the backdrop of the said pandemic, one area which needs attention is education. Closure of schools and colleges has skyrocketed the demand for online education, however with 6 lac plus villages in India and most of them without proper internet connectivity and deprived of digital infrastructure. Education through online platforms is an onerous task to accomplish in the near future. Sudden transition to online platforms without the needed base footing could invite knee jerk reaction. CSR being a mandatory compliance as per companies Act 2013 can be utilized to transform remote villages into digital villages.
If business organizations can spend their money earmarked for CSR to upgrade digital infrastructure. More specifically by providing internet access and furnishing the needed infrastructure for online teaching in rural schools and colleges. May we be reminded that, education is a powerful tool to change the face of any country.
This initiative can provide multiple benefits like rural economy can get a shot in the arm, as it opens the door for E- commerce companies to operate in rural space and in turn the GDP of the country gets a boost.
This initiative can help the students from rural areas to keep abreast with the changing educational landscape. Online teaching can possibly expose the rural students to the world of the Internet. This initiative of upgrading the digital infrastructure can be a long term strategy to prepare the students for future jobs and challenges. It is implicit that, Technological skills are inevitable to be acquired upon, if students are to stay relevant and cope with technological disruption happening at a rapid pace, being tech savvy is a prerequisite. Seclusion from the technological world is imprudent and imbecile.
Hence revamping the infrastructure from meagre brick and mortar to basic digital infrastructure at least, if not world class, is the need of the hour in this digital era. Companies can spend their funds for this noble cause and thereby become the catalysts to change the economic and educational scenario of the nation.
Dr. Sanjay K Deshpande, Asst Professor, KLS IMER, Belagavi.