Academic Analysis of CSR in India

Although there has been a signficiant amount of discussion about corporate social responsibility (CSR) in India, there has been little academic analysis of the concept. A new paper titled Directors as Trustees of the Nation? India’s Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility Reform Efforts by Professor Afra Afsharipour fills this gap. Interestingly, it also considers the crucial interplay between corporate governance and CSR. The abstract is as follows:

Corporate law in India has been fundamentally transformed since the early 1990s. In conjunction with significant economic liberalization, the Indian government has introduced a series of corporate law reforms aimed, in part, at creating a system of transparent, ethical, and accountable corporate functioning. Early reforms sought to implement rules and practices that addressed traditional corporate governance concerns, in other words the relationship between firm managers and shareholders and the relationship among different groups of shareholders, particularly majority and minority shareholders. More recently, not only has the Indian government implemented laws to address corporate governance matters, but it has also started addressing the corporate social responsibility (CSR) area.

This Article argues that the Indian government’s corporate governance and CSR efforts, while laudable in some respects, are problematic in their approach to the governance of Indian companies and reflect a view of the ownership and governance of Indian companies that does not necessarily address the fundamental governance issues that arise in Indian firms. India’s proposed corporate law reforms suggest imposition of detailed corporate governance rules without necessarily assisting directors in addressing the majority–minority agency problems of controlled companies. Moreover, India’s proposed CSR guidelines may further hamper independent directors and exacerbate some of the problems that this Article discusses with respect to majority–minority agency costs.

About the author

Umakanth Varottil

Umakanth Varottil is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. He specializes in corporate law and governance, mergers and acquisitions and cross-border investments. Prior to his foray into academia, Umakanth was a partner at a pre-eminent law firm in India.

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