IDeA hosted a CSR consultancy meet in its office on 28th February, 2019; facilitated representatives from Samhita Social Venture, Mumbai. Representatives from organizations working on diverse issues in the NE regions participated in the meet. A total number of 18 people were present in the meet including IDeA team.

Samhita is a social enterprise that collaborates with companies to develop impactful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Their focus areas include CSR strategy, programme design and sector research. They also work with international and domestic donor agencies and foundations to facilitate multi-stakeholder platforms around critical social issues. Samhita Social Ventures conducted a study with different stakeholders regarding the section 135 of the Companies Act, focusing on the schedule VII and its interpretation and implementation by the companies so far. Samhita is partnering with A.T.E. Chandra Foundation for this study and its further execution.

The discussions that took place in the meet included various issues concerning the drafting and implementation of Schedule VII, Section 135 of the Companies Act, and the loopholes in it and following suggestions made by different representatives of organizations from the North East India. After a briefing by the facilitator about the mentioned study, the discussion was left open for all to respond to the study, share their personal (organizational level) experiences with CSR agencies, and share suggestions on possible solutions shared by everyone. As the session opened for discussion, representatives from different organizations shared their view on the CSR laws and their implementation and the organizations’ personal experiences with the CSR funding agencies.

What is VII schedule, Section 135 of the Companies Act?

Schedule VII of the Section 135, Companies Act encompasses concerns of eradicating hunger and poverty, promotion of education and health care, ensuring employment, environmental sustainability, sanitation, contribution to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government or the State Governments for socio-economic development and relief and funds for the welfare of the scheduled etc. The concerns of the companies while sanctioning any financial support to the civil society institutions should be the overall development of the society. The companies should invest their interest in all the sectors mentioned in the schedule VII and not be biased towards any one or two sectors which benefit the society but the company’s personal profit.

The discussion ended on the note of admin cost. It was successful not just in terms of number of people/organizations/ participating but in the way the session turned out to be and how a lot of personal narratives, challenges, issues and struggles were discussed in a way that only portrayed the feeling of collectivity amongst everyone irrespective of the difference based on geographical location and ideology etc. It was successful in fulfilling the objective with which it was held. To create a space where everyone could come together and discuss their concerns, come in to consensus and plan out possible solutions for the respective concerns.