Asia Monitor Resource Centre (ed) (2012). The Reality of Corporate Social Responsibility: Case Studies on the Impact of CSR on Workers in China, South Korea, India and Indonesia. Hong Kong: Asia Monitor Resource Centre. ISBN: 978 962 7145 40 0
As we marched towards the age of global assemblages carrying the high mast of capitalism and hyper-nationalism, global governance and transnationalism, we ushered in a new global economic architecture that brought about cataclysmic transformations in the conduct of business, its commercial ethics, and institutional arrangements. New business principles have today become signifiers of new age corporate practice, and we have witnessed a ‘corporate turn’ in the commercial world. One such modern business code and ‘strategy’ that defines the contours of contemporary trade and has turned business houses into ‘second tier state’ is Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR.
The concept of CSR is not new. In ancient India, guilds or shrenis formed part of a philanthropic tradition that bound together social and economic interests of groups and communities. Gandhi’s notion of ‘trusteeship’ also has echoes of the philosophy behind CSR. However, CSR today is a different species. A child of neoliberalism, it upholds the ethos of market ideology, believes in the deterritorialization of business practices, extracts surplus labour and surplus value, and the ‘invisible hand’ that would paper over economic cracks and imbalances.