On 29th August, India celebrated its ‘National Sports Day’ besides its only gold medal in Tokyo Olympics and good performance of players in Tokyo Paralympics. No doubt, slowly and steadily, India’s overall participation in games is increasing. Here role of corporates, textile and apparel industry are also very important. Amul and Adani Group have joined as sponsors for the Indian contingent at the ongoing Olympic Games in Tokyo. This role started becoming important at mass level when in 2014, the Indian Government via the Companies Act, 2013, made mandatory for companies with a net worth of Rs. 500 crore, or revenue of Rs. 1,000 crore, or net profit of Rs. 5 crore, to spend 2 per cent of their average profit in the last three years on social development-related activities. But over the years, things have not moved much, especially in case of the textile and apparel companies.
Initially when the act was first passed, companies could only support ‘training to promote rural sports, national paralympic sports, Olympic sports and recognised sports’ under corporate social responsibility. In 2015, construction, renovation, maintenance of stadiums, gymnasiums and rehabilitation centres were also included as permissible CSR activities.
Time to time, various political leaders and sport celebrities have urged the corporate sectors to come forward and utilise the corporate social responsibility funding for the development of sports infrastructure along with government funding.
Initially in the starting years, when sports was added in the CSR list, it was felt that with time, CSR spending on sports will increase but over the years it has not improved much.
The corporate India specially the textile and apparel industry is not spending on sports as a CSR activity. There are few exceptions though. As per official data, during the financial year 2019-20, overall 701 companies have spent Rs. 268 crore on 31 projects of sports under CSR activities. This is just 1.84 per cent of the total amount of Rs. 14,517 crore overall spent by 18,292 companies.
Indian Inc. supporting sports
Source: www.csr.gov.in (Figures in crore)
As far as textile and apparel industry is concerned, the situation is not much enthusiastic. There are many textile and apparel giants spending not even a rupee on sports as their focus in CSR spending is on education and health etc. There are some textile companies spending on sports but hardly are they doing it in a proper way or as a long-term planning.
One of the best companies in this regard is Welspun India, the home furnishing giant. It initiated Welspun Super Sports Women Programme which focused on empowering female athletes from challenging backgrounds. Covering 14 sports, this program has already helped 27 athletes across India.
And these efforts have been success stories also. The company supported financially 26 sportswomen from 11 different sports backgrounds like Manasi Joshi, Shivani Charak, Palak Kohli, Suvarna Raj and more. Para badminton, swimming, weight lifting, boxing, long jump, taekwondo, long distance running, hockey, para power lifter, kick boxing and cycling are some of the focused games being promoted by the company.
“These sportswomen have made not just us, but the whole nation proud by bagging 146 medals across international, national and state level competitions. Our Welspun Super Sport Women initiative identifies budding sportswomen across the country and supports them in seeking path breaking career opportunities in sports,” the company informed.
As per the latest annual report of the company, it allocated Rs. 49 lakh on 2 projects sponsoring sportspersons in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Delhi. These projects were started in 2016-17.
Reliance Foundation’s initiative is also focusing on motivating children towards sports as it says that 2.15 crore children reached their goals through the sports initiative since inception while 79 Reliance Foundation Young Champs scholarships were awarded to develop football skills. Similarly, 1.1 crore students were engaged by integrating basketball into the curriculum. Similarly 90 lakh children, adolescents and youth reached out through Reliance Foundation Youth Sports. Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA scaled to 13,500 schools across 21 states and union territories. It has an outlay of around Rs.64 crore (2019-20) for the sports related activities compared to Rs. 59 crore in 2018-19. During 2020-21, Reliance conducted virtual sessions on fitness, nutrition and well-being of athletes to reach over 4,000 athletes and 250 coaches through digital workshops.
Top spenders on sports (associated with textile industry)
|Reliance Industries Limited||41.65|
|Reliance Retail Limited||17.07|
Vardhman Textiles is another company which has done a remarkable job. During 2019-20, the textile giant spent Rs. 10 lakh on training. It also sponsored the training program for air rifle shooting of Malaika Goel (Silver Medallist, Commonwealth Games 2014, Glasgow). The amount outlay for the same is Rs. 20 lakh.Source: www.csr.gov.in (Figures in crore)
Apart from supporting the players, the company is also spending on developing the sport infrastructure as it constructed indoor badminton hall at Police Lines, Ludhiana, to promote sports among youth at a cost of Rs. 1.2 crore.
In previous years, the company gave financial support to the participants representing India in Kickboxing Championship held from 10-19 May 2018 in Mexico. Shooting World Cup organised by the National Rifle Association of India was sponsored with a contribution of Rs. 50 lakh.
RSWM, Sangam Group and some other such companies have also supported sports at various levels.
Interestingly there are few giant companies where the top level management has interest in sports and these companies are also spending their CSR fund on Sports. Rajinder Gupta, Founder, Trident Group is also President, Punjab Cricket Association and Deepak Nanda, MD of the company is also Vice-President of Malwa Sports Association, Barnala and Chairman of District Cricket Association, Barnala.
As per the recent three annual reports of Trident Ltd., the company is regularly allocating CSR funds for sports.
In 2018-19, for the promotion of rural sports training or nationally recognised sports in Budni (Madhya Pradesh), the company spent Rs. 49 lakh and in Chandigarh, it spent Rs. 2 lakh.
In 2019-20, in the same segment for Barnala (Punjab), the company had an amount outlay (budget) of Rs. 53 lakh while cumulative expenditure up to the reporting period (2019-20) was Rs.9.3 crore. But in 2020-21, it spent Rs. 36,000 at MP, Budni and Rs. 2 lakh at Chandigarh regarding sports.
The important question that arises however is why more textiles companies are not coming forward to spend on sports activities and one of the most obvious reasons for the same has been priorities. The corporate as well as Indian society’s priority continues to be on upgrading health and education of people. Unlike companies from other industries, textile and apparel companies don’t have that much of funds or resources which they can allocate for their CSR fund to sports. And it is also worth mentioning here that sports is an area where creating success stories takes a lot of time and effort. It’s not just about selecting few athletes and giving them cheques or supporting them with cash. It involves promoting the sports personalities year-on-year making it a complete athlete management programme.