Among other countries India has one of the richest traditions of CSR. Much has been done in recent years to make Indian Entrepreneurs aware of social responsibility as an important segment of their business activity but CSR in India has yet to receive widespread recognition. If this goal has to be realised then the CSR approach of corporates has to be in line with their attitudes towards mainstream business- companies setting clear objectives, undertaking potential investments, measuring and reporting performance publicly.
The First Phase
In the first phase charity and philanthropy were the main drivers of CSR. Culture, religion, family values and tradition and industrialization had an influential effect on CSR. In the pre-industrialization period, which lasted till 1850, wealthy merchants shared a part of their wealth with the wider society by way of setting up temples for a religious cause. Moreover, these merchants helped the society in getting over phases of famine and epidemics by providing food from their godowns and money and thus securing an integral position in the society.With the arrival of colonial rule in India from 1850s onwards, the approach towards CSR changed. The industrial families of the 19th century such as Tata, Godrej, Bajaj, Modi, Birla, Singhania were strongly inclined towards economic as well as social considerations. However it has been observed that their efforts towards social as well as industrial development were not only driven by selfless and religious motives but also influenced by caste groups and political objectives.
The Second Phase
In the second phase, during the independence movement, there was increased stress on Indian Industrialists to demonstrate their dedication towards the progress of the society. This was when Mahatma Gandhi introduced the notion of "trusteeship", according to which the industry leaders had to manage their wealth so as to benefit the common man. According to Gandhi, Indian companies were supposed to be the "temples of modern India". Under his influence businesses
established trusts for schools and colleges and also helped in setting up training and scientific institutions. The operations of the trusts were largely in line with Gandhi's reforms which sought to abolish untouchability, encourage empowerment of women and rural development.
The Third Phase
The third phase of CSR (1960–80) had its relation to the element of "mixed economy", emergence of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and laws relating labor and environmental standards. During this period the private sector was forced to take a backseat The public sector was seen as the prime mover of development. Because of the stringent legal rules and regulations surrounding the activities of the private sector, the period was described as an "era of command and control". The policy of industrial licensing, high taxes and restrictions on the private sector led to corporate malpractices. This led to enactment of legislation regarding corporate governance, labour and environmental issues. PSUs were set up by the state to ensure suitable distribution of resources (wealth, food etc.) to the needy.
The Fourth Phase
In the fourth phase (1980 until the present) Indian companies started abandoning their traditional engagement with CSR and integrated it into a sustainable business strategy. In 1990s the first initiation towards globalization and economic liberalization were undertaken. Controls and licensing system were partly done away with which gave a boost to the economy the signs of which are very evident today. Increased growth momentum of the economy helped Indian companies grow rapidly and this made them more willing and able to contribute towards social cause.