UNDER THE AEGIS OF RISE FOR GOOD, MAHINDRA IS SLOWLY BUT STEADILY BEING RECOGNISED AS A COMPANY THAT TRULY BELIEVES IN DRIVING POSITIVE CHANGE.
IN OCTOBER 2015, MAHINDRA & MAHINDRA WAS RECOGNISED AS THE BEST COMPANY FOR CSR IN INDIA IN A STUDY BY THE ECONOMIC TIMES.
IT’S 3:30 a.m on a Wednesday morning in New York when Vishal Kumkar writes back to me, agreeing to an interview. Burning the midnight candle is nothing new to this son of Mumbai who claims he is not really very intelligent. He’s just perseverant…and how! Son of an autorickshaw driver in Mumbai, Vishal, who worked as a software developer in Goldman Sachs is now pursuing his master’s degree in Computer Science from Cornell University. His sisters are engineers, doctors and commerce graduates. This is the new and emerging face of middleclass India. The force behind a nation that’s inching towards glory and greatness.
If you take a closer look, you will find that Mahindra has an important role to play in this success story. Vishal’s scholarship to Cornell was from K. C. Mahindra Education Trust (KCMET), as was his scholarship to the Government Polytechnic College in 2006. Since its inception in 1956, the Trust has promoted education mainly by way of scholarships and grants to deserving and needy students. Some of these were instituted way back in the mid-50s while others were founded more recently, a proof of continual effort on the part of the Mahindra Group, to bring about social and economic development through a literate, enlightened and empowered populace.
Amongst myriad scholarships, KCMET also grants interest-free loan scholarships to 50 deserving students to pursue post-graduate studies abroad in various fields every year. The Mahindra Search for Talent Scholarship, K. C. Mahindra UWC Scholarship, are other such scholarships and grants that continue to make a difference to the lives of Indian students. Till date, over 8,000 students have received grants for vocational studies across 11 states in India from the Mahindra All India Talent Scholarship alone.
The Nanhi Kali project was initiated by Anand Mahindra in 1996. Since 2005, the programme is being jointly managed by KCMET and the Naandi Foundation. Project Nanhi Kali empowers more than 1,14,000 girls across rural, tribal and urban regio ns in ten states across India by providing them with high-quality education support and resources. It includes academic support in the form of before or after-class centres that aim to bridge the learning gap in government school classrooms. Additionally, material support is provided in the form of school bags, shoes, books, uniforms, lunch-boxes and other essentials that help a girl go to school with dignity. Project Nanhi Kali also mobilises communities of parents, teachers and village elders to make them active stakeholders in the process of change.
Yet another noteworthy effort in driving positive change are the Mahindra Pride Schools (MPS). In support of the Government mandate for affirmative action, the Mahindra Group set up these schools to empower youth from socially disadvantaged sections of society by providing livelihood training to enable them to gain employment based on their skills.
Till date, the Mahindra Group has set up five Mahindra Pride Schools. The schools are meant exclusively for youth between 18-25 years from socially disadvantaged sections and offer equal opportunity to both men and women while focusing on rural youth. Post the three-month intensive training at MPS, students have found high growth service sector jobs with food chains like McDonalds, Pizza Hut & KFC; 5-star Hotels such as Hotel Le Meridien; department stores such as Westside, Mom & Me and BPOs and KPOs such as Bajaj Allianz, HCL, TCS, Dell, Cognizant and Mphasis. MPS is committed to continue to provide livelihood training to over 3,050 students annually enabling them to build a career and a future and making it possible for them and their families to rise above their limiting circumstances.
Mahindra Finance, through Hire-Train-Deploy (HTD) Model, started Project Hunnar - vocational training for rural educated youth to make them employable in collaboration with NGOs. The two-week training programme is focused on financial skills. It also trains candidates on communication, sales and interpersonal skills. This financial year, Project Hunnar’s goal is to train and make 1,000 rural youth employable.
To help strengthen basic facilities in schools that cater to underprivileged children, Mahindra Finance has started supporting municipal schools with the help of volunteers in rural areas. This endeavour is in line with the Group’s mission to transform rural lives and drive positive change in communities. Cost of basic stationary, water purifier, benches, sport equipment and various such needs of the municipality schools are met through this project.
Mahindra Automotive and Farm Equipment Sector (AFS) also participate in Project Hunnar, to provide vocational education for youth who have passed 10th standard. The project runs in collaboration with LabourNet, a Social Enterprise. AFS has set up ten Mahindra dedicated centres across India indoctrinating a two-month course primarily on Auto Sales and Auto Service Courses, with some centres also training youth for a start-up jobs at BPOs.
Mahindra Saarthi Abhiyaan is an initiative by Mahindra Trucks and Buses Ltd., in partnership with Anatara Solutions. This initiative provides educational support to the daughters of drivers through scholarship programmes. A driver earns a meagre amount of INR 10,000/- to 15,000/- a month, travels more than 1,000 kms daily and works almost 365 days a year! Life is hazardous on roads as India has recorded 1,300 fatal accidents per day in the year 2012, according to the Central Police Force.
To support the driver and compliment his financial ability, this scholarship programme aims at educating the drivers’ daughters helping them to pursue secondary education and not drop out after primary education, a trend that is common of this socio-economic class.
Making its presence felt globally, M&M Ltd. also started Project Baja, in partnership with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) India. This project focuses on the promotion of education through Project Based Learning. Undergraduate engineering students are trained via this project. The event, organised globally by the Society of Automotive Engineers, USA, was introduced by the name of Mini-BAJA in the year 1976 at the University of Carolina. Since then, it has spread its wings to several other countries like the USA, Mexico, South Africa, Korea, Brazil and India.
Tech Mahindra’s social initiatives are carried out by the Tech Mahindra Foundation (TMF), its CSR arm. TMF was set up in 2007 and since then has worked tirelessly towards the aim of empowerment through education, thus establishing itself as a prominent CSR player within the Mahindra Group as well as a leading social organisation at a national level. TMF essentially works with children and youth from urban, disadvantaged communities in India. Tech Mahindra’s social work is currently focused on three areas – School Education, Employability and Technical Education.
Long-term school improvement programmes run in partnership with local governments and expert partner organisations are called All Round Improvement in School Education (ARISE). This year, the Foundation has adopted 65 schools across India and is working with 18 partners (along with the Municipal Corporations of Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune) to turn them around completely into model schools of excellence. The ARISE programme builds upon four dimensions of a school — academic, social, organisational and infrastructural. ARISE is a special programme which encompasses educational empowerment initiatives for children with disabilities.
The Shikshaantar programme works on teacher empowerment and system enhancement programme. This includes the In-Service Teacher Education Institute (ITEI) with East Delhi Municipal Corporation which is enhancing the capacity of 1,500 teachers, 400 school heads and 70 education functionaries and training 120 master trainers. A five-year Cambridge English programme with Corporation of Chennai will build capacities of 250 teachers, on language and pedagogy. Likewise, teachers of 100 balwadis running in Municipal Corporation schools of Mumbai and those in 25 primary/pre-primary schools under Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation in Pune are being trained in pedagogy. Shikshaantar also felicitates outstanding teachers through the Shikshak Samman Award programme.
Skills for Market Training (SMART) is TMF’s flagship programme that is built on the vision of an educated, enlightened and employed India and a belief that educated and skilled youth are the country’s asset. The programme, that started with three centres in 2012, is currently running 65 centres in 10 locations across India. These include SMART centres, SMART+ centres (training for people with disabilities), SMART-T centres (training in technical trades) and the SMART Academy. The SMART Academy is the next level of the programme which will be a state-of-the-art centre imparting high-quality vocational skills training with a blend of classroom, practical and on-the-job training.
“SINCE ITS INCEPTION, THE MAHINDRA GROUP HAS FIRMLY BELIEVED THAT HUMAN CAPITAL IS THE FOUNDATION ON WHICH ANY NATION IS BUILT. IN LINE WITH THIS BELIEF, THE LARGEST ALLOCATION OF OUR CSR FUNDS HAVE BEEN MADE IN THE AREAS OF EDUCATION AND SKILLING, ESPECIALLY FOR THE GIRL CHILD AND YOUTH FROM THE DISADVANTAGED SECTIONS OF SOCIETY. THIS IS DONE PRIMARILY THROUGH THE NANHI KALI SCHEME, THE MAHINDRA PRIDE SCHOOLS AND THE TECHMAHINDRA FOUNDATION SMART CENTRES. HIGHER EDUCATION IS ADDRESSED THROUGH THE MAHINDRA COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING, AND SCHOLARSHIPS GIVEN FOR HIGHER EDUCATION ABROAD AND THE MAHINDRA UNITED WORLD COLLEGE. 65 PER CENT OF THE ANNUAL INR 175 CRORES CSR SPEND IS CENTERED AROUND EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT CREATION THROUGH SKILLING, AND THESE INITIATIVES HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF THOUSANDS OF YOUTH EVERY YEAR.”
GROUP PRESIDENT (HR & CORPORATE SERVICES) & CEO (AFTER-MARKET SECTOR) MEMBER OF THE GROUP EXECUTIVE BOARD AND CHAIRMAN – GROUP CSR COUNCIL, MAHINDRA & MAHINDRA LTD.
It is worthwhile to note that the vast majority of those who participate in these projects find immediate employment since the skills imparted are aligned and customised to the specific requirements of potential employers. Here’s citing an instance: 100 per cent of those who have completed the MPS programmes in five locations ranging from Srinagar to Patna find immediate employment, while the TechMahindra Foundation SMART Centres spread across ten locations currently have an 80 percent placement record. Average monthly salaries range from INR 8,000 to 12,000 depending on the sector of employment.
MHRIL’s Education project seeks to ensure quality education for children in rural areas in order to create equal opportunities for all to participate in and benefit from India’s economic growth. Till date, over 45,970 students have benefited from this initiative in the time-span of 2010 to 2015. Government schools which have been neglected for years because funds were not adequate, are now being given a complete facelift by MHRIL. Dilapidated buildings, leaking roofs, broken doors and windows, cracked floors and roofless toilets were worked upon. Separate toilets were made for the boys and girls replete with continuous water supply. This was a novel experience for the students. Bore wells were dug to provide drinking water. Sintex Tanks and an Aquaguard with an RO system was made available for children to have safe clean drinking water. Water stations were constructed, hand washing facilities were provided. These facilitated the schools as most of them provided mid-day meal schemes. In addition, desks and chairs were bought in large numbers for these schools – an endeavour that was appreciated largely by the students.
In the first week of August 2015, the Mahindra Group successfully implemented its promised Swachh Bharat:Swachh Vidyalaya (SBSV) programme when it completed construction of 4,340 toilets in schools at 1,171 locations earmarked for this purpose by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
SBSV is the national campaign driving “Clean India:Clean Schools”; a key feature of the campaign is to ensure that every school in India has a set of functioning and well maintained water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. The Mahindra SBSV initiative is an integrated program comprising intervention in the areas of physical infrastructure, hygiene awareness and capacity building, upkeep and maintenance for a period of one year.
The list of positive steps taken to Rise for Good is endless. For the Mahindra Group, driving positive change is a belief and not a PR activity or one undertaken to comply with Governmental norms. We do all of this, because we choose to make a difference to people like Vishal Kumkar. “When I joined Cornell University, I thought to myself, that people here are very talented and I must match up to that level”, says Vishal.
Watch out world, our young lions are raring to go places…