CORPORATE INITIATIVES (CSR) FOR DEVELOPING RURAL INDIA
Bengaluru, 5th October 2018
Held at Capitol Hotel, Raj Bhavan Rd.
Annapoorna, a name synonymous to rural development in many states in India, and the India Electronic Semiconductor Association (IESA), who understand the large untapped rural potential for Technology penetration, jointly conducted a CSR Event to bring together Corporates, NGOs and Government in a common platform focused on rural transformation and uplift.
The motivation driving this first of its kind CSR Event was to form a consortium of like-minded organizations that can collectively channel their CSR efforts to promote holistic development of rural communities. Basic unmet needs, even today, include clean water, healthcare, nutrition, education, energy, livelihoods and sanitation. Long term goal is to realize the vision of the “Ideal Village” or Adarsh Gram, which is best achieved through such a collaboration platform.
It was quite heartening to see the Event attracted over 100 esteemed guests from diverse backgrounds, which added tremendous value to the interactive dialog all through the session.
Format of the Event:
The event brought together three key sets of organizations, namely
(i) NGOs whose volunteers are active in the field, working on rural transformation,
(ii) Companies who have to meet the CSR mandate of Nation building, and,
(iii) Representatives from the Karnataka State Government.
The NGOs shared results from their rural projects in various sectors such as Nutrition, Education, and Healthcare, while the Corporate speakers described specific CSR rural projects utilising their technology and knowledge base. The Event was honoured by the presence of Dr Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education, Karnataka State. She emphasized the importance of the collaborative platform of “Government + NGO + Corporate” to achieve the required impact in rural development. Over 40 organizations including prominent technology companies were represented at this inaugural CSR Event.
Some Highlights from the Event:
The event started at 2:30PM with a welcome address from Mr. Anil Kumar, Chairman of India Electronics & Semiconductor Association(IESA), and Managing Director of SLN Technologies Pvt. Ltd. He noted that IESA had over 300 member companies, who could be approached to get involved in rural CSR projects. He then shared IESA’s involvement with the Government’s Skill Development efforts. He requested corporates to come forward voluntarily for the worthy rural and social cause!
The second speaker was Dr. Sundar Kamath, Senior VP (Technology) of Sanmina Corp. He talked about the Ideal Village concept and Sanmina India’s CSR efforts focused on healthcare for villages and schools around their Chennai electronics manufacturing facility in Kancheepuram District. By partnering with Shree Sai Healing Trust (SSHT) of Chennai, Sanmina’s CSR efforts were reaching over 2000 school children in 15 Government schools, while also covering 30 villages through 7 health clinics. The next phase of CSR will be expanded to include the Nutrition program from Annapoorna, a mobile healthcare unit (min-bus), the Divine Mother & Child clinic, and, health screening for children with special needs.
Next, Sai Ivaturi, Director in a Fortune 100 Major and a Volunteer at Annapoorna, briefly explained Annapoorna’s national presence, its growth story, the MOUs with various State Governments, and its impact to school children’s holistic development.
Sai also gave an introduction of the recent addition, Annapoorna Protein Mix, which is used to augment the Government provided school milk with micronutrients and proteins. He ended his talk elucidating Annapoorna’s immediate plans to nourish 1 Million children with free nutritious breakfast across India in 2019.
Dr. Satish Babu, Consultant and HOD for the Dept. of Endocrinology in BGS Global Hospital in Bangalore, next talked about ‘Divine Mother and Child Health Programme’, which has made rapid progress in addressing issues of maternal and infant care in villages. He explained how it has been a lifesaver for a huge number of infants and pregnant mothers due to the focus on preventive care. The programme ensures that mothers’ lives are saved, that children are born healthy, and, they maintain good health all through their infancy.
Being a doctor himself, he emphasized the importance of Annapoorna’s flagship breakfast programme for the children’s physical and mental health and the ecosystem around them, and how it would positively affect the rural landscape end to end!
The Healthcare session also included a brief overview by Nikita of Shree Sai Healing Trust from Chennai, which has been active in rural areas of India for over 10 years, reaching a million people, conducting a huge number of medical camps and follow up with medicines and treatment as required.
The next talk was on Education, in which Deepika shared the scope of E1E1 Foundation, with its unique mission for alumni’s – Each One Educate One. E1E1 is now supporting 3100+ needy students with free education in 19 schools in Karnataka. Deepika, Trustee of the E1E1 Foundation, shared a couple of inspiring anecdotes to illustrate how the E1E1 message is turning into a people’s movement!
One of the key points that emerged from the above NGOs presentations on Nutrition, Healthcare and Education was the transformational impact of the volunteers’ efforts on the minds of younger sections of the rural population, who felt inspired to follow in the path of the volunteers.
Presentations by Corporates:
Following a break, it was the turn of the corporates to take the center stage. Dr Srinivasu P, Global Head of Digital Farming Initiatives at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) talked about the PRIDE system developed to improve the agricultural sector by helping farmers productivity and profitability. It was an outstanding illustration of how end to end application of digital technology utilising sensors, IoT, data analytics, etc can impact the farm economy. Branded as mKrishi, the program has now touched 2 million farmers across India, and won accolades globally.
Mr. Veerappan, Co-Founder and President of Tessolve Semiconductor Pvt. Ltd. and also a founder of the Electronic City Industry Association, talked about Tessolve’s proactive 1:1 matching of employee donations towards social causes, which has been a part of the culture in the company, even before the 2% CSR mandate was in place by the Government of India. The company pushes for employee recruiting drives in rural areas and tier 2 engineering colleges to help the rural cause. The company also supports mobile science labs to help build scientific temper amongst the rural children. He called for not only corporate, but also individual level social responsibility, making a heartwarming plea for “begging shamelessly” and donating generously through personal example, to support rural development.
Mr. Sukhvinder Kumar, President, Global Manufacturing Operations at Tejas Networks spoke about the company’s role in enabling Digital India, in helping to connect remote areas through its optical network products, which can support fibre connectivity into rural parts. He shared a wonderful story emphasizing how every drop contributed by each one of us can add to a large positive social cause!
Next, Mr. KG Mohan, President of RuralShores Business Services Pvt. Ltd., talked about how the company’s business model provides an eco-system for creating rural livelihoods which transforms young lives, being especially impactful for young women who may have otherwise find limited choices to become financially independent. He narrated the inspiring examples of two young women who now support their parents and families through hard work, dedication and sheer determination to achieve financial security by using the opportunities from RuralShores.
Representation from the Govt. of Karnataka
Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education, Government of Karnataka, explained how her Department is promoting collaboration with industry and NGOs to address the rural education challenges. Needs of various schools and regions have been identified and posted on-line, so CSR sponsors can decide which program needs to support. She was very appreciative of Annapoorna’s Protein Mix that is now being added to Govt. sponsored milk to make it more nutritious and tasty as well.
Anand Kadali of Annapoorna thanked her for her continuous and sincere support to Annapoorna’s efforts in the fields of holistic social and rural development.
Open Floor Discussion on Collaboration:
Following the series of NGO and Corporate presentations, the floor was thrown open for discussion on collaboration and networking between various NGOs and Corporates to find ways of moving ahead on the most critical CSR Initiatives focused on Rural Development, namely, Nutrition to cover 0.5M children in 2019, Health screening of schoolchildren and rural communities, setting up of 10 Ideal Villages, launch of tele-education and tele-medicine across 12 rural campuses in Karnataka, and, so on. Attendees were provided hard copies of the Needs covering these projects, so they could respond back with their indication of interest in partnering / sponsoring the initiatives as part of their CSR efforts in 2019. There was a productive exchange of ideas, and, a couple of “instant collaborations” took place where the needs and partners were matched up during the open session.
Annapoorna felicitated the speakers as well as the key corporate partners who have consistently supported Annapoorna’s expansion of the Nutrition program in 2018.
Overall A Great launch for the 1st CSR Event!
This 1st CSR Event proved to be an unqualified success in bringing together various parties – Corporates, NGOs and Government – to discuss projects, ideas for collaboration, and, potential partnering opportunities to realize the vision of holistic rural development. Corporates who have to meet the mandate on CSR spend were made aware of new opportunities to direct their funding and resources towards the rural cause. Project requirements, needs and current gaps were explained first hand by the NGOs active in the field.
The Principal Secretary of Primary and Secondary Education for the State of Karnataka emphasized the Government’s willingness and support to all players for the challenging mission of ‘Rural Development’. This strong takeaway left the guests inspired to push harder and work together.
Annapoorna’s key partners and well-wishers, who have helped throughout its journey, expressed their continued solidarity with Annapoorna’s express mission of “Building the Nation through Nutrition”. It was truly encouraging to see new partners express great interest in the rural healthcare, nutrition and education projects.
Given the success of this 1st CSR event in Bengaluru, it was felt that the next round of similar CSR Events should be held in Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune in early 2019, to be followed by Mumbai and Delhi in mid-2019, thereby, extending the reach of the collaboration mission and rural development platform to major industrial centers in India.