With the right focus on inclusive growth this is not a pipe dream, says Mrs Rajashree Birla, Chairperson, Aditya Birla Centre for community initiatives and rural development
The Birla group is a 120-year-old organisation. Our roots go back to the early 1900s and the nation's struggle for freedom. It was during this formative period in history that the legendary, G.D.Birla, my grandfather-in-law worked shoulder to shoulder with Mahatma Gandhi. He believed implicitly in the trusteeship concept espoused by Gandhiji. This meant that a part of your profits be always ploughed back for the larger good of society. That became an unwritten edict in the Birla family.
It is a legacy which continues even today. My husband Adityaji fostered this philosophy. My son Kumar Mangalam has a zealous, evangelical approach. He has made the philosophy of caring, giving, developing and empowering underserved people as part of our group's DNA. He feels we have a tremendous responsibility to give back to society. In sum, this is a value that we swear by. We believe it's our duty.
By and large our projects are concentrated in proximity to our plants, which are in the hinterlands of our country. We work in urban areas on specific issues, such as polio-eradication and vocational training.
We follow a bottom-up process. Our projects address the felt-needs of the underpriveleged. We work with villagers, panchayats and district authorities. And in discussion with them, based on a consensus, projects are prioritised.
Arising from this the focus areas that have emerged are education, healthcare, sustainable livelihood, infrastructure development, and espousing social causes. All of our community projects are carried out under the aegis of The Aditya Birla Centre for community initiatives and rural development.
Education – we can only tap our demographic dividend through education and a focus on vocational training. This will open up employment for our youngsters. Our endeavour is to spark the desire for learning and knowledge at every stage through formal schools, balwadis for elementary education, quality primary education, Aditya Bal Vidya Mandirs, girl child education, adult education programmes, etc.
Healthcare – the numbers of malnourished children, TB and HIV afflicted adults are also alarming. Our goal is to render quality healthcare facilities to people through our hospitals, primary healthcare centres, mother and child care projects and immunisation programmes.
Sustainable livelihood – our programmes aim at providing livelihood in a locally appropriate and environmentally sustainable manner through formation of self help groups for women empowerment, vocational training through Aditya Birla Rural Technology Parks, agriculture development and better farmer focus, watershed development and partnership with industrial training institutes.
Infrastructure – housing, water and sanitation are a priority. We need 50 million houses for families that do not have a decent roof over their head. Similarly, water is a perennial problem. In infrastructure development through foundation of sustainable development through basic infrastructure facilities, housing facilities, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, renewable sources of energy.
To bring about social change, we advocate and support dowry-less marriage, widow remarriage, awareness programmes on anti-social issues, de-addiction campaigns, espousing basic moral values. Focus on the girl child is an absolute must. Women empowerment and gender equality is the need of the hour.
Prior to the commencement of projects, we carry out a baseline study of the villages. The study encompasses various parameters such as health indicators, literacy levels. Sustainable livelihood processes, population data below and above the poverty line, state of infrastructure, etc. From this, a one-year plan and a five-year rolling plan are developed for the holistic and integrated development of the marginalised. These plans are presented at the annual planning and budgeting meet. All projects are assessed under the agreed strategy, and are monitored every quarter.
Our vision is, “To actively contribute to the social and economic development of the communities in which we operate. In doing so, build a better, sustainable way of life for the weaker sections of society and raise the country's human development index.”
Dr. Pragnya RamGroup Executive President, Corporate Communications & CSRAditya Birla Management Corporation Private LimitedAditya Birla Centre, 1st Floor, 'C' WingS.K. Ahire Marg, WorliMumbai 400 030.
91-22-6652 5000 /2499 5000
Fax: 91-22-6652 5741/ 42