“CSR is a fundamental part of our ethos”
Rajeev Dubey, Group President (HR & Corporate Services), and CEO (After-Market Sector), Member of the Group Executive Board, believes that CSR has evolved beyond social service or financial aid. Its benefit is in the real and lasting impact it has...
Can you discuss your company's CSR journey?
Corporate Social Responsibility has always been a fundamental part of our ethos. We have always been guided by a strong social conscience, aligned with our core purpose which is to challenge conventional thinking and innovatively use our resources to drive positive change in the lives of our stakeholders and communities, enabling them to Rise. Today, CSR has evolved beyond social service or financial aid. Its benefit is in the real and lasting impact it has on the communities within which it operates.
Moreover, creating a sustainable ecosystem to encourage growth and entrepreneurship – as several of our projects have done - propels the CSR mandate from merely doing good to actually creating sustainable business models and subsequently, shared value. CSR at Mahindra has also acquired an additional dimension with 'Rise for Good'. Built on the four pillars of people, community, governance, sustainability and business for good, 'Rise for Good' is aligned with our desire to conduct business in a responsible manner. Our 'Employee Social Options' programme which encourages employees to devote their personal time and effort to a worthy cause has steadily gained momentum over the years. Today, there are over 54,000 ESOPs volunteers across the Group who engage in various programmes that benefit the local community and society at large. Their enthusiasm and spirit of kar seva forms the backbone of every CSR programme that we launch, helping us achieve our vision of a better, more equal world.
What are the key focus areas for your CSR projects?
The Mahindra Group's CSR programme focuses on education, public health and environment with programmes that focus on the girl child, youth and farmers. Educating India: 'Nanhi Kali', our flagship CSR programme, was established in 1996 to offer 10 years of education to the underprivileged girl child. The programme provides 360 degree support to these girls from Std I-X, which includes two hours of free daily tuition, school supplies and a digital tablet with pre-loaded educational content. Till date, 310,000 girls have benefited from the programme with the dropout rate curtailed to less than 10% in project areas.
Once they have completed school, they can also benefit from the special NStar Centres which provide a safe space to the girls who receive training in basic english, financial literacy and computer skills to help them get jobs in the formal sector. Another key endeavour in the field of education are the Mahindra Pride Schools which offer livelihood training to youth from socially and economically disadvantaged communities in ITES, Customer Relationship Management, Hospitality and the Automotive Sector. Over 25,000 youth have benefited from this programme.
Healing rural India: One of our biggest programmes in the health domain revolves around our association with the 'Lifeline Express', the world's first hospital on wheels. It aims to eradicate avoidable disablement by bringing medical treatment to far flung communities. In addition, we also take care of logistics, publicity and mobilisation of the local community. Over 91,000 people have benefited from this. Towards a greener world: Our flagship programme here is 'Mahindra Hariyali', which aims to add 1 million trees to India's green cover every year. Over the course of ten years, it has undertaken tree plantation drives across the country. 13 million trees have been planted, including 7.7 million in the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh. Swachh Bharat, Sundar Bharat: Aligned with the government's 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan', we have also constructed 4597 toilets in 1171 government schools across 11 states and 104 districts, as part of the Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya.
Could you tell us what is your opinion of the current phase of CSR in India?
Much of the CSR activity is transactional in nature and not yet in a strategic mode, which can create sustained benefits for society and also shared value for corporates.
What are the main challenges that the field is facing?
The main challenge is the shortage of capability: in organisations (corporates as well as NGOs) and individuals, to efficiently and effectively execute projects in a milieu where there are many stakeholders, often with conflicting interests, and no direct control of the outcome by any one entity.