Asian Paints CSR is all about the holistic development of communities and a resilient future for the nation. With a presence in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the South Pacific, Asian Paints has aligned all its business ventures with the goal of making dream homes a reality for its consumers.
The company is a leader in manufacturing a diverse range of industrial and decorative paints. Over the years, it has diversified into complete painting and designing services, bath and kitchen fittings, decor consultancy and waterproofing solutions. The Group houses seven brands: Asian Paints, SCIB Paints, Apco Coatings, Asian Paints Berger, Taubmans, Causeway Paints and Kadisco Asian Paints.
1. Asian Paints CSR
Corporate social responsibility at Asian Paints is about a sustainable business model, which looks after the interests of all stakeholders. Sustainability here drives the actions for conserving water and optimising energy usage at every level. The company’s Sriperumbudur plant won the CII National Award for ‘Energy Efficiency’ for this reason.
The company made the coveted Forbes List of World’s ‘Best Regarded Companies’ in 2019 for the second consecutive year. Business Today ranked Asian Paints #21 in ‘India’s Most Valuable Companies’. While the Rohtak Plant received the British Safety Council’s ‘Sword of Honour – 2019’ and Manufacturing Today’s Excellence in Safety Award, the Taloja Plant won Manufacturing Today Award in the ‘People’s Initiative’ category. To top it all, Asian Paints was honoured with the Golden Peacock Award for Excellence in Corporate Governance.
2. CSR spend
Asian Paints corporate social responsibility budgets have been consistently higher than the prescribed amount. As you can see in the graph, the previous four years saw small differences while the FY 2019-20 spends exceed the 2% sum by a large margin. A lot of it can be accrued to the increased activity for COVID-19 relief in 2020. Either way, this corporation is not one to skimp on social welfare.
3.1 Chairman Ashwin Dani says:
“Being one with the community of which we are a part and playing an active role in its development and progress has been an integral aspect of our philosophy. Our Colour Academies continued to hone talents within the painter and contractor teams, orienting them towards taking responsibility for the overall project. In Himachal Pradesh, upskilling programmes were conducted for plumbers, opening the door to more opportunities. Our associations like that with St+Art Foundation resulted in many new initiatives in Chennai and Goa. We made significant strides in promoting inclusive education and health and hygiene awareness in our adjoining communities. During the year 2020, 43,000 persons benefited through our employee volunteering programmes which carried out successful healthcare camps in rural communities.”
3.2 MD and CEO Amit Syngle says:
“All our Community initiatives have centered around the key areas of Education, Health and Hygiene, Water Management and Vocational Training. We realize that water is a fast depleting resource and therefore a major share of Asian Paints CSR funds have been utilized to improve water security in the areas where we operate. In addition, we have attempted to focus on long-term projects which include elements of Education, Health and Water Management for overall development of the communities. Biodiversity has emerged as a significant area of impact for Asian Paints corporate social responsibility. We have initiated biodiversity projects in Mysuru and Vizag factories inspired by our award-winning initiative at Sriperumbudur factory.”
4. Response to COVID-19
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brought peril upon the nation, and the world as a whole. The drop in cases we have seen so far and the slow but slow economic restart would have been impossible for the Indian government without the support of corporations like Asian Paints. The paint maker dispensed an enormous sum of Rs. 35 crores towards COVID-19 relief. The amount was mostly directed at the PM CARES Fund and various state funds set up for emergency relief.
Asian Paints CSR team has been working with nonprofits to distribute rations, cooked food, masks and sanitisers to those who cannot afford them. These efforts have softened the blow that the epidemic dealt to people from different walks of life. Apart from working with the central and state governments, local administration and NGOs to navigate the nation through the health crisis, the company also played the part of a responsible manufacturer by adding hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants to the product portfolio.
4.1 Safe Painting
CSR of Asian Paints has been running multiple campaigns in 2020 for safe painting and to help local shops get back to business while staying safe from undue harm. The Safe Painting campaign brought a new sense of hope and vibrancy among householders in these dull times.
The corporation provided external stakeholders like contractors and painters with masks and sanitisers to ensure their safety. Many of them have faced the brunt of economic hardship that afflicted daily wage workers. The company proudly stood by this hardworking subset of the painting community. It launched a Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) drive for transferring money to them in this time of financial need. The dealer outlets offer free sanitization services.
Evidence that Asian Paints corporate social responsibility is ahead of the learning curve is the foresight of designing academic programmes based on digital literacy, learning management system and virtual classes. The pandemic has closed school and educational institutions, forcing children to adapt to digital learning. Since the Asian Paints CSR education programmes were already suited for remote learning, the ecosystem continued to provide quality education to kids in rural areas.
Apart from online learning, the education interventions include scholarships for lesser privileged but bright kids, renovation of school buildings, coaching and tuitions for those who cannot afford them, health and hygiene sessions.
4.1 Gyan Shakti
Basic primary education in rural areas is prevalent; quality education is not. Students passing out of government schools don’t have a firm grasp of science and the English language. Expecting lessons in creativity and communication skills is like asking for a piece of the sky. Gyan Shakti is a three-year holistic programme to third to eighth graders which fills this void.
One can’t stress enough how much the schooling system has changed in the past two decades, because technology has advanced so rapidly in learning how to read and write. Writing by hand is becoming a thing of the past; audio-visual projections are taking over the blackboard; tablets are replacing textbooks. TABLAB brings the new age plug-and-play method of learning to government schools. The tablet-based platform administered by the CSR of Asian Paints makes learning fun. Students can explore their curriculum in their regional language or in English. They are up-to-date with the latest information and in step with urban students. One benefit of this Asian Paints CSR initiative is higher student attendance.
4.3 Digital Literacy
This programme turned out to be visionary, with the pandemic replacing classroom sessions with online learning for all levels of education. CSR of Asian Paints has been running the Digital Literacy project for in Mumbai and Khandala. Computer-aided learning systems acquaint each student with digital, numerical and English literacy so they can navigate, calculate, read and write with proficiency. Facilitators guide each student through the steps for navigation.
5. Vocational Skilling
Asian Paints corporate social responsibility invests heavily in inclusive growth through vocational skilling programmes where dreams of a dignified life are brought to reality. Colour Academy, Naya Savera and Project Udaan help the marginalised to rise above their circumstances and realise the potential within. They are encouraged to think big and then trained to paint those thoughts into tangible results.
5.1 Colour Academy
This flagship programme is connected to the heart of the conglomerate – the paint application trade. The mission of Colour Academy is to make India a hub for this trade. In the process, CSR of Asian Paints contributes to the government’s Skill India campaign. Youth with a penchant for painting are given professional training in all the subjects related that one can think of – from how to give finishing touches to designer walls, how to achieve a wood finish to installing wallpapers. There are courses for painters at every level, from beginner to advanced.
Colour Academies established across India give painters hands-on experience and also acquaint them with employment opportunities. Armed with the tools and techniques of paint application, the participants leave Colour Academy polished to a sheen.
5.2 Upskilling plumbers and carpenters
Since the company dabbles in bathroom and kitchen fittings, another set of external stakeholders are plumbers and carpenters. Apart from upskilling painters at Colour Academies, there are activities for plumbers in Himachal Pradesh and carpenters in Chennai. They learn the latest techniques in plumbing and carpentry respectively and thus have a chance of earning substantially more. This intervention was started in the year 2020, with over 250 candidates.
5.3 Naya Savera
School dropouts have it rough. Unable to complete their basic education because of bad sense or circumstance, they end up in the unorganised labour market where daily wages are a pittance. Naya Savera was envisioned as a ray of light for these youth.
The programme educates participants and makes them job-ready in 6 months. Not only do they get hands-on training and career guidance, they are also assured job placements. There is a quick turnaround in the candidates; they have more self-confidence and are ready to earn a decent living. Naya Savera is active in more than 10 cities across India.
5.4 Project Udaan
While Naya Savera takes school drop outs under its wing, Project Udaan is a skill development programme for college dropouts. Digital and financial literacy are at the crux with courses in basic IT, computer software and spoken English. Project Udaan is being implemented in Kasna, UP.
6. Health and hygiene
Access to primary healthcare for all is an important goal for Asian Paints corporate social responsibility initiatives. Some of the activities are aligned with government schemes.
6.1 Static Clinics
Static Clinics are, as the word suggests, permanently perched in one spot to dispense health facilities and check-ups. Around 20,900 beneficiaries received treatment at these clinics. Last year, the company set up four new static clinics in corporate partnership with Piramal Swasthya. They cover everything from maternal and child health, NCDs and eye tests to general OPD and blood tests.
6.2 Mobile Medical Units (MMUs)
Sometimes, the sick and ailing are too old or fragile to walk to a dispensary. If the patient cannot go to the doctor – for lack of transport or the means to get there – bring the doctor to the patient. Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) are running on this maxim to offer free and discounted healthcare access to patients in far-flung villages. They have become quite popular in healthcare segment of CSR, with various companies operating MMUs in partnership with specialist providers.
CSR of Asian Paints has been running 6 MMUs in association with HelpAge, and launched another one with Piramal Swasthya in Visakhapatnam. Not only do MMUs distribute free medicines and diagnose conditions of the ailing, sometimes they come in handy for disaster management activities. Last year, the MMUs provided over a lakh and a half treatments to people all over India.
Truck drivers face a host of challenges on the road. Their mental and physical health is at stake because of the long and lonely hauls in rough terrain. They don’t get the right nutrition to sustain such a difficult job. Safar is a preventive health initiative to correct the lifestyle habits of truckers and provide them with medical facilities.
Nukkad natak and games sought to bring about behaviour change while films spread awareness on skin diseases and other ailments truck drivers are prone to. In the year 2020, Safar covered the medical treatment of 32,000 truck drivers.
6.4 Project Drishyam
The eye care CSR intervention hopes to achieve corrective vision for all, hence the name Project Drishyam. Apart from distributing eye glasses, this CSR activity by Asian Paints also treats eye diseases. Project Drishyam is active in eight villages near the company’s chemicals manufacturing facility in Ankleshwar (Gujarat).
7. Water Conservation
Conserving water for the people living near its factories and offices is a priority for Asian Paints corporate social responsibility. No wonder so much planning and moolah goes into the integrated watershed management programmes. The benefit for the communities residing in the areas is a lot more water that is safe for drinking and farming. The goal of the water conservation initiatives is to make all the locations water-secure.
The latest development is the “water vision” for Asian Paints. The CSR team will engage in long term collaboration with expert partners like NAF and Ambuja Cement. Some of the water conservation activities include recycling and reusing wastewater; desilting of surrounding lakes and ponds; rooftop rainwater harvesting units in villages and schools.
Asian Paints CSR activities this year included rejuvenating three ponds in Badanavalu and Sindhuvelli villages. This has increased the inflow and groundwater recharging in the aquifers. Over 70 farmers benefitted from this pond restoration. They are using water from these ponds for agriculture and cattle rearing.
The CSR team used phytoremediation in Ladpura. The sustainable water body rejuvenation technique organically treats domestic effluent run-off. The method was good for the sanitation and hygiene there. Another successful activity last year was the restoration of a check dam at Rojghat village which was damaged and had gaping cracks. The restoration of the check dam created additional water potential of 11,320 KL.
The company’s Vizag and Mysuru factories have storm water and rainwater reservoirs. The Sriperumbudur plant uses 30% less domestic water because of employee awareness and new innovations (installing aerators in taps and shower heads, for example). The flow-meter at the Kasna factory has gone digital, which led to better accounting for water usage. The company’s Rohtak unit has a robotic solar panel cleaning system which doesn’t require any water for cleaning.
8. Employee Volunteering
Asian Paints employee volunteers contribute their time, effort and expertise for various CSR initiatives. The CSR division maps out activities for them on the basis of how much they are involved. For example, plogging (picking up trash while jogging) calls for them to show up at least once while flagship programmes such as Naya Savera and Me Superhero take regular volunteers. From recording audiobooks for visually challenged kids to guest lectures, there is variety for employees looking to do good.
Asian Paints CSR projects are championing the causes of skilling India, good health for all and help in the time of emergencies. When Cyclone Fani hit Odisha, the corporation was doling out hygiene and shelter kits to 1,500 families. In the aftermath of the Bihar floods, the CSR team extended a helping hand to 1,200 families in the rural area of Runnisaidpur.
After the Assam floods, they installed water purification units for the families and cleaned up the ponds, wells and hand pumps. After the floods in Khandala and Mysuru, the employees at the Asian Paints factories there helped out those affected by the disaster. Such instant support is what matters in crises situations.
The paint maker is brightening the lives of painters, carpenters, plumbers and truck drivers through CSR programmes like Safar and Colour Academy specially targetted at these groups individually. The upskilling and digital literacy projects are bringing vibrancy into the dark lives of many stray youth.