The soul of India lives in its villages. Corporate social responsibility is actively engaged in giving wings to this soul by funding rural development in a structured manner.
CSR in rural development
Numerous long-running CSR programmes, from HDFC Bank’s Holistic Rural Development Programme to ITC’s Mission Sunehra Kal are making progress in sustainable rural development.
These companies work in tandem with government schemes and various ministries apart from nonprofit organisations, implementing partners, agencies and strategic CSR experts to execute the plan. We give you a glimpse of the social projects by top Indian companies funding rural development today.
Social investment is as crucial for this company as its growth investments, hence ITC Group’s large-scale Social Investments Programmes that have now come to be known as SIPs, which form the backbone of MSK (Mission Sunehra Kal). MSK aims at building rural capacity in partnership with local communities to develop water and forest resources, open up new non-farm livelihoods, empower women, expand primary education, and drive future skilling in India.
For example, the Sustainable Agriculture initiative makes farmers climate-smart. The programme focuses on strengthening resilience of small and marginal farmers to climate risks by reducing cost of cultivation, improving productivity, and restoration and replenishment of depleted natural resources. At the moment, 3.95 lakh acres are covered under the programme. Last year, 4,747 Farmer Field Schools and Choupal Pradarshan Khets benefited around 1.34 lakh farmers.
The group’s Agri Business has pioneered the ‘Village Adoption Programme’. It covers 250 model villages in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and Rajasthan. This initiative funding rural development is aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s SAGY (Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana) for holistic rural development.
Mahindra & Mahindra
M&M won the National CSR Award for National Priority Area Agriculture and Rural Development for Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) in MP Ceremony, organised by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. IWMP is a Private Public Partnership model with the Government of Madhya Pradesh in Bhopal, and in Hatta with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), to increase the groundwater table of the region. Implemented in 48 villages (35 villages in Bhopal and 13 villages in Hatta), this project will help increase agricultural productivity and improve overall standard of living, benefitting 38,447 people residing in these villages.
Through Mahindra Hariyali, the Mahindra Group planted 1.52 million trees, which contributed to building green cover and protecting biodiversity in the country. Of these, 1.13 million trees were planted in the Araku valley, which besides greening the environment also provided livelihood support to tribal farmers growing coffee and fruit-bearing trees in this region. Of the 1.52 million, the plantation of 1.32 million trees was done by the company.
Through the Wardha Farmer Family Project and Krishi Mitra Project, the company continued to support small and marginal farmers by training them for effective farming practices including soil health, crop planning, creating model farms with biodynamic farming practices, and increasing the water table with a view to increasing crop productivity.
Holistic Rural Development Programme (HRDP) is HDFC Bank’s flagship project within the CSR umbrella, Parivartan. It was developed with the belief that Rural Development is central and significant to the nation’s economic development.
The rural population is predominantly engaged in agriculture and completely dependent on rainfed irrigation. The programme identifies and addresses the critical needs of each village adopted as part of the programme. There are multiple interventions designed in consultation with the village community and other stakeholders.
These initiatives are in line with the Adarsh Gaon Abhiyan of the Government of India and the UN SDGs. The critical needs of the chosen villages are first identified and addressed in consultation with the village community and other stakeholders. The initiatives are designed on the basis of their needs and openness. All programmes are continuously monitored and assessed for performance and inconsistencies if any, in terms of funds or execution is flagged off.
Hero MotoCorp CSR takes a friendly approach towards rural development rather than a high-handed one that corporates are notorious for. The regions where CSR programmes are implemented fall in the operational area of the company’s plants and manufacturing units. Hero ‘We Care’ tries to make a positive influence on the aspects of healthcare and basic infrastructure needs like access to power and water.
The CSR department works with implementing partners and agencies to make rural women self-reliant and encourage entrepreneurship. Apart from providing villages with basic healthcare facilities and revamping the schools in their villages, the company has been engaged in doing need-based interventions as well as following such practices which help in making villages self-sustainable. Some of the major interventions include the rebuilding of public health centres and community health centres, development of community centres, rebuilding hand pumps, water filters and roads. Additionally, Team Hero organises animal check-up camps for livestock of communities and also conducts workshops with farmers on how to have better food produce.
Transforming Rural India (TRI) is a Tata Trusts initiative that works to trigger a large-scale transformation of villages in regions of endemic poverty, especially in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. TRI’s long-term goal is to reach 100,000 villages in 1,000 blocks transforming 200 million lives.
The CSR programme’s landmark achievements include implementing health and nutrition-focused interventions across 342 villages in Madhya Pradesh, covering 1,035 habitations; 710 community volunteers, trained in community-led protocols, initiated discussions covering 2,070 women groups in their respective villages. An MoU was signed with the Department of Education to facilitate engagement with teachers and schools. Direct support was facilitated to 198 schools and 731 community volunteers who were engaged with village organisations and School Management Committees.
‘Kushal Kisan Abhiyaan’ is an initiative for the rapid adoption of commercial agriculture using rural media channels, in three blocks of Jharkhand, covering almost 7,000 farmers. About 630 farmers increased their incomes by over Rs. 1 lakh; 98 agri-entrepreneurs were engaged as Value Chain Actors to facilitate rapid adoption of commercial agriculture.
TRI has launched the ‘Sarathi’ platform to support youth aspirants in villages in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, towards making informed career choices and connecting them to a screened pool of Training Service Providers (TSP). Agreements were signed with 7 well-known TSPs; partnerships are being explored with microfinance institutions to provide credit for self-funded training programmes that offer better career opportunities. TRI catalysed government action through the preparation of conservation-cum-development plans for particularly vulnerable tribal groups with annual Rs. 1 billion funding for rural development, along with the Tribal Welfare Department of the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
India can’t progress unless the rural communities prosper. That’s why NTPC spent INR 34.81 crores on funding rural development in 2018-19 alone. NTPC CSR in rural infrastructure includes building community halls and centres, road repair, distributing solar lights, dam repair and village infrastructure. Six mini solar power plants and over a thousand solar street lights were installed in 2019. NTPC has started the construction of community halls in Vivekanand College (Dhanbad); Brahmani village in Maharashtra. A total of 27 community centres were constructed and 40 km of roads were repaired last year.
Aditya Birla Group
For over 50 years now, the Aditya Birla Group has been involved in welfare driven initiatives that distinctively impact the quality of life of the rural poor. The Group implements social welfare in 7,000 villages, reaching out to 9 million people annually through the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development, chaired by Rajashree Birla.
Model Villages is a transformative project under their rural programme for which the conglomerate has chosen 300 villages. In a five-year timeframe, the villages will be self-reliant in every aspect, moving out of the ‘below the poverty line’ status. So far, more than 90 villages in India’s hinterland have already reached the level of model villages. These are located in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.