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Puneet Anand, Asst. VP & Group Head – Corp Affairs & Comm, Hyundai Motors India Ltd. Talks CSR, Road Safety and Electric Cars

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Apart from bringing the Korean aesthetic and attention to detail, Hyundai has become synonymous with road safety because of its long-running Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives that revolve around making drives safer. ‘Safe Move’ is one of the key pillars of Hyundai Motor Group’s long-term road-safety CSR initiative across the globe. During the sixth edition of the campaign in India, Hyundai reached out to 20 RWAs (residents welfare associations) across Delhi-NCR, Pune, Thane, Chennai, and Lucknow, to spread awareness about road safety and Covid-19 through interactive engagement activities.
Every year, the brand also executes a campaign called #BeTheBetterGuy, in a bid to make Indian roads safer by spreading awareness about road safety measures and bringing about a behavioural change among motorists. Says Puneet Anand – Assistant Vice President & Group Head – Corporate Affairs & Corporate Communication – Hyundai Motor India Ltd. (HMIL), “Under Hyundai’s global brand direction, ‘Progress for Humanity’, we want to create a safe road ecosystem for all the road users. We have been helping communities in India with numerous initiatives towards educating them about Road Safety.”
With two decades of experience in the car passenger industry, Mr. Anand heads a large team of executives and was instrumental in launching the Hyundai Insurance Programme. As part of our series of interviews with #CSRLeaders in India, he talked to us not only about road safety but also about Hyundai’s plans to make electric cars affordable and mass-centric for Indian consumers. “We are committed to government’s clean, connected and shared mobility vision and will bring in the most relevant technology in the clean mobility space in the Indian market to further strengthen our product portfolio and position Hyundai as a smart mobility solution provider,” he said in the exclusive interview. Excerpts:

Q 1: As far as Nation Building via Corporate Social Responsibility is concerned, what does Hyundai Motor India bring to the table?

Aligned with our global vision ‘Progress for Humanity’, we want to create an ideal world for the communities and become the fulcrum of COVID-warriors’ journey in these turbulent times.
For example, our ‘Saksham’ project is a CSR initiative to boost employment opportunities in diverse sectors. The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic increased the job losses adding to the stress of certain sectors, especially healthcare. Apart from a shortage of doctors and nurses, there was a huge requirement of support staff like attendants, medical assistants, and skilled janitors. To cater to the shortage of skilled manpower, ‘SAKSHAM’ meaning capability, was first carried out in the healthcare sector, creating livelihood opportunities for the unemployed youth. The programme offered several employment-oriented courses across sectors.
The first project in healthcare ran in 2 phases, covering states of Maharashtra, Delhi and Haryana in the first phase, and the States of Bihar, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in the second phase. The project has now been expanded to cover 8 more states and envisages training 2000 students by the first half of 2022. The project provided both theoretical and on-job training modules to the students, followed by placements. Students were absorbed as Patient Attendants, Janitors, General Duty Attendants, etc. The project placed about 700 trainees in various healthcare sector jobs to date.
Another CSR initiative Project Shikshak was aimed to enable uninterrupted education for the children of COVID warriors. We distributed around 1000 educational devices across Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata. Beneficiaries between IV to XI standard can avail two-year free subscription of the education curriculum.
Apart from this, we are continuously upskilling youth under programmes like driver training and technical training for industrial apprenticeship.

Q 2: As an influential automobile leader, what measures are you taking for road safety?

Under Hyundai’s global brand direction, ‘Progress for Humanity’, we want to create a safe road ecosystem for all the road users. Hyundai has been helping communities in India with numerous initiatives towards educating them about Road Safety.
‘Safe Move’ is one of the key pillars of Hyundai Motor Group’s long-term road-safety CSR initiative across the globe. ‘Safe Move’ – Road Safety Campaign in India focuses on spreading awareness about the importance of road safety to bring about a significant behavioural change amongst masses.
Over the last five phases of the Safe Move Campaign, Hyundai Motor India has successfully reached out to 314,000 students across 492 schools, about 277,000 mall visitors and 23,000 residents. We did the sixth edition of the campaign in which Hyundai reached out to 20 RWAs (residents welfare associations) across Delhi-NCR, Pune, Thane, Chennai, and Lucknow, to spread awareness about road safety and Covid-19 through interactive engagement activities.
Every year, we conduct #BeTheBetterGuy campaign, which is towards our continuous effort to make Indian roads safer by spreading awareness about road safety measures and bringing about a behavioural change among motorists.
In 2019, under the Mega Road Safety Campaign, we executed a School Contact Programme wherein 100 schools across 12 cities were reached out and students were educated on road safety and environment. In addition to this, a Mall Contact Program was also conducted in 10 Malls across 5 cities (Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Kochi) through a distinct road safety flash mob activity along with many engrossing fun-filled games to engage children. In Tamil Nadu, we conducted a road safety quiz covering 800 schools. The results were phenomenal. Children from rural areas aced the quiz and impressed the audience with their knowledge on road.

Along with other road safety initiatives in 2019, HMIF commenced with Traffic Regulation Observed Zone (TROZ). This initiative based in Anna Nagar, Chennai, has significantly contributed to decrease the violations and induce road discipline. Violations have reduced from 90,000 to 19,000 a day. Petty crimes like chain snatching, pick pocketing have been reduced.

HMIF, in collaboration with Greater Chennai Traffic Police (GCTP) also sourced, trained and deployed Traffic Marshalls for 3 years in 2018 for traffic management duties. And for better visibility and safety while driving, HMIF installed 120 streetlights across NH48 on request from NHAI (National Highways Authority of India).

Q 3: The Hyundai Cares campaign began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. What was the trajectory of this campaign?

To combat the fight against this pandemic situation prevailing in the country, we have been lending a helping hand to support governments of most affected states and individuals to help the victims of the COVID. For this, we initiated a series of CSR programmes that offered long-term and meaningful assistance to people and governments. We commenced the Covid-19 CSR 2.0 Program under ‘Hyundai Cares’ campaign in which Hyundai’s philanthropic efforts was focused on three key activities – Health, Education and Hygiene.
The key three projects undertaken under the Hyundai Cares 2.0 CSR initiatives are Rakshak, Shikshak and Grameen Sanitisation.
1) Rakshak: Approximately 30,000 Made-in-India Khadi Masks were handed over to the Gujarat & Maharashtra state governments for creating a Safe and Healthy Environment. Masks were produced by self-help groups thereby giving them employment.
2) Shikshak: 1,000 Tablets loaded with 2 years academic course curriculum were distributed to the children of Covid Warriors from lower income group. This initiative is a token of gratitude for their relentless efforts in the nation’s fight against the pandemic.
3) Grameen Sanitisation: A unique sanitization drive was undertaken to disinfect 1800 plus villages in 292 Districts/ Tehsils across India.

Q 4: The latest phase Hyundai Cares 3.0 is estimated to provide a relief package of Rs. 25 crores. How will it help those affected?

HMIL’s efforts were directed at supporting COVID patient. As the second wave unleased an unprecedented crisis, HMIF rolled out it’s ‘Back-to-life’ project.

“Under the Hyundai Cares 3.0 project, Rs. 25 crore package was rolled out nationwide ensuring the uninterrupted delivery of lifesaving Medicare Oxygen equipment, Oxygen Concentrators, Oxygen Plants, High Flow Nasal Oxygen (HFNO) machines and BiPaP Ventilator Machines to all identified Government Hospitals for long term sustainability in the most affected COVID-19 states like New Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttrakhand and Telangana.”

The entire project has been accelerated from procurement to delivery, thereby meeting the critical need to quickly transition from despair to normalcy. We have also donated a package of Rs. 10 Crores towards Pandemic Relief to Tamil Nadu, package included donation for Rs. 5 Crores and lifesaving equipment worth Rs. 5 crores.

Q 5: What is the CSR vision of Hyundai?

Our global vision of ‘Progress for Humanity’ reiterates our aim to drive sustainable change in communities across the globe and Hyundai Motor India Foundation has been working with the purpose of ‘giving back’ to society, by making a positive contribution in all aspects like livelihood, resource conservation, improving health index and ensuring environment sustainability. Our programmes have just begun showing the desired impact.

Q 6: What was HMIL’s CSR spend for the last 5 years?

HMIF’s CSR projects over the years have transformed lives of more than 50 lakh people; giving them fresh hope and opportunities such as livelihood for women, drinking water for villages, nursing course for girls, modern health facility for 58 villages, road safety awareness and plantation of fruit bearing trees and many more with an investment of over Rs. 100 crore over the last 5 years.

Q 7: Your internationally successful H-Social Creator programme was brought to India so that youth can come up with creative ideas to resolve social issues. What was the winning idea?

The winning idea of the second edition of the globally renowned H-Social Creator was ‘Accident Alert System for Blind Turns’. His idea involves capturing data at blind turns and transmitting it on a real time basis to the drivers to avoid accidents. In addition, the display boards will give an indication to the drivers about the incoming vehicles.

Q 8: Where can auto companies make a difference in sustainable development?

Auto manufacturers should openly embrace the necessary changes to their manufacturing processes to deliver a more sustainable outcome which can benefit the global economy; there is a notable shift towards more eco-friendly. We have already reaffirmed our focus on sustainability strategy at the corporate level and we have been always working on long-term plan to go beyond ensuring sustainability in our operations and work with our supply chain network to make our entire value chain sustainable. By focusing on environmental (E), social (S), and governance (G) operations the company will also create economic value – the fundamental goal of any business enterprise.
Recently, we have inaugurated our new HQ in Gurugram as a ‘Centre for Transformation of a Better Tomorrow’ which has a 400 square meter green wall with plants, 50 kW solar rooftop panels for the generation of renewable energy.

Q 9: The new Hyundai KONA is India’s first all-electric SUV? How else is your company ushering in India’s EV revolution?

The Indian EV market has been experiencing exponential growth for the past couple of years. Government policies such as FAME-II and regulation on fuel efficiency and emissions, coupled with increased customer demand, have enabled the market for electrified vehicles to boom. We understand that the future of accessible and affordable transport in India is electric.
We are committed to government’s clean, connected and shared mobility vision and will bring in the most relevant technology in the clean mobility space in the Indian market to further strengthen our product portfolio and position Hyundai as a smart mobility solution provider.

“We plan to bring a mass electric vehicle to further strengthen our product portfolio. We will undertake the localisation route to make electric vehicles affordable and mass-centric.”

Q 10: How important do you feel electric mobility is for a green recovery?

The electric vehicle market in India is growing faster than many would have expected a few years back. Undoubtedly, e-mobility remains one of the best solutions for combatting the challenges of the economic and climate crises and will create more new jobs in vehicle manufacturing, charging infrastructure deployment and supply chains in future but EV localisation is a lengthy process as the country is still progressing in the EV space if the government allows some relief in the import duties it can help manufacturers bring imported electric cars to India to create market demand.

Q 11: Which are your flagship CSR programmes? What is the impact of the long-running programmes?

We have several flagship programmes under healthcare, community development, environment, education, road safety etc.
Our longest running programme is the conversion of waste wood into benches and desks which are donated to 264 government schools in Tamil Nadu. To date we have provided 39,620 sets of Bench and desk to Government Schools 4 lakhs students have benefited right from 2006.

“Our ‘Go Green‘ agro-forestry project over the last 10 years has transformed 500 hectares of dry land into lush green oasis. It has provided livelihood to 390 farmers and sequestered over 19,000 tonnes carbon while restoring the bio diversity in the region.”

Our sanitation and community projects have ensured 4 open-defecation-free (ODC-free) Gram panchayats. These include individual homes and local schools. Overall infrastructure development has also been supported with sprucing up the villages. 225 self-help groups have been created which has transformed the lives of 2500 people.
Our ‘SAKSHAM’ programme — which we initiated during the pandemic — is a step towards a sustainable economic development much needed to bridge the widening employment gap created by the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme aims to create employment for the underserved. So far we have employed 700 youth across India. By the year 2022, we aim to employ approximately 2000 youth under the healthcare sector. We are also planning to expand the programme to cover other sectors.
‘Sparsh Sanjeevani’ is yet another long term initiative in the health care segment we operate a mobile medical van and a telemedicine clinic. The mobile medical van is a clinic on wheels which reaches the far corners of the villages to provide quality primary health care free of cost to the most vulnerable communities of rural India. The satellite clinic is a nurse assisted clinic which provides access to specialists virtually. Thus the villagers have access to quality healthcare right at their doorstep.

Q 12: How is the Dream Village Project nurturing underdeveloped regions of Chennai?

The Dream village project has been designed on the pillars of sustenance and empowerment. Our skill training programs have given hope of economic independence to the community. With revamping and upgrading the existing facilities being the focus, HMIF trained residents in skills such as driving, EDP, embroidery and tailoring, catering, papad making, dairy farming etc., and took up community activities like village main pond rejuvenation, building sanitation complex, etc.
In addition, the villagers were provided complete assistance to set up commercially viable projects in dairy farming, catering service and papad making, making 40 families economically independent. Various camps were held to promote health and hygiene related practices to school children and the community.
Apart from sanitation and upgradation of village facilities, especially schools, the villagers here were trained in income generating projects like pickle and candle making, tailoring, driving etc. This aside, HMIF has upgraded sanitation and civic facilities in over 64 villages in the Kancheepuram – Sriperumbudur block.

Q 13: How will HMIL’s skill development programme SAKSHAM help in making the youth job-ready?

The word ‘Saksham’ means ‘Capable’ in Sanskrit. Our aim was to equip youth with skills and make them capable to be financially independent. The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic led to mass job losses. Unemployment rate in India before Covid-19 stood at 7.22 %, in Apr-May’2020 it was 23.50% (During COVID) and post lockdown from June’2020 onwards it stood at 10.99%. Therefore, the need to skill, upskill and reskill gained even greater importance as India began unlocking post pandemic.
‘SAKSHAM’ is a step towards a sustainable economic development much needed to bridge the widening employment gap created by the Covid-19 pandemic. The courses are certified by National Skill development Corporation, which will help them in their future endeavours.