National Technology Day is being celebrating across India today to honour scientists and engineers. The beginnings of this national holiday, however, are less benign. May 11 is when the Indian Army conducted three nuclear tests at the Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan in the year 1998. The code name was Operation Shakti. There were two more nuclear tests on May 13.
What is National Technology Day?
This militarisation of the Indian subcontinent was further reinforced with the first National Technology Day being celebrated on May 11, 1999. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee hailed the nuclear tests as India’s entry into the group of nations considered the nuclear elite. Ours became the sixth country to join the ‘nuclear club’.
Apart from the nuclear tests, National Technology Day also marks other historic moments in science and tech albeit militaristic. For one, May 11 was when our first indigenous aircraft Hansa-1 took flight over Bengaluru. Hansa-1 was built for pilot training, surveillance, and reconnaissance purposes. On this day the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) also tested the surface-to-air Trishul missile, a short-range missile with a quick reaction time. Trishul has now been inducted into the Indian Army and Air Force as part of the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
What is the theme for National Technology Day 2021?
Since 1999, the Technology Development Board has been honouring scientists and engineers for their innovations on National Technology Day. The board also selects a different theme every year. This year’s theme is: ‘Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future. In keeping with the theme, we present the ICT companies that are harnessing science and technology in India for a sustainable future.
Top tech companies for CSR in India
Infosys has been an early adopter of a strong CSR agenda. Along with sustained economic performance and robust eco-sustainability management, this ‘Made in India’ technology giant believes in the importance of social stewardship. Compassionate couple Sudha and Narayan Murthy lead the CSR strategy through Infosys Foundation, embracing responsibility to create a positive impact in the surrounding communities. The key programmes at Infosys are driven by the valuable CSR platforms they have built over the years.
HP (Hewlett Packard)
HP India through its CSR initiatives offers technological solutions to this digital divide by bringing the world of information and knowledge to isolated and disadvantaged groups in rural India further helping to bridge the digital education gap encountered by those living in remote regions.
Building on its focus to empower people, wherever they are, to build a more prosperous life, HP India unveiled self-contained, Internet-enabled & solar-powered digital learning labs named “HP World on Wheels” in a public-private partnership model aimed at driving digital literacy, E-education, Entrepreneurship training, and other citizen services in rural India. Each 20-seat, IT-enabled HP WoW vehicle are equipped with HP computing and printing equipment, as well as numerous software suites and e-learning tools.
“HP Common Service Lab” is an integration of e-education, e-health & e-citizen services built over standard 40 ft ISO shipping container and could operate on a turnkey solution providing services across hard to reach locations with limited or no infrastructure support. Powered by HP’s cloud-enabled solutions, HP Common Services Lab are designed to change the way services are provided to the citizens in remote locations.
Corporate social responsibility of IBM has a focused approach to closing the STEM skills gap and preparing the workforce for new collar careers. In addition to collaborating with universities that offer specific computer coursework, IBM is taking a multi-pronged approach to skilling the next generation of tech workers in India.
“AI for All” is an initiative by IBM in collaboration with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to introduce AI as a subject for Senior Secondary students in India. The Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL) initiative is aimed at disrupting the Indian Education System, creating a paradigm shift where children as young as 12 years of age are being introduced to the world of technology innovation. STEM for Girls programme strives to enable girls’ empowerment through 21st-century skills building that includes computational thinking, coding skills, digital fluency, life skills and self-actualization, to increase their chances of learning and careers in STEM.
On the healthcare front, IBM India has partnered with Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to bring positive change to cancer care outcomes in India. Their strategic CSR programme supports the national and state governments on expanding access to two key segments of cancer care: community screening and quality treatment.
Cognizant’s employee volunteering programme ‘Outreach’ is driven by passionate employees, with financial and administrative support from Cognizant. It is inspired by the company’s commitment to alleviating disparities in educational access and equity, and better preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s opportunities in a competitive world.
As a technology company, Cognizant employees understand the power of technology and have therefore included virtual volunteering opportunities as part of its new charter to expand the scope of volunteering in remote areas. Over the years, Cognizant Outreach has also extended in its fold community welfare initiatives and the cause of environmental sustainability.
The CSR programme has partnered with government and government-aided schools in urban and rural areas, to conduct additional classroom sessions. Many schools have recorded 100% pass percentage in class X and XII board examinations. Over 90% of these scholars are first-time graduates, and most have now secured careers in top companies, including Cognizant. Volunteers coach visually challenged students for competitive exams. They also conduct regular learning sessions for children with learning disabilities.
Through new technologies such as video-conferencing, Cognizant employees around the globe have started engaging with children in rural and remote areas to further the impact of Outreach’s educational initiatives.
HCL Technologies is another ‘Made in India’ multinational company that has made us proud not only with its business performance on the global technology stage but also its commitment to science and sustainability. HCL Foundation (HCLF) was established in 2011 as the CSR arm of HCL Technologies. Active community engagement ensures optimal long-term gains and upward accountability. Child protective strategies, inclusion and gender transformative approaches remain central in all the CSR initiatives.
The CSR vision of Tech Mahindra Limited is ‘Empowerment through Education’. The CSR arm of the company is Tech Mahindra Foundation, which was founded in 2007. Through CSR interventions, the foundation continues ‘Giving wings to young Dreams’ across 11 cities in India. 50% of its beneficiaries are women and 10% are Persons with Disabilities (PwD). Over the years, it has impacted 2,90,425 direct beneficiaries across all the programmes except COVID Relief. The COVID Relief Program has impacted 21,63,130 lives across 14 states.
SMART (Skills for Market Training) is Tech Mahindra’s flagship CSR programme for employability, with 90 centres providing skill development in 11 cities. Over the years, SMART has successfully trained over one lakh young men and women, with a placement rate of over 75%. In the domain of education, Shikshaantar is the main training project directed at teachers. The foundation also works in approximately 40 government schools through its ARISE (All Round Improvement in School Education) programme with the objective of holistic development of children. PwDs get the opportunity for a better future and dignified lives through two programmes: ARISE+ (All Round Improvement in Special Education) and SMART+ (Skills-for Market Training for Persons with Disabilities).
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
A part of the prestigious Tata group, Tata Consultancy Services is an IT services, consulting and business solutions organization that has been active for over 50 years. The guiding principle of CSR at TCS is ‘Impact through Empowerment’. The focus areas are Education and Skill Development, Health and Wellness and Environmental Sustainability.
The company’s participation focuses on operations where it can contribute meaningfully either through employee volunteering or by using core competency which develops solutions. In addition, for key engagements, it also partners with other Tata entities, NGOs, Government and clients. The communities that TCS chooses are economically backward, and consist of marginalized groups (like women, children and aged) and Persons with Disabilities. In addition, the Affirmative Action programmes in India are directed towards SC/ST communities. In addition, TCS has been supporting the restoration of heritage sites as well as participating in relief operations during natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic.