The State government of Karnataka has expressed the desire to use CSR funds to upgrade the state’s health and medical education infrastructure and services. The Health Department of the government of Karnataka has set up a CSR committee headed by Geetanjali Kirloskar (part of the Kirloskar Group), to oversee this. The Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar had announced earlier this month that Geetanjali Kirloskar would set up a consortium of like-minded corporate companies interested in pitching in with their CSR funds for the comprehensive development of health and medical education sectors in the State.
Karnataka is among the top spenders for CSR funds. The total CSR spent in the state grew by more than 200% in 2018-19 as compared to the financial year 2014-15. According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the total CSR funding in Karnataka in the year 2018-19 was to the tune of Rs. 1,222 crores. The state had received only Rs. 403 Cr in the year 2014-15. The growth of 200% in CSR funding becomes more relevant considering that the national average growth was merely 85%. Here are some of the top companies contributing to the welfare of the people of Karnataka.
One of the biggest government-run enterprises that has a presence in Karnataka is NMDC (National Mineral Development Corporation). NMDC provided financial assistance of Rs.60 lakhs to the District Administration of Bellary for setting up COVID -19 treatment facilities in the District Hospital. Addressing the issue of poor infrastructure at health centres, NMDC took up the initiative of strengthening the Primary Health Centres (PHC’s) in Bellary district, Karnataka by upgrading and equipping them with necessary medical equipment.
Shiksha Sahayog Yojana is a long-running education initiative, which NMDC has been implementing since 2008-09, wherein residents of 8 peripheral villages around Donimalai Project in Bellary District, Karnataka with a family income below Rs. 6,000 are provided educational scholarships. This CSR initiative was introduced in the backdrop of a high dropout rate among students hailing from the local tribal communities, despite the efforts of the Government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan. This was primarily due to the inadequate educational facilities for students in their immediate neighbourhood, which discouraged them from continuing their education beyond 8th class. The parents had no incentive to send to school a helping hand from the farm. NMDC has adopted the process of direct crediting of Scholarships into the Bank/Post Office accounts of the beneficiary students.
NMDC has been supporting the mid day meal programme in surrounding areas of the Donimalai Project in Karnataka in partnership with Akshaya Patra Foundation since 2008-09 by providing monetary support to the scheme. Students get a wholesome meal during school hours which includes items like chapatti, eggs etc. in the menu. The company has also contributed two dedicated vehicles for meal distribution. As many as 8,000 school children in 38 schools of Sandur taluk in Bellary in a radius of 25 km from NMDC operations benefit from the mid day meal scheme.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM)
According to the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre, in a period from 1 June to 18 October 2019, 247 people have died in weather-related incidents in the state. During the same period, a total of 1,47,421 houses were damaged and 3,99,518 people got displaced. TKM proactively supported the Karnataka state government in providing relief to the affected areas through donations to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Toyota Kirloskar Motor jointly with its 6,000 plus employees, initiated a collection drive, where the employees wholeheartedly came forward to donate a day’s salary. The company made a matching donation to the employee’s contribution towards the relief fund.
TKM has been addressing the lack of clean, safe, accessible, and adequate school infrastructure in government schools of Karnataka through CSR for nearly two decades. Alongside, TKM also provides furniture to these schools while fulfilling other essential requirements to foster better learning environment. They have upgraded the infrastructure and other facilities of 11 government schools in Karnataka.
In TKM’s model school, special emphasis is laid on nurturing the students’ career aspirations and penchant for learning through continuous initiatives. As a part of this initiative, in 2016-17, they started working with Government Lower Primary School at Devalinganapalya, Ramanagara district in Karnataka. The team observed a drastic increase in the enrollment of students from 28 in 2016-17 to 67 in 2019- 20. The academic performance of the students also registered a steep increase over the years, the current average being 86%.
Resource equity is critical to ensuring the success of any education system. Toyota Kirloskar Motor has been actively promoting equity in the availability of educational material to students in various schools across Karnataka to ensure that their learning goes on smoothly. Educational aid in the form of books, bags, geometry boxes, math kits, and even sports materials is provided.
Anganwadi centres are operating under the department of Women and Child Development, Government of Karnataka. These centres enroll 3-6-year-old children for basic education. Early experiences provide the base for the brain’s organizational development and functioning throughout life. They have a direct impact on how children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities. Understanding the current Anganwadi teaching methodology, TKM initiated the Toyota Anganwadi Development Programme [TADP] in 2020 to upgrade the infrastructure and teaching methodology to enable the children to attract towards innovative learnings.
The drought situation is particularly bad in a few districts of Karnataka, including Bidar, Gulbarga and Raichur. Although there are a few areas in these regions that are irrigated, better agricultural infrastructure remains the need of the hour. Taking a comprehensive look at the situation, HDFC Bank Parivartan decided to take action. While managing the resources helped increase the groundwater level, improved crop yield and made water available for irrigation, other CSR initiatives focused on enabling the villagers to become financially independent. Through HRDP, the Bank is working to create sustainable communities in over 21 villages across 3 districts in Karnataka – thus reaching over 6,150 households.
A farmer’s income mainly comprises income from wages, the net receipt of cultivation and agri-based activities. However, over 80% of farmers are small and marginalised. Hence, implementing strategies to improve agriculture-based income will bring prosperity to a majority of them. Under the Holistic Rural Development Programme (HRDP), the Bank introduced organic farming as an intervention that could reduce farmer input costs. Promoting vermicomposting and methods to naturally control pests also saved up on what would otherwise be spent on purchasing chemical pesticides. In addition, technological interventions including weeding and power sprayer equipment, pheromone traps to reduce pesticides and nanoparticle technology were introduced.
Lack of information on sustainable agricultural practices was yet another hindrance that restricted their income growth. Hence, the Bank worked on creating awareness & knowledge enhancement. In this respect, exposure visits were organised to places featuring integrated farming systems & innovative interventions, as well as packaging places & storage halls. Workshops were organised where the farmers could learn from experts on subjects such as livelihood activities, bank credit, financial inclusion etc. The programme also worked on making water available to improve the cultivation capacity of the farmers.
Mulching is the process or practice of covering the soil to create more favourable conditions for plant growth, development and efficient crop production. In comparison to natural mulches, plastic mulches – being completely impermeable to water – help in preventing the direct evaporation of soil moisture and hence help in containing erosion. Plastic mulching sheets were hence provided to 32 farmers in 16 of HRDP’s project villages to help them preserve the fertility of their soil, thus reducing their dependence on expensive artificial fertilisers.
Underprivileged children are often forced to drop out from mainstream education, with many eventually gravitating towards abusive child labour. To break this chain, Parivartan has set up special tuition centres that provide supplementary education. These centres – over 15 of which were set up to cater to more than 560 children in Karnataka – have become a hub for recreational and educational activities. Besides organising sports day and camps, the tuitions cover life skills training, exposure visits, as well as arts & craft activities. Additionally, to empower the children and help them raise their voice against wrong practices, Parivartan has facilitated the setting up of over 78 child rights clubs – providing a platform for potential future leaders who could bring vital issues to the forefront.
ZIIEI (Zero Investment Innovations for Education Initiatives) is one of the largest programmes to facilitate wide-scale, systematic implementation of grassroots innovations to improve existing systems and processes at minimal cost. In Karnataka, over 12,659 schools are now implementing innovative ideas. The CSR initiative has thus far reached more than 6,52,174 students across the state through the 62,696 teachers who have been oriented under it.
Although the number of students in rural government schools is rising, the quality of education provided by them hasn’t improved proportionately. Students who have passed 5th grade find it difficult to solve simple mathematical problems of grades lower than theirs. In addition, their ability to read and solve problems also declines instead of improving with every passing grade. HDFC Bank hence introduced Child Resource Centres (CRC) to support these children through remedial classes. Mainstream schools have also been provided with support through the Smart Class programme, whose teacher-friendly technology will help improve learning levels.
HDFC Bank CSR enabled access to hygienic sanitation units for over 495 households in Karnataka. The programme also focused on community sanitation facilities. Furthermore, Parivartan has paid special attention to creating further awareness in order to bring about a behavioural change in the space of sanitation.
With an aim to make employment a reality for the youth from these communities, Parivartan has undertaken a focused programme of upskilling in Karnataka. The comprehensive skill training programme develops market-driven skills which is a major contributor to a candidate’s success. Potential candidates are sequentially selected through intensive community scouting, after which they’re counselled and encouraged to be a part of the programme.
With an aim to train more than 930 students in the service sector, Parivartan started a skill development programme in Karnataka by the name Future Perfect. The programme lasts for over 4 months for each batch with a 50% focus on domain skills and the other 50% on core attitudes and values. Industry scholars and academia are also invited to provide the best content to the students. To improve their chances of employment, the programme also supports placements, besides helping them prepare for interviews and offering migration support.
Parivartan worked on creating economic activities through the Local Economic Activation (LEA) intervention, which comprises at least 50% women. Community Managed Resource Centres (CMRCs) were created under the programme to provide economic opportunities to the villagers. In addition, livelihood enhancement programmes were introduced to diversify the livelihood portfolio of the households in target villages. Non-farm based opportunities – including backyard poultries, goat-rearing, chili powder processing etc – helped create alternative livelihood options.
Parivartan understands that in order to ensure a sustainable future for India’s rural communities, its women need to achieve financial independence. To that end, the Bank has provided support to numerous womens’ groups engaged in agricultural or non-agricultural activities in Karnataka. For example, sewing machines were provided to 32 trained women in 16 different villages; while chili powder processing machines were provided to 16 women from these very villages. As a result, their incomes have increased significantly.
The Konasandra Lake is situated in Konasandra Village, which is approximately 50 km away from Bengaluru. The village population is dependent on the lake for their water needs. Since the lake is surrounded by industries, it was being contaminated with granite wastes, plastics, junks and other substances. The contamination and water pollution had led to a scarcity of quality water and a decrease in the water holding capacity of the lake.
Under the Srijan-Anahat programme, Hikal executed restoration work for the lake with the help of SayTrees, an environmental trust. More than 1,000 citizens were involved in this project with the aim of instilling a sense of responsibility towards maintaining it and replicating the model. A combination of techniques and methods was adopted to ensure clean and natural water source in the lake. Through desilting and creating broad and strong bunds, there has been a three-fold increase in the water-holding capacity of the lake.
Technological interventions such as natural filtration and natural biological systems were used in the project. These methods helped ensure that filtered water enters and accumulates in the lake and excess water goes to the other lake through further filtration in the outlet channel. The pollutants have been removed through filtration, and good quality water is subsequently being stored which can be used for cows, cattle, birds, etc.
Hikal’s CSR project has helped in maintaining ecology and biodiversity, as there has been an increase of birds and aquatic life in the lake and a gradual increase in yield of water at borewells. The increased water-holding capacity of the lake would contribute towards agricultural yield increase and thus improve the income of farmers. Also, creating and strengthening of bunds around the lake has resulted in better connectivity to the village allowing people to move around safely.