Madhya Pradesh is host to various energy and manufacturing companies. Singrauli in MP is emerging as India’s Energy capital. The region was earlier known as Shringavali, named after the sage Shringi, and covered with dense forests and inhabited by wild animals. On 24 May 2008, the Madhya Pradesh government declared Singrauli its 50th district by separating from Sidhi with three tehsils – Singrauli, Chitrangi and Deosar.
However, the aspirational districts in the State have been ignored by corporate houses which haven’t dedicated as much CSR resources as they deserve. Nevertheless, some CSR projects have been successful in making lasting impact. Here are the top social interventions from India Inc implemented in Madhya Pradesh.
HUL Lifebuoy Help A Child Reach 5
Unilever soap brand Lifebuoy’s ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ campaign aims to eradicate preventable deaths from diseases like diarrhoea by teaching lifesaving handwashing habits. The campaign was launched with an award winning film ‘Gondappa’ and handwashing initiatives in Thesgora, a village in Madhya Pradesh in the year 2012.
The decrease in diarrhoea in this village – known for having one of the highest rates in India of this deadly yet preventable disease – was observed over the period of Lifebuoy’s intervention in an independent evaluation of 1485 households with children aged below 12 years, conducted by Nielsen in September 2013.
Worldwide, one child dies from diarrhoea or pneumonia every 15 seconds. Handwashing with soap is the most cost-effective way to prevent child deaths. The simple but lifesaving act of handwashing with soap could help many more children reach the age of five, hence the name ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ for the CSR project.
The results achieved show that handwashing programmes have significant positive impact on both the handwashing behaviours and the health of a community. Lifebuoy’s handwashing programmes are now being rolled out to villages across 14 countries and scaled up in India to reach 45 million people.
Lifebuoy’s handwashing programmes are not only helping to change habits to combat disease – expert studies have shown that washing hands with soap at critical moments during the day can dramatically cut the incidence of life-threatening diseases like COVID-19 and diarrhoea.
Nihar Shanti Pathshala Funwala
The outbreak of global COVID-19 has disrupted education infrastructure in our country. Marico’s Nihar Shanti Pathshala Funwala partnered with Government of Madhya Pradesh and the NGO LeapForWord, towards upskilling teachers in English with the help of technology. The programme uses apps including YouTube and WhatsApp to provide content in a highly structured form to teachers in the state. Considering it has been a challenge for most of the teachers to impart education online, this helps them to get trained but also teach effectively. As part of the Teacher Empowerment Programme, teachers are also provided with digital ready aids and self-learning materials through WhatsApp.
Nihar Shanti Pathshala Funwala has remained true to its purpose of providing underprivileged children with opportunities and access to education, contributing 5% of the profits of Nihar Shanti Amla towards the same. Under the CSR initiative, various programmes such as IVR-based Spoken English programme, App-based Virtual School and WhatsApp based Teacher Empowerment Program are being actively conducted to further the cause of children’s education.
The project has officially empowered one lakh teachers in Madhya Pradesh, through its digital first initiative to help improve English literacy levels in the government schools. During the nation-wide lockdown, the project launched the Padhai Pe Lockdown Nahi campaign, which ensured students could keep learning English even at home safely.
NTPC GEM (Girl Empowerment Mission)
The CSR project by government company NTPC won the FICCI ‘Jury Commendation Certificate’ last year. NTPC was the only PSU to receive the FICCI Award in 2020. Girl Empowerment Mission or GEM is a flagship CSR project of the power company launched in 2018 to provide holistic education to girls aged 10-12 years. The programme prepares the girl child to become a well-rounded adult; instills curiosity and helps them develop better communication and social skills. Furthermore, it encourages girl children to get connected to a subject with their creative skills; develops psychological, social and emotional growth, makes learning natural, engaging, and a fun and meaningful experience.
GEM was inaugurated simultaneously at Singrauli, Vindhyachal and Rihand with a month-long residential workshop. This CSR initiative aims to not only empower them to face the realities of life but also make them future-ready. An interesting curriculum was designed for the overall development of the girls which includes yoga, followed by Basic English, Hindi, Mathematics, Science, GK and Life Science classes in addition to inputs on dance, drama and music, magic shows and puppet shows. GEM was so successful in Madhya Pradesh that it was scaled up to other States where NTPC has a presence.
HDFC Bank Holistic Rural Development Programme
With nearly half of its population belonging to socially marginalised communities, one of Madhya Pradesh’s main issues is the lack of suitable land for cultivation since most of the land holdings are either barren, sloped or forested. Hence, HDFC Bank’s Holistic Rural Development Programme (HRDP) focused on treating the land. Bringing about changes in cropping patterns and transforming the arability of barren lands, these CSR interventions have sustainably enhanced the livelihoods of targeted communities.
Villages in Chhindwara suffered due to issues ranging from decreasing water levels to increased soil erosion – the combined impact of which weighed heavily on its farmers during non-monsoon seasons. HDFC Parivartan’s sustainable Ridge-to-Valley model prevents soil erosion and ensures water conservation by starting at the top and letting the water evenly percolate, hence improving soil moisture. As a result of the increased productivity, employment opportunities were generated and seasonal migrations were reduced by 40%. Not only has it allowed farmers there to opt for double cropping, but it has also restored the once-degraded forest land.
ONGC Solar Chula Initiative
The ONGC Solar Chulha initiative has helped many villages in Madhya Pradesh go smoke-free. Taking up PM Narendra Modi’s challenge of developing an energy efficient electric cooking stove, energy company Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Ltd launched a nationwide ‘Solar Chulha’ competition in 2017 to secure implementable ideas for indoor cooking of Indian food.
A Team of M.Tech students from IIT Bombay – with their project titled ‘Design and development of Solar PV powered electric stove for domestic application’ – bagged the first prize. IIT Bombay’s design was taken up for pilot implementation in Betul, Madhya Pradesh under the CSR initiative. IIT Bombay students, with the help of ONGC, implemented the 86 Solar Chulhas under the guidance of Prof Chetan Solanki. The project was completed at a cost of Rs. 89,43,000.
This CSR initiative comes under ONGC’s flagship programme, INDEG-Make in India. Previously, the villagers had to walk miles to collect wooden logs for cooking. Apart from saving time, the solar stoves have ushered in a healthy life for the villagers; pollution in the area has considerably reduced within the span of past 10 months. This has eliminated major air and water borne diseases in the villages.