Raghu turns over a new leaf
New Delhi, A quiet enthusiasm has been brewing in and around Jhajjar, a sleepy town next to Gurgaon in Haryana. Farmer couple Sunita Devi and Rajbir Singh, like many others, can not hide their grin even as they narrate the story of how their 8-year-old delinquent son Raghu is a changed boy today.
PR9.NET October 05, 2007 - New Delhi, A quiet enthusiasm has been brewing in and around Jhajjar, a sleepy town next to Gurgaon in Haryana. Farmer couple Sunita Devi and Rajbir Singh, like many others, can not hide their grin even as they narrate the story of how their 8-year-old delinquent son Raghu is a changed boy today. Raghu, they inform gleefully, has suddenly developed a fondness for books and everything mathematical. Ask any psychologist for this transformation and they would term is an apt example of demonstration effect.
So far Raghu had been evading classroom learning and would instead spend time in the fields or running around. Things changed soon after he started to hear from his peers about Shiksha Mitra or supplementary teachers in the school, who had been "sent with a special task of making learning fun." Part of an ambitious Excellence in Learning programme launched by Reliance Industries in this upcoming SEZ area, 100 Mitras have been attached to 100 government primary schools. "The programme has been designed for children from 1 st to 5th standard as they are more vulnerable to the dropout practice owing to a host of internal and external factors," an official engaged in this corporate social responsibility programme said. The results have been outstanding, adding to the delight of Sunita and Rajbir. "Our mid-term assessment indicates that there has been a substantial improvement in the target children. Especially noteworthy has been a sharpening of children's mathematical skills," the official avers. Little wonder, Raghu has been a big help in his father's calculation woes.
Other children of the villages are now beginning to behave like Raghu and teachers engaged in the project are sure the results in the longer run would be far better. "This is a sure shot way of acquiring the confidence of the community in which you intend to work. It sends a signal that the corporate entity is a responsible one and creates the right synergy," thinks Manisha Tripathi, a lecturer of sociology at New Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia. She hastens to add the more comprehensive the social responsibility component, larger the acceptability and trust quotient.
Reliance, who partners with local NGOs for this project, knows this too well and has been enlarging the scope of its programme ever since it took off. "We are taking a holistic view of education and other than primary and secondary education we are also emphasising on vocational and training skills," adds the official, without wanting to be named. An Industrial Training Institute better known as ITI is also coming up in this area to cater to the youngsters' training need in over 50 villages in Jhajjar district. "Many of these young men and women who undergo a training here would be retained in the SEZ," informs the official. With such tangible benefits, feels Tripathi, villagers would tend to develop a natural affinity with the project and over a period of time adopt it as their own.
There is a strong component of health and finance in Reliance's CSR project too. "We launched a pilot mobile health guard programme earlier in December last year covering 12 villages here. Two mobile health vans with qualified doctors, pharmacist and nursing attendants have been making rounds of the villages and attending to the basic health problems of the residents," the official added. The vans have touched a whopping 20,000 patients so far and the programme is now being scaled up to cover other villages.
The company has also organised various independent investment consultancy camps with an aim to help farmers invest their financial resources judiciously. Given their scant knowledge of investment options, interests rates, fixed deposits and mutual funds such camps in partnership with HDFC and ICICI banks have been of great results. "I am smarter than what I used to be with my money," said Shyam Sundar of Fatehpur.
"There are various other components such and we hope that with the passage of time our bonds with the communities will get stronger which is in keeping with the philosophy of our company: of sharing and fruitful coexistence," said the official. With a host of SEZs likely to dot Indian cities and suburbs, Reliance's initiatives may go down in the history as an exemplary one.
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