India Inc leaves ivory tower and extends a helping hand

Posted on January 10, 2011

By Mathang Seshagiri and Hemali Chhapia

MUMBAI: Indian billionaires are usually saddled with stereotypes: Men snuggled in incredible wealth and removed from the grim reality. However, not all conform to the popular notion even as they do their bit for Bharat; their efforts received a boost after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke of introducing a quota in corporate India.

Apart from providing scholarships, funding neighbourhood NGOs and providing midday meals to schools, each industry chamber has chalked out its own plans to drive out poverty from certain parts of the country and start skill promotion programmes in backward places.

For instance, 696 companies, that make up nearly 10% of the members of the Confederation of Indian Industry, have signed the voluntary code of conduct, under which thousands from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes were trained at entrepreneurship development institutes and 100 youths started their own ventures. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India too conducted a similar exercise in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand and Kanpur for SC/ST members.

For such work, executives, middle-level management and those from the lower rungs were handpicked for intensive training. In stark contrast, a depressed economy, which saw poor hiring and massive layoffs, also saw companies supporting retrenched workers.

Re-engineering their hardwired image defined by the impressive year-end profit numbers they produce, almost every industry body has involved itself in educating the backward; while some have adopted schools and industrial training centres, others have tied up with coaching classes and English and computer trainers, trying to rewire the infrastructure that supports the poor youth.

According to the information provided to the ministry of industries, “An initiative has been taken by multiple stakeholders for providing education to ST children in remote tribal belts. About 10 lakh ST kids are now beneficiaries of various schemes.”

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI) and Industry also plans to adopt coaching-cum-guidance centres for which industry members are being identified to provide training to SC/ST candidates keen to appear fpr various competitive examinations.For a large nation like India, broken into two hemispheres, grand challenges probably require a much wider breadth of affirmative action. But what is interesting to note is the uber-rich man sitting on top is no just sending off charity cheques and offering polite condolences __ it is generosity reworked.

*Posted on http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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