India caters the corporates to focus towards its wider social responsibilities and work towards the betterment of the society through Corporate Social Responsibility law. As per the CSR, the Companies Act, 2013 is a landmark legislation that made India the first country to mandate and quantify CSR expenditure. The inclusion of CSR is an attempt by the government to engage the businesses with the national development agenda. The CSR law encourages corporations operating within society to contribute towards economic, social and environmental development that creates positive impact on society at large.
In a country like India, where the increasing population is creating major issues such as illiteracy, pollution and unemployment, the government is not capable enough to handle situations. The non-profit programs developed by major corporate houses focusing on social issues is not only a mandate by the government in today’s times, but also an initiative which is implemented in order to give back to the society in whatever ways they can.
Organizations in India have been quite sensible in taking up CSR initiatives and integrating them into their business processes. It has become progressively projected in the Indian corporate setting because organizations have recognized that besides growing their businesses, it is also important to shape responsible and supportable relationships with the community at large. CSR plans ensure that while organizations comply with legislation, their investments also respect the growth and development of marginalized communities and the environment. One such Top CSR spender is the Reliance Foundation which initiates goals to touch the spheres of rural transformation, education, health, urban renewal, arts, culture and heritage in India.
Reliance Foundation: Changing lives
Reliance has always made sustainable development the cornerstone of its business strategy to achieve viable and profitable growth, creating in its wake thriving eco-systems around all its businesses. To provide impetus to various developmental initiatives of RIL, Reliance Foundation (RF) was set up in 2010 as an expression of its vision towards sustainable growth in India. The Company’s CSR initiatives help elevate the quality of life for millions, especially the disadvantaged sections of the society.
The Reliance Foundation works assiduously to ensure that economic wealth is not just limited to the privileged, but distributed in a manner that benefits the marginalized sections of the society. The Company’s CSR initiatives are guided by three core principles of Scale, Impact and Sustainability.
Maintaining these standards, it engages with communities to ensure their well-being by enhancing access to quality education and healthcare, capacity building for employment generation, access to good infrastructure and ecological conservation. To maximize its reach and improve outcomes, Reliance Foundation has also established strategic partnerships with organizations that have the technical expertise and experience to undertake various programs in the identified focus areas respectively. The Foundation also lays significant emphasis on leveraging technology for developmental solutions and focuses on creating change in the areas of Rural Transformation, Health, Education, Sports for Development, Disaster Response, Arts, Culture and Heritage and Urban Renewal.
Reliance Foundation works toward enriching the lives of the marginalized communities of India by enhancing livelihood opportunities and providing relevant information to help reduce risks for rural communities. This foundation makes systematic efforts to improve the quality and productivity of rural assets, leading to increased and more reliable yields. It also ensures increased incomes and better capacities among the targeted marginalized communities.
One of the major initiatives under the Rural Transformation programme is the Reliance Foundation Bharat India Jodo (RF BIJ) programme. RF BIJ empowers marginal farmers with sustainable livelihood practices. It de-risks farming, minimize external dependencies and improve rural lives and livelihoods. These models of social and economic development are owned, controlled and managed by communities themselves, for the larger development of their members, the village, and the region. It not only supports low cost and high output in sustainable agriculture, but also helps the farmers increase their productivity and leverage the market to increase their income.
Reliance Foundation works towards enhancing access to quality and affordable healthcare in India. The Foundation’s ‘Health for All’ motto and integrated healthcare model provides continuum of care to the most vulnerable sections of society through a network of healthcare delivery mechanisms. The Reliance Foundation Health Outreach Programme provides medical care through Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) and Static Medical Units (SMUs) at selected locations in Mumbai, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. Reliance Foundation Drishti, in association with the National Association for the Blind (NAB), supports the visually impaired through several initiatives. Under this program an international Braille newspaper is published every fortnight which reaches thousands of visually impaired readers across India and other countries.
Another major milestone of RF is the ASMAN (Alliance for Saving Mothers and newborns) project which is partnered with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MSD India, Tata Trusts and the United States Agency for International Development, aiming to accelerate the reduction in neonatal and maternal mortality by improving quality of care provided to mothers and newborns.
Apart from these, with a vision to provide the best of healthcare services, Reliance Foundation and the University of Chicago have collaborated to develop cloud-based software applications that will reduce diagnostic errors, improve outcomes and help address many critical medical issues efficiently. Through the convergence of technology and healthcare, the foundation aims to improve patient care and enable better and faster delivery.
Reliance Foundation’s educational programme addresses the need of the hour and fosters the youth by providing open access to quality education. The Education for All (EFA) initiative was launched in 2010 with the objective of providing access to quality education in India. The EFA programme supports various initiatives that work with underprivileged children, promote girl-child education and impart life skills to the differently abled. Reliance Foundation has also entered into partnership with the Department of Education, Government of Andhra Pradesh to implement education programmes through the use of web enabled digital learning platforms, to teach science and mathematics. The programme is aimed at improving the teaching and learning processes, and providing quality education for higher academic performance. The Mumbai Indians team is actively engaged in the initiative and has exhibited their ardent support for the cause.
RF’s initiative, Aarambh is a community-based organisation which works with thousands of children of migrant workers, who live in the slums and shanties focusing on the areas of education, health care and skill development.
Apart from these, the schools provide many scholarship programmes to the youth. These young scholarship recipients represent the ‘hope, optimism and potential’ of Future India.
Reliance Foundation focuses on using sports as a medium to encourage learning and breed leadership among the youth in the rural areas. This initiative is a medium to enhance community partnership and promote traditional rural sports. In commemoration with the birthday of Hockey legend, Dhyan Chand, Reliance Foundation celebrates August 29 as Sports Day annually in rural areas across 12 states in India. The Sports Day is designed to promote and foster community connection through active participation in various games and activities organised during the event.
Arts, Culture and Heritage
Reliance Group strives on the ways to protect and promote India’s priceless heritage to not only sustain but also make art and culture relevant to the younger generation.
Reliance Foundation supports Ustad Zakir Husain for his annual concert – Abbaji – dedicated to the memory of his father the legendary maestro Ustad Allah Rakha Khan in one of its many efforts to pay tribute to the cultural legends of India.
Reliance Foundation was also the lead sponsor for the Elephanta Festival. This festival, held annually at Elephanta Island, adjacent to the Elephanta Cave, a World Heritage Site, commemorates the heritage of dance, art and sculpture in India.
This initiative provides assistance in the immediate aftermath of disasters, directly engaging with affected communities and leveraging its strengths, human resources and information technology to efficiently and effectively provide relief and alleviate human suffering. In the event of severe and long-lasting impact, Reliance Foundation work with the communities to revive livelihoods, improve health and education, and ensure sustainable development.
Reliance Foundation Information Services (RFIS)
In 2013, Reliance Foundation started RFIS programme – disseminating information for livelihood improvement with a view of providing need based livelihood related content to farmers, livestock owners, fisher folk, youths etc. through different platforms such as mobile based voice SMS, Audio conference, video conference, Cable TV bulletins, scrolls, Radio and newspaper, JIO Chat Channel and Whatsapp. Reliance Foundation Information Services (RF-IS) extensively disseminated cyclone and adverse weather conditions advisories for the cyclones Phailin, Lehar, Helen and Hudhud, as well as hailstorms, in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Apart from dynamic early warning information dissemination, RF-IS has also been involved in evacuation and search operations related information dissemination to the concerned departments.
RFIS in Kerala
In addition to this, field based awareness, demonstration/training programs, livestock camps are also conducted in seven districts (Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram) in Kerala.
The programme not only works on multi stakeholder partnership but also collaborates with various organisations such as Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KELSA) and various other government departments for reaching out to the public with relevant information.
In Kerala, the voice SMS services is reaching more than One Lakh people with providing information on early warning for fishermen, Ocean State Forecast, Potential Fishing zone (GPS points of fish availability Locations), season based crop advisories, Pest and disease management for Agricultural farmers, Government schemes, livestock health management advisories etc.
In addition to this, RFIS programme provides other benefits such as:
- Helpline: A platform created for agricultural farmers, dairy farmers, livestock owners, marine and inland fishermen to contact and clarify their doubts from experts through audio mode irrespective of locations and literacy level.
- Mobile based Voice Message Services: It is created to provide the individuals with accurate information on disease and disaster management, livestock health and pest control, forecast warning etc.
- Multi-location audio/video conference: It helps to conduct virtual camps, disease diagnostic camps, livestock camps through ICT Platforms.
- Health Camps: Free health check-up and services is provided to the individuals in association with different health institutions and organizations.
- Livestock Camps: Livestock health and disease management is monitored through veterinary camps in different villages and medicines and mineral mixtures for livestock are distributed freely.
- Local Cable TV: Agri/fisheries/livestock information is shared through local cable TV channel’s Bulletins/Scrolls and queries are addressed through phone in programmes.
“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it” – Albert Einstein.
Only a handful of companies today have a foundation or organization running actively to propagate CSR activities. If all companies start developing such foundations, India can immensely benefit from the non-profit organizations. In this way, the government also gets a support system within their system, which can be relied on for the broader public interest.
This philanthropic initiative of Reliance group is a benchmark organization in a country like India, where the importance of CSR is the highest, because of the ever growing population and corruption within the political systems. While Reliance Foundation directly engages with the community, it has also strategically partnered with various stakeholders to maximize its effort in addressing the needs of the community. These partners include government and non-government organizations, academic and research institutions.
Reliance Foundation’s initiatives have continued to evolve, while remaining responsive to the ever-changing needs of society. It has significantly created a positive societal impact through diverse community engagement initiatives and made measurable progress toward its vision of an inclusive India.
Shal, 33, is a Dairy farmer of Puthuvypu Dairy farmer’s society of Ernakulam district. With the help of Reliance Foundation programme he cleared his doubts on pregnancy period; deworming and various other issues he was facing on livestock feed & care management while engaging with his daily routine activity.
His cow got the apt treatments and got free deworming medicines and mineral mixture. As a result he got increased production. The increased amount helps Shal to buy a new calf in the breed HF.
“I really admire and thank all the valuable services that have been provided by Reliance Foundation for dairy farmers and also wish they flourish more and continue such endeavours and reach the unreached. I am one among the many who got benefited. I strongly believe this is a wonderful service for all those who are associated with cattle rearing and dairy farming. I am saying this because of the positive experience I had. Thank You RFIS!!”