CSR interview of Ramesh Bawa, MD & CEO of IL&FS Financial Services

NEW DELHI: IL&FS Group believes that the infrastructure building and financing will shape the communities of tomorrow. Similarly, social responsibility for IL&FS Financial services is also based on the belief that creating possibilities of economic and social inclusion powered by skilling and supporting ways of creating livelihood, is the most effective way to managed challenges posed by poverty, inequality and unemployment in India. India CSR talked with Ramesh Bawa, MD & CEO of IL&FS Financial Services. He explained that how his company is creating scientific temperament amount new generation. Excerpts of an interview:

How did the set-up of interactive models and developing relationship with villagers help in motivating them to educate their kids?

We believe, interactive models are very essential to build and develop relationships among kids. The Science Bus is based on the fundamental premise that children need to be exposed to a new way of thinking and have to awaken to a spirit of inquiry. The models are passed around and children engage all of their senses to discover how and why things work the way they do. Each time the bus visits, the rate of scientific literacy goes up, and parents become more supportive of their children’s education. The Science Bus reaches 12000 students in Jharkhand.

Also, please explain how you conceptualised the Science Bus programme.

The idea of introducing the Science Bus came after a preliminary survey which was conducted in 20 schools in Jharkhand. Focus Group discussions with teachers and students revealed that most students faced difficulties in Mathematics and Science Subjects.

We thus approached the Agastya International Foundation, whose core objective- sparking the curiosity of children through innovative programmes in science, mathematics and arts – matched the community’s needs and requirements. Agastya implemented this objective through their cost-effective mobile labs where teachers, trained in their hands-on-methods, engage students, teachers and community members.

Tell us something about the national level scholarship scheme, launched in 2015 as a joint initiative of IL&FS Group and NSDC and other renowned organizations?

IFIN and IL&FS Group designed a national level scholarship scheme for supporting employability linked skill development training for the underprivileged unemployed youth (18-35 years of age), including people with disability (PwD), belonging to economically weaker sections of society. The scheme is being implemented through training agencies including IL&FS Skills Development Corporation Limited (IL&FS Skills) – a joint initiative of IL&FS Group and the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), along with B-Able (Basix Academy for Building Lifelong Employability), American India Foundation (for PwD) and Association of PwD.

Under the skill scholarship scheme of the IL&FS Group, more than 5,500 youth have been trained till date in 15 sectors including Auto, Tourism & Hospitality, ITES and Telecom etc. with placement of 85% successfully certified trainees in more than 16 states. Till now, the estimated annual income of placed candidates is Rs 240 mn p.a. reflecting the high economic impact created. Majority of the trainees were placed with an average monthly income of Rs 6,500/- in companies like Minda Furkawa Electric, Barbeque Nation, AEGIS BPO, Reliance Life Insurance, Adecco, etc. In FY 2016-17, 2227 people were trained and placed in jobs, under the scholarship scheme.

Share some thoughts behind Introduction of Basic Technology (IBT). What is the rate of achievement in the past two years?

Under the Basic Technology project (IBT), basic hand held tools and conventional machines for fabrication, agricultural tools, electrical instruments etc., are provided to schools. Students learn basic skills in the areas of Engineering, Energy, Environment, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Food Processing- all of which are relevant to their village context and/or for future livelihood needs. The students are provided these skills through local village based mentors in the village. Once trained, the students are able to provide services to the community such as cycle repair and electrical wiring for homes, among others.

How has the scheme implementation advanced your skill and learnings?

Through the course of our implementation of this programme, IFIN has also gained an understanding of the skill development sector in India- both in terms of a practical recognition of how vast the issue of youth employment is as well as the need to further better the skilling and placement frameworks in a manner such that placements are sustainable and relevant to trainees.

Under the skill scholarship scheme of the IL&FS Group, more than 5,500 youth have been trained till date in 15 sectors including Auto, Tourism & Hospitality, ITES and Telecom etc. with placement of 85% successfully certified trainees in more than 16 states.

How has the high-powered tool, K-Yan transformed the lives of school children in India?

K-Yan is a compact, portable piece of equipment that integrates a high capacity computer, a DVD drive, multiple USB ports and high-fidelity speakers with a very powerful projector.

K-Yan empowers the teacher to focus on improving learning outcomes by using content which is modern, engaging and involves the student at every step. It comes preloaded with a host of multilingual, multimedia teaching materials developed by IL&FS Education under the brand K-Class. Multimedia lessons, videos, mindmaps, assessments and practice sheets for science, mathematics and social science across grades are included in the learning material. Embedded virtual experiments or Exploriments — simulation based learning units — help students grasp scientific concepts with ease. It also gives them exposure to new technologies, enabling them to build technological capacities for faster adaptation in today’s world.

With 10 million students and half a million teachers using K-Yan today across 8000 government and private schools, IL&FS Education has shown the wide reach and success of its innovation.

Your road map for project sustainability of current and future initiatives?

With the Introduction to Basic Training programme, we have currently provided the first level of equipment and provided stipends for the hiring of community mentors at the schools. In a few years, once the programme in these schools is strengthened, the school authorities and community will take over the programme.  A unique facet of this programme, which aids in ensuring the programme is sustainable, is that it has been recognized by the SSC board of Maharashtra as a pre- vocational program.

Various options are being discussed in the case of the Mobile Science Bus, to identify the best feasible plan for sustainability. A few activities have been identified which will strengthen the outcomes in the community. This includes the training of talented children and consequent participation in national and international platforms, the training of government school teachers and creation of community champions who can further science learning at the village level.

What are the current CSR spends to achieve the goals set and projects identified.

IL&FS Financial Services (IFIN) has in total disbursed Rs. 63.79 million towards CSR initiatives in an around areas across India where it is actively involved in infrastructure development projects.