CSR is a key business process for sustainable development of society: Priyadarshini Nigam, Head CSR, Newgen Software

By Rusen Kumar

MUMBAI: Newgen Software Limited is a leading provider of Business Process Management, Enterprise Content Management, Customer Communication Management and Adaptive Case Management with a global presence of more than 1300 customer installations in over 61 countries with large, mission-critical solutions deployed at leading Banks, Insurance firms, Healthcare Organizations, Governments, Shared Service Centers, BPO’s & Telecom Companies. In an interview with Rusen Kumar; Priyadarshini Nigam, Head, CSR, Newgen Software Limited, highlights CSR initiatives, her views on CSR and plans for 2016. Edited excerpts:

What are the main pillars of your CSR and Sustainability strategy at Newgen Software?

Newgen’s CSR program is based on the firm conviction that to foster a progressive ecosystem for developing countries like India, ‘Education’ has to be promoted amongst all sections of the society.

Thus, with this objective in mind, Newgen started its ‘Sadbhavna’ initiative in 2006, much prior to the CSR mandate announced by the government. Sadbhavna is an educational program for children which has been designed to focus on their overall development. After almost a decade, the program has been running successfully and there are a number of successful stories till date.

In April 2016 we launched our dream project, Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala. NDDP is a program specially designed to develop e-learning skills amongst students and to impart knowledge in school through web based technology. This stems from our Managing Director’s vision to transform classroom sessions into fun–learning activities and to make school curriculum more meaningful.

However, before beginning NDDP we conducted a pilot in a government school for four months from November, 2015 to end of February, 2016. Facilitators and volunteers from Newgen conducted sessions using iPads, audiovisuals and presentations to gauge the learning abilities of the students.

What have been some of the greatest challenges in realising your CSR and Sustainability goals in the past year? How has your company overcome them?

Newgen’s sustainability strategy is premised on the belief that transformational capacity of businesses can be effectively leveraged to create significant societal value through a spirit of innovation and enterprise. The sustainability strategy aims to significantly contribute to sustainable social and economic development of young minds who would impact the future of the nation.

Under the aegis of NDDP, we formally adopted a Government Girl’s School in Delhi, in April, 2016.We have introduced learning through iPad for sixth and seventh standards. We are confident that in the coming months, these children will learn to browse and become more curious and interested in their school education and the world around them.

There are teething problems in every new project that you undertake. When it comes to working with children, a lot of patience and empathy is required. The facilitators who work in these programs have to be very motivated and work hands-on to make an impact. We monitor our projects very closely; systems have been put in place so that the children get the maximum benefit.

How have you improved quality of education in Schools under ‘Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala’?

Continuous technological advancements demand millennials to become abreast with the dynamic world. Newgen has taken a humble step into this evolving world by trying to bring the bottom of the pyramid on the same platform as others through NDDP.

Most of the children are in the tender age-group of 10-13 and are very eager to learn new things. Most of them have never seen a computer in their lives.  They are extremely excited and participative during the sessions. Our facilitators finds a majority of these children extremely bright and enthusiastic. Given the right opportunities, training and skill sets they can do as well as children from big Public Schools.

You have adopted Government Girls Senior Secondary School in Okhla, Delhi. What are the aims of the programme?

Newgen has adopted Government’s Girls’ Senior Secondary School, Harkesh Nagar, in Delhi for five years. We are currently conducting classes for 900+ children of classes 6th and 7th. Newgen has furnished their classrooms with colourful benches and desks and we provide refreshments at the end of each session.

Newgen’s facilitators are using various methodologies like role play, quiz, movies and presentations while conducting these sessions which not only enhance the e-learning skills of the children but also generate curiosity in them.

The aim of this programme is children’s overall growth to build their confidence and make them competitive. The classroom sessions are therefore very interactive, there are no textbooks, and students are encouraged to speak-up, discuss and feel free to participate. Prizes are distributed every month to children who are most active during the sessions.

We also do camps during vacations to keep them engaged with creative activities like craft, drawing and dramatics with emphasis on team building activities.

How your CSR programmes are changing the lives?

Newgen particularly focuses on best practices to support communities and improve the quality of life for future generations. In the last ten years, Newgen has undertaken many new initiatives towards CSR under the aegis of Sadbhavna program. We have dedicated sessions on Digital Literacy and PDP (personality development). The initiative is directed towards educating girls and boys with digital skills and bring positive changes in their lives.

Confidence building sessions are conducted for children every second Saturday of the month. A special instructor is aligned with children of standard sixth to twelfth for grooming them by teaching them life skills such as time management, positive thinking, improving self-esteem etc.

Through these programs Newgen prepares children to face challenges head-on and improve their decision-making skills.

In the last ten years there have been many success stories. Regular counselling sessions by volunteers and Newgen’s CSR team has helped many children select right courses in school and in building their careers.

Newgen has also adopted 3 families in the country’s oldest SOS Children’s Village-working for abandoned, destitute and orphaned children. Newgen’s volunteers guide and support these children to make them ‘FIT’ for survival. Newgen’s focus area is personality development, communication skills, counselling sessions and computer literacy which makes them a better ‘FIT’ and prepared for life.

How can companies and government work together to achieve sustainability and CSR goals?

Key to implementation of a successful CSR project is perfect synchronization of all the stakeholders, including government, NGOs, SMEs and Corporates. To achieve sustainability and CSR goals, both companies and government should focus on this synchronization.

Government should consider rewarding and recognizing corporate houses and their partner non-government organizations on implementing projects that effectively cover the poor and the underprivileged.

In our NDDP program we see a huge benefit in aligning with the Government School’s Principal and Staff. We have formed a group called Newgen CSR Samarth Shikshaks whose members are Newgen’s facilitators, volunteers and the school faculty. To study the impact of NDDP on the students, we have decided to hold regular meetings of the group to discuss content and progress of the students.

How your company is performing Environmental Responsibility?

By developing solutions like ECM to create paperless, modern e offices through digitization, Newgen’s core ideology “Reinvent your Workplace” is well synchronized to accomplish environmental responsibility. Through these digital solutions we are saving almost, 2.5 million trees a year.

Other than this, Newgen from time to time participates in activities like Tree plantation and recycling drives which gives impetus to our liabilities towards environment.

There is also a strict no plastic policy in Newgen and we encourage employees to not use plastic within and outside Newgen offices.

Newgen also volunteers actively during any natural calamities. , We not only donate but also promote volunteering by the employees for relief activity.

Do you have any skill development interventions?

Newgen believes in improving the quality of life through shared values and contributions for social and environment good.  Newgen with its diverse CSR programs encourages development of myriad skills amongst students.

Sadbhavna is focused on the holistic development of a child and along with imparting education, works on developing their soft skills too..  Our members offer tutorials on scholastic curriculums, along with guidance for vocational education imparting job ready skills as well.

Newgen’s Digital Discovery paathshala aims to inculcate learning skills in students by teaching the school curriculum digitally on iPads with audio-video aids. This is generating huge curiosity among students and improving their retention power and learning capacity.

Newgen’s volunteers conduct various engagement sessions with the children at the adopted SOS villages. During these sessions the volunteers work on development of various skills including English speaking, confidence building, managing stage fright, general knowledge and sports.

What are your goals for 2016 and your priorities for the year?

Besides continuing our efforts with Sadbhavna and SOS Children’s Village programs, in 2016 our major focus will be around our government school project – Newgen’s Digital Discovery Paathshala. The program is a core project of Newgen CSR initiatives. We will concentrate on identifying talent and aptitude of  students at a young age and help groom them to choose an appropriate career path through Digital Empowerment. The primary objective of NDDP is to enhance the knowledge of students using technology and promote digital literacy. Over the next 5 years, we are planning to adopt more schools and replicate the same format in other schools.

Do you have CSR budget under CSR Law?

Yes. we spend 2% of our non-tax profit towards CSR and aim to maximize it as much as possible.

Describe about your CSR policy.

The objective of Newgen’s CSR policy is to make CSR a key business process for sustainable development of society. The CSR framework at Newgen encourages stakeholders to have more meaningful engagement with the business rather than the often prevalent one sided expectation.

Mission is to actively contribute to the social and economic development  of the communities in which we operate, resulting in building of a sustainable way of life for the weaker sections of society,  raise the country’s human development index, protect and safeguard environment and maintain the ecological balance. Our Vision is to be a Socially responsible corporate citizen.

What are major CSR project for last 2 years.

Newgen CSR programs include: Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala at a Government Girl’s School, Sadbhavna Program (weekly sessions on Digital Discovery, Monthly sessions on Personality Development, other vocational training and fun sessions), SOS Program (weekly sessions on Digital Discovery at Youth Hostel, Bi-monthly overall development sessions with SOS children, monthly Personality Development sessions at Newgen premises) + adopted 3 SOS families comprising of approximately 40 people

Newgen has appointed an expert external trainer each for weekly Digital Discovery session at Youth Hostel, SOS village and the monthly Personality Development Programme (PDP) session for Sadbhavna and SOS children. Our Newgen volunteers are present in each of these sessions to support these trainers.