Pavan Kaushik is a visualizer who builds dream projects taking a cue from his intuitions. He draws plans on the paper with clear objectives and outcomes. He believes in building strong road-maps to achieve ambitious social welfare projects and does not believe in leaving loopholes.
“Nothing is impossible till you know you can do it,” he says.
He is Pavan Kaushik, a thorough Corporate Communication and CSR professional who has spent more than 30 years in the profession, building reputation and brands. Recognised globally by Thinkers360, besides India Today, Zee News, Public Relations Society of India etc., Pavan Kaushik has also been ‘CSR Person of the Year 2018’ in the CSR Leadership Summit.
He has worked in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, for over 10 years. He was part of the most prominent communication campaigns like New Economic Policy, Rural Development, National Integration and Communal Harmony, National and International Film Festivals, 50 Years of India’s Independence, Pulse Polio, AIDS Awareness, Women Empowerment, Health & Sanitation, Education, Save Water, Save Girl Child, and Road Safety.
He has spent over 8 years in NIFT as Head of Media, where he was part of the core team that launched the Fashion Communication Department and worked towards making NIFT a deemed university. His communication strategies and approach not only gave NIFT its brand value but also streamlined student’s placement.
I met Pavan Kaushik at a social event where he was giving his presentation on his child care project – KHUSHI. He founded Khushi to create awareness about care for the deprived children – their nutrition, education and health. Pavan believes in a participatory approach to CSR. He says, “CSR is a collective social responsibility.”
“Sensitive people should come forward to support the long-term approach in community welfare programs. You don’t need anyone to guide you in community service, particularly for stopping child beggary, child labour, taking care of education and health of children of people who work with you or for you, and being polite with children who deserve a life of dignity”, Pavan says.
With this approach, he initially launched Khushi in 2012 on social media and when Vedanta Group adopted around 3000 Anganwadis in Rajasthan, the infrastructure support also came for Khushi. These Anganwadis had now started getting converted into “Khushi Centres”. Soon thousands of people joined Khushi not just in India but also abroad and started aligning with the objectives of Khushi.
Being a thought leader and a professional of high calibre, India CSR Network has been associated with Pavan Kaushik for many years. He has been part of the board and jury for various CSR awards, and sessions for the leadership positioning. During jury rounds for CSR Awards, his focus has always been on outcomes. “What is the result or impact you are looking for, and have you built a roadmap to achieve what you want to achieve?” is what he wants to know.
While speaking at a CSR Conference, he emphasised on economic empowerment of rural women. According to him, the formation of Self-Help-Groups have remained as groups and there is a dearth of value addition. He says, “With time spent on bringing together rural and tribal women and forming SHGs, the basic concepts have become dormant. Today even rural women need economic empowerment. They operate mobile phones, digest news and understand various government-run schemes. But ultimately, they need some kind of regular work to strengthen their economic life. No doubt, money saved is also money earned, but here these women need money in hand. They are prepared to learn any craft but it should ultimately bring economic empowerment to them”.
Soon Pavan launched his project SAKHI in 2015 that had a complete focus on building economic empowerment of rural and tribal women. It all started in Rajasthan. Soon people started recognising and acknowledging the Sakhi project. He drove his car in remote rural areas to speak to SHG women and align them with his thoughts. He told me that initially these women were reluctant and thought that it was another social project, a waste of time. But his power of persuasion started working. He aligned women in 5 districts and started giving them training on various vocations like school uniforms, industrial uniforms, home-furnishing, candle making, fashion garments, artificial jewellery to name a few.
I asked him “Where will you find a market for these products?”. He smiled and replied – “Rusen, the market is already there, we have been ignoring this market for so long now. We have schools here, and all students wear uniforms. The Sakhi Uniform Cluster will make uniforms for these children and schools can buy these uniforms at a much lower rate, when compared with the commercial market. Similarly, we can replace corporate gifting with Sakhi-made home-furnishing products, perfumed candles etc. Rajasthan is a hub for fashion designers so if they know a special Sakhi Fashion Garments cluster has been developed, they would seek their help. So, the market is there”.
What he said worked. When the Sakhi women got money in their hands they just expressed their joy with unstoppable tears of happiness. Less or more money was not the issue. It was finally acknowledgement of their hard work.
I am always amazed by Pavan’s imagination, road map skills and speed of execution. Before you realise it, the results start showing.
On 3rd November 2015, at the invitation of CM Rajasthan, he gave a presentation at the CEO Conference in Jaipur. Pavan had presented and exhibited the products made by Sakhi clusters in an event on 28th October 2015 in Jaipur where several Ministers from Rajasthan, bureaucrats, fashion designers and students were present. He also organised a Sakhi Fashion Show and presented 60 fashion garments made by rural women of Kayad and Gagvana in Ajmer. The ‘Sakhi Fashion Show’ was one of its kind in India. The event conceptualised by him became the headline of all Rajasthan media and every channel and newspaper covered the event graciously.
On an emotional note, one day he shared that he wants to work on saving lives. Soon, with this thought, he founded another project – BE SAFE ZINDAGI, a project focused on avoiding road accidents and industrial accidents. He decided to meet common people, industrial workers, families, students and policymakers to bring forward the issue and the change.
“Accidents and incidents do not come by invite; they just look for an opportunity” – became the tag line of his campaign, ‘Be Safe Zindagi’. Pavan explained in one of the corporate presentations during the Leadership Summit that, “Life insurance is not the value of your life. It is a compensation. Does this mean your life actually has a price tag? If yes, I am prepared to buy it, if that is acceptable to the family. His point was direct. You are more valuable to your family than your insurance policy compensation. So, be safe and do not take risks. Avoid what is avoidable.
There is enough risk of the known why take risk of the unknown?” he says.
Soon several Ministers of Rajasthan, Bureaucrats, Judges and other opinion makers started giving their viewpoint and messages for the campaign. Hon’ble Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shri Nitin Gadkari, also wished luck to the campaign and was kind enough to give his message on road safety.
During this campaign, Pavan met over 10,000 people. I asked him “What made you drive this campaign so passionately?”, and he replied, “I lost my cousin brother in a road accident”. I had no words.
This is how he harnesses the power of communication. This is how he learns from different aspects of life, identifies the larger problem and acts on it.
Pavan believes that CSR should ultimately fulfil the business objective of the organisation.
Pavan joined Dharampal Satyapal Group (DS Group) in 2020 and the first thing he initiated was a unique project – MITRA. MITRA is conceived as a virtual friend, a traveller, who meets people in rural India and helps them find a solution to their issues. When Mitra feels he lacks the required expertise, he brings in experts for help. MITRA has a long way to go.
The project has been launched on All India Radio Rajasthan as a 30-episode series and several issues have been discussed in a ‘storytelling’ format. In this series of MITRA, the character brings out issues like agriculture development, water conservation and its optimum utilization, education, gender sensitization, social distancing during Covid, care for the aged, cattle care, health care, responsible thinking – save money for the future, nutrition, to name a few.
About his future plans, he says – “Whatever I have learnt in life should go forth to the next generation of communicators and CSR professionals and help organizations align their social projects with their communication campaigns. I want to help organizations build their social structure to achieve optimum and desired outcomes and it should be communicated to the right stakeholders.”
If you ask the management of a Corporate about Pavan Kaushik, an instant reply would be – “he is a man who builds business through communication, leadership branding, manages crises, promoting sustainability, aligning internal communication, effective media relations and most importantly, stakeholder’s management.
If any corporate or NGO has similar thoughts and minds, reach out to Pavan Kaushik.