Some leaders strategize, and some leaders implement and some leaders do both – bring about strategic and executable transformations from both levels and create differences at the grassroots echelon. Vikram Gulati is one such leader. Enjoy! the interview under our India CSR Leadership Series. Happy to share the India CSR Leadership interview with Vikram Gulati, Country Head and Senior Vice President, Toyota Kirloskar Motor.
Can you give us a broad view of the focus areas for CSR in India? How are they aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) aims to promote sustainable development; hence our efforts are targeted towards a strong engagement with the local communities by addressing their needs in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and national priorities. We focus our energies on six thematic areas of education, environment, health and hygiene, road safety, skill development, and disaster management, which are aligned to the SDGs. Further, to ensure the continuity of our CSR initiatives, the company’s programs are aligned with the stakeholder expectations and are easily adoptable by the communities. While implementing many of our activities, we ensure wider employee involvement to achieve greater participation and ownership of key initiatives. TKM leverages the child-to-community approach wherever possible to transform young minds as change agents to bring about behavioral changes in their families and communities.
What are the initiatives TKM has undertaken to help support the efforts of the various Government bodies against COVID-19 during the first and second waves?
Since the outbreak of the first wave, TKM has been working closely with Government authorities in Karnataka and other states to augment the healthcare infrastructure, support the frontline workers and address the immediate needs of the communities. The company’s initiatives during the first wave comprised donations of food ration kits, sanitizers, masks, gloves, PPEs, fumigation equipment to support COVID warriors, besides a contribution of INR 20 million to the Karnataka State Disaster Relief Fund. TKM also donated three ambulances to the Government of Haryana to address the emergency cases besides providing a fully equipped Mobile Medical Unit to the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Further, in a novel initiative, we worked closely with a supplier partner, Stumpp Schuele and Somappa, to ramp up its production of face shields from the initial 275 units per day to over 17,000 units per day to meet the growing demand for protective gear.
Since the outbreak of the second wave, TKM has been consistently working closely with the Karnataka Health Department by providing essential medical equipment, transportation, and health kits, as necessary. TKM handed over a CT scanner to the authorities at the Ramanagara COVID Hospital to ensure critical patients need not travel far for a scan, thereby enabling their speedy diagnosis and treatment. In addition, we provided oxygen concentrators to the Government of Karnataka and the Uttar Pradesh Police Department. Besides oxygen concentrators, TKM has given Ambu bags, bedside monitors, oximeters, glucometers, masks, sanitizers, and other essential materials to the District Health Office of Ramanagara. The company also extended help to ensure maximum reach of the vaccination drive by enabling a transportation facility for the Health Department of Ramanagara District. To complement Government efforts and support the communities, TKM has invested a total of INR four crore towards COVID support during the second wave. Further, the company is supporting the construction of a modern Community Health Centre (CHC) and setting up an oxygen-generating plant.
What has been the impact of COVID-19 on TKM’s CSR spends and implementation on-ground, considering the business environment and pandemic-induced lockdowns?
The unprecedented magnitude of the pandemic presented extraordinary challenges to the nation and society. In this situation, it was vital for corporate citizens to step up in a big way and partner with the Government to ramp up healthcare infrastructure and lend a helping hand to all sections of the society. Guided by the principle of Kaizen, TKM aligned its CSR initiatives to complement the mammoth efforts of the Government in providing relief, material support and creating awareness on COVID appropriate behavior. However, some of the other CSR activities had to be rescheduled due to the challenges in on-ground implementation. Our efforts were more focused on the health and hygiene area, where COVID-related support measures were considered to complement Government efforts and tackle the pandemic crisis.
Can you tell us about the CSR projects that have been successfully completed thus far?
Our ABCD (A Behavioural Change Demonstration) program that focuses on inducing a behavioral change in schoolchildren has been handed over to the local administrations after a successful run of about five years. This program aims to foster the importance of sanitation and hygiene in young minds. The idea is that children, in turn, will act as catalysts to provoke thoughts, initiate discussions, and promote awareness within the families, and thereby the community. To sustain the drive, the focus is on engaging with women and girl children through special sessions on hygiene practices. The project has brought about a tremendous difference in communities concerning the use of sanitation units, hand wash practices, and other hygiene habits and was handed over successfully last year to the Government of Karnataka.
More than 58,000 students and over four lakh community members were covered under the ABCD program in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Over 31,000 girl students benefitted with 33 incinerators installed in Government schools, while more than 13,000 household toilets were constructed under the project. The ABCD project was acknowledged as a case study by Harvard Business School and included in Ivey Publishing’s journal.
Another successful project is the Model School intervention that envisions a society involving the creation of a sustainable village from the perspective of education. TKM’s concept of model school is not limited to improving physical infrastructure but also includes nurturing the aspirations of the students. Additionally, we focus on providing learning support such as e-learning material, capacity building for teachers, creating an eco-friendly, healthy, and safe environment for all besides promoting extra-curricular activities., A few years ago we identified the Government Lower Primary School at Devalinganapalya, Ramanagara district in Karnataka for implementing the concept of the model school. This has led to the successful establishment of a holistic model of quality education,
which is evident from the increase in academic performance of the students over the years. Last year we handed over the project to the education department following the development of SOPs and training of teaching staff.
How is TKM looking at CSR over the short and long-term horizon given the pandemic situation today? Any change in focus areas and approach in the future?
Over the years, we have been consistent in terms of our CSR spends, but given the changed realities today brought forth by COVID, the next few years will be unique. Hence, we are strengthening our strategies to work on mid to long-term plans, conducting need and impact assessment studies while continuing our existing programs while also complementing Government efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
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