Presenting an interview of Lt. Gen. SM Mehta, CEO, The Hans Foundation on how the Hans Foundation uplifts the lives of over 3 lakh families with relief fund initiatives across India.
Please tell us about The Hans Foundation
The Hans Foundation is a registered PublicCharitable trust established in 2009 providing funding support to not for profit organizations for development programs in the areas of Health, Education, Water & Sanitation, Disability, Livelihoods and Women Empowerment. The Foundation actively supports NGOs all over the country and has benefitted more than 10 million poor in the past 10 years. Today, it is positioned as one of the leading organisations in social development across the country. It has also forged significant partnerships through MoUs with Govts. Of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and The National Trust. The programs are aimed at improving the quality of life of the underprivileged communities. The interventions implemented by The Foundation range from grassroots level projects to national level programs.
Please tell us about the relief support drives THF is conducting for the affected people across the country in this pandemic
The Hans Foundation has been carrying out a lot of relief support drives across the country. In the determination to join the fight against COVID-19, The Hans Foundation has contributed Rs.4 crore to the PM Cares Fund for helping those across India. The Foundation has also supported the Govt. of Uttarakhand in providing necessary support in the form of ration kits, medical support and PPE kits worth Rs.1 crore and 51 lacs. In collaboration with Americares, ventilators have been provided in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala worth $2,50,000 (Approx 1.90 Cr) for emergency response for COVID 19 patients.
Several initiatives like these are being carried out by THF through their partners working in interior locations and support worth more than 16.5 crores has been extended so far. More than three lakh people have benefitted presently with the distribution of food and hygiene kits in 17 states across the country and the support is being extended to other states as well. We have also helped American India Foundation with a grant of six lakh for providing PPE kits, masks, gloves and other medical equipments. We have also started our own initiative – Operation Namaste, covering thousands of villages in Uttarakhand. This is a continuing process and The Foundation aims to reach the remotest regions through the initiatives.
Which are some of the NGOs that you have partnered with for conducting relief work?
The Hans Foundation has partnered with 2 state governments and 29 NGOs across the country during this crisis. Some of them include – Govt. of Uttarakhand, Prayas, Americares, CINI, Anjali, VARDAN, American India Foundation, GRAVIS, Masoom Charitable Trust, Aasraa Trust, BAIF Development Research Foundation, Goonj, Akshaya Patra Foundation and many other partners which are conducting relief support drives for those affected and also helping the hospitals and the front line workers. The Foundation with its partners is providing nutritional kits/ration kits to the families of migrants, daily wage earners, informal sector workers and healthcare kits to the frontline health workers, partial salary and medi claims, ventilators and even helping in setting up isolation centres.
What are your core focus areas and the types of interventions you have undertaken so far?
The main areas of intervention for the Foundation are; Education, Health, Livelihoods and Disability. THF’s Strategic planning focuses on key areas of its work with the aim of addressing the key issues of poverty alleviation, economic inequalities, and 360° impact on the quality of life through social development programs. The Foundation also runs its signature programs directly implemented by the organisation like Cochlear Implant, Little Hearts, Hospitals, PHC’s and various Mobile Medical Units (MMU) to mark a progressive step towards health development of the country. We have one eye hospital and also run various primary healthcare and women & child health programs.
Health is one of the major intervention areas of THF followed by Education. We are skill funding the schools, have built two schools in Nagaland in the tribal areas, have built a school in Vijayawada for orphans which is one of the biggest schools in the country. We have launched a huge initiative in Rajasthan covering 14,000 schools in the state in association with the Rajasthan Govt. We are also supporting the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), have started an academy in Nagaland which is going to be turned into a university. The Foundation is also running some non-formal education initiatives with its partner NGOs.
How many people have benefitted through your Foundation till now?
Over the years, THF has expanded its charitable activities in collaboration with State and Central Governments, institutions, corporates, academia and non-government organizations for sustainable interventions to achieve scale and economy. The interventions implemented by the Foundation range from grass root level to national level programs. THF has so far funded over 400 NGOs in 26 states and union territories in the past ten years benefitting more than 10 million poor in the country directly or indirectly.
How do you decide and monitor the regions you want to conduct your relief support during this pandemic?
The Hans Foundation receives requests from its various partners and vendors across the country. Recently, we received a request from Jharkhand where we run our Primary Health Centre (PHC) through one of our partners. The partners also send us ground reports along with pictures from their areas of migrant labourers and vulnerable communities who are in need during these tough times. Basis these details shared, we identify the regions which need immediate support.
How has been the journey of The Hans Foundation over the last 10 years?
The journey has been very interesting. It has been a learning curve for us. We have reached out to almost 10 million people now and are funding 150 organisations in the country today. The Foundation is also running some of the biggest programs in the country like Nagaland Livelihood program of 100 cr., setting up National Skill Development Institute in Uttarakhand. We are touching the lives of people who need to be uplifted from the grass root level as well as in association with the governments. We run pilot programs, integrated village developments programs, water & sanitation programs, medical help and mobile medical units to cater to the health of the people in remote areas.
How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted the social sector in India? In your view, how will the road to recovery pan out?
The social sector is highly impacted. A lot of NGOs are now approaching The Hans Foundation for grants. Many NGOs are short of funds now and their operations are temporarily at halt at whatever they were doing. We being funded by our foreign counterparts, so far it has not impacted us so much. All the NGOs which have been working in areas of education, agriculture, etc. everything has slowed down. Disability projects are still going on but again there has been a big setback. Shortage of funds, money is needed to re-build the economy, CSR is going to dry up and people are going to feel the crunch. Secondly, it will take a little time to again go to the new normal. Schools are not opening as of now, most of our mobile vans are not operating and most of the labourers have left their working areas. To recovery post the lockdown will be a long journey. The NGOs will be hot very hard because people who are dependent on the CSR money, it will all dry up.
Rusen Kumar is the founder and managing editor of India CSR. He regularly writes on Sustainability, Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR.