Royal Rajasthan Foundation, the official philanthropic arm of IPL club, Rajasthan Royals, closely works with local communities on women empowerment. Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman & Founding Member of the Foundation discusses objective, interventions, and impact of the project with Apresh Mishra. Excerpts:
Could you brief us on the Royal Rajasthan Foundation?
Royal Rajasthan Foundation, the official philanthropic arm of Rajasthan Royals was established in 2019 essentially for ensuring a structured & sustained impact through a dedicated team. The Foundation is committed to enabling empowered women in Rajasthan to manifest and maximize their potential as an impact multiplier, transforming families, communities and Indian society at large. To this end, the Foundation works closely with local communities in the areas identified as important for manifesting the potential in women and is profoundly vested in the deepening and strengthening of these relationships
What was your key focus whilst initiation and launch of the foundation?
As a sporting organization, our focus has always been central to physical and mental health for the betterment of mind, body & soul. We have been supporting through cricket, the initiatives that align with our overall mandate. The idea behind the inception of RRF was purely to focus on formalising the institutional approach to enable opportunities for empowered women as the core mandate. The key focus area since the inception of the Foundation, is to enable experienced community partners working with women by providing mentorship and conceptualizing and delivering programs that foster independence, self-sufficiency, gender equity & aid in further catalyzing their potential.
What are the different initiatives that the RRF has undertaken to date in India?
Rajasthan Royals has supported the cause of children born with the congenital deformity of cleft lip and palate facilitating necessary surgical interventions and care for these patients in partnership with Operation Smile and Mission Smile from 2013 to 2018.
‘With Her, We Rise’- this vision has served as the Foundation’s blueprint as it championed the Cancer Out campaign in 2018 driving early detection, awareness and screening for breast, cervical and oral cancer for women. Since 2019, post formal inception, RRF is supporting a local NGO in Rajasthan in facilitating access to healthcare facilities for the elderly.
As part of its role as an enabler in the ecosystem, it is also working towards skilling rural women in carpet weaving value chain skill training and capacity building leading to sustainable employment with our implementation partner. The foundation is also working to reduce the drudgery experienced by women in Rajasthan in water collection by enabling the development of water availability and access.
Taking a stand against child trafficking and child labor in Rajasthan, Royal Rajasthan Foundation collaborated with the British Asian Trust in 2 projects that aim to eliminate child labor in the entire business chain and provide safe haven for rescued children thereof. To further its support for responsible citizenship, RR Foundation aims to layer social interventions on the existing RR youth cricket initiative to promote the holistic, all round development of grassroots talent.
What special/specific initiatives have been taken by the RRF during COVID-19?
The spread of coronavirus pandemic has unimaginably altered our lives, affected social, economic, institutional and governance settings worldwide.
During these unprecedented times, we focused more on the mental well-being of people and came up with series of conversations on mental health issues-THE ROYAL CONVERSATIONS – MIND, BODY & SOUL in partnership with McLean Hospital (Harvard Medical School) and Dr. NS Vahia Foundation, through a digital medium focusing on issues that impact the mind, body and soul. The aim was toraise awareness on how mental health impacts the mind, body and soul, toremove the stigmatization around these issues & toraising awareness on how sports can be an enabler for mental health by using case studies from the cricketing world. It was a successful pilot run with 21 MN reach across media.
This, we think, has been our biggest contribution to the society during these testing times.
RRF has always been deeply committed to the people of Rajasthan and striven to work in solidarity with the state government for the same. Guided by those values, in the wake of the situation created due to the pandemic, Royal Rajasthan Foundation has stepped up and contributed funds (in April 2020) to support 100,000 families in Rajasthan in alignment with the Government of Rajasthan to enhance their fight against Covid-19, in addition to their year-round initiatives.
As an effort to raise awareness around the Covid-19, Foundation partnered with the TATA Trusts in the Corona Mukt Jeevan Campaign (April 2020) to spread the messages of ‘Handwashing’, ‘Respiratory Etiquette’, ‘Social Distancing’ and ‘Early Referrals’ to the general public. The campaign attained an overall outreach of 19MN homes.
Additionally, Royal Rajasthan Foundation in association with Facebook, and via the NGO Gram Chetna Kendra (in May & June 2020) has raised funds to facilitate 750 families for a period of 10 days to the marginalized women and other needy individuals at Sambhar & Bassi blocks in Rajasthan.
RRF, is also supporting the people of the state through mobilizing relief efforts in the fight against COVID-19 by initiating a drive to donate masks among the underprivileged demographic groups in our home state of Rajasthan.
How do you view sport as a protagonist for social cause and CSR from a sporting organization’s point of view?
Sports Organizations give paramount importance to good health which is the basis of sound mental health & therefore aids in creating a conducive environment for holistic development of individuals, communities & of society at large.
Sports & sporting personalities, with massive fan base among the rural masses, have immense capacity to bring about social change.
Being the CSR arm of a sporting organization definitely gives us an extra edge. From using the IPL platform, watched by millions of people in India and worldwide to drive awareness on pressing issues to obtaining celebrity endorsements from some of the finest sportspersons around the world- we can leverage the power of cricket to catalyze social impact.
What does the next decade hold with regard to the foundation and your vision for the foundation?
RRF, through its programs, aims to further human values of interdependence, empathy, and reverence for cultural and social ethos and above all, respect for women and the environment.
In the coming years, we would like to create & establish a framework of initiatives focusing on themes that would enable us to work with the empowered women to manifest their potential as an impact multiplier, transforming families, communities and empowering the society & the world.