From the desk of Editor-in-Chief

Time for India Inc to invest in infrastructure under CSR initiatives

Infrastructure is the backbone of any economy for growth and development. The infrastructure industry in India has traditionally been a major driving force towards the economy’s growth, contributing to five per cent of the country’s GDP. According to an official data, India required an investment of Rs 50 trillion (USD 777.73 billion) in infrastructure by 2022 to have a sustainable development. The Narendra Modi government is taking a lot of initiatives in the field of infrastructure, which is characterised by high budgetary allocation for the sector, rising infrastructure deals, increasing private sector investment, improvement in logistics and rising FDI in the sector.
However, the irony is that even though increasing impetus to develop infrastructure is attracting major global players in India, when it comes to CSR initiatives, the sector is the most neglected one by the corporate firms.
According to Census 2011, nearly 2.68 crore people in India are disabled. Nothing has dampened the indomitable spirit of people with disabilities as much as their inaccessibility to proper infrastructure. Lack of adequate disabled-friendly facilities has acted as bigger roadblock than their condition itself and prevented them, which constitutes two per cent of the population, from making valuable contributions to the society.
The differently-abled are struggling every day to get a barrier-free access in infrastructure and transport systems. For instance, as per reports, the dearth of infrastructure that facilitates access for the physically challenged — ramps, railings and accessible wash rooms – is one of the reasons which prevent them from pursuing their studies.


Though the government in 2015 had launched the Accessible India Campaign (AIC) to make a barrier free and conducive environment for persons with disability (PwDs) all over the country, few corporate firms and NGOs have evinced interest in focusing on the disable-friendly infrastructure sector under the CSR initiatives.
When it comes to CSR, the corporate as well as the NGOs focus mainly on the thematic areas of education, skills development, health, livelihood and gender Inequality. No doubt, these fields are important, however, at the same time, the India story cannot be complete without the inclusion of the differently-abled.
Thoughtful planning of public spaces with provision for Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators; provision of compatible toilets with grab bars, audio announcement system at traffic signals, wheelchair facilities, graphic signage and installation of ramps; disabled-friendly foot-bridges and transport systems like trains and buses can come a long way in securing the rights of persons with disability and providing them equal access. Besides, upgrading infrastructure for the downtrodden like day care, care homes, residential facilities, disabled-friendly public spaces and buildings can give them a sense of security and they can live a dignified life.
It is high time that the corporate sector and the NGOs join hands to work towards providing better infrastructure to the unprivileged sections of the society under the CSR initiatives and empower them to become a part of the India’s growth story.


DUSIB: Providing homeless a sense of security

By Soma Chakraborty

According to an official survey conducted there are nearly 1,50,000 homeless people in Delhi. Experts opine that with the continuing influx of migrant labourers from other parts of the country to the national capital, this number has increased manifolds in the last 10 years. The homeless people are not only deprived of a roof but also of an identity which is a crucial tool to establish a claim in the city, making them the most vulnerable section of the society. Aiming at providing the homeless a sense of security and to boost the infrastructure of the national capital, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) has initiated several measures, the details of which were shared by its CEO Shurbir Singh, a 2004-batch IAS officer of the AGMUT cadre, to The Bridge India.
Aiming at strengthening the infrastructure facilities of Delhi, one of the key steps taken by the DUSIB is setting up of night shelters for the homeless. In 2001, Delhi had only 23 government-run night shelters for the homeless. However, over the years, the need for the night shelters increased manifold due to continuous influx of homeless people in the metropolis. “To meet this increasing demand, the DUSIB in 2010 increased the number of night shelters to 148,” DUSIB CEO Shurbir Singh said.
Currently, the DUSIB is operating and managing about 198 night shelters with a capacity of about 17,000 persons through Shelter Management Agencies (SMAs). These shelters spread across Delhi are operational on permanent basis in 83 RCC buildings and 115 portable cabin structures throughout the year on 24 hours basis.
However, the night shelters get overcrowded during winters as more people come in to save themselves from the cold waves. As Delhi witnessed harsh winters, the IAS officer said, “About 60 German type water proof and fire retardant pagoda tent night shelters having capacity of 1,100 persons have been set up additionally on temporary basis at about 40 locations.”
Besides, a Control Room is also set up by the DUSIB for attending the complaints of the homeless and rescue operations are carried out through appointed agencies to rescue those sleeping in the open and bring them to the nearby night shelters during the winter season, he said.


Functioning Of Night Shelters

The DUSIB runs several categories of night shelters for gents, children, separate shelters for disabled persons, women, family, drug addicts as well as recovery shelters for patients who need care after being discharged from hospitals.
Explaining the functioning of these night shelters, the CEO said, “A homeless can approach to any nearby night shelter as per his or her wish. On reaching there, the person contacts the ‘caretaker’ present there who shows the person the place or cot as per availability for taking rest and issue bedsheet, pillow and blanket (during winter season) as per the need.”
He further said, “The caretaker allows the person to use facilities available at the night shelter, such as television, drinking water, toilet, lockers for belongings, complaint box, first aid kit, bathing facility, air coolers in summers and hot water in winter. Nothing is charged for availing the facilities.” The caretakers remain available in each shift of eight hours at each night shelter.

Security Measures For Children, Women At Shelter Homes

Homelessness makes children and women highly vulnerable, especially at night. To address this issue, women security guards in addition to women caretakers are deployed by the DUSIB at night shelters round the clock. “Besides, CCTVs at all women night shelters are provided as an additional safety measure,” Singh said.

Challenges Faced By Dusib

Even though the DUSIB is doing a yeoman service, there are challenges galore. The main challenge is the availability of land pockets to build night shelters for the homeless. Though DUSIB has been running night shelters in its existing buildings or porta-cabins, requirement of such shelters still persists.
“DUSIB requires allotment of land pockets from land owning or developing agencies like the DDA, the North Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the MCD for setting up adequate night shelters at the locations of high concentration of homeless people. But adequate land spaces have not been made available by the land owning agencies at locations of high concentration of homeless people like Old Delhi Railway Station, New Delhi Railway Station, Chandni Chowk, AIIMS, Connaught place and ISBTs. Some land pockets provided by the DDA in places Dwarka, Rohini and Narela are of no use as concentration of homeless in these areas is very low,” the CEO rued.
Besides, attitude problem of homeless people is another key challenge. “Some homeless people do not readily shift to night shelters due to alcohol or drug addiction or in the interest of getting donations from donors, thereby creating embarrassment to the department in its rescuing efforts,” Singh said.

The Way Forward

The issue of land availability, the IAS officer said, can be sorted out by developing a PPP model. “Night shelters can be provided at strategic locations by involving land owning government authorities, DUSIB and private developers. The developers can be allowed to do commercial activities in certain portion of the land and the remaining part can be used for building night shelters,” the CEO concluded.


New India looks to corporate intervention to boost infra

By Choudhary Sandeep

While sectors like education, health, livelihood, and gender inequality are garnering much attention of the corporate in India, a serious look to facilitate infrastructural transformation is also required. A lot can be achieved if the corporate and government could come together, making a difference to infra projects initiated by the NGOs.
While mentioning of infrastructure with regard to any nation, the horizon of meaning includes transportation, communication, sewage, water, and electric systems. It also involves services such as law enforcement, emergency services, healthcare, education, etc. It is a term that engineers, urban and country planners and policy makers use to describe the essential facilities, services and organisation structures for all cities and communities.
Since these infrastructural systems require large initial investments, as they are essential for enabling productivity in an economy, the role of corporate is vital. It can make or mar various means of development while making a huge difference to governmental efforts and vision for transformation.
Though most of the projects are either completely funded by the government or heavily subsidized, it is the corporate which bring a real difference with its innovative and tech-driven approach and vision.


Significance of Infrastructure and Transformation

It needs to be understood that improvement in communication through construction of roads and community buildings help in developing and strengthening enabling factors to improve communities’ quality of life.
Courtesy an increasing focus on ensuring good road connectivity of villages to cities and markets, a big number of villagers can travel with ease and access hospitals easily. Students can travel to schools and colleges with ease and sell produce in the market which has added to their income.
Not just that building of community centres have helped in strengthening social cohesion among villagers, conduct of group meetings like SHGs, farmers group, etc which boosts village economy.

A look at the corporate illustrates how some of the notable organisations are making a difference.

Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. (JSPL) is one such example, Ms Niharika Sahoo AGM-Group CSR & Education
in an interaction with The Bridge India revealed the organisation’s view.
Asked about the significant projects that JSPL has undertaken for boosting the infrastructural ecosystem, she said: “Several critical infrastructure projects undertaken by JSPL, through its CSR arm JSPL Foundation, for connecting people well with an overarching vision of bettering their life, by improving their avenues of market, access to education and health and for facilitating faster movements of goods and services. The major infrastructures that JSPL has invested in are — Building 2 Hospitals, 6 health centres and 7 Telemedicine centres to provide easy access to specialist health services in remote location.”
Talking about infrastructure as a need for holistic development, she said, there is a need to remember the rural and tribal areas are poorly connected by roads, electricity is still a problem, good hospitals and schools continue as critical gaps in shaping up quality of life. Drinking water facility needs a huge push.
“When we are planning for an integrated development infrastructure development needs specific attention JSPL has understood the community need of developing critical infrastructure like school, hospital, roads, classrooms, toilets, drinking water facility, electricity supply, etc. JSPL Foundation has been partnering with the community and the Government to enhance the creation of critical infrastructure in the hinterland,” she added.
With an aim to improve quality of life and ensure holistic development of its surrounding communities, Tata Power has always undertaken various initiatives.
“It deploys development initiatives to incubate, implement and multiply diverse community-based projects and interventions, to help build a better and sustainable society through Tata Power Community Development Trust (TPCDT). Its underlying goal of the interventions is to transform the lives of the community through result oriented participatory approach. The efforts are directed towards inclusive growth, so as to reach out to its nearby communities and help them build a sustainable future.”
All of the Tata Power’s community development projects work with the concept of ‘Leadership with Care’ at our heart, which translates as ‘Care for Community’.
Another example of the corporate making a difference is of Toyota Kiloskar. Aligned with its mission to support and provide valuable benefit to the communities, Toyota Kirloskar Motor inaugurated its 23rd community based water purification unit at Primary Health Centre in Bidadi region in Karnataka.
The facility aimed to provide purified water of highest quality for a nominal amount of Rs. 1 per litre to benefit the villagers in the region.
With this, Toyota Kirloskar Motor installed a total of 23 units in Bengaluru, Mandya, Ramanagara and two units in north India catering to around 7,000 beneficiaries per unit.
Meanwhile, the Economic Survey 2017-18 stated that to develop infrastructure to improve economic growth and community well-being, the country would require investments of about $4.5 trillion by 2040.
It said the need of the hour is to fill the infrastructure investment gap with financing from private investment, institutions dedicated to infrastructure financing like National Infrastructure Investment Bank and also global institutions like Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and New Development Bank which are focusing more on sustainable development projects and infrastructure projects.
Conclusively, looking at the scope of establishing the base to effect a real change, the growing interest of the corporate is to strengthen the infrastructure holds paramount importance.
Looking at the way some of the big corporate are taking care of the infrastructural needs in different parts of the country, they are actually playing the real role of collective nation building. And, with this they are scripting a new definition of philanthropy while fulfilling their corporate social responsibility.


Extending a helping hand to ‘build’ a new India

By Lakshmi Singh

As India takes giant leaps to be in the league of the largest economies in the world, infrastructure development has become one of the top priorities of the Narendra Modi government. However, despite many large scale development schemes, lack of or inadequate basic infrastructure like sanitation, drinking water, roads and housing continue to remain a major constraint to progress in numerous areas. Even during the last decade of economic reform process, the dismal state of infrastructure in urban slums and rural areas has hardly improved. But things are now changing with several NGOs lending their support to ‘build’ a new India. The Bridge India spoke to some such “agents of change” and brings to its readers an in depth report of how these NGOs are playing an instrumental role in building a new India.
The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) is one of the largest Indian NGOs working on housing and infrastructure issues for the urban poor. The NGO has been engaged in providing housing for slum dwellers in Mumbai. It encourages people to become active participants in the construction of their own toilet and housing projects through the innovative Community Contracting Programme.


Elaborating the innovative Community Contracting Programme of the NGO, its Chief Executive Officer Sheela Patel said women living on pavements in Mumbai were the pioneers of the programmes. Much before the introduction of Aadhar cards, they set up the process of collecting basic data about themselves and “negotiated for relocation and allocation of land for housing to the city and state governments”.
“Initially none of these representations were considered seriously. However, as major infrastructure projects began to be taken up, this partnership demonstrated time and again that early investment in dialogue with organised communities and including safe and efficient relocation of the impacted families as a part of the project along with the infrastructure plans produces more favorable economic outcomes,” Patel said.
However, none of the SPARC projects got any funding from CSR. “They were all part of the projects that were commissioned by parastatal institutions such as Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation Ltd (MRVCL) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA),” the CEO said.
SPARC has also been involved in rehabilitation and relocation projects for families that are affected by infrastructure projects like road-widening, construction of flyovers or foot over-bridges.
Patel said with the growing urbanisation, more people will be displaced from their original settlements and they will move to cities. However, cities are currently unable to improve what currently exists. Against this backdrop, the SPARC in collaboration with the National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and the Mahila Milan, a credit scheme designed to assist women pavement dwellers in Mumbai, seek to make residents of the urban informal settlements active participants that seek engagement with the city and state governments to bring the needed change in their settlements.


Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) is another such NGO which is working towards providing basic infrastructure to the underprivileged. The NGO’s work is predominantly in very remote and inaccessible areas and communities that lack accessibility to basic infrastructures like roads, schools, primary health centres and medical facilities for animal husbandry.
The organisation believes that any economic and social transformation can only be achieved by building and strengthening local institutions and local leadership. It believes that these institutions and leadership have to be at the forefront as their struggle for their rights and entitlements the supplementary facilities needs to be provided specialised incentive.
“We work for vulnerable tribes, Dalits, Mahadalits, women and other backward communities in the areas of sustainable livelihood, local self governance, gender mainstreaming and disaster risk reduction,” a senior CASA functionary said, adding that sustainable development is the core programme of the NGO.


Habitat for Humanity India (HHI) is a non-profit organisation that builds homes and provides housing-related services to low-income families across India.
In the recent months, it has taken up the cause of building and repairing homes that were destroyed during the devastating deluge in Kerala.
In a conversation with The Bridge India, HHI Managing Director Rajan Samuel shared the progress of the project made. “So far the Habitat has impacted more than 1,40,000 families with various interventions. In Phase 1, good and non-food items, in Phase 2, transition shelters and in Phase 3, permanent houses have been the focus,” he said.
Under its WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) programme, the NGO has also planned to provide basic toilets at households of economically weaker sections of the society. Samuel said under the WASH programme, the NGO has build over 9,00,000 individual household toilets in the last 2.5 years.

The Road Ahead

In India, the scope of development is so wide, as it includes not just the economic development but the growth on social front and quality of life as well, that the government alone cannot bring a social renaissance.
NGOs like SPARC, CASA and HHI have shown that how collaborative efforts can bring a holistic development of the society and provide basic infrastructure facilities like sanitation and shelters among others to the downtrodden.


Development Happenings

By The Bridge India Correspondent

Real Heroes conferred with State Awards

The Department of Social Welfare govt of NCT of Delhi celebrated International Day for persons with disabilities by giving away state awards to exceptional achievers among persons with disabilities. The state awards were conferred by Minister of Social Welfare, Rajendra Pal Gautam
He congratulated all the State awardees and said that these awardees are real heroes who set an example to all that disability is just a misnomer and that nothing can stop them.
He also said that the government has started many new plans for the rights of the disabled which include pension, scholarships, unemployment allowance for educated disabled, jobs for the blind and also helping by providing them duplicate body parts. He also added during his speech that government of India, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Department of persons with Disabilities has launched a project called unique disability identity card for disabled. The Awards function was followed by cultural presentation of dance and music by school children from the Deaf and Dumb school. The Secretary, Rashmi Krishnan also presided over the award function.

IndiGo adopts 15 government schools in Vadodara, launches its third GetSmart Digital Mobile Bus

IndiGo airline inaugurated its school adoption programme in Vadodara. The airline has partnered with SRF Foundation to improve the quality of education in 15 government schools in the city. Through this programme, IndiGo aims to impact the lives of 20,000 students by adopting 60 schools across four cities – Indore, Dehradun, Vadodara and Greater Noida. The airline launched this initiative from Indore in September this year.
The program is aimed at holistic advancement of the adopted government schools through physical infrastructure development, academic transformation and access to digital technology. IndiGo has also introduced a modified computer lab – GetSmart Digital Mobile Bus – to ensure students’ exposure and effective interaction with technology on a rotational basis. IndiGo is also conducting teacher training programmes to ensure better delivery of education and conceptual learning for students.
“ We believe good quality education is a must for the development of any town or a city. Through the School Adoption Program, our ambition is to elevate the education standard for about 20,000 children by the end of this year” says Summi Sharma, Vice President, ifly – Corporate learning academy, who also leads CSR initiatives for IndiGo.

IRCON initiates Multi-Disciplinary Skill Training for women

Ircon International Ltd. (IRCON), a leading turnkey infrastructure construction and development company of Govt. of India, through its latest CSR activity is supporting women for Skill Development Training. A training centre was inaugurated at Khora, Ghaziabad to train 110 women in four trades- Cutting & Tailoring, Computer Education, Beauty Culture and Personality Development. The objective of the training program is to promote entrepreneurship and provide employment to the women of the locality. The program is being run in association with Bisnouli Sarvodaya Gramodyog Sewa Sansthan (BSGSS). IRCON is promoting skill development with BSGSS in training centres in Gurdaspur and Pathankot (Punjab) also.

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