Fiinovation Reviews India’s Migration and Malnutrition Problems

The rising disparity among the people of India is a stark reminder that growth after the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation reforms of 1991 has not been inclusive. Although, the country developed significantly, yet the development ripples have not reached the remote villages. The initial plan of focusing on the service sector to reduce the dependency of the Indian GDP on the primary sector (Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy, etc.) paid off well, but didn’t solve the problem of the rural population which is nearly 70 per cent of the total Indian population.

As the primary sector didn’t receive as much investments, there wasn’t much growth to improve the standard of living of the rural population. The problems associated with agriculture and allied sector ensured that millions had to migrate to the urban areas for employment opportunities. Migration is not a recent phenomenon, rather the pace of it has increased in recent times due to widespread distress in the rural areas. As per the Census 2011, there were about 45.36 crore migrants. In fact last year 2.06 crore people migrated looking for employment opportunities and education.

It is understandable that the impact of migration is one the entire family and it’s the children who suffer immensely. It has been observed that the rapid development which ensured India becomes the fastest growing major economy in the world is not helping to curb poverty and malnutrition. As per the global hunger index, India ranks abysmal 97 out of 118 countries which much worse that its neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. Fiinovation reviews that about 38 per cent children living in India are stunted or too short for their age. There seems to be a link between growing urbanisation and increase in malnutrition as it has been observed that significant proportion of children living in urban areas are stunted.

Alarmingly, it is estimated that 90 crore people will be added as urban residents in just three countries (China, India and Nigeria) by 2050. It seems that there is a paradigm shift of the burden of malnutrition from rural areas to urban areas, especially due to persistent child undernutrition. Fiinovation reviews that the problem of malnutrition is evident amongst the 6.5 crore slum dwellers in the country. Hence, the reason behind urban poverty and malnutrition is definitely India’s incapability to develop the rural areas while promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

The road ahead will not be easy as the government plans to double the farmers’ income by 2022. Currently, there is very less industrial development in the rural areas. Agriculture in India is a seasonal activity with majority of the regions being mono-cropic, especially due to lack of irrigation facilities and dependency on the monsoon. Therefore, it is important to create livelihood opportunities and promote healthy lifestyle amongst the rural population. If the migrant population start finding employment opportunities in their inhabited regions, it will reduce migration, poverty and malnutrition significantly.

Hence, Fiinovation urges the government to implement policies which promote growth of the rural economy. Efforts to increase the farmers’ income will definitely pay huge dividends for the country. The impact of this will also be visible on the global hunger index and help the country eliminate extreme poverty as per the Sustainable Development Goals. However, this massive task cannot be done only by the government and the role of the private sector will be significant in providing resources for the development of rural infrastructure. The businesses should also contribute towards betterment of the farming community and the people residing in the rural areas through their corporate social responsibility funds. Investments in the agriculture sector by the businesses supported by agriculture credit from the government will significantly boost the primary sector thereby reducing the burden of the rural households.

Let us hope that the next two decades India grows inclusively and sustainably becoming one of the largest economies of the world with a higher human development index ranking.

 

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

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Preserving National Heritage Through CSR – Fiinovation

In the past few years, it has been observed that the rising global warming, mishandling and inadequate restoration of cultural arts and monuments has caused deteriorating effects on the historical masterpieces around the world. Although the developed countries practice best methods for the conservation of their art and culture, the developing countries often lack both funds and willpower to carry out this exercise. For instance, European Union started the project CHARISMA, which brought industry experts from universities, museums, research institutes and historians from the respective disciplines to share their knowledge, expertise and innovative ideas for preserving their national heritage.

The project aims at developing innovative tools through research to identify the materials and methods originally used by the artists as well as the modern techniques to safeguard them against rising challenges related to environmental degradation. Under this project, different art works like paintings, sculptures, ceramics, manuscripts, monuments, art work of different forms like metal and glass etc., books and archaeological items will be investigated by the historians and archaeologists. Apart from this, several grants and funds are raised through government, civic bodies and private sector for the preservation of its prestigious art and culture.

However, in a country like India, the heritage conservation is often taken for granted and there a very few corporates who are involved in initiatives related to the protection of culture and heritage. Kiran Seth, the recipient of Padma Shri award and founder of SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth) voices her concern saying, “We have failed to protect so many art forms and now they are lost to us forever. Ustad Asad Ali Khan’s death meant the end of the Khandar Vani style played on the rudraveena. The Koodiyattam style of theater in Kerala has almost no takers now. So much knowledge about our heritage is getting lost every day.”

Even corporates are also lagging behind in extending much support in this sensitive matter. In a recent study it was found that in FY16, the CSR spend on the projects related to heritage conservation by corporates has declined by 40% as compared to FY15. In the first year of CSR rules, the projects related to heritage conservation received Rs 67.87 crore but the funding fell to Rs. 40.88 crore in FY16. Experts believe that sufficient efforts aren’t being done by the government and corporates for preservation of art and cultural heritage and the lack of funds is aggravating the matter further. The government allocates funds for the projects related to heritage conservation only from the tourism point of view. So, if a monument or a historical piece is not important from the tourism perspective, it doesn’t receive funds and precious pieces of glorious history are eventually lost.

The projects related to education, poverty, health and environment receive maximum focus from the corporates as they lack awareness about the benefits associated with programmes related to heritage conservation. Hence, if seen positively, this field has immense scope for executing successful CSR programmes which can integrate a corporate’s activity with its core business objectives. For instance, industries related to tourism and hospitality can derive maximum benefits through the strategically designed CSR initiatives. The programmes can include site maintenance and restoration, carrying out awareness programmes and setting up of management frameworks for maintaining the historical sites. Similarly, other companies whose area of operations holds historic significance can also make valuable contribution towards executing such kind of projects.

In India only few corporates have taken up CSR projects related to heritage conservation. For example, IT giant Infosys Ltd. funds a part of its CSR budget for the restoration of monuments and organising cultural shows in south India. In 2016, Infosys Foundation (the CSR arm of Infosys) completed a restoration project at the Somanatheswara temple complex at Lakshmeshwara in Karnataka, spending around Rs 5 crore over four years. It also organized performances at the two restoration spots in Andhra Pradesh at Lakshmeshwara and Anupu.

Similarly, Yes Bank has used a part of its CSR funds for organising over 100 heritage walks and 50 cycle rides at various heritage spots like Lodhi Garden, Qutub Minar and Hauz Khas in 2016. It has further plans to extend these activities to different cities. It spent Rs. 29.52 crore in FY16 and plans to invest Rs. 34 crore in FY17 for conducting these initiatives.

Many PSUs such as ONGC, NTPC, GAIL and Indian Oil have also undertaken the renovation and maintenance activities for temples and monuments around their areas of operations. The Indian conglomerate Tata Group has been traditionally involved in promoting historical monuments and setting up museums through their institutions and trusts. The group has also helped the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) through grants.

In 1966, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has set up the National Culture Fund (NCF) to channelise funds for the preservation of historical monuments and arts. It has identified 100 monuments of national significance which has been put up for adoption by the corporates.

In response to the poor feedback received on the hygienic conditions of the sites, the Ministry launched “Clean India Campaign” in 2012. As part of the campaign, the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) adopted Qutub Minar while ONGC also expressed interest in adopting sites like Taj Mahal, Khajuraho Temple and Ajanta-Ellora Caves for their conservation. The main objective of this campaign was to foster a collaborative model wherein corporations are encouraged to adopt a site and the local bodies such as schools, banks, authorities and trader’s associations can come forward for maintaining the nearby areas.

Maharashtra and Rajasthan governments have taken the lead and in creating platforms for corporates to adopt monuments of historical and cultural significance. Government should create awareness programmes and encourage corporates to utilise their CSR funds through structured planning and execution.

Fiinovation, a global CSR consultancy working in the domain of CSR and Sustainability urges the corporates to initiate projects related to the preservation of cultural heritage especially in their area of operations. It will not only help in keeping the history of glorious culture alive but will also enhance their presence as a culturally evolved organisation among the stakeholders.

“It has been said that, at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future.” — William J. Murtagh

By Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Fiinovation Observes – WORLD TOILET DAY

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Every year, 19th November is recognised as the “World Toilet Day” across the globe. The day is celebrated to spread awareness about the issues related to sanitation and eradicate taboos related to health and hygiene. The United Nations passed a resolution in July 2013, recognising World Toilet Day as an official International Day for drawing the world’s attention on the current sanitation crisis. On this day, several campaigns are run worldwide on educating the world about benefits of sanitation, health, and hygiene. This year the World Toilet Day is based on the theme, “Toilets and Jobs”.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that around 2.5 billion (about 1 out of 3) people lack access to improved sanitation facilities and around 1 billion of them still practice open defecation. The forced unhealthy sanitation habits lead to chronic diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition, soil-transmitted heminthiasis and schisosomiasis. It is estimated that around 58% of the diarrhea cases are caused due to poor sanitation, poor hand-washing and lack of hygiene. In 2013 alone, around 340,000 children under 5 years of age have succumbed to death due to unhealthy sanitation habits. Not only this, open defecation is also an infringement of privacy and dignity of young girls and women bringing them embarrassment and fear exposing them to sexual assault, violence, harassment and psychological trauma. However, this menace can be put to end by providing them access to toilets and basic sanitation facilities.

In India alone, around 55% of people out of 1.2 billion people have no access to toilets mostly comprising the people living in urban slums and rural areas. The central government has taken the uphill task of creating an open defecation free country by 2nd October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. They have pledged to construct 12 million toilets in rural India at the cost of Rs. 1.96 lakh crore. In his speech Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Has it ever pained us that our mothers and sisters have to defecate in open? Poor womenfolk of the village wait for the night; until darkness descends, they can’t go out to defecate. What bodily torture they must be feeling, how many diseases that act might engender. Can’t we just make arrangements for toilets for the dignity of our mothers and sisters?”

Deriving inspiration from the Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Mission, many states in India have done commendable work in the field of sanitation. In a press note released by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation on the progress of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin, around 15.04 lakh toilets have been built under the MNREGA scheme across rural India. Under this mission, 446 percent increase in construction toilet work has been observed. One lakh villages have been targetted under 35 districts to declare them as open defecation free. Sikkim has been declared as the first open defacation free state followed by Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.

Even the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been actively working towards providing people safe access to toilets and end open defecation in the world. The Government of India and World Bank has inked a $1.5 billion loan agreement for supporting the nation’s sanitation initiatives. Additionally, the World Bank will also extend technical assistance of $25 million to capacitate selected states in implementing community-led behavioral change programmes, to end the toilet related taboos and spread awareness about the regular usage of toilets by rural households.

“Sustainable development goal 6 calls on the international community to ensure access to toilets by 2030. Delivering on this basic human right — the right to water and sanitation — is good for people, business and the economy.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications

Fiinovation

Fiinovation Suggests – Focus on Quality and Effectiveness

Fiinovation has been working with corporations as catalysts of change to influence CSR and Sustainability activities that creates positive impact on society. Being a CSR research organisation, Fiinovation has always focused on planning, partnership and engagement to bring about a societal change. The efforts are mostly directed towards brining in a tangible, viable and sustainable impact that will transform the lives of the communities.

Indian businesses have reached a stage where they look at corporate social responsibility as a perfect brand-building opportunity which not only retains talent but also positions the organisation as a driver of change. Fiinovation believes that the focus now needs to be shifted from the just being in the limelight to improving quality and effectiveness in the CSR initiatives. However, Fiinovation believes that this is not possible without the help of third party which can critically analyse the whole programme. Fiinovation offers services such as monitoring and evaluation, impact assessment and programme management which helps corporations build trust on society and solve critical issues.

Fiinovation has always been quite vocal of the fact that CSR initiatives shouldn’t be measured by the contribution amount or by the percentage of work being done rather it should focus on the impact and effectiveness of the programme. There should be increased efforts to improve the quality Fiinovation helps corporations to analyse the initiative from start-to-end so that the targeted communities benefits from these CSR projects. The challenge is stay relevant to the cause as there are high chances that what the corporation thinks of CSR, may not necessarily benefit the communities.

There are many examples for initiatives which actually went wrong. Fiinovation recommends the corporations to consult the experts before investing even a single penny. There are many activities which are taken up without proper objectives, these are just reflection of the short-sightedness of the corporations. At the end, it can be said that the CSR law is good but the corporations should be able to create positive impact on society.

Let’s hope that with the right CSR strategy at place, the corporations will be able to lend prestige to the brand, motivate its talented pool of employees and also encourage loyalty of the consumers.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation