“Service to mankind is service to God.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Development of Corporate Citizenship, or DoCC, is a course that aspires to sensitise SPJIMR’s participants to the Indian ethos and culture by working as a partner with development programmes, projects in the non-profit sector, and related stakeholders. In addition to involvement with several development programmes, the Centre also facilitates and provides experiential learning to PGPM participants. DoCC thus works as a bridge between rural stakeholders and budding managers and leaders from the participant base of SPJIMR. Participants learn about ground level conditions, challenges and opportunities, notably in rural India, while NGOs get managerial inputs from SPIMR’s participants during the phase of DoCC internships.
The PGPM Batch of 2017 went for a 2 week internship at 42 NGOs in 7 states and students worked on 90 different projects. The projects catered to social issues like healthcare, child education, rehabilitation, women empowerment, awareness and several other operational issues the NGOs have been struggling with for some time.
Our DoCC journey took us to a quiet hamlet in West Bengal. Located around 110 km from Kolkata, Hanskhali in Nadia district is a beautiful village of serene dusks and picturesque dawns. We worked with SwitchON that is part of the ON conglomerate founded by Vinay Jaju, Piyush Jaju and Ekta Kothari. Switch ON (Environment Conservation Society) is a not for profit, community based organisation which envisions to promote livelihoods through sustainable development by implementing projects in the space of Renewable Energy, Sustainable Agriculture and Skilling & Learning.
Project TapovON was initiated by SwitchON in Hanskhali, Nadia to augment the income of the largely farming population. They are achieving this by training the villagers in agricultural practices, entrepreneurship and skilling programmes. Another major concern is the quality of education imparted to the children here. Families are inclined to have children join them in the farms rather than focus on studies. The percentage of school dropouts increase at the secondary level. To improve this scenario, SwitchON ran an after-class coaching centre at TapovON to close the gaps in school teaching and engage children in learning.
At the learning center we spent our time observing these kids while they sat in a mixed class of first to sixth grade. Their teacher, Gopa di, as she is fondly known, did an incredible task of teaching various subjects to the different grades. The children would fill the lazy afternoons at our learning centre with their play and giggles. For them, it is not just classes but another opportunity to play with their friends. Drawing from this idea, we devised a course structure incorporating learning tools and games to realise concept proofing while also making learning fun for them. We were thrilled to see them sit in rapt attention in the trial classes that we held. They would make us repeat the English words till they got the pronunciation perfect. These children are intelligent, observant and keen to learn. I remember an instance when I shook hands with one child and soon had all of them clamouring around for a handshake. It was their first experience of a handshake!
It was inspiring to see how the dedicated efforts of few driven individuals have created a self-reliant community in this remote village. Today, the villagers can produce organic manure for their farms, store their harvest safely in the controlled environment storerooms built by SwitchON and sell their organic produce directly to the urban population by eliminating middle men.
The love and warmth that we received from these children shall stay with us forever. Also the sense of satisfaction we felt upon seeing those bright smiles have humbled us to the core. This journey gave us a sneak peek into the multitudes of problems our villages face even in the digital century that we live in today. This experience has triggered a deep desire in us to continue contributing to the growth of the disadvantaged sections of our country. India can realise its ambitious growth sprint only if we get our rural communities also on board. After all, we go far when we march together!
Harsha Harikumar Pillai & Tryambak Pramanick
PGPM Class of 2017