September 02, 2015

Tata Social Internship 2015 hosts 17 international students in India

  • Grass-root level exposure to India provided to international students through sustainability projects of Tata companies
  • Students from leading universities – University of California, Berkeley, USA; University of California, Davis, USA; London School of Economics & Political Science, UK; and University of Cambridge, UK – participate
  • Launched in 2008, Tata Social Internship has hosted 126 students so far

Mumbai: The Tata Social Internship programme (formerly known as the Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme) provides a unique learning experience to students from across some of the world’s best universities in the areas of community development and sustainability.

The 2015 edition of Tata Social Internship culminated with a contingent of 17 international students – six from University of California, Berkeley, USA; one from the University of California, Davis, USA; seven from the London School of Economics & Political Science, UK; and three from the University of Cambridge, UK – completing their two-month experiential internship in the ongoing sustainability projects of the Tata companies in India.

The batch of 2015, worked hands-on on the community initiatives of the Tata companies and entities like Tata Chemicals, Tata Power, Titan Company, Tata Communications, Tata Capital, Voltas, Tata Business Excellence Group, Tata Medical Center and the Tata Trusts for a period of two months. The areas of their projects ranged from the impact assessment of sustainability programmes at Tata companies to design of a platform for promoting Indian heritage; studies about infection rates and palliative care at hospitals; water conservation, rural sanitation and rural-based livelihoods; and improving education through technology, designing robust surveys for gauging quality of schools, and linking education to employability.

The programme structure of Tata Social Internship 2015 provided the interns with grass-root level exposure to India and at the same time brought international perspectives and practices to these projects at Tata companies, promoting international understanding.

The visiting interns, selected by their educational institutions along with Tata representatives, came from diverse academic backgrounds such as developmental studies, environmental economics, public administration, bioengineering, political science, natural sciences, history and geography. The first phase of the internship programme kicked off on June 1, 2015 with the UC Berkeley students. The second phase for the interns from UC Davis, Cambridge and the London School of Economics commenced on July 1, 2015.

Edward Boyd, an MSc student in the Natural Sciences (Physics) at the University of Cambridge, who interned at Tata Chemicals in the Babrala region, was tasked to develop a cost effective rural sanitation model. Describing his experience, Edward  said, “Tata Social Internship has introduced me to a system of corporate responsibility I never knew existed. Being part of a company-led drive to foster and enact an ethos based around sustainability, the environment and fighting both poverty and discrimination has radically altered my opinion of the potential of the private sector and what a business should be.”

Kyle Joyner from the University of California Berkeley (pursuing BS Bio-engineering) interned at Tata Capital in the Thane, Mumbai region. He conducted a feasibility study on renewable energy for rural schools. Expressing his delight, Kyle said, "Experiencing a new culture in India and working on an impactful project was an unforgettable experience. From braving crowded local trains to learning different languages, I was challenged on many levels. But the support of Tata and hospitality of the local people not only helped me overcome the challenges, but to also thrive in India. My internship studying the incorporation of renewable energy into rural schools in Maharashtra allowed me to gain a new perspective on social, economic, and environmental sustainability. My experience with Tata has motivated me to pursue similar experiences in the future."

Another student, Andrew Baker, from the University of Cambridge (pursuing BA in Land Economy) interned at Tata Chemicals in the Babrala region. His project involved understanding the water uses and developing water conservation measures for the community. Summing his experience, Andrew said, “Tata Social Internship has been an exciting, educational and enlightening experience, meeting people from all walks of life. But the best part is the knowledge that my work will actually be used to benefit the people I've met.”

The closing seminar of this year’s edition of the programme took place in Mumbai on August 28, 2015, with the students from LSE, Cambridge and UC Davis, and included a workshop organised by the Tata Sustainability Group.

Prof Ruth Kattumuri, co-director, India Observatory & Asia Research Centre of the London School of Economics, who attended the seminar said, “The Tata Social Internship programme draws students with diverse backgrounds from all over the world studying at LSE, Cambridge and Universities of California in Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Davis. The students are allocated to a range of Tata projects across India, which focus on addressing various social priorities for the country’s development. This provides an excellent opportunity for the students to gain valuable exposure and experience from an emerging economy perspective. Tata is a highly respected global brand and international students are extremely keen to work with the group and are able to bring in a fresh perspective to the projects from their diverse education and cultural backgrounds.”

Prof Lawrence Cohen, director, Institute for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley, who also attended the seminar, remarked, “The Tata Social Internship programme provides talented students with unparalleled opportunities to design, research, and implement path-breaking rural and urban development programs in health, education, infrastructure, and much more.”

Atul Agrawal, vice president, corporate affairs, Tata Services, said, “Listening to the experiences of the interns from the 2015 batch of Tata Social Internship programme has been a refreshing experience. In line with the Tata group’s ethos of giving back to society, the programme aims at promoting international understanding in the area of community development and sustainability. We are happy to receive the recommendations from the students, which will help Tata companies in their ongoing sustainability initiatives.”

The students during their internship also participated in an online essay competition on their experience in India (essays can be accessed at http://www.tatasocial-in.com/tata-ises-experience). As part of the programme, an interactive seminar was conducted between the interns from UC Berkeley and the students from the Department of Corporate Citizenship (DOCC) of SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, to share experiences in the area of community development and sustainability. A distinctive corporate sustainability internship programme, Tata Social Internship was launched in 2008.