Tata Tea has been working diligently since the 1980s to address the needs of specially-abled people. It set up the Srishti Welfare Centre at Munnar, Kerala, and its various programmes provide education, training and rehabilitation of children and young adults with special needs.
DARE provides the students with training in functional academics, self-help skills and skills like gardening, cooking etc. Admissions to regular schools and vocational training centres for those found suitable are also facilitated. Children are taught to paint and some of the paintings are printed and sold as greeting cards, the proceeds of which are ploughed back into the units. The DARE strawberry preserve unit trains youngsters to make natural strawberry preserve. The trainees get paid for the work they do and receive social cover, free medical aid and other benefits.
Athulya has two units -- a vocational training centre that imparts training in stationery-making and a handmade paper-making unit which trains physically challenged persons in the art of making recycled paper.
The Aranya project was started to introduce a new dimension in the lives of the disabled and also to revive the ancient art of natural dye. Here individuals are given training in various natural dyeing techniques including block printing, tie and dye, batik work, etc. Some of their products have found buyers as far away as Japan.
The Srishti initiative has made a significant contribution to society in Munnar by fostering faith and courage among persons with special needs and their families. Through Srishti the company has helped these people become productive and respected members of the community.
This is an updated version of the article originally published in the special edition of Tata Review, Code of Honour, in October 2004.