Tata Crucible | Tata Building
India School Essay Competition | Tata International Social
Entrepreneurship Scheme | Tata First Dot
India is many things to many people, but when today’s corporate leaders
look at India, there is one very strong demographic reality that stands out
— India is a youthful country where children, teenagers, and men and women
below 35 comprise as much as 41 percent of the population (according to the
It is to this vast segment of the population — the citizens, decision-makers
and leaders of tomorrow — that the Tata group is building bridges and
connectors. To this end, the Tata group has, over the years, initiated a number
of youth-centric programmes that are specifically aimed at building strong connections
with the youth segment.
There are several such initiatives across the Tata group, but the four key
branded ones are the Tata Building India school essay competition, Tata Crucible
quiz, Tata First Dot (powered by NEN) and the Tata International Social Entrepreneurship
Scheme. These engagement mechanisms provide the youth with a unique perspective
into the Tata ethos and culture and enable them to engage with the Tata brand
in a more meaningful and socially useful fashion.
The significance of such engagement is explained by Tata Sons executive director
R Gopalakrishnan: “Our brand track surveys showed that the connection
of our brand was not as strong with youth as it was with the older generation.
We realised that the youth of this millennium were aspirationally very dynamic.
There was a potential for forging a stronger tie with the Tata brand.”
Atul Agrawal, vice president, Group Corporate Affairs & Media, Tata Services,
explains further, “Youth are the decision makers and stakeholders of the
future. They comprise a very important audience cluster for us. We have, therefore,
tried to engage with them in meaningful ways that enrich their lives and are
significant and relevant to us.”
The four pillars
Each of the four mechanisms or branded properties, developed to connect the
aspirations of the youth with the brand message, are connected to a Tata value.
Thus, while Tata First Dot inspires young people to strive for entrepreneurship,
the Tata Building India essay competition encourages schoolchildren to reflect
on matters of national interest.
These branded properties have evolved with time, and been honed with inputs
from commissioned research, the feedback of participants and the learning and
experience of Group Corporate Affairs (GCA), which manages the properties. Mr
Agrawal says, “We chose these engagement mechanisms for their uniqueness.
We also ensure that we are able to manage the property in terms of the format,
execution and monitoring. We want to create something that belongs intimately
As the properties have grown, each has developed its own personality. Mr Gopalakrishnan
says, “There was nothing tying them together with young people. So we
evolved the message of Happy India from a statement made by JRD Tata on receiving
the Bharat Ratna [India’s highest civilian award] in 1992. At the time,
he had said, ‘I do not want India to be an economic superpower. I want
India to be a happy country.’”
The Happy India concept is based on the need to connect with youth while providing
them significant experiences that encourage them to be better citizens by thinking
about the needs of the nation. It is an aim that the four mechanisms have successfully
Test of fire
The Tata Crucible business quiz is a knowledge initiative. Hosted by quizmaster
Giri Balasubramaniam, it started as one of many events conducted in 2004 under
the Century of Trust commemoration, which marked the 100th death anniversary
of group Founder Jamsetji Tata and the 100th birth anniversaries of JRD Tata
and Naval Tata. The idea for the quiz came from Shamala Padmanabhan, general
manager, corporate communications, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Ms Padmanabhan
had successfully organised quizzes such as the TCS IT Wiz earlier.
In its very first corporate edition, which comprised separate tracks for Tata
employees and non-Tata corporates, the quiz received a huge fillip from the
excitement generated in its audience. A specific demand from the large student
community in attendance, particularly those from B-schools, gave rise to the
first Tata Crucible campus quiz in 2005.
The success of the quiz, a team-based contest of two participants per team,
indicated that the format had potential. And so began a quiz that has grown
incrementally over the last eight years. Feedback has consistently proven the
popularity of both editions with audiences.
Heartened by the response, GCA developed the quiz further. Besides going to
a greater number of cities, the quiz also became the first branded property
to go international with the Campus Crucible being held in Singapore in 2007
and in the UK in the following year. This was done as part of the group’s
branding efforts within international geographies where it has a significant
Mr Agrawal explains, “Singapore is an English-speaking country and a
hub of education in South East Asia. We therefore decided to pilot our quiz
In recent years, Tata Crucible has been getting significant media exposure.
Currently, both corporate (non-Tata track) and campus editions are being aired
on the weekend evening slots on CNBC TV18. “The broadcasts, spread over
four months for each edition, ensure that Tata Crucible remains in the minds
of people,” says Mr Agrawal.
The quiz website www.tatacrucible.com offers convenient online registration
for the events. Since 2009, the website also carries an online weekly business
quiz with its own award mechanism. It now has a community of over 35,000 registered
users, apart from those who attend the ground events. Since 2011, Tata Crucible
also has a YouTube channel and a dedicated Facebook page that has registered
over 30,000 likes. The intellectual stimulation that Tata Crucible has come
to epitomise provides a platform where India’s youngsters sharpen and
display their cerebral skills.
A class of nation builders
The Tata Building India school essay competition also owes its birth to the
Century of Trust celebrations, when the large-format travelling Century of Trust
exhibition and Keepers of the Flame, the Zafar Hai film on the Tatas, were shown
to schoolchildren. Mr Agrawal recalls, “We wanted to take the message
of nation building and the role of the Tata group in the industrialisation of
India, as expressed in the film, to a larger audience. Alongside, we considered
an activity that would encourage youngsters to think about national issues.”
The result was the Tata Building India school essay competition, where students
write their essays on a topic of national importance. The competition starts
with the screening of an inspirational movie on the Tata group's initiatives
for nation building, which serves as a stimulus.
At the end of the film, the organisers conduct a short quiz, and hand out illustrated
classics on the lives of JRD Tata and Jamsetji Tata as prizes. “Last year
we distributed over 100,000 such books in English and Hindi,” says Mr
The competition debuted in the English language for students from classes
6 to 12. Essays are judged at the school, city and national levels, and prizes
for winners and runners-up given out at every level. Classes 6-8 are judged
together, as are classes 9-12, to ensure fairness in judging. The first year's
national-level winners were taken to meet APJ Abdul Kalam, the then President
of India, at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The team subsequently commissioned research among students and teachers in
participating and nonparticipating schools. The research revealed that participating
schools had a better understanding of the Tata group on parameters such as nation
building, pioneering, trustworthiness, etc. Mr Agrawal says, “The feedback
convinced us that the competition, although a single engagement, was working
well and could be consolidated and expanded.”
The competition was later extended to more schools and cities, and to languages
such as Hindi, Bangla, Gujarati, Marathi and Tamil. Research studies revealed
similar success in Hindi, Bangla and Gujarati, although the most satisfactory
results were seen in English. In 2010, the competition was extended to Oriya
and Kannada languages. The high point for the winners of all the editions is
the invitation to Delhi for the felicitation ceremony and the opportunity to
meet a national dignitary and visit Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“We found that the competition left behind a positive impression towards
the country and the Tata group,” says Mr Agrawal. “Even students
who were not interested in writing the essay enjoyed the film and schools appreciated
the fact that students were motivated to think about nation building.”
The competition has reached out to over seven million children in six years.
The team’s intention is to take the competition to more schools, cities
The launch of a website, www.tatabuildingindia.com and a Facebook page help
GCA to engage students further through quizzes, contests and information about
inspiring Indians and Tata leaders. With over 70,000 likes, the Facebook page
is clearly popular among students for its regular Informative updates and online
Bonds across borders
The seeds of the Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme (ISES) were
sown during the visit of Mr Gopalakrishnan to the University of California,
Berkeley. The university had a programme that integrated innovation and social
entrepreneurship to develop sustainable solutions for the challenge of poverty.
Mr Gopalakrishnan realised the need for a programme that enabled foreign students
to experience the corporate sustainability initiatives of Tata companies in
India. Such a programme would help promote international understanding and enlighten
students on the group’s activities. Later, the University of Cambridge
also displayed an interest in the programme.
Tata ISES was launched in 2008 with nine students from the two universities.
Today, London School of Economics and University of California, Davis are also
a part of the programme. About 70 students have participated till date in Tata
ISES. Tata organisations involved include Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services,
Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels, Tata Motors, Tata Power, Tata Teleservices, Tata
Coffee, Tata Capital, Titan Industries, Tata Quality Management Services and
Tata Medical Centre.
Mr Agrawal says, “It was a partnership between the students, the university
and us. The idea was to help them understand community initiatives and how business
impacts development.” In turn, Tata companies get an international perspective
on their projects.
The universities select the students and prepare them with orientation workshops
and basic conversational skills in Hindi. The students are expected to share
their learning with other students at their universities, who form the target
audience for following years.
Although the group is small, the programme is very resource intensive. The
expansion of the programme, therefore, becomes a function of the scope for offering
more meaningful projects to the students. On the demand side, it depends on
how many universities are willing to sign up. Mr Agrawal says, “We have
to ensure a fit between the student’s discipline and the company’s
project. The nature of the experience is also very important.”
Tata ISES has been greatly appreciated by interns, universities and participating
Tata companies. The beauty of the programme lies in its potential to touch both
the interns and the beneficiaries of Tata’s projects in life-changing
Power to the youth
Tata First Dot, powered by NEN, is an initiative specifically aimed at encouraging
student entrepreneurship in India. A national recognition and mentoring platform
for student startups, it was launched in 2011 by the Tata group in partnership
with nonprofit organisation National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN).
The initiative, which is aligned with the Tata group’s long history of
entrepreneurial and pioneering activities, supports student ventures through
mentoring and guidance. Tata First Dot conducts regional-level workshops, competitions
for best student entrepreneurs, seminars and mentoring programmes through the
NEN campus network.
In the first phase of the programme, 10 campus workshops were held in September
and October 2011, which were attended by over 500 students and aspiring entrepreneurs.
The workshops, conducted by expert speakers, were designed to help students
refine their business models and strategies. Students were also invited to send
in nominations for the Tata First Dot competitions.
The second phase of the programme comprised two competitions:
- Tata First Dot National Competition, with jury-based evaluation of top
five winning ventures
- Tata First Dot People’s Choice Competition, with online voting for
The competitions received a significant amount of interest and participation
– there were as many as 202 valid entries. Tata First Dot actively used
online and social media tools to connect with the student community. Its Facebook
page has registered 4440 likes and the Twitter account has 1500 followers. The
people’s choice contest received 60000 online votes.
The third phase of the programme consisted of a two-day seminar and workshop
held at the SSN College of Engineering, Chennai, in January, 2012. The event
was attended by 700 students, and included several Tata speakers and a keynote
address by Kishor Chaukar, managing director of Tata Industries. Student entrepreneurs
who have been shortlisted now receive mentoring support through the NEN network.
Commenting on Tata First Dot, Mr Agrawal said, “We are delighted to launch
this new programme in partnership with NEN. The talent showcased on this platform,
depicts the powerful entrepreneur mindset of the young people of the country.
Through this initiative, we hope to challenge and inspire their entrepreneurial
thinking, which should enhance new business creation and economic development
of our nation. ”
A social connect
The four branded properties are on several social networking sites such as Facebook,
in keeping with the aim of creating an online community of enthusiasts and participants
and engaging with the target audience in meaningful ways across all media. GCA
is now engaged in maximising the reach of these engagement mechanisms without
losing sight of the capacity for creating positive change.
British prime minister and author Benjamin Disraeli once said, “We live
in an age when to be young and to be indifferent can be no longer synonymous.
We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the future are represented
by suffering millions; and the youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity."
The Tata group’s efforts in creating these branded properties indicates
the success with which its people have imbibed the truth of these words.