Growth with a commitment to social responsibility has always been the Tata Motors way of doing business. Be it in Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), Pune (Maharashtra), Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) or, more recently, the location of the Nano plant in Sanand (Gujarat), the company has built a strong engagement with the communities surrounding its operations. Even at the new Tata Motors facility in Dharwad (Karnataka), which becomes operational at the end of FY 2011-12, the company’s corporate sustainability (CS) team is already working with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences to determine opportunities for intervention based on needs analysis. In 2010-11, the company spent Rs14.79 million on community initiatives around its plants.
Over the years, Tata Motors’ community-based programmes have largely focused on four broad areas — health, education, employability and environment. Its health initiatives touch over 300,000 people every year in various ways. Its anti-leprosy campaign in Jamshedpur, for example, is one of its longest-running and most successful health initiatives: the project has seen a dramatic drop in the prevalence of leprosy in the region — from 21 cases per 1,000 persons in 1989-90 to one per 1,000 now.
Another CS effort is to improve availability of potable water in water-stressed villages. “So far, over 61 villages and 5,000 families have benefited from the ‘Amrutdhara’ project (run in collaboration with the Sumant Moolgaonkar Foundation), which aims to make safe drinking water a reality in 100 villages by 2012,” says GS Uppal, head of CS, IR and administration at Tata Motors. Last year, the company contributed Rs2.78 million towards this cause.
Tata Motors also works with local NGOs and village authorities to reduce health risks by improving sanitation and hygiene — every year, it builds around 300 low-cost toilets around its plants in Pune, Sanand, Jamshedpur and Dharwad.
Skills for the future
The apprenticeship programme at its facilities offers youth a chance to improve their technical and vocational skills and also imbibe a work ethic; around 7,000 people benefit from this programme every year. Tata Motors has also adopted 21 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) under public-private partnership initiatives to help improve their infrastructure and curriculum.
With 120,000 deaths every year, India has the highest number of road fatalities in the world and 78 per cent of accidents are caused by driver error. In an effort to counter this, Tata Motors launched the Driver Training Programme in August 2011, a unique initiative that enhances employability and safety by offering training in driving skills, including defensive driving, basic vehicle maintenance, stress and anger management and first aid skills. “The programme aims to train about 3.4 million drivers of light and heavy commercial vehicles over the next 10 years,” says Mr Uppal.
The plan is to set up 1,690 driver-training centres in 10 years, in partnership with driving schools and other agencies, with Tata Motors providing training content and monitoring the quality of training.
Growth for all
Education is a vital component of the affirmative action initiative. For instance, at Sakwar, a tribal hamlet in Thane district of Maharashtra, young tribal boys (grades 8 to 12) at the Ramakrishna Mission School are given a chance to pick up life and employability skills as part of a mechanic motor training project.
“More than 170 students have undergone training so far, with 85 per cent finding employment at auto dealerships and service stations. We work with our network of dealers to help provide these students with hands-on training and experience,” says Vinod Kulkarni, assistant general manager, CS, at Tata Motors. As many as 13 students have gone on to become entrepreneurs with their own garages.
In the villages around Pune, a Tata Motors employee volunteer initiative called ‘Vidyadhanam’ helps disadvantaged students from grades 7 to 10 with their school lessons, involves them in a range of skill-building activities, and offers scholarships to meritorious students. The project currently covers some 20 villages and 200 students.
Both these projects are in line with the Tata group’s strong commitment to affirmative action, and form the foundation of its efforts to include and provide for the disadvantaged and marginalised sections of Indian society.