Sunday, June 23, 2024

Gautam Adani’s philanthropy: A big leap towards nation building

Philanthropy, no matter what religion or tribe one belongs to, is ingrained in Indian culture since the beginning of the Indus Valley civilization. There have been extraordinary instances of charity in Indian history that not only reiterated humanity at the most demanding times but also became a landmark of our society’s progress. The news of Gautam Adani’s philanthropy is spreading optimism in the corporate world.

Philanthropy in India

Philanthropy or charity has a greater and wider meaning in India than the regular concept. While many consider it to be something that kings or the privileged practised in the past, it is an empathy that Sujata- a milkmaid shared with Gautama Buddha when she offered him a milk-rice pudding. A mere act of humanity that helped him attain enlightenment.

However, philanthropy in recent centuries has evolved with diminishing monarchies and the rise of the corporate class in India. In the 19th century, a name emerged during the reign of British rule in India that redefined the very nature of philanthropy. Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, the country’s biggest conglomerate is also known as the greatest philanthropist (with donations totalling $102.4 billion). He did not only practise charity to provide resources to the poor but also used it as a tool for society’s development. He used his resources to give opportunities to some of the bright minds to train with the world’s best institutions and help society progress.

Jamsetji Tata studied modern technology from his foreign expeditions, applied it here in India in his factories, while giving employment and developing infrastructure and gave away most part of his income to charitable purposes. Tata group still works with the same ideology with 66% of its revenues going to its Trusts.  

Similar to JN Tata’s ideals, Mahatma Gandhi coined the concept of Trusteeship which suggests that privileged people become the trustees of trusts that looked after the welfare of society. In simple terms, advised the wealthy class to practise giving back to society. It is the same socio-economic philosophy that GD Birla and many inspiring industrialists adopted, to become a harbinger of growth after the British left India.

Philanthropy in post-independent India

Since independence, there have been many corporate leaders who either by their business initiatives or by philanthropy have become the catalysts of change in India. Ratan Tata from Tata Group, Shiv Nadar from HCL, Sudha Murthy through Infosys Foundation and Ajay Piramal has taken up the role of trustees of the world, through their extensive welfare efforts.

Moreover, India also witnessed modern-day benevolent individuals who gave away most part of their wealth to charity. In 2014, Anil Agarwal, chairman of Vedanta Group pledged 75% of his wealth towards social good. Similarly, in 2019, Wipro Chairman- Azim Premji donated Rs 9,713 crore to charity, becoming one of the biggest philanthropists in India. From 74% of promotors’ stake that the Premjis hold in Wipro, 67% goes to the company’s CSR arm.

Adani’s Philanthropy

While most big corporates in independent India have inherited the act contributing to the social cause as a legacy, there are first-generation entrepreneurs also who have understood and reflected corporate social responsibility. Gautam Adani is the most recent example of the same. On the centenary birth anniversary of his father, Shri Shantilal Adani, and his birthday, he pledged to donate Rs 60,000 crore, 8% of his net worth, to charity. An enormous amount of donations ever been made in history in India.  

He is the family’s first-generation entrepreneur who over the span of 30 years brought seven of his publicly listed companies to the one trillion capitalisation mark. 

From a small agri-trading firm to taking the country’s infrastructure sector by storm, Gautam Adani is Asia’s richest individual and amongst the world’s wealthiest businessmen. However, keeping ‘nation building’ as his company’s core value, India’s one of the youngest billionaires dedicated the tenth part of his wealth to the service of the nation.

Appreciating his act of benevolence, Azim Premji congratulated Gautam Adani by saying, “The challenges and possibilities of our country demand that we work together as one, cutting across all divides of wealth, region, caste and more. I wish Gautam Adani and his Foundation the very best in this important national endeavour.”   

Indeed, India is a land of great possibilities and its potential lies in the hand of people from the grassroots. With an impeccable country’s socio-economic fabric, Gautam Adani’s CSR arm i.e., Adani Foundation has been actively involved in ‘nation building’ for 25 years. 

The Adani Foundation focuses on the well-being of the less fortunate and has been driving social upliftment programmes in rural India. In addition, the organisation has initiated several human-centric campaigns in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

With the belief that everyone is entitled to equal access to opportunities regardless of socioeconomic background, the foundation promotes sustainable livelihoods, health and nutrition, and education for all. In addition, it has been addressing environmental concerns for decades and focusing on women’s empowerment.

CorpIndiaNews lists Adani CSR’s top initiatives  

The Adani Foundation has been working tremendously in sync with global sustainable development goals to transform lives at the grassroots by providing them with basic care through various campaigns. 

SuPoshan 

Anaemia and Malnutrition are the true evils for woman’s and child’s health in India. So Adani’s SuPoshan project has taken an all-around approach that focuses on education, health and sustainable livelihood development. The project tends to empower women at the grassroots in two ways.

Firstly, it involves the employment and training of SuPoshan Sanginis, who becomes a solid support system for pregnant women from childbirth to the time the child turns 5. A well-established structure is readied to ensure good health. The project is run in 1065 villages and slums in 16 locations in a loop with 1875 Anganwadi centres at present. 

Health 

India faces insufficient distribution of health/medical services. While the urban class still struggle to avail of basic health services, rural health care is one of the biggest challenges the government faces today. In a country of 1.38 billion people, addressing this issue is not a task of the government alone but is a shared responsibility of corporations operating in society.

Adani Foundation has taken healthcare to the country’s remotest regions to ensure access to quality healthcare services for marginal communities. The foundation runs 17 Mobile Health Care Units (MHCUs) in 433+ villages availing on-the-spot medical services in isolated locations. These people cannot get treated with medical services due to a lack of resources.

Mobile Health Care Units provide medical assistance, free of cost, in their village. Currently, MHCUs treat 4 lakh people annually on average in nine districts. Apart from this, the foundation has set up 14 rural clinics and wellness centres in more than 21+villages treating over 30,000 patients annually. It also organises health camps at regular intervals to diagnose critical illnesses and prescribe treatments. 

Education 

Is there a better gift than education for the youth? The foundation has been actively working for the betterment of children through nutrition and education. Adani Foundation has built a comprehensive structure to provide Cost-free and subsidised education for children in the remotest areas that inculcates true values and future readiness.

It has developed a multi-pronged approach that comprises Adani Vidya Mandirs, smart learning programs and the adoption of government schools (Adarsh Shalas). The organisation has opened Adani Schools everywhere it has set its foot. Moreover, in collaboration with government entities, the organisation has been running Gyanodaya and Utthan projects. 

Gyanodaya 

A digital learning initiative began in Jharkhand’s Godda district in 2018. The idea of delivering education through state-of-the-art smart classrooms has remarkably brought down school dropouts and increased attendance through the interactive curriculum. The organisation has partnered with 276 schools in imparting primary and secondary education through e-learning to about 70,000 students until now. The project won the Silver Award at the National E-governance Awards held by the central government. 

Utthan

To enhance primary education for the kids from marginalised communities, Adani CSR planned to partner with the local government and adopt government primary schools to provide quality education. The foundation is dedicated to children’s holistic development by bolstering the existing educational infrastructure in rural areas. Adani Foundation has reached out to 10,360 students across 81 schools and 16 Anganwadis in Gujarat, Chattisgarh and Odisha. 

Environment 

Water management and conservation are the need of the hour as many states in India are facing severe water crises due to lower water levels and scarce rainfall. Adani Foundation, too, took up this enormous task in water conservation under its ‘Swajal’ project.

The organisation has worked extensively in developing 115 rooftop rainwater harvesting (RRWH) structures in the 62 villages of Mundra in Kutch, refilled 189 borewells and 31 wells, deepened 56 ponds, built 21 check dams, and installed 1,505 drip irrigation systems.

Resultantly, there was a 19.6% reduction in total dissolved solids while increasing the groundwater table by 4.2 feet in the last five years. The project impacted the lives of 218,500 citizens of the district, for which it won the third National Water Award in the Best Industry for CSR Activities category from the Ministry of Jal Shakti this year. 

Apart from working on education, nutrition and healthcare for the people, the foundation has been contributing to uplifting the standard of living by opening portals for earning a decent livelihood through various programs we will cover in the following article. 

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