In a country as large as ours there are innumerable causes that a corporate can support. At Aircel, we realized the need to create strong bonds with communities and their environment. India is a young country and yet one plagued by issues of education, unemployment, degrading environment, etc. For any corporate to be successful in its societal commitments, it is imperative to address these issues in a holistic perspective.
At Aircel, we have structured our CSR framework called the ‘3Es Framework' to include the most pressing issues - Employability, Education and Environment. The attempt is to not only address the requirements of the neediest but also ensure a sustainable future for them, their families and the environment.
Employability: India today has a notable skill gap in the white collared bracket. We are witnessing ever swelling population growth in our cities coupled with large scale migrations from small towns and rural India. A majority of these people are youth and their aspirations are not met due to the lack of skill sets required. As a result, most of these youth get marginalized early and end up leading a life of exploitation, acute poverty and hopelessness.
Vocational skilling to create employability opportunities has been one of Aircel's key intervention areas. We have created sustainable opportunities for underprivileged youth, by skilling them in skill sets best suited to the markets they live in. Some of the skills taught are basic Sales techniques, Customer Relationships, Hospitality, etc. Post skilling, youth are able to secure for themselves sustainable livelihood opportunities which not only induce confidence amongst them but also help in uplifting their families and communities in the long term.
Education : The digital divide in India is prominent. In order to bridge this digital divide we conceptualized Aircel a+. Back in 2010 when we decided to launch Aircel a+ various industry studies had shown that only 14 per cent of students attending government schools were computer literate. Under this project, we developed computer learning centres for children from underprivileged backgrounds, who would otherwise have no access to basic computer literacy. The project catered to various government schools and shelter homes for underprivileged kids in partnership with NGOs. Children were introduced to the Microsoft ULIP curriculum that encompasses both basic as well as an intermediate curriculum. This helped empower them with a good knowledge in computer operations that aimed at not only instilling confidence in the children but also helping them be well prepared for the journey ahead.
It is estimated that only close to one in ten schools have soap/detergent available at the hand washing space. Further, up to 12 % of the school year missed by girls due to lack of toilets or facilities for their sanitary needs. In India, almost 1 million schools with no toilets or sanitation facilities in India and almost 5 million children still do not have access to drinking water in their school. The magnitude of the problem has often been ignored and this in turn has led to lower education rates and higher drop outs from schools. We cannot emphasize more the need to not only build schools, but to also maintain them and provide auxiliary infrastructure to encourage and sustain attendance. It is here that we at Aircel can support this drive and contribute our bit under our programme called ‘Swachh Vidalaya’ aligned with Prime Minister Modi’s vision of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’. Our approach to the cause is two-tiered – awareness building and infrastructure maintenance and repair/building for the beneficiaries.
Environment: The Tiger is our national animal and one that has been a part of our folklore and history for millennia. Yet this magnificent beast is on the brink of extinction. The Tiger can easily be called as the metaphor for nature, as it is a top predator and its existence ensures a healthy and a sustainable ecological balance. The year 2008 revealed the shocking number that there were just ‘1411' tigers left in India. ‘Save Our Tigers' is a cause related campaign started by Aircel during the latter part of 2008 with an aim to create mass awareness on the plight of this magnificent beast and rally efforts to save it. Over the course of the next seven years, partnering with various organizations on the ground such as WWF, WTI, Sanctuary Asia and also with NDTV as a media partner, Aircel planned and executed many initiatives with the aim of aiding in the seemingly impossible task of tiger conservation. However, in the year 2014, a new census revealed that tiger numbers had bounced back to 2,226 and Aircel was proud to be a part of a select group of organizations that had lead the charge that made such an outcome possible. The Save Our Tigers journey is still ongoing and the focus has shifted to issues of habitat and animal trafficking.