Priyadarshini Nigam has been on Newgen Board since 1997. She heads the Corporate Communications as well as CSR at Newgen Software and plays a pivotal role in driving Newgen’s CSR initiatives through programmes like Sadbhavna, Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala (NDDP) and SOS village adoption.
In candid chat with Payal Prashar, Associate Editor CompanyCSR, Priyadarshini spoke on various pressing issues like education, poverty, gender equality, hunger & sharing future CSR roadmap at Newgen Software.
Q: India being the first country to make CSR a mandate, what are your views on this?
Out there, many enthusiastic leaders are proactively aligning their efforts, time, and money towards the betterment of communities. So, corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be seen as a great opportunity for organizations to bring transformative changes against the issues prevailing in our society. Businesses should capitalize a part of their profit earnings in fighting against the social monsters of society including education, poverty, gender equality, hunger, to name a few. Back then, before CSR mandates (to be precise), social projects used to be a voluntary affair. The organizations either hesitated or did not show their active participation towards the betterment of communities. Some business leaders were working, but there was no formal disclosure regarding the overall spending. Withsection135 in action, it became mandatory for organizations to work for the betterment of the society. Moreover, organizations had to disclose their consolidated spending to shareholders in order to maintain fair transparency with them. The idea was to get the capitalism working not against the interest of the community but for addressing interests of the community. So I feel this was important for Govt. as well as corporates to take some visible projects for the larger interest of the community living on the edge.
Q: How important is it to be socially responsible corporate?
There are various reasons that support the importance of being a socially responsible corporate. Being socially responsible encourages businesses to act ethically. It can certainly help organizations deliver public value outcomes by focussing on how their services can make a difference in the associated community. A strong corporate social responsibility framework is essential for building and maintaining trust between the company and other stakeholders. In turn, this helps deliver public value outcomes that may not have been delivered otherwise. At Newgen, we’re driven by public values and put best foot forward to contribute to the community we are operating in, in our very own way. Corporate social responsibility is something that we take to heart.
Q: Newgen is promoting digital literacy amongst the government school students through its very unique initiative ‘Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala’. Can you tell us something about the initiative?
Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala (NDDP)is designed to impart knowledge to school children using web-based technology. It aims at making classroom teachings into fun-learning sessions. Under the aegis of NDDP, students are taught how to browse internet and search for information using iPad. This initiative also aims at providing state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment to students. We believe that a safe atmosphere and child-friendly ambiance for learning and growth play a crucial role to any successful educational initiative. Thus, the facilitators of NDDP use fun and interactive ways, such as role-plays, quizzes, movies, presentations, audio visual, iPads and other digital mediums during the digital literacy sessions. The program, apart from rendering digital literacy to the students, has helped them get hold of their text book concepts thoroughly. The content of NDDP is designed in-house for the students and is aligned with the necessities of the enrolees. The NDDP Program is directly benefitting 3,000+ students across the three adopted schools. It has touched the lives of several indirect beneﬁciaries including parents, siblings, friends and the community so far. The program has benefited an estimated count of 15,000+ direct and indirect beneﬁciaries.
Q: Why has Newgen decided to take up remedial classes program with KHUSHII. What impact are you expecting from this program?
We believe remedial education plays a vital role for the students, who face difficulties academically or are not able to perform up to the mark. We are hopeful that with the help of innovative teaching remedial strategies, primarily designed for a specific set of students can bring these students to the classroom learning level. We’ve collaborated with Khushii, an NGO working for the upliftment of children with lesser means, to make 2,600 children literate with the help of remedial classes in Pritabha Primary School, Harkesh Nagar.This school acts as a feeder school for our NDDP beneficiaries in the government schools of Harkesh Nagar and Tekhand. Taking up this initiative will amplify the impact of NDDP as the targeted students will be associated with Newgen CSR for an extended time span of eight years. Such a long association will open new doorways for these students to make the best of their potential. And, it will simultaneously help us connect with our beneficiaries for a longer duration. We’re also planning to adopt more feeder schools in Delhi and Chennai in the long run.
Q: How does project like Mid-day meal align with the CSR vision of your company?
At Newgen, we believe in ‘Being a socially responsible corporate citizen’. Thus, we’ve designed a program, focusing on the holistic development of the government schools. We feel that the provision of offering adequate nutritional content is one of the most important factors in growth and well-being of children in their formative years. In this regard, we have collaborated with the AkshayaPatra Foundation, a non-profit organization in India, running midday meal program for government schools across India.By supporting this initiative of AkshayaPatra, we are trying to upgrade the quality of meals, being served to the children under the midday meal scheme. Under this initiative, we cater to 3600+ school-going children in Vrindavan and in the remote areas of Jhalawar, Rajasthan. With contemporary facilities, fully mechanized kitchens, strict quality protocols, the partner organization ensures that every targeted student is fed nutritious and hygienic food.