Giving Matters at Marico

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Marico Limited is one of India's leading consumer products companies operating in the beauty and wellness space. Empowered with freedom and opportunity, Marico works to make a difference to the lives of all their stakeholders - members, associates, consumers, investors and the society at large. This month we find out how Marico excels in engaging its employees and conserving ecology to 'Make a Difference' to the society.

We had the pleasure of interacting with Mr. Ashutosh Telang, Chief Human Resources Officer of Marico. In his 15 years in Marico, Mr. Ashutosh Telang has played an integral part in building strong organisational values. It was fascinating to learn about various platforms provided and initiatives taken to promote giving culture, challenges faced and the future of giving at Marico. 

GiveIndia: What is your role and for how long have you been with Marico?
Mr.Telang: I am the Chief Human Resources Officer at Marico.

I joined Marico in 1999 and since then have held several leadership positions in the
Corporate HR, International Business HR and Organisational Development divisions.

I have been closely involved in leading Marico’s efforts in streamlining HR operations, reinforcing organisation values, setting a Talent Pipeline creation process, integrating acquisitions, apart from ongoing connect and communication with Marico members, through various cross-functional initiatives.

GiveIndia: What are the key initiatives taken up by Marico towards conserving the ecology and reducing carbon footprint?
Mr. Telang: Nurturing and sustainability of the community are key aspects of our purpose, Make a Difference. At Marico, we are always on the lookout to make a positive impact to the environment around us. Some of the recent initiatives that we have taken up towards conserving the ecology are:
o We have actively worked on reducing the plastic consumption in the packaging of the bottles of our flagship brand, Parachute. In fact, the Parachute bottles are about 7% lighter and its caps are 2% lighter than the other vendors. There is a reduced consumption of PVC. Less than 2% of total plastic consumed in now PVC.
o At Marico, we have also converted most of our steam generation boilers from fossil fuel to bio-mass based boilers. As of now 94% of our fuel requirement is through renewable fuels such as bio-mass briquettes or rice husk.
o We also strive to be zero water discharge manufacturing facilities wherein all treated effluent gets used within factory premises for gardening purpose. All our factories have water harvesting system installed in its premises.
o In addition to the above initiatives, we also encourage green behaviour amongst our members, through the Green Awards. The parameters for awarding members on their Green initiatives are the impact of the initiatives on the environment and its sustainability from a long term perspective. The awards are given to projects that have had a positive net effect on the environment and have reduced the usage of products that harm the environment.

GiveIndia: Till date, over 200 employees from Marico have signed up for the Payroll Giving programme, contributing over 21 lacs of funds. In fact, you match contributions as well. Do you think Payroll Giving makes for an easier way for employees to engage with the cause of giving?
Mr. Telang: The Payroll giving program is one of many options provided by Marico to its members to contribute to society. Marico has been with the Payroll Giving program since 2007. We have come to understand over the years that members have a keen wish and desire to contribute to the society. Different members like to engage with community well being in different ways. However, often, members are unable to find the right platform through which they can get involved with the community on causes that they feel strongly about. 

In keeping with our philosophy, Make a Difference, we endeavour to provide various platforms to our members through which they contribute to the greater good. The Payroll Giving programme is one such platform. 

Members interested in monetary contributions as their form of giving, find it a useful service, as it not only gives them the option of choosing from a variety of causes but also monetarily contribute consistently as opposed to a one-off contribution. The programme also provides the members the option of supporting various causes through a single platform and they can do this effortlessly sitting at their workstations or even from home. And most importantly, they have a line of sight of how their contribution is being utilised. Members also find the registration  process simple on the GiveIndia website, and find it easy to set their monthly contributions by instructing the Marico payroll team. Knowing that for every contributing member, the organisation also contributes Rs.200/- per month also encourages members to contribute to the programme. 

In addition to the Payroll Giving programme, Marico offers various other platforms through which members can give to the society.

GiveIndia: What are the platforms provided to employees to encourage the spirit of Giving? Are there any “must do” CSR activities that your team does every year?
Mr.Telang: At Marico, members are encouraged to contribute towards the larger community. This is done through our brands and also through various initiatives and activities that are conducted at the local level in the different locations. To cite a few examples, 

Saakshar Beti, Sudridh Samaaj initiative: This initiative taken by the team at the Paonta Sahib factory is a career-counselling program for girl students in areas around the factory. Paonta Sahib is an area where female literacy levels are among the lowest in the state in Himachal Pradesh. The factory team at the manufacturing unit provides counsel to the girl child on career opportunities & educational courses. Women achievers in the region are also invited to address the girls about how they overcame their struggles, to help draw out inspiration. 

Joy of Giving Week: Marico has been celebrating the Joy of Giving week in the month of October for a few years now. The week-long celebrations provides members opportunities to contribute to the society and community in a variety of ways. Some of the activities that were held last year included the Wish Tree, which gave a platform to members to fulfill the wishes of underprivileged members of the society through monetary contributions. We also had blood donation camps, organised donation and distribution drives in rural areas. 

Over the Wall: The Over the Wall project was initiated last year, to create an environment of intellectual contribution to drive social change. Post a case study competition, three teams from top business schools were selected by Marico, to help scale-up efforts of three social organisations who are in their start-up stage. These students worked closely with Marico Innovation Foundation to recommend solutions to the specific business problems faced by these start-up social organisations. Many of the recommendations made by the students have been accepted and are being implemented enabling the students and Marico to bring about a big change in the lives of many people. 

GiveIndia: What’s your take on corporate foundations trying to steer change as opposed to CSR efforts integrated within or as a corporate function. Do you think they are different? If so, in what regard?
Mr.Telang: Marico’s efforts for bringing about positive change in the society and the community take place through both its Marico Innovation Foundation (MIF) as well as through CSR efforts at the grassroot level as we believe that everyone can MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

MIF works with business and social organisations to help them enhance social and economic value through breakthrough innovation. The focus of the Foundation is to work with people who have social ideas and to help them scale it up to benefit India in a direct way. MIF has already worked in the areas of renewable energy, waste management, employ-ability, livelihood and healthcare. 

The CSR efforts at the local level take place through involving members and also through our brands. In addition to these, Marico also works with CRY and has concerted efforts in the area of children education through the Nihar Chote Kadam Pragati Ki Aur initiative. Marico’s brand, Nihar Naturals supports the cause of education of underprivileged children, by donating 2% of all is sales proceeds towards this. This is done in association with Child Rights & You (CRY). In addition to the proceeds, the brand has partnered with CRY and has created mobile based teaching modules for children in the rural areas and is also sponsoring 19 projects for CRY across India. 

The philosophy behind all these efforts is to impact as many areas and people that we can. Both approaches have their own objectives and target audience to drive the maximum positive impact in the community and the environment. To quote our Chairman Mr. Harsh Mariwala, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose”. This has been a maxim that has inspired our various such initiatives at Marico.

GiveIndia: Last but not the least, what’s the future of giving at Marico?
Mr.Telang: At Marico, we seek to inspire our members to give back to the society through our purpose ‘MAKE A DIFFERENCE’. We continuously strive and look for newer and innovative ways, through which members feel inspired to positively impact and contribute to our various stakeholders, be it our consumers, members, associates, investors and the community.

I personally believe that as you grow, both professionally and personally, what really gives you fulfillment is not what you get, but what you give others.

We wish Marico all the very best in spreading the Giving Culture.

GiveIndia Volunteer Experiences: On the search of a 'school’ in a concrete jungle...

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The experience in this post is Joanna’s. Joanna Sundharam is a Teach For India Fellow who volunteered with GiveIndia during the Summer holidays. As a volunteer, she helped conduct verification visits for GiveIndia’s NGOs. A verification visit is a random physical visit that GiveIndia does to beneficiaries of NGOs that GiveIndia supports. The visit is done to determine that (s)he recieved the benefits outlined in the feedback report as provided by the NGO. Conducted without the NGO’s knowledge, it is an additional mechanism GiveIndia undertakes to ensure donors’ money has been rightly utilised. 

As the auto driver navigated through the concrete jungles of Gurgaon, he wondered what I was really up to. I told him, I have to meet a few people in Badshahpur, an upcoming suburb of Gurgaon. He didn’t really buy it. Not yet a familiar area, we needed to ask dozens of people on the road for directions; as we slowing inched towards the construction site of Bestech India Ltd, Park View Spa Project in Badshahpur. He asked me again, ‘Madam, kaam kya hai?

What I understood from the documents was that the NGO- Mobile Crèches, takes care of the children of construction workers. They provide meals, and non-formal education to these kids and basically keep them safe at construction sites. I had to visit their centre and verify the details provided by them. Soon, we found the place and I requested the auto driver to wait for me. This wouldn’t take long I assured him. It was a residential project construction site as I learnt from the guards at the construction site. With only bricks and mortar in sight, I really didn’t know what to expect. But I was soon pleasantly surprised! In one corner of the construction site separated by a boundary of tin sheets, was a small classroom, complete with charts, pictures, and learning aids. It stood in such a stark contrast to the background of buildings around it. There were kids, playing in the small playgrounds in front of the classroom oblivious to the absurdity they lived in. 

Being a teacher myself, I was completely taken aback by the effort with which the classroom had been decorated. Every wall had charts and learning aids, just like a normal classroom. It reminded me so much of my own classroom in Adarsh Nagar. I asked the kids what they thought about the centre. They loved the place, their teacher, the playground, and everything about it. Since the kids didn’t go to a formal school, they called the centre their ‘school’, and in every way it was just like a school.

A construction site is a dangerous place, for anyone, not just kids. The parents who are construction workers, are mostly busy and hence no one really has an eye on the kids. It is a tough situation to be in, for both the kids and the parents. 

Mobile Crèches’ centre is a safe haven for these kids. It was so wonderful to know that these kids were not only safe, but are also studying. ‘Education’ is after all one of the long term solutions of the problems that plague our country. Finding this little classroom in the concrete jungle gave me hope. It signalled to me that we are all on the right path; and that step by step, we’ll get to our ultimate destination. 

So, when I got back to my auto after 20 minutes, the auto driver asked, ‘Sab theek hai, Madam?’ and with a big smile, I replied, ‘Haan ji, bhaiya, sab kuch theek hai, sab kuch bahut acha hai!’

The Wish Tree - Innovative & Creative 'Joy of Giving Week' Idea

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For the upcoming Joy of Giving Week we bring to you an amazingly creative and engaging idea to give back – The Wish Tree!

Wish tree is literally a Wish- fulfilling tree that gives donors the opportunity to fulfil the wishes / needs of an NGO. Very simple wishes like a feast for an old person for INR 150 or 2 sets of uniform for INR 350 or sponsor an art kid a child for INR 100 can be put up on the ‘Wish Cards’ of the tree.

Wish Tree is a great way to engage employees in giving back to the society. It helps tangibly impact the lives of the underprivileged.

Here’s how you can execute a Wish Tree:
1. Physical Wish Tree: 
Wish Card and Wish Fruit
A cardboard cutout of a tree that bears simple wishes is placed at a prominent location in the office. Once the wishes are fulfilled Wish Cards are replaced by ‘Wish Fruits’. More the wishes get fulfilled, the more Wish cards get replaced by Wish Fruits and fruitier the tree looks indicating how many people are committing to the cause.

A huge tree in the office campus attracts the employee. It is a fun activity that creates a sense of community and gives happiness to the employee for making a difference in someone’s life.

Case in point are our corporate partners ICICI Securities, Crisil, Tata Capital, Bain Capital, Piramal Enterprises who were able to engage a huge number of employees through the Wish Tree over the years. Our partners shared that employees felt a sense a sense of giving and connect by fulfilling the simple wishes.

Wish Tree at one of our partners

2. Virtual Wish Tree:
It is an online wish tree which bears wishes that once fulfilled get replaced by a smiley along with donors name. A virtual Wish Tree helps reaching out to a far wider community spread across cities throughout the nation.

Case in point here is the ICICI Bank Wish Tree Campaign that raised INR 1.75 crores from through various stakeholders and supported education around the country. ICICI Bank engaged over 30,000+ donors through virtual Wish Tree on 11,000 ATMs and on their website. To add to it Wish Tree was placed in Bank Branch & offices too for the employees and walk in customers.

With the upcoming Joy of Giving Week if you want to make a difference in a creative and engaging way reach out to us on jai@giveindia.org and we will work with you to make giving a fulfilling experience.

Giving Matters at NCR

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NCR is a global leader in consumer transaction technology turning everyday interaction with business an exceptional  experience. This month we find out how the organization excels in engaging its employees through various CSR initiatives.

We had the pleasure of interacting with Mr. Suman Rudra, India HR Leader, NCR India Corporation.  Mr. Rudra has 17 years+ years of rich experience in HR. He has a special interest in Community initiatives and has encouraged employees to participate in them.  It was interesting to know about various platforms adopted to promote giving culture, challenges faced and the road ahead.


GiveIndia: What is your role and for how long have you been with the organisation?
Mr. Rudra:
I head the HR function of the company in India and have been with NCR for 3 years.

GiveIndia: What is the idea of giving at NCR and what platforms have you adopted to ensure Giving culture?
Mr. Rudra: NCR has promoted a culture of giving by providing various platforms to employees. At the core we have a NCR Foundation through which our corporation supports Community initiatives. The NCR Foundation was established in 1953 to help support community needs consistent with its mission. As NCR Corporation continues to evolve to help companies around the world better connect, interact and transact with their customers, the NCR Foundation has evolved its grant strategy consistent with its focus on helping people help themselves. Our mission, however, remains the same: to support NCR’s interest in building stronger communities by making grants to non-profit partners that are aligned with the corporation’s self-service philosophy, including global grants through U.S.-based international non-profit agencies. Our goal is to invest in programs that are committed to innovative approaches and solutions that help people become self-sufficient in the communities in which our employees and customers live and work across the globe., Locally in India, we have employee driven CSR groups in our main office locations  where employee invests their time and organise resources to support the community and ecosystem they work.

GiveIndia: Speaking of Payroll Giving, 350+ employees from NCR have chosen to contribute towards the programme. Do you think Payroll Giving adds a new dimension to the host of socially engaging activities? If so, how is Payroll Giving working out for the employees?
Mr. Rudra: Yes, payroll giving provides an option to associate with a cause of choice and contribute small amounts very month. In this way an employee gets associated with the program and develops interest  in Community issues. Once this engagement is done, we can expect a deeper and stronger commitment of employee in CSR programs and this also builds very positively on NCR brand as a responsible corporate citizen, we call it “Everyday responsible”.

GiveIndia: Given that employees at largely occupied with development of products and servicing the customer how easy or difficult does it become for you to get employees engaged at CSR initiatives?
Mr. Rudra: We have a tiered approach to CSR. Centrally we are driving Corporate programs like Give India and at each centres we have specific employee driven resource groups who are leading initiatives of their choice. Like Gurgaon has “Nectar” group who are focusing on education of underprivileged, medical care & teaching etc. “NLITE” group from Hyderabad on Scholarships for needy , Orphanage support etc, “Samvedna”  in Mumbai focused on needs of underprivileged kids and Puducherry on Medical camps &  Deaf foundation. Time is definitely an challenge but by providing flexibility and organisational support we have been able to engage a large employee base on these activities.

GiveIndia: Lastly, what is the future of Giving at NCR?
Mr. Rudra: We have CSR as an organisational priority as we care for community and environment we operate in. Responsible corporate citizenship is in our DNA. It dates back to the 1890s, when our then directors introduced a comprehensive social welfare program for NCR factory workers. We’re committed to conducting all aspects of business in an environmentally sound manner. We’re vigilant when it comes to the safety and health of our employees. We also look out for the needs of our customers and the general public in the communities we serve around the world

We wish NCR all the very best in spreading the Giving Culture.




Ahmedabad no Rickshowalo, Gandhi Ashram and more – being all touristy in Ahmedabad while on the NGO trail

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This experience in this post is Tarika's. Tarika travels across the country to visits and chronicle our NGOs, their founders and the amazing work they do. In the midst of compiling these stories, she also documents the diversities and vagaries that make up India. Below is one such account of her experiences of travel.



Crazy traffic, peak hours jams, water shortage, too hot, too cold, too sweaty, too dry – adjectives used to describe most cities in India are usually negative; which is why I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity of writing this positive piece on Ahmedabad. More so that you do not miss out on experiencing awesome Ahmedabad rather than me missing out on the opportunity of praising an Indian city. 

And I’m not talking about the wide roads, or the 24-hour power supply, or even the very successful Bus Rapid Transit (BRTS). With election-fever of the past few months, there’s enough been said on these lines in pretty much every publication. But what I found truly awesome about Ahmedabad was that it makes a great culture-filled weekend getaway, even if you are a solo woman traveler (as I was) – something I learnt by chance, as it wasn’t pleasure but work that had brought me to the city. 

Not a fan of spending Saturday nights at home, plus the fact that I wanted to avoid the midday sun, I had signed up for the restaurant, House of Mangaldas’, night heritage walk, instead of the morning/breakfast one. Getting to the venue half an hour early (after a hearty meal of Pankhi, Falafel and Handvo at the famous Swati Snacks at Law gardens; followed by some delicious hand-churned mango ice-cream at Shankar’s stall opposite, outside the garden gates) gave me time to browse through their souvenirs’ store – which is where I picked up the very well-written and helpful “101 ways to experience Ahmedabad” by Anjali Desai. Page 88 of this book talks about Udaybhai, aka Ahmedabad no Rikshowalo and also lists his number (94280-17326). After a moment’s hesitation, I weighed the pros and cons, and decided that it would be much easier to explore Ahmedabad with a tourist guide, than put in the effort of figuring out routes and directions on my own. And with that, I was set to be picked up at 9am the next day. 

Udaybhai in his auto
Udaybhai is a staunch Gandhi supporter, which is why he’s always seen with a Gandhi hat. Greeting me with a very chirpy “Good morning,” Udaybhai pinned a badge onto my t-shirt, before he gave me a very detailed and enthusiastic tour of his rickshaw. Yes, Udaybhai’s rickshaw is probably the only one that comes with a 15-minute narrative. From newspapers, magazines and other literature to read, to famous quotes in both English and Gujarat, to a first aid kit, to two containers on the left and right hand side of the back saying “love” and “truth” that contained snacks and water bottles passengers. There’s also a dust bin so that the riders do not throw thrash on to the streets. And despite all this, it comfortably accommodates 3 passengers, as any auto does.  
Knowing I was new to the city, he even got me some freshly made “Muthia” for breakfast – which his wife had prepared for me that morning! 

Ahmedabad No Rickshawalo
Born and brought up in Ahmedabad, Udaybhai lives with 9 members of his family – his parents, wife, 3 children (whose photos also are in his auto), brother, sister and her son. He started “Ahmedabad no Rickshawalo” on 21st October 2010, the auspicious day of Dushera, on the concept of the gift-economy. The idea of the gift-economy is that someone before you pays for your travel; and you pay-it-forward for the subsequent passenger(s). At the end of my ride, he gave me a folder into which I put an amount of my choice. (The folder has been designed free-of-cost by a design student who rode in his auto.) This is why his auto meter always reads Zero. I also learnt through our conversations that running his auto in this style was inspired by the work of Manav Sadhna and its Padmashri founder-president Ishwarbhai Patel. Manav Sadha is an NGO based in the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, which works for the upliftment of the underprivileged, especially children, through love. 

The interiors of Udaybahi's auto
Coming from a lower middle class family, I couldn’t help but wonder what makes him brave enough to run an auto as he does. But as I learnt, it’s the conviction of his beliefs, determination to add love to his work and some really pleasant experiences from customers on learning about his idea, that keeps him going. 

One such experience was with an elderly gentlemen, who clearly could not afford an auto. When Udaybhai dropped him off to his destination for free, the elderly gentleman could not stop blessing him. “I had tears in my eyes that day,” says Udaybhai. It’s days like these that make him ignore the unpleasant experiences that the riding an auto in a populated city like Ahmedabad bring. After all, it’s satisfaction at work and with oneself and not money that give him a good night’s sleep! 

The beautiful Adalaj Ni Vav
So, first stop was the stunningly-beautiful Adalaj ni Vav. A 30-odd minute auto ride towards the outskirts of the city, “Vav” is the Gujarati word for “stepwell”- a well that is accessed through many steps. As Wikipedia informs us – stepwells were frequently built between the 5th and 19th centuries across the country. Over 120 such wells are known in the semi-arid region of Gujarat alone, of which this well at Adalaj is the most popular. Stepwells are also found in more arid regions of India, and even extending into Pakistan, to collect rain water during seasonal monsoons. While many such structures are utilitarian in construction, they sometimes include significant architectural embellishments, which attract a large number of tourists. In the past, these stepwells were frequented by travelers and caravans as stopovers along trade routes. 

Stunning architecture at Adalaj Ni Vav
The story of the Adalaj well goes back to the 15th century to Rana Veer Singh of the Vaghela dynasty. A Hindu ruler, he ruled over this region, which was then known as Dandai Desh. When his kingdom was attacked by Mohammed Begda, the Muslim ruler of a neighboring kingdom, the king was killed and his territory occupied by the invader. Rana Veer Singh’s widow, a beautiful lady known by the name Rani Roopba, though in deep grief at the death of her husband, agreed to a marriage proposal made by Mahmud Begadaon on the condition that he would first complete the building of the stepwell. The Muslim king who was deeply enamoured by the queen’s beauty agreed to the proposal and built the well in record time. Once the well was completed, Begda reminded the queen of her promise to marry him. instead the queen who had achieved her objective of completing the stepwell started by her husband, decided to end her life, as mark of devotion to her husband, which she did by jumping into the well. 

It’s the intricate architecture that makes this well, well-worth-a-visit. Which is why it’s surprising to see so many families come there as it were a picnic spot. But ignore the clamor and admire the intricate work – it’s truly a masterpiece. 

The Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati
Next stop was the Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati. My knowledge of Gandhi is limited to what we learnt about him in History class in school. And previous visits to museums in India have never left me even remotely impressed. But it’s here that I realized why he is truly the Mahatma. From original documents to a detailed photo tour, you get to know the man. Determined, principled, strong-willed, its values that defined him above all else. Moreover, he didn’t preach the same but transferred the same by following them himself and setting the best example that there possibly could be. 

A quick visit to the Hatisinh Jain Derasar ensued. Dedicated to Dharmanatha, the fifteenth Jain Tirthankar, this temple was built during a severe famine in Gujarat. Building the temple employed hundreds of skilled artisans , thus supporting their needs for two whole years. But what you come away is the intricateness of work on this temple – it’s even more detailed than the Adalaj ni Vav. 

Don’t wait for work to take you to Ahmedabad, as I did. Here’s a compact and workable weekend itenary (from Mumbai): 
Day 1: Take the 6:20am Shatabdi from Mumbai Central, reach Ahmedabad at 1:10pm, head to Swati Snacks at Law Gardens for lunch, nap in the afternoon to make up for the early rise, do the House of Mangaldas’ night heritage walk, head back to Law gardens for icecream at Shankar’s, before retiring for the night. 

Day 2: Head to Adalaz ni Vav, then the Gandhi Ashram, then the Hatisinh Jain Jain Derasar, followed by a late lunch (at one of the city’s famed thali joints).Several overnight trains will bring you back to Mumbai early Monday morning, to be able to make it to work in time.

Trains versus Flights – Journeys versus Destinations

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This experience in this post is Tarika's. Tarika travels across the country to visits and chronicle our NGOs, their founders and the amazing work they do. In the midst of compiling these stories, she also documents the diversities and vagaries that make up India. Below is one such account of her experiences of travel.
Trains - enjoy the journey as much as the destination!

Ask most people if they prefer a 10+ hour train journey to a flight for the same distance and they’re sure to choose the latter. Not me. Despite its drawbacks, time and ticket availability permitting, it’s a train journey for me any day! A train journey connotes excitement in more ways than one. From the food to the people to the scenes from the window to sharing one’s own stories and overhearing others’ tales – there’s so much a train journey offers! And there are rarely two journeys that are the same! From an elderly couple who were ready to adopt me at the end of our journey, to army personnel who have regaled me with their stories, to young children who cannot sit still, to an old lady whom I taught the game of Sudoku, I’ve had all kinds of co-passengers. The food menu has been just as diverse. Wouldn’t your mouth water too to the tune of “Tomato Soup, Tomato Soup, Tomato Soup?” Tomato soup, vegetable sandwiches, biryani, samosa, kachori, salads, chips, ice-cream and softdrinks; on a recent journey, they even were selling Cup-O-Noodles! Yes, the railways have upped their menu from the last time you travelled! 

If you’re travelling down South, you can’t miss the banana sellers nor the variations of their banana products – from chips to fried bananas. If in Gujarat, then you’re sure to have lots of brands of chaas and dahi to choose from. Vada Pav signals that you’re in Maharashtra. 


A flight on the other hand is not about the journey, but the destination. Get to the airport 1-2 hrs in advance, check-in, security, grab a quick (stale and expensive) bite, make a few phone calls, board and take off, read a book to kill time on the flight, destination reached, collect baggage and jump into a cab to get to your final destination. It’s a set timetable flight after flight. Rarely are there welcome or interesting diversions. I know you’re thinking it so let me clarify - flight delays are by no means welcome or interesting! It only adds “hear harrowed passengers complain” to the already charted and monotonous flight schedule. 


One of the most interesting train journeys I took was from Bharuch, in Gujarat, to Delhi. After visiting the Bharuch-based NGO Gram Vikas Trust, I was off to visit a handful of GiveIndia’s Delhi-based organizations. What made it interesting was the fact that I was in one of India’s longest “local” trains – the Ferozpur Janta Express. Something I learnt a couple of hours into my journey, when I noticed people getting on and off with little or no luggage, after just a few hours of being on the train.


I have to admit, this wasn’t my first choice of ticket. But at 2:45pm, when it was scheduled to leave Bharuch, my waitlisted ticket on the 9:45pm August Kranti Express for later on the same day was showing no signs of moving ; as the waitlist 1 when booking hadn’t moved for 35 days, it gave me no hope that it would move in these last few hours either. I also have to admit that I got onto the train at the last minute as I was busy sending continuous and desperate SMSes to 139 with my PNR number. But clearly the railway gods weren’t with me that day, or so I thought when I grudgingly got on cursing my bad luck. How I was going to travel 28 hrs, non-air-conditioned in the March heat all the way to Delhi?


90+ stops in 6 different states -
the Ferozepur Janta Express makes for one long train ride!
But as I said, a train is more about the journey than the destination. A couple of hours later, once I was done with the newspapers I had carried along, I got lost into the view from the window. From fields of greenery to barren lands to rivers and rivulets, the train passed through an India that city folks like me only read about. I cannot even count the number of peacocks that I saw along the way! Tons of other birds too, but alas, my vocabulary of birds isn’t rich enough to identify them. 

This cross-country local train stopped at possibly every passing station. From a minute’s halt at really tiny rural spots like Derol and Limkheda to endless waits at Godhra, Bharatpur, Mathura and more. With 90+ stops, a journey from start to end means going through 6 states! 

Sitting at the train door will give you the best view.
Make sure to hold on tight!
I would totally recommend this journey to those wanting to see another side to India. Carry a book, a dairy, a really nice camera (to capture clear photos of peacocks, which my ordinary phone camera did not permit) and a blanket for the night! ( You will be surprised how cold it gets at night even in Summer. I layered myself with a bunch of t-shirts an track pants as I very smartly got on without any blanket . With it being Summer, plus the fact that I was scheduled to take the August Kranti Express, it just didn’t strike me to pack one along.) I guarantee a ride as memorable as mine was!

Rejuvenating Payroll Giving - Sundram Fasteners Mantra

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Our corporate partners often ask us about key factors leading to higher employee participation in the Payroll Giving Programme. Thus we bring to you success story of Sundram Fasteners Limited (SFL), who applied basic principles to create an increase in participation from 10% to 30%+ levels.

Our experience of running the Payroll Giving Programme for more than 10+ years now has taught us that one of the key factors to engage more employees is HR/CSR support driven by involvement of the top management.

At Sundram Fasteners, the Management is committed and provided tremendous support towards creating a giving culture and to ensure greater employee participation – both in terms of number of participating employees and the contribution amount.

In the words of Ms. Nalini Rajesh, “I would attribute the growth and increased employee participation to three key factors – The drive, inspiration and guidance of our Top Management, the ever-willing attitude of our employees to give back to the society and the commitment demonstrated by our HR Team across the organisation in facilitating the ‘GiveIndia Drives’”

The team at Sundram Fasteners has been very enthusiastic with clear focus on conducting frequent drives across all units, educating employees about the Payroll Giving programme and the difference that they can make in others lives by sharing a bit of their good fortune.

According to Mr. B Mohan, “The success of GiveIndia’s ‘Payroll Giving Programme’ lies in involving the leadership team (Department Heads) from each plant in order to reach out to other employees. The department heads encouraged employee participation by leading the way in participating in the programme.”


Another key factor to drive employee participation to higher levels is conducting frequent desk-to-desk drives. Through the desk-to-desk drives managers from GiveIndia meet the employees personally to explain the programme and answer queries.

According to Mr. Sandeep Bhandi, ASM, GiveIndia who conducted the drive, “Approaching employees personally and answering their queries made them comfortable about the programme. I received tremendous support in conducting drives from Sundram Fastener’s HR team across the units who helped me reach out to all employees.”

Here’s a big applause to Sundram Fasteners’ HR team for their commitment and drive to create responsible corporate citizens and making a difference.