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February 3, 2001
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India Inc chips in to help quake victims

NetScribes/Mahesh Shetty

After the Gujarat quake, relief of all national colours is flying in. In the middle of all this, the country's business community is pitching in to give back some of what it's taken.

Some of India's biggest and most revered corporate houses are putting their weight behind the cause, mobilising everything from food and clothes to tent shelters and, of course, hard cash.

The country's leading corporate house Reliance Industries was, perhaps, the first to announce an initial monetary contribution of Rs 50 million with commitment of a total of Rs 150 million. Industry associations like FICCI and ASSOCHAM have also announced relief and rehabilitation packages. Taking a cue from all this, the rest of Corporate India has followed.

The bluest of Indian blue-chips, Infosys, typically has gone in for the family approach. At Electronic City on February 2, the company arranged an antakshari that drew 4,000-5,000 people. The show aimed to create awareness among entire families - to go beyond just a few individuals. People were requested to bring along old clothes and blankets that would be later airlifted along with the local Rotary Club's shipments to Gujarat.

"We are aiming for a large target, and already the scheme has seen enthusiastic response. We mobilised Rs 5 million for Kargil and we hope to do a lot for Gujarat too," said M M Mohan of the HR department at Infosys. The company intends to help with both monetary and non-monetary aid, he added. For the former, the company has started collecting a day's pay from its employees. "The money, in all probability, will go to the Prime Minister's relief fund." Infosys has also organised an auction of mementos like corporate logos among other things, the proceeds of which will go to the relief kitty.

FMCG giant Hindustan Lever Ltd, the country's powerhouse brand with possibly the deepest distribution network in the state of Gujarat, has yet to make any concrete relief plan.

A company spokesperson described a tentative plan to distribute water to select villages in the affected area and a "plan to initiate a long-term solution, maybe in terms of housing or rehabilitation activities".

He also mentioned the possibility of all HLL employees donating a day's salary to a common relief fund.

Others have tried to help with their own available resources. Take engineering major Larsen & Toubro's contribution to the cause, for instance. The company has pitched in mostly with heavy equipment to help the cutting and excavation work.

L&T has redeployed equipment -- excavators, wheel loaders, hydra cranes, tippers, trucks, gas cutting sets and breakers -- from its various sites in Gujarat. L&T's Gujarat Cement Works is distributing food packets to affected residents in Jafrabad and Rajula villages.

This is in addition to a team of 25 people, carrying clothes, blankets, food packets and basic medicines.

The new flavour in the automobile market, Bangalore-based Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), in close participation with its Gujarat dealer, is reaching out to the remotest parts of the state. In addition to airlifting tents for shelter, TKM is sending blankets and food supplies by truck.

The company is also providing its utility vehicle, the Qualis, to transport victims and relief material.

News and entertainment company Zee Telefilms is doing things a little differently. "Zee has adopted the village of Samakhiali, taking total responsibility for the return of normal life in the area," said Shazi Zaman, output editor, Zee Telefilms, Delhi.

Immediately after the quake, the company set up a Zee Telefilms Relief Fund that is expected to net a substantial corpus of funds.

It also set up a help line to connect people offering help and those needing it, in addition to setting up a couple of phone lines connecting Ahmedabad directly to Noida, from where Zee coordinates its news.

The country's largest truck maker, Telco, is chipping in too. As part of a larger Tata group initiative, Telco employees will contribute a day's pay, in addition to the company contributing an equal sum.

Which all means that India Inc. is definitely not hoarding its pennies in times of a national emergency.

Most of the country's businesses, large and not so large, are putting down resources on a cause that deserves all the help it can get.

The Complete Coverage | List of earthquake sites

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