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Kids earn brownies for companies
BS Reporter in New Delhi | November 20, 2007 10:36 IST
Can islands of welfare initiatives change the larger picture for children in India?
Companies are running projects for children, but the scattered nature of these makes them drops in an ocean of need.
These efforts are earning the companies brownie points, but they do not help reduce the problems for India's children, whether it is in education or health-care. For no one is willing to put two and two together and scale up efforts.
Actor Mahima Chaudury is to launch distribution of winter clothes for Godrej [Get Quote] as part of its Godrej Eezie Rahat: Ek Abhiyan. Since Eezie, the product, is also part of the campaign, it does help the product, but whether it will help every street child, at least in Delhi where it is launched, is not known.
Whether many companies together could find a permanent and more sustainable solution for winter woes of street children is something no corporate is known to be considering at present. Ditto in the case of child labour. DuPont runs an Academy for Street and Working children in five of its project areas.
Humana People to People India, an NGO, is helping it run its schools where children come and learn in an informal way and are motivated to continue till higher classes.
Saumik Pal, the spokesperson for their social welfare programmes says that the idea is to scale it up gradually . It is also an attempt to look at child labour in a different way. Instead of pulling children out of work, the idea is to add quality to their lives by teaching them to read and write, besides pursue skills they show inclination for.
But how many such schools can it start? And how many children can benefit from them? The Government's own child labour project-schools remain in oblivion and in need of attention and publicity, even as companies are projecting their individual models.
Pal says DuPont would certainly be shaping a long term agenda that goes beyond a few projects. Mc Donalds, the American food chain, is in a tie-up with Dr Shroff's Eye Hospital and is raising funds for eye treatment of indigent children. It says it has helped 450 children so far with funds raised in two years.
KPMG is helping educate children in 2000 schools in 43 countries, which includes India.
The number of children would be again small and is another island of effort surrounded by conditions of almost universal deprivation of quality education and economical assistance for children in need. It also has single projects on child labour and skilling for children in five towns.
UBS, the Swiss bank, runs two night schools for working children in Pune and Tamil Nadu. "UBS is supporting several aid projects worldwide and not only in India. Some of the important relief is done through our Optimus Foundation," says its chief, Mathias Wuethrich.
Aptech has tied-up with Rotary Club of Greater NOIDA to extend computer education to students of Chetram Sharma Girls Inter College at Village Chalera.
It is again providing free IT education to children of leprosy patients in Barrackpore, besides village children near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, all through NGOs. It claims to have provided multi lingual basic IT literacy to over five lakh students.
Says Pooran Pandey, who heads Times Foundation: "These scattered efforts, unless put together, cannot have an impact. For, there is no guarantee that good models are replicated with every company trying to re-invent the wheel."