Interview of Ms. Priyadarshini Nigam

Interview of Ms. Priyadarshini Nigam

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Head – Corporate Communications

Ms. Priyadarshini Nigam is Head CSR at Newgen Software and plays a pivotal role in driving Newgen’s CSR initiatives through programs like Sadbhavna, Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala (NDDP) and SOS village adoption. Under her leadership, Newgen started the ‘Sadbhavna’ initiative in 2006. It is an educational program for children and is designed to focus on their overall development. After almost a decade of its inception, the program is running successfully and has multiple successful stories to share.

NDDP, a specially designed program to develop e-learning skills among students is inspired by our MD’s vision to digitally impart knowledge in schools, using web-based technology.

Under the NDDP program, quality education is being imparted to over 900+ students of a government girls school in Delhi.

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the CSR domain.

I have been leading the CSR activities at Newgen for the last ten years, much prior to the CSR mandate announced by the government. My responsibilities include preparing plans, creating roadmaps and monitoring implementation of variousCSR projects.

Another critical job for me was to build a CSR team which is compassionate, motivated and sensitive. For any project to be successful in developmental sector, facilitators and volunteers must have all the above qualities. Fortunately, Newgen’s CSR team works with great discipline, empathy, and sensitivity.

We started Sadbhavna’ in September 2006.It is an educational program for Newgen support staff’s children.The program was designed to focus on overall development of children through the power of education. After a decade of its implementation, “Sadbhavana” has touched many lives and has empowered students to find the right profession and the right way to lead their lives.

In April 2016, we formally launched Newgen’s core CSR project, “Newgen’s Digital Discovery Paathshala” (NDDP), to develop e-learning skills in school children.

In order to maintain quality and efficiency of Sadbhavana and NDDP,we follow strict reporting guidelines and create and deliver content with utmost care

Before CSR assignment, were you working in any other professional domain, if so, please describe?

I started my career in the early eighties as a researcher and a feature writer for DepthNews, Press Foundation Asia, a syndicate funded by UN agencies. My focus was mainly on the developmental sector, and I wrote on subjects related to social, health and educational problems faced by women and children in the marginalized space in our country.

How has the CSR & sustainability program evolved at your company?

Newgen’s sustainability strategy is premised on the belief that transformational capacity of business can be very effectively leveraged to create significant societal value through a spirit of innovation and enterprise. The sustainability strategy aims to significantly contribute to both social and economic development of young minds who would impact future of the nation.

Newgen being a technology company has always focused on how to use the power of technology to evolve this positive transformation. In April 2016 we launched our dream project, “Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala”.

NDDP is specially designed to impart knowledge to school children using the web based technology. This stems from the vision of Newgen’s Managing Director. It aims at transforming classroom sessions into fun–learning activities and to make school curriculum more meaningful.

Under the aegis of NDDP, we formally adopted a Government Girl’s School in Delhi, in April 2016. We have introduced learning through iPad for sixth and seventh standards. We are confident that in the coming months, these children will learn to browse and become more curious and interested in their school education, and about the world around them.

Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who influenced your CSR & sustainability journey, and how.

In the initial phase of my career as a journalist,I had frequent interactions with variousNGOs. On one such occasion,I met Kiron Bedi who was at the helm of various projects organized by “Navjyoti India Foundation. “The foundation was running a home for children of criminals whose parent or parents were in TiharJail.

There were only 25-30 children in the home located in Noida. And, it was an amazing experience to meet and spend time with them. The children were vibrant and happy. When I mentioned this to Ms. Bedi she remarked, “It is a small project right now but I had to begin somewhere. At least these children can be kept away from becoming criminals”.

When I got a similar opportunity a decade back, I did the same by founding Sadbhavna. Today, Sadbhavna has more than 100 children and majority of them belong to the community around our office in Okhla.

Sadbhavna sessions are held every second Saturday of the month. Experts have been engaged to conduct Personality development programs for children above 12 years of age. The younger ones are supervised by Newgen volunteers and facilitators. Audiovisuals, games, art and craft and fun activities are organized for them.

In fact, with the experience of handling and working with these children, we felt confident and adopted the Government Girl’s School in Harkesh Nagar, Okhla, in April 2016 for our NDDP program.

At the school we follow intuitive teaching methods which aim at transforms the classroom sessions into fun–learning activities and make the school curriculum more meaningful.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

The best advice as I mentioned above was from Ms. Bedi,”…begin somewhere”. Also, to begin with, I feel, “Small is indeed beautiful”.

With this inspiration, we started Sadbhavna with 10-15 children and in the last ten years, we have not only added more students but also our students have showcased great results. After adopting 900 children at the Government Girl’s school, I feel it is only a drop in the Ocean. There are more than 2,000 Government Schools in Delhi alone which are yet to be tapped. In future, if we ever have the resources to work with all of them, it will be a mammoth task. Yet, we have “begun somewhere.”

Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of in your CSR & Sustainability role?

Newgen particularly focuses on best practices to support communities and improve quality of life for future generations.

Newgen has undertaken many new initiatives towards CSR under the aegis of Sadbhavna program. We have dedicated sessions on Digital Literacy and PDP (personality development) which focus on educating girls and boys with digital skills to bring positive changes in their lives.

‘Sadbhavana’ has given many accomplished citizens to the society. A few stars are Raveena and Ramesh who have been attending Sadbhavna sessions from the day of its inception. After completing their class 12th, they have joined prestigious colleges in Delhi. Both being from Hindi medium background have chosen to study in English medium and are scoring more than 60 percent in every semester.

Raveena wants to be a school teacher and Ramesh wants to appear for UPSC. Seeing their passion for education and hard work, their dreams will surely be realized.

Another rising star is Neelam. She finished BCA from IP University and joined Newgen as a trainee with the implementation team. After three years of working in domestic market, she is ready to go for an implementation to Middle-East.

We have adopted three families in SOS Children’s Village in Faridabad. We also closely work with Youth Hostel Children of SOS village. These children attend counseling and personality development sessions, along with Sadbhavna children in our Okhla office every month.

If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?

I would make it mandatory for every employee in the organization to participate for a minimum of one week ,a year, in any of the organization’s CSR programs.

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day is when children in the school look radiant, enthusiastic, happy, alert, participate in class and enjoy the topic being taught. My team and I work hard while creating content and conducting these sessions. To us, children’s response means a lot and it is the best test of our program. If we can get a smile on their face, it is a job well done and a Perfect Day! u

About the author

CSR VISION is India's (probably World's) first monthly magazine in print devoted to CSR and Sustainable Development for bringing together all stakeholders of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT at a global and local levels and act as a platform for promoting strategic CSR and sustainable development practices through dissemination of information and knowledge.