Mohini Daljeet Singh, a social worker and an educationist, is widely travelled. She started her social service journey by volunteering as a student with Mother Teresas Home Prem Niwas, in Lucknow, where she learnt her lessons of compassion and selfless social giving.
An army daughter and army wife, she has spent more than three decades on hands-on social and welfare work to benefit army families in the health, education and personal counselling areas.
As CEO of Max India Foundation, Mohini Daljeet Singh has worked for the underprivileged on the health platform benefitting 26 Lakh beneficiaries at 704 locations and partnering with 410 NGOs. The Foundation has adopted two villages in Uttarakhand in 2015 for intervention on the issue of health and hygiene.
Mohini has also represented Max India Foundation as a panellist and anchor at various CSR platforms in India and abroad, including that of CII, ASSOCHAM, PHD Chamber of Commerce, CSR Live week, BRICS CCI centre for CSR and IICA.
Under her stewardship as the founding CEO, Max India Foundation has won several awards including the Golden Peacock Award for CSR for four consecutive years. Recently she has been awarded Best Women Leadership Excellence award in CSR at The South Asian Partnership Summit & Business Awards held in Colombo.
Q. How has the CSR & sustainability program evolved at MAX INDIA FOUNDATION?
A. Max India Foundation started working on the health and environment platform with focused initiatives like immunization, health camps, health centres, treatment and surgery support for critically-ill, health awareness as well as environment conservation and preservation, etc. Over the period of ten years, our CSR program has evolved to look at health in a holistic manner with interventions around allied health sustaining issues like clean drinking water, nutrition support, health of physically and mentally challenged, drug de-addiction, etc. Also, a model project on Village Adoption has been initiated for integrated development of few selected villages.
Q. What is the background to decide on these initiatives and what social issues do these programs or initiatives seek to address?
A. Max Group is an industry leader in health, insurance and allied businesses and manufacturing, hence, it was natural for the Foundation to leverage the Groups strength and focus on health since quality healthcare eludes the underprivileged given high out-of-pocket expenses in India. Therefore, given the need for affordable and accessible quality healthcare services for the needy, the Foundation zeroed in on health and allied health sustaining interventions.
Q. Which are the Key CSR projects of MAX INDIA FOUNDATION and which one, you consider the FLAGSHIP project?
A. The key CSR projects of Max India Foundation are designed around four critical pillars. The first Pillar is addressing immediate health concerns with interventions like immunization for children, health camps and health centres for accessible health care, high end treatment and surgeries to the underserved. The second Pillar is creating awareness on health & hygiene issues which is based on the premise that structured health awareness yields better outcomes in the long-term while bringing down expenditure on treatment e.g., anti-tobacco, dengue prevention, etc. The third pillar is allied health sustaining services with interventions on a host of factors that determine good health like nutrition, drug de-addiction, clean drinking water and others. Last but not the least, the fourth pillar is the village adoption program for developing sustainable villages under which we have adopted three villages across Punjab and Uttarakhand with intensive interventions on health, sanitation and waste management to improve the well-being of the villagers. Every project is significant in our scheme of things and helps to save precious lives.
Q. Do you consider CSR spent as EXPENDITURE or an INVESTMENT?
A. Without any doubt, CSR is considered as an investment which will enable good health, the prerequisite to all development. We are supporting good health initiatives for underprivileged beneficiaries so that they are able to use their limited funds towards their social and economic wellbeing like sending children to school or buying food for the family. Good health enhances productivity of the beneficiaries and empowers them in the long term.
Q. How, in your opinion should companies view the Company Act of 2013?
A. The Companies need to look at Company Act of 2013 as a means towards nation building so that India finds its legitimate place in the league of great nations. The Companies have been doing their bit towards empowering the underprivileged through interventions around education, health, employment, etc. so that we are able to create an inclusive India where all people are realizing their potential. That helps funnel their initiatives into focused initiatives.
Q. CSR communication, for communicating with all the stake holders is an essential tool for making CSR more effective. What is the profile of CSR communication in MAX INDIA FOUNDATION?
A. At the Foundation, we lay strong emphasis on CSR communication. The Foundation comes out with monthly e-newsletter that captures the key CSR happenings of the month. The same is being shared with all key stakeholders including NGO partners, Max employees, etc. Further, the Twitter and Facebook posts are updated regularly to reach out to wider group of stakeholders and create a force of change makers on the ground. Annually, Business Review Report of the Max Group comes out with dedicated section on CSR which highlights the CSR accomplishments. Further on completion of ten years of our service, Max India Foundation came out with a Coffee Table Book titled Nascent Steps which captures the Foundations work in the CSR space.
Also, the Foundation actively participates in various CSR forums and presents the interventions on the ground. The CSR Communication Strategy is guided by the objective of spreading key health awareness messages vital for preventive health. It also highlights Foundations impact stories of change and triumph.
Q. There are huge possibilities in CSR Collaborations to make much larger and meaningful impact on the society. Is there any thought in this direction to develop collaborative CSR projects in collaboration with other Industry partners, NGOs etc.?
A. Absolutely. The true power of CSR only comes into play when collaborations are forged. At Max India Foundation, partnership driven action remains the bedrock of our accomplishments. The Foundation has partnered with over 445 NGO partners to reach the underprivileged. The objective is to leverage the strength of different stakeholders and maximize the outcomes. Similarly, very recently we partnered with UNODC to address the drug menace in Punjab. We are also part of the Global Compact Network of India. The, partnerships have added significant value to our interventions.
Q. How your CSR activities are align to the developmental agenda of the nation?
A. The National Health Policy envisages as its goal the attainment of the highest possible level of health and well-being for all at all ages. Max India Foundation has been supporting towards Health for All in its small ways. Max India Foundation through its immunization program has been complementing Mission Indradhanush. Similarly, the health awareness programs are aligned with Swachh Bharat, Swasth Bharat campaign so that communities adopt healthy behavioural practices to lead a healthy life. Through, our Village Adoption Program, we have been trying to create Model Villages [Adarsh Grams] with focus on health, hygiene, sanitation, environment and school up gradation.
All-in-all, Max India Foundation is complementing Indias efforts towards Health for All as well as attaining the Sustainable Development Goals and improving performance on health indicators.
Q. Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of in your CSR & Sustainability role?
A. Max India Foundation has recently partnered with United Nations Office of Drugs & Crime [UNODC] to support their efforts to address the drug menace in Punjab. Given the gravity of issue, we are glad that we are doing our bit to address the problem.
Further in the last twelve months, Max India Foundation has received five Awards that give us satisfaction that we are working on the right lines. Recently, on 29th January 2018, Max India Foundation has been conferred with the Asia’s Greatest CSR Brand Award at India Singapore Business & Social Forum 2018.
Q. What is the level of involvement of CSR Head in India in CSR strategic formulation?
A. The involvement is intense and personal. Right from conceptualization to end evaluation, the CSR Head plays a significant role. It is the CSR Head who helms the strategization of the plan and keeps it aligned to the Company goals as well as larger goal of national development. Mindful review at regular intervals helps to fine tune the projects to maximize results. The CSR Head also plays a significant role in building the right team in executing the project as well as fostering partnerships to enhance project performance.
Q. What is your suggestion for making mandatory CSR law making a meaningful impact on the quality of life of Indians?
A. Our suggestion as well as endeavour is to ensure that CSR is need-based i.e. reaches the needy and is well implemented on the ground. The CSR strategies need to be designed with pragmatic and practical outcomes in mind to see real change.
Q. As the head of the foundation, what is your guiding philosophy and what are your thrust areas?
A. My guiding and motivating thoughts since childhood have been the words of Robert Browning A man’s reach should exceed his grasp Or what’s a heaven for? This has become a daily mantra for us in MIF. We strive to reach out, over reach, so to speak. We are also driven by the values of Sevabhav, honesty, integrity and excellence. We aim to do more and then yet more; getting better every time. The thrust areas remain health, health awareness and allied-health sustaining interventions. So far, the Foundation has reached over 30 lakh individuals in partnership with 445 NGOs across 772 locations.
Q. What is the level of Employee Engagement and involvement in CSR activities of MAX INDIA FOUNDATION?
A. Employee Engagement in CSR activities has been built in the very design of our CSR agenda. For example, the doctors as well as other medical staff at most of the health camps come in from Max Hospitals. The staff of Max Hospitals is also at the forefront of conducting health awareness sessions.
Further, employees from various Group Companies volunteer in registration, logistic support or conducting health awareness sessions. The employees from Max Group consider CSR engagement as very satisfying and committed volunteers are given certificate of appreciation for their contribution.
Q. How do you find your CSR in MAX FOUNDATION is different from other foundation?
A. Well, it is difficult to say how it is different from other Foundations since we dont know about the mechanics of the working of other organizations. We are making an honest attempt to do CSR well. Our work is well beyond Cheque Writing. We get personally involved in each project and monitor it in detail.
Q. Anything you would love to share with the readers of CSR VISION?
A. Currently, CSR in India is in its nascent stage although the potential remains huge for nation building. CSR VISION in its own way is trying to spread the positive message of Corporate Social Responsibility further and we extend our hearty congratulations for their endeavour. However, we will see real change when individuals feel the necessity of acting with responsibility and incorporating social change in every action.