Any CSR Initiative has a wider impact on the society. This necessitates partnership with stakeholders' right from the conception stage.
The partnership facilitates in setting goals, milestones and finally ensuring benefits accruing to the identified beneficiaries on account of any given activity. Cohesive partnership coupled with coordinated operations is the key to the success of any CSR initiative. Most of the projects in official domain of Indian CSR Initiatives have enough scope for providing benefits to the stakeholders and beneficiaries. However, our experience in CSR has provided us enough feedback that Village Adoption Projects are the ones which could help the stakeholders a lot as it is all encompassing in nature including work in the field of sustainable development, infrastructure creation, education, healthcare, empowerment of women, prevention of social issues like female feticide, education of the girl child and skills development for creating livelihood opportunities. There are umpteen opportunities for adoption of villages under CSR initiatives in India as there always exists gap in facilities created by the state and the actual requirements to fulfill aspirations of people at large and deprived sections in particular. In the backdrop of above, Hardicon took an initiative during 2010-11 by identifying village Begah under block Ganaur in Sonepat district (Haryana), to do something which could be a source of improving economic condition of individuals and families and also ensure overall development of the operating environment. Village Begah is situated approximately 21 km. from Sonepat and 7 km. from Ganaur. It is a small road-side village with a population approximately 8,000 of 1,001 households. Its proximity to Ganaur justified its selection as the focal point for implementation of developmental activities. Any plan of village adoption is generally aimed at Integrated Development through self- reliance and capacity building for tackling rural poverty in a sustainable manner to make these villages more independent and self-sufficient to achieve progress in multiple spheres including education, vocational training and entrepreneurship development. Hardicon drew a suitable plan to achieve the objectives which primarily included the following specific activities : (i) Awareness creation in the village and playing an effective leadership role in building People's Organization/Groups for various developmental activities. (ii) To assist in infrastructure development in the village through participation of People/local institutions. (iii)Ensuring socio-economic and financial inclusion of all families in the village. (iv)Identifying capacity building needs of the villagers for livelihood opportunities. (v)Creating awareness about Empowerment of Women, Education of Girl Child and prevention of Female Feticide. (vi)Convergence/integration of various programmes of Government Agencies / organization. (vii)To monitor progress of implementation of the plan. Village Identification The initiative to adopt villageBegah was based on assessment of key parameters like the availability of socially and economically weaker sections of society, lack of need-based facilities ranging from basic requirements to livelihood opportunities. Hardicon Ltd facilitated in decision-making of IFCI Ltd for adoption of village by comprehensive analysis of data on various indicators like demographic features, socio-economic setup, existing infrastructure, present and future livelihood opportunities in and around the area. In order to arrive at the overall needs of the villagers in respect of infrastructure facilities, income generation activities, social issues, etc. and also understand their expectations and aspirations for the future, a Base Line Survey through Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) technique was conducted by Hardicon for data collection. Survey Findings Socio-economic Village Begah has multiple caste structure. There are Jhimmer, Harijans, Kashyap, Sunar, Muslim, Goswami, Jullah, Jat, Kumhar, Sharma, Gadaria and Prajapati communities. Other related information Project Execution Based on details collected during Base Line Survey including Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and analysis and interpretation thereof, it was concluded that Village Begah has the most suitable ingredients for its' adoption and accordingly an action plan indicating various important activities to be carried out under the project for ensuring integrated development was drawn. The project activities were initiated during the year 2010-11 by Hardicon Limited. There were some conflicts within various sections of the society in the village which created some resistance against our initiative due to apprehensions that it may be beneficial to one or the other groups. In order to ensure smooth implementation of various development activities, Hardicon in the right earnest focused on involvement of various groups and clearing the air about their fears and at the same time ensuring overall benefit of the initiatives for all villagers irrespective of castes, creed and religion. As a result, there was acceptance by all with villagepanchayat offering Harijanchoupal for establishment of project office. Initial activities which focused on awareness creation and sensitization of objectives of initiatives were sourced by Hardicon of its own. IFCI Ltd. under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiative decided to give financial aid for various developmental activities under the project from 2011-12. It may be imperative to mention that IFCI has acted as a Responsible Business Entity by venturing into such a CSR Initiative which besides creating some need based infrastructure has also helped locals in gaining employment through acquiring skill sets. Establishment of Project Office The space provided by ViilagePanchayat was refurnished to make it suitable for day to day operations including conducting Awareness Camps and Skill Development Training Programmes. Necessary infrastructure comprising furniture, computers, internet facilities, training aids, etc. were put in place. Awareness Camps/Workshops Adequate awareness was initially created about the project and its objectives by highlighting the main features which will help local villagers in respect of creating livelihood opportunities; adoption of latest scientific and technical means e.g. soil testing making vermi compost, improved vegetable farming, mushroom cultivation, water and electricity usage, bee keeping, animal protection and development, healthcare issues, etc. All such camps were followed by Street plays and cultural activities. For creating interest of students in science education, specialized camps have been organized for students in the School. Awareness programme on Banking Culture was also organized. Beneficiaries have been identified for group formations of youth, women and farmers/producers. Furthermore, the awareness programmes on literacy have been conducted and these are being continued. These Workshops/ Camps have generated a lot of awareness about the techniques/scientific methods being used for improving agricultural produce, empowerment of women, importance of banking, optimal utilization of water & electricity, cultural and moral development, science education amongst students, animal protection & upkeep, literacy development particularly adult education, etc. Besides, free of cost general health and eye check-up camps were also organized for the villagers. Around 3200 persons attended various workshops/camps and benefitted from the interaction with experts.