‘NALCO Ki Ladli’ CSR project set to take flight across India
The dream to transform girl children belonging to tribal-dominated areas and meritorious girls from remote locations belonging to below poverty line (BPL) families was born when National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO), a Navratna PSU under the Ministry of Mines, extended a helping hand to girls belonging to such families located in the periphery areas of the company’s plants in Damanjodi, Angul and Pottangi in Odisha. That dream was given a name in July 2015, when the aluminium giant launched the ‘NALCO Ki Ladli’ programme under the Government of India’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative. NALCO started this flagship CSR programme to promote meritorious girl students belonging to below poverty line families and having minimum 60 per cent marks in the schools located in periphery area of NALCO’s plants in Damanjodi, Angul and Pottangi in Odisha. The girl children are identified from Class 8th, 9th and 10th standard belonging to the villages.
Staring at a bleak future, these little girls, located in a remote corner of the country, have dreams in their eyes but little hope from life. Parents struggling to make ends meet and high dropout ratio of girls in Angul and tribal-dominated area of Damanjodi in Koraput district of Odisha was a challenge the company had to overcome for the success of this programme.
The project managers and members of NALCO’s CSR wing, NALCO Foundation, carried out baseline studies to gauge the ground reality before the initiative was finally launched in 2015. Since then, NALCO has been taking great care to handpick meritorious girl children belonging to BPL families and making steady progress to bring about a transformational change in these villages. A humble beginning was made by enrolling 32 students in 2015. Four years down the line, the number of beneficiaries has swelled to 416 children, with girl children enrolled in 45 schools from 66 villages across Angul and Koraput districts of Odisha. What began as an initiative to empower the girl child through a CSR programme called ‘NALCO Ki Ladli’ is turning out to be a powerful trigger for positive change and mindset in villages of Odisha.
Many of these girls like Anita Pradhan and Ila Biswal who have gone on to secure 1st position in their Class 10 board exams in their schools and even in the block level, have now become role models for other students in villages to emulate.
To ensure a holistic approach to education, beneficiaries are exposed to various programmes and co-curricular activities organized by NALCO from time to time, including sports activities, workshops, seminars and celebration of various events. These girls are also taken for ex cursions and visits to give them exposure of the world outside their villages. Spurred by the success of the initiative, the company is further scaling up this project to a pan-India level in collaboration with Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas and state government schools. NALCO aims to scale up this project to cover around 3,500 girl children in the first phase and thereafter has ambition to scale it up to 10,000 girls. NALCO has always gone beyond complying to the mandate of CSR expenditure – driven by the ethos for holistic development of people in the region where it operates.
From CSR to ESR
Going a step further, NALCO has moved from CSR to ESR—Employee Social Responsibility— wherein large numbers of employees have come forward voluntarily to support ‘NALCO Ki Ladli’ programme by adopting girl children and supporting their education. This innovative initiative was launched on January 1, 2019, by Dr T.K. Chand, CMD NALCO. Under this scheme, employees of NALCO can voluntarily participate in the NALCO Ki Ladli programme by adopting one girl child each. The expenditure towards one girl child in such cases will be jointly borne by the employee and NALCO Foundation in 50:50 ratio. This new scheme has generated an overwhelming response from NALCO employees and hundreds of employees have registered for participation in this scheme. With this initiative in place, while on one hand, the beneficiary base will witness a quantum jump, at the same time, employees will have ownership and direct participation in the CSR activities of the company, thereby making CSR an integral part of the organization’s culture and ethos.
NALCO has been recognized for its outstanding contribution for this project and has been selected for the prestigious President’s Award for Excellent CSR by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. There is a palpable change among the villagers who are witnessing the benefits from this programme. Reluctance and doubts have given way to hope and a sense of empowerment for these families who have seen their ‘ladli’ undergo a transformational change for a better and brighter tomorrow.