Be Indian, be proud: HCL founder Shiv Nadar

“The nation is only as strong as the people that inhabit it. Hence, be Indian and be proud, and embark upon the journey of nation-building,” this was the message of Shiv Nadar, Founder Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of HCL Technologies, the Indian information technology giant that has footprints across the globe. 

Nadar, who was the chief guest at the annual „Vijayadashami Utsav‟ of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at Reshimbaug ground in Nagpur on October 8, 2019, shared the fascinating tale of how a company started in one room grew to become a globally recognized Indian brand of success. Also, he shared how HCL Technologies had been contributing to the cause of the people through various initiatives including Shiksha for school children, Shiksha Plus for adult literacy, and Samuday for empowerment of rural communities. 

The founder of HCL was full of praise for RSS. Addressing the swayamsevaks, he said, “I believe we need to be proud of what our country has achieved and is capable of achieving. As members of the RSS you have already taken the first step in this direction by joining an organization that puts the nation before the individual and instills a deep sense of pride and ownership towards the country. I would urge you to take these learnings and play your part in making sure our country continues to make its mark on the world stage.” 

Referring to the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami, Nadar said that the festival was cyclical in nature as the win of good over evil was never absolute, never complete. “It is the continuous struggle to defeat the evil within and outside that is symbolized by the recurrent nature of our celebrations. No matter how completely we destroy Ravana today, the effigy will be standing again next year, ready to be burnt again. For me, there is no metaphor which symbolizes the spirit of our nation‟s progress more than the story of Vijaydashami. For, our job in the journey of building our nation is never complete. We have to continuously work towards conquering newer challenges,” he said. 

The technocrat pointed out India had won the battle against diseases like Polio, famines, starvation and economic instability but the battle to overcome poverty, illiteracy, lack of basic healthcare, sanitation services, and other challenges remained to be addressed. However, he observed, the Government alone cannot take the country to the next level. It requires an equal involvement of all stakeholders including private sector, citizens, NGOs etc. 

Also, Nadar referred to the demographic dividend of India – its young population. He stressed upon the need of training and enabling the asset (young population) to ensure that the youth could together take India to its rightful place in the pantheon of the great nations in the world. But, he added, „solutions of yesterday‟ will not help in achieving the desired results. 

India's demographic dividend has the potential to become a game-changer for the country with right education, training, and skillsets. However, he lamented, 266 million people in India cannot read or write. It is in this context that Nadar shed light on the social impact work done by HCL in the State of Uttar Pradesh, the largest State in India. 

Shocked by the findings of Annual Status of Education Report or ASER, Nadar decided to take initiative and thus „Shiksha‟ project of HCL came into being. It first identified issues that led to low learning outcomes in primary schools. These issues included inadequate school readiness, rote methods of learning, lack of appropriately trained teachers, and no system of identifying or helping children not making adequate progress in early grades. In partnership with Government, Shiksha initiative mapped the entire curriculum of UP State Board for Grades I and II in an animated audio-visual form, using HCL‟s expertise in instruction designing. It enabled classrooms to use cost-effective infrastructure including a generic laptop and a projector. As electricity was diverted for agricultural usage in villages in morning hours, Shiksha initiative provides solar panels along with equipment to make sure that laptop and projector worked for the required time during school hours. 

Since inception in 2012, Shiksha Initiative has touched almost 1,00,000 students in over 600 schools and trained close to 3,000 teachers in using ICT to make pedagogy more effective and engaging, Nadar said with pride. Given the effectiveness of the initiative, it has been mentioned as an ICT model of education in the recommendation for National Education Policy. 

HCL did not stop at this. Realising that existing 266 million adult illiterates needed to be made literate, it launched Shiksha Plus program. In a short span of two years, said the HCL founder, Shiksha Plus has enrolled over 45,000 adults. But, this program also made HCL team realise the „depth of deprivation‟ faced by certain rural communities. Hence, it went a step ahead and launched HCL Samuday project, that aims at driving integrated village development across six parameters viz. Agriculture, Education, Health, Infrastructure, Livelihood, and WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) in three blocks of 

Central Uttar Pradesh, covering 765 villages. This initiative also has yielded positive results. Under the project, initiatives like nutrition garden in households, nutrition camps, providing kids with pre-mixed nutrient rich meals to help improve their height and weight, upgrading nutrition rehabilitation centres, electrification of all health centres through solar grid or rooftop solar panels, running campaigns against open defecation, helping villagers with enhanced livelihood opportunities to generate additional revenue, assisting farmers in improving their agricultural practices leading to five-fold increase in farmers‟ income, are being implemented successfully. 

Describing Samuday as a project creating a source-code or a blue print that drives sustainable, integrated village development with strong participation from the community, Shiv Nadar said that it was right time for Governments to implement Samuday model across the country. He also urged RSS to take the Samuday model and embark upon implementation journey together with HCL. 

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