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Affirmative Action

India was envisioned as a country with social equality and justice. However, discrimination prevailing through ages has made the backward classes of our society feel ignored and disregarded, resulting in various grievances.

An overall economic development of society is only possible when the rights and benefits of the socially deprived are introspected upon and catered to. Individuals of the backward classes need to be strengthened through suitable opportunities, thereby securing an inclusive growth of the whole society. Different private organisations have an important role to play in societal development, and, upgrading the living standards of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is one of their major concerns. This Corporate Social Responsibility acts as a benchmark for the excellence of organisations in their business ascent.

As per the stated guidelines of the Confederation of Indian Industries, all enlisted members come under the purview of Affirmative Action. A code of conduct was drafted between the CII and ASSOCHAM back in 1996, with respect to this idea. The respective councils of the two entities monitor the operation module of the member organisations with due regard to Affirmative Action. A number of proposed concrete steps have to be followed by the members, the progress on which are closely monitored by CII.

Initiatives of Tata Sponge Iron Limited in Affirmative Action

Employment

Tata Sponge Iron Limited stands committed to the objective of extending its continuous support to the underprivileged. The statistics provided below indicates the Company's receptiveness to the idea of employing individuals of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to work for the organisation:

Particulars Category of employees
Officers Union employees Total
Total no. of employees 164 289 453
No. of ST employees 2 49 51
No. of SC employees 3 23 26
Percentage of ST / SC employees 4.31 24.91 17

Tata Sponge provides ample employment opportunity to individuals of the backward classes. Among the total number of contract labourers that the company hires from time to time, more than 75% represents the SC and ST community. Bulk of the 500 odd contract labourers are from the backward community.

Entrepreneurship

  • The area surrounding Tata Sponge is primarily a mining belt, which offers higher compensation to their daily labours, which caused a steady out flow of labour from the agriculture sector, causing the farmers shortage of labour for farming, and compelled them to resort to one crop a year. To address the labour problem, company motivated a team of 5 youth from the SC/ST community to form a SHG, by assisting them to form a registered society “Biraja Farming Co-Op. Agency”(all the 5 members are from ST community), during 2008. The company provided a power tiller to this group to plough their land and for generating additional income, by lending the motorised machine to other farmers in the vicinity, on chargeable basis. During the year, the group not only cultivated their land without any labour problem, but also earned a decent income for them. In the subsequent years, the profits became even better. The power tiller was procured at a cost of Rs.1,10,000/- with 20% subsidy from government & 5% by the group, while the balance 75% was borne by the company.

    Encouraged by the success, the company replicated the programme in another three gram panchayats, by creating 3 more SHGs from among the SC/ST community, who have also been provided with 3 new power tillers, on similar terms & guidelines.
     
  • In order to enthuse the belief of sustainable living, 2 SHGs having hundred percentage ST female members were identified and necessary trainings on various small entrepreneurship building capabilities were imparted. With the financial assistance and motivation, Maa Durga SHG with 10 ST female members was given training to make phenyl by Jana Shiksha Training Centre, Keonjhar. Today this Group produces around 1000 ltrs of phenyl. To help them market their produce, the company has come forward to buy 300 ltrs, while another another 200 ltrs is being consumed for consumption by residents of Tata Sponge colony. The group markets directly 500 ltrs in other areas. The group is now full fledged entrepreneur and growing from strength to strength.
     
  • Maa Mangala SHG, yet another female membered SHG prepares a Nutritional Supplement of powdered Rice-flakes and Gram flour. VSN initiated them into this trade by training them through Jana Siksha Training Centre. Each packet of 500 gms. Is sold at Rs. 34/- allowing them a profit of Rs. 5/-. In 6 months time they have made a gross profit of Rs. 27,000/-. Orders for these Nutritional Supplement are pouring in from nearby villages.

Employability

  • With the buoyancy in demand for iron ore and consequent mushrooming of operating units in the surrounding, many direct & indirect job opportunities were created. One such opportunity was for trained drivers. Assessing the potential, the company donated one of its pool vehicles to VSN to set up a Driving Training School. VSN appointed a trained teacher and started driving course which, apart from the driving skills, also included basic maintenance & repair work. VSN also got the driving school acknowledged by the District Transport Office (DTO), Keonjhar, under which all the candidates recommended by this school were to be issued driving license by the DTO authorities, without the driving test. The school imparted training to 254 local ST/SC youths (male & female) in different batches, and on completion of course, conducted formal tests, both in technical and practical fields, as per the prescribed syllabus of Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR). All successful candidates got their driving licenses from DTO, Keonjhar. Today, majority of them have secured permanent jobs in different units while others have purchased vehicles and are driving on commercial terms. During the current year so far, 54 such trainees have already been trained.
     
  • With the gradual decline in mining business in the surrounding, most of the local youth, particularly girls, who could not pursue higher qualification, were in dire need of employment. To address their needs in a sustained manner, Tata Sponge in association with Tata Business Support Services(TBSS) set up a Rural BPO Training Centre at Bilaipada. The first batch saw 21 candidates qualifying for higher training & job thereafter, at TBSS. This initiative is in its 9th batch now and have already trainined 128 students, with a success rate of over 90% in ensuring their placement in jobs. To facilitate their smooth transition, the company personnel involve themselves from initial selection & imparting basic training to even arranging their accommodation at Jamshedpur initially and then following up with TBSS for their recruitment. Soft loans are also provided to the needy candidates for their settlement at Jamshedpur during the initial period.

    Apart from the above, company For creation of more employment opportunities, specially amongst the economically backward SC/ST community, the company in collaboration with ITI, Barbil has developed an in-house vocational training module, under which it imparts a one-year on-the-job trade skills and also pays stipends to the trainees. The different trades, for which in-house training is provided, are Fitter, Welder, Mechanical, Electrical & Wiremen, as these have good demand in this industrial & mining area. Company goes beyond the minimum number of imparting training to 12 ITIs every year and takes extra candidates, solely from the SC/ST community. The entire cost of such training is being borne by the company. Job prospects for candidates completing training from a TATA company is very bright, which is evident from the high percentage of placement, after completion of training

Education

  • One of the nearby villages, Lahanda, has been divided into two parts by a railway track and National Highway. While the side closer to the highway is inhabited by families primarily belonging to general caste, the other side is occupied by the ST community, who suffer the stigma of being untouchable. Their children could not attend school as their parents found it unsafe for their children to purse education with the upper class students. To address the urgent need of imparting education to such children while keeping the social stigma in mind, Tata Sponge initiated action through VSN to start a school for children above 3 years of age. The school named as ”BASANTI BIDYA PITHA” was started in the month of October 2009 in a club house with 26 ST children and two teachers hired from within the village. All required assistance for running the school was provided by VSN, including periodical visits by the volunteers to ensure sustenance of this endeavor. Within a short span, the school has gained momentum & fame as the strength of the student got increased to 131 as on date. To begin with, the school currently conducts classes for three standards (i)Nursery (ii)Class-I,(iii)Class-II, & (iv)Class-III. The attendance of this school is above 90%.

    As a mark of success, the school attracted the attention of the government as the local authorities have recently taken over the management of this school and have since appointed another lady teacher. VSN still continues to support the school through regular educational aids & motivation in the form of organizing competitions and by providing nutritious supplements.
     
  • Mr. Samai Majhi (ST) of Chamakpur G.P. was a bright student who had cleared his Class X and XII examinations in flying colours. However, much to his desire, he did not have the required funds to pursue a technical qualification. VSN approached the youth and offered to provide the required financial support (Rs. 40,000/-) to further his technical education. This helped Mr.Majhi to secure admission to a 4-year Advanced Mining Diploma at Odisha Mining Engineering College, Keonjhar which he cleared with remarkable outcome. Impressed by his performance at OMEC, Keonjhar, he was offered employment at Rungta Mines immediately after his completion of course. Mr.Majhi is today an officer at Rungta Mines, and comfortably supports his family.

Apart from the above shining examples on Education, the other initiatives include building infrastructure, support to mid day meals programmes in schools, scholarships at national, state & district levels, providing school implements & study materials, etc. In scholarship, the company also contributes Rs.70,000/- to the Foundation of Academic Excellence & Access (FAEA) annually.

 

     
   
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