Prakash Chandra Kandpal, Deputy CEO – SBI General Insurance Company speaks to MediaCatalyst on the CSR journey of SBI General Insurance Company, how sustainable livelihood is here to stay, implementing CSR initiatives and its future strategies. Excerpts:
COVID-19 is wreaking havoc across industries. SBIG formally set up its CSR programme with a focused strategy only in 2008. How is the CSR wing coping up with this situation?
We have been contributing to various causes since our inception. In 2018, we formally launched our CSR program with a focused strategy. The 5 key areas that we have been focusing on are education, mental health for all age groups, road-safety awareness, creating sustainable livelihoods for rural areas and sports. While we have continued putting in our efforts to keep the support going, some of these areas have been more impacted than others due to COVID-19 depending on the nature of their operations. We have had a detailed assessment of the impact, variance, causes for the same and challenges. The team has put together an individual strategy for each area to help the communities, people and causes we support to get back to normal.
We have witnessed employees from different organizations, whether privately held or government departments coming forward and voluntarily contributing a part of their salary towards the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund. What are your views on such contributions?
SBI General supports the efforts of the Government towards relief and rehabilitation of those affected during this pandemic. And we at SBIG expressed our solidarity towards the nation and extended a helping hand through PM-Cares. Our employees voluntarily donated a day’s salary amounting to Rs. 67.50 lakhs. The Company matched this amount and contributed Rs. 1.35 crores PM-Cares fund, in total. We are thankful to our employees for such support and gesture.
These have been difficult times for everyone. Grassroot level CSR initiatives have suffered immensely. What are the hurdles SBIG CSR have faced and overcame to ensure such initiatives continue?
Most areas of work were affected but the extent varied:
Due to the pandemic SSC exams and results will be delayed. To keep learning as usual for students and so that students do not fall behind in academics, NGOs started online sessions. Simultaneously, the NGOs also trained its teaching staff on the nuances of conducting online sessions. Online classes are now being taken up as part of regular activities.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, all events on global level were cancelled. NGOs have taken measures to safeguard the best interest of the athletes and staff. They launched special initiatives and webinar focused on mental health, nutrition. Athlete training modules have been modified across all sports – to train them more in an open environment to ensure the norms of social distancing.
Contact sports such as boxing, judo, wrestling is now focusing on conditioning and technical routines without partners. As and when the new dates for Tokyo 2020 are announced – coaches have begun structuring training programmes for athletes to prepare for trials and tournaments.
There were various activities initiated via WhatsApp for children – a mix of sports and education which helps in maintaining physical as well as mental health.
- Rural Development:
Construction work came to a standstill, due to which timelines have changed drastically. Towards end of May, the construction has again started. In the meantime, NGOs increased focus on creating awareness and engaging stakeholders, it emphasised on menstrual health management (MHM). There are also efforts made to expand the project by increasing the team’s ability to bring to the beneficiaries an educational program with respect to an inclusive MHM.
Since a lot of migrant labourers had migrated to their hometowns and were out of work. To boost morale and support them, NGOs helped them with employment on project basis.
One of the NGOs initiated online support facilities for People with Parkinson’s and caregivers to stay connected, share and learn from one another and from experienced health professionals for all its centres in India. This online facility has enabled the PDMDS to share its resources and help people affected by Parkinson’s regardless of their location.
What changes has the pandemic brought in methodology of implementing CSR initiatives by SBIG CSR? Any new initiative SBIG CSR may be planning post the complete unlocking of the nation?
We have conducted a thorough problem analysis and wherever possible we have implemented contact less initiatives, e.g. the online therapy sessions for patients, online education classes. Our focus is to help our current partners sustain their programmes despite the challenges.
How has the implementation of existing CSR initiatives changed in the current situation?
On ground activities have been impacted, also few NGOs stopped operations for the said period. Wherever there is a possibility of support via contact less strategy, we have continued activities.
The importance of CSR has just increased manifolds. What do you foresee in the coming months?
Focus might increase in the area of providing sustainable livelihood given the fact that many might have lost their source of income due to the pandemic. At SBIG, we will continue to support the causes that we have been and keep finding ways to compensate for the delays that might have been caused.
Can you share the details of the contribution made and CSR partnerships during the lockdown?
Apart from contributing to PM Cares Fund, we have been focused on helping our existing partnerships. We have contributed to The Akshaya Patra Foundation and to grace Cancer Foundation as well.