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Perhaps the most overlooked story of Reliance is the transformation that has taken place in the areas where Reliance has set up its plants. These are not stories that are well known. In fact they are often overshadowed by the sheer magnitude of the Company’s other activities. But these are stories which are bringing about a quantum change in the quality of life of people in direct and simple ways.

Caring for People
?The Reliance Way

The word “Reliance?conjures up visions of mega projects, financial wizardry, superb operational skills and, above all, tremendous goodwill from millions of happy shareholders. Reliance Industries Limited, the largest and the fastest growing business group in India, has a presence in major sectors of the Indian economy, including oil and gas, petrochemicals, refining and marketing, power, telecom and infocom.

Reliance strongly believes that organisational growth objectives need to be married with the overall developmental imperatives of society and the community at large for ensuring sustainable all-round growth. A Reliance official admits, frankly, that the Company does not have a direct approach to Family Planning and only occasionally conducts family planning camps and sets up antenatal centres. However, the Company’s social welfare and community development initiatives are so noteworthy that they indirectly help in reducing India’s population growth.

Reliance focuses on key areas, viz. health care, education, empowerment of women and the overall development of the communities in which it operates.

Health care
Reliance accords high priority to the provision of adequate and modern medical services to all its employees, their families and the local population at all its sites. A senior official of Reliance says: “My wife had cancer a few years ago and when Mukeshbhai (Ambani) got to know, he quietly made arrangements for the operation. The doctor did the biopsy and the report was conveyed not to me but them. The top management booked a room in the Tata Memorial Hospital, the right doctor was identified and surgery done. I didn’t know about all this till the last minute. The management took the tension on itself. As a result of their concern and urgency, my wife survived. Reliance has made an emotional investment in me.?/p>

Reliance emphasizes prevention of work-related health hazards, reduction of health impairment and the promotion of positive health. According to another Reliance official, “When the subject of giving helmets and shoes to workers came up, someone said that the workers would not wear them since they had been unaccustomed to doing so for years. But we persisted and educated them on why the helmet and the shoes were important. We said, ‘We don’t only want to see a world record for the fastest time in which anyone has set up a refinery, we are also interested in creating a record in human safety.?The motivation level among the workers rose after that.?/b> Senior health specialists, fully supported by qualified doctors and trained paramedical staff, are available at all locations.

At Lodhivali near Patalganga, Reliance has inaugurated an 82-bed, state-of-the-art hospital called the Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, dedicated to free trauma care of accident victims on the Mumbai-Pune National Highway, in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. Apart from trauma care, the hospital treats industrial workers as well as other local people in nearly all areas of medicine and surgery. It provides free outpatient and subsidised in-patient treatment for needy and poor patients. A modern Computerised Tomography (CT) scan facility has recently been inaugurated, which will be the first such facility in the entire Raigad district.

In the year 2000-2001 Reliance conducted health awareness campaigns to address common health concerns such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, backache prevention and lifestyle management at its Patalganga complex.

The occupational health and family welfare centre established at its famous Jamnagar complex caters to the comprehensive health care needs of employees and their families. Its regular activities include pre-employment medical examinations, periodic medical check-ups of employees, school health check-ups, preventive immunization and medical camps. At Motkhavadi in Jamnagar, Reliance has opened a free round-the-clock medical centre. Besides, all villages have access to mobile health vans. A medical data management system has been developed and installed at the Jamnagar medical centre, resulting in no (or minimal) use of paper. This programme will be implemented in phases at other Reliance sites as well.

Also, its Naroda complex houses a full-fledged health centre with facilities for emergency and routine health care. The Company’s Hazira manufacturing complex conducts health audits, medical monitoring, comparative studies of interdepartmental health status and steady improvement in all medical facilities. A physiotherapy department was introduced last year.

In another remote village, Sikka, on the western coast of Gujarat, a serious worry has vanished from the lives of its inhabitants. Two years ago the villagers needed to travel a minimum of 30 km. to reach the nearest medical centre. Now, with Reliance providing a free, state-of-the-art, health care centre nearby, the scenario has changed completely.
Reliance has made a substantial contribution to upgrade the Sir Hurkisondas Nurrotumdas (HN) Hospital in Mumbai, well known for treating the middle and lower-middle strata of society on a “Not For Profit?basis. This project is currently under execution under the auspices of the Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation and is likely to be completed over the next few years. It has already started converting the hospital into a “patient-focused? state-of-the-art centre of excellence in the field of health care. Recently a world-class children’s ward was inaugurated in HN Hospital.

Education
Education has been a key area for all social activities at Reliance. Reliance runs its own schools at its manufacturing sites, which provide high quality education to the children of employees, and also to the children living in nearby areas. These schools provide education to over 4,000 students, and are equipped with modern amenities such as well-stocked libraries, computers, laboratories, sports facilities and playgrounds. Free transportation is provided to all students. A fleet of 25 buses at Patalganga and 12 buses at Hazira enables over 1,000 students living in nearby villages to attend school every day.


Reliance runs its own schools at its various manufacturing sites.

Apart from this, Reliance provides assistance to schools in nearby areas by helping in the construction of school buildings and providing computers. The Company has a scheme to send books to 1,000 libraries in and around the district. In Patalganga, Reliance has started a training project for teachers called Anand-dayee Shikshan, with UNICEF and the Raigad zilla parishad, covering all 2,500 primary schools of zilla parishad and has trained more than 5,000 teachers and officers.

In Hazira, too, some of the village children have been sponsored for the SSC ex aminations and young villagers have been given technical training.

In the year 2000-2001 the “Reliance Kargil Scholarship Scheme? floated specifically with the purpose of assisting families of Kargil war heroes, has benefited children from 89 families of Army and Air Force personnel in the first year of its inception.

The Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation and the J.H. Ambani Education Trust also undertake educational support activities such as providing scholarships, grants and awards for deserving students for further education. Since the inception of the Foundation in 1996, 1,400 students have received SSC merit rewards and undergraduate scholarships in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and the union territories in Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Three toppers from each district are given rewards and scholarships.

Last year a special award and scholarship scheme was introduced by Reliance for district toppers in the handicapped category to help physically challenged students obtain equal opportunities in education. Apart from rewarding meritorious students, it also assists them in their overall development by organising regular seminars on topics such as personality development and information technology, which are not normally covered in the academic curriculum.

Reliance has endowed a Chair for Corporate Governance in the National Law School, the premier legal education institute in India. The Reliance Chair will coordinate studies, academic courses, training, curriculum development, publication, information and documentation in Corporate Laws and Governance. Recently the Company has joined hands with other corporate houses to set up a business school in India, in association with Wharton and Kellogg business schools in the U.S.

Empowerment of women
A senior employee of Reliance is quoted as saying: “We have recognised that the clue to keep a Reliance man happy lies in keeping his wife happy and involved. In Jamnagar, the Reliance Employees?Wives Association is an active organisation that is assisting our project in its own way. It receives the new recruits and their families at the Jamnagar station, arranges for schooling for the children of those coming in and even arranges lunch dabbas to be sent to bachelors working at the site. I’ll tell you how this pays off. Some time back, a Reliance man wanted to leave the Company. His wife made him change his mind.?/p>

Apart from the wives of employees, Reliance is also helping rural women to stand on their own feet. In Patalganga, it has helped the formation of Mahila Mandals or women’s cooperatives. The Mahila Mandal organises a host of activities ranging from maintenance of water tanks in villages to micro-savings and loan schemes, from supervision of balwadis to running the super bazaar in Lodhivali colony. The Company also sponsors vocational training courses for women.

It also holds the annual Vimal “Mother-in-law Contest?where it rewards the best mother-in-law from entries sent by daughters-in-law. This is an attempt by Reliance to forge closer family ties and also to recognise the contribution of women in the family.

Improving the quality of life
From the day work commences at the plant ite, a dedicated team starts its own humble project to improve the quality of life in the surrounding villages. In fact, at Jamnagar, where it has built the world’s largest grassroots refinery-cum-petrochemical and energy complex, Reliance started community development work even before starting construction work. After the devastating cyclone that hit Jamnagar in June 1998, Reliance carried out a large-scale relief operation that covered Jamnagar city and neighbouring villages. Over 2,000 light poles were erected and power supplied within three days. Seven medical centres and four ambulances carried out medical relief operations throughout the region and free medicines were also distributed. Reliance fulfilled approximately 25 per cent of the city’s demand for drinking water from the supplies made from its Jamnagar complex for over two months.


Arranging for water supply for residents of Patalganga.

It should be noted that this is the first time in the history of India that an industrial house provided potable water in such large quantities to the affected area. In the year 2000-2001, Reliance laid a 22 km.-long pipeline to provide water supply, providing 20 lakh gallons of drinking water per day to the people of Jamnagar.

At Patalganga in Maharashtra, for the last 15 years, Reliance has been taking part in various welfare schemes such as providing water tanks, modern sanitation facilities and loans at extremely low interest rates to villagers through cooperatives.

In the hamlet of Dandphata, in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, women no longer have to trek miles to fetch potable water during the hot summer season. A water pipe laid in the village ensures that villagers no longer worry about water scarcity.

Reliance has already built water supply tanks and cattle sheds or gaushalas in eight villages, viz. Motikhavdi, Nanikhavdi, Meghpar, Sikka, Padana, Gagava, Pipdi and Nana Lakhia, and has arranged for free cow fodder. Several temples and community halls have also been built.

Above all, Reliance is helping the youth in the villages to become self-sufficient by providing them with a better means of livelihood.

Reliance has provided Mora village with water supply, including overhead tanks and a distribution network. Maintenance of these facilities has also been undertaken by the Company. Twenty pucca houses were handed over to landless labourers of the village. To overcome the acute power shortage in Mora, the Company has also financed the installation of transformers.

Reliance has improved drainage in Kawas, Bhatpore, Limla and Ichhapore. The Company is also committed to community development at Hazira in Gujarat.

Most importantly, Reliance passed the acid test when a massive earthquake ?over 7 on the Richter scale ?shook Gujarat on January 26, 2001, reducing parts of the State to rubble. Reliance placed all available human and material resources at the disposal of the State Government and the Army/Air Force authorities for rescue and relief operations. More than 20 diesel generator sets were provided in Bhuj, the worst affected area, for restoration of emergency power. A reliable communication network was set up linking nearby affected areas with Jamnagar, through wireless, satellite and terrestrial telephone lines. Reliance opened several medical centres, including a large makeshift hospital, with 12 orthopaedic and general surgeons, 20 other doctors and 30 paramedical staff, and over 200 other personnel, on duty, round the clock, for provision of medical aid. As many as 25,000 tarpaulins were flown in and used to set up community tents.


A world-class children's ward inaugurated at Sir Hurkisondas Hospital.

The Reliance Employees?Wives Association also swung into action. The Association supplied food packets, including basic rations as well as pre-packed meals prepared daily to over 15,000 affected people. Reliance has set up 18 screen printing units in Anjar in the effort to re-establish traditional means of livelihood of families in the area. The team is also putting up shelters, where schoolchildren can resume their classroom studies. The Company also allocated a sum of Rs. 15 crores for earthquake relief measures in Gujarat. In fact, just six months before the earthquake struck Gujarat, the Company had won the “Excellence in Community Development?Award for 1999-2000 set up by the Golden Jubilee Memorial Trust and presented by the South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry, in June 2000, in recognition of its commitment to people.

Courtesy: Ramesh Purohit
Reliance Industries Limited

OUR CORPORATE BUREAU

It’s an issue that’s too sensitive for our political bosses to resolve. The late Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, tried her hand at it and made a little progress. But corporate India is taking some steps to challenge and take on the issue of a population stabilisation. The Indian population is growing at such a rapid pace that its momentum threatens the growth and development of India. It now stands at a little over one billion.

The Indian corporate sector has come forward to launch an initiative entitled Population First ?a sustainable human development programme with a focus on health and family welfare issues and aims to work with Central Government and State Governments to help achieve the goal of population stabilisation by 2045, as enunciated in the National Population Policy 2000.

The Population First initiative was launched on October 7, with the formation of a trust under Population First. The board of trustees and founder members of the trust include eminent Indian corporate heads like Keshub Mahindra, Ratan Tata, Deepak Parekh, Jamshyd Godrej, M.S. Swaminathan, Tejendra Khanna, Begum Bilkees Latif and Bobby Sista. In addition to the board of trustees, the programme has an active advisory council which is headed by Dr. J.J. Irani, former managing director of Tata Steel, and comprises eminent personalities like Ms. Rajashree Birla, Director, Aditya Birla Group.

The Financial Express, 9-10-2002