ON SOLID GROUND
Social work with underprivileged communities ensures XLRI students learn outside the classroom as well
Prairna Kumar, 24, sits with a group of rural housewives, trying to understand their dialect, discussing hygiene and how they can earn some additional money. Just a year ago, she was happy with her job at a research firm in Noida. That was all she wanted, or so she thought.
After graduating in Bio-Technology in 2010, the Gurgaon girl did not have any more academic ambitions. But Kumar understood the importance of marketing and human resource man- agement. Always a bright student, she cracked Xavier’s Aptitude Test ( XAT) 2012 and enrolled for the post graduate programme in human resource management at Xavier School of Management ( XLRI), one of the best B-schools in the country.
There are still a few months left for her to complete the course, but XLRI has already provided Kumar enough hands-on opportunities to leverage her skills. Having done an internship with Novartis, Switzerland, Kumar and her XLRI classmates are visiting Swhaspur village, about 50 km from XLRI, engaging with a large group of unlettered rural women. Their mission? To make them understand the importance of using sanitary pads and make money from them. But how? “By selling them to women in neighbouring villages once you convince them to adopt the habit,” explains an XLRI student.
Kumar, secretary of the CII Young Indians Society at XLRI, and her team are working towards building a sustainable livelihood model for rural women. Two months ago, when students of the institute first pooled in a few thousand rupees to purchase and distribute sanitary napkins in Swhaspur, they found the women unwilling to discuss an “unusual topic with strangers”. But it took only three sessions to make the women accept the free napkins. A corporate house has now promised to set up a production unit of a biodegradable sanitary napkin-making machine at Swhaspur as part of its CSR programme. “The machine will produce 1,500 napkins a day. You need to spare five days a
month for manufacturing and the remaining 25 days for marketing. Remember, you will earn only if you are able to sell,” Kumar tells the women. The women smile and nod.
These are early days but Kumar and her team have already inculcated a positive entrepreneurial mindset among the women at Swhaspur, a village that XLRI has adopted in coordination with a Jamshedpur-based NGO SEEDS (Socio Economic and Education Development Society).
“This is our motto at XLRI— men and women for others. We do not restrict our goal to maximising profit,” says E. Abraham S.J., director of XLRI. Every student at the institute is made to assimilate a value system that focuses on doing good for society, he adds. XLRI is also perhaps the only premier business school in the country where managerial ethics is a core subject for all courses and every student is made to undergo a village exposure programme.
The XLRI campus spans over 50 acres that includes eight air-conditioned amphitheatre classrooms, a computer centre, a worldclass library, three state-of-the-art auditoriums, excellent sporting and recreation facilities as well as comfortable student and staff residences. But the institution is already planning a new campus extension with better facilities that will be ready by January 2014.
XLRI is also defined by another tagline—For the Greater Good. And everyone at the institution seems to live by it. “Last year,” recalls Abraham, “when a student failed to clear the course, the institution gave him a second chance. But we had to take him off the rolls when he failed again.” And that, he says, was when the other students stepped in. They pooled in and collected Rs 4.5 lakh to help him with his future. Because of their gesture, the school also decided to give the student a matching contribution.
Established in 1949 by Father Quinn Enright of the Jesuit society, the focus of XLRI is to inculcate ethics, integrity and professional excellence.
AT XLRI, MANAGERIAL ETHICS IS A CORE SUBJECT AND EVERY STUDENT HAS TO UNDERGO AVILLAGE EXPOSURE PROGRAMME.
“XLRI provides such hands-on experience to our students that they can meet any challenge in their careers. In the modern business scenario, where sometimes a big business decision can leave a person with an even bigger ethical dilemma, we know that XLRI students will take the right course,” says Sunil Varughese, chief brand and sustainability officer.
And because it is located in Jharkhand, one of India’s most impoverished states, the institution gives its students a first-hand experience of the real India and the challenges that less privileged citizens face on a day-to-day basis. It gives XLRI students an insight on how to serve the nation and community better.
XLRI STUDENTS WITH WOMEN AND CHILDREN OFSWHASPUR VILLAGE