ON SOLID GROUND

So­cial work with un­der­priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ties en­sures XLRI stu­dents learn out­side the class­room as well

India Today - - SCHOOL SPECIAL - By Amitabh Sri­vas­tava

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.

Www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com

SU­BIR HALDER/

XLRI STU­DENTS WITH WOMEN AND CHIL­DREN OFSWHASPUR VIL­LAGE

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