Through Mrida, a Social Business Venture, Mahindra & Mahindra took their rural development initiatives across 11 villages in Kushinagar District to the next level. In the first phase, the villages were electrified with solar grids and in the second phase, using energy access as the base, other initiatives were launched. Today, at Village Khabharabhar, an E-Hub and a Medical Camp were inaugurated, and E-Rickshaws and Soil Health Cards handed over to beneficiaries in the presence of senior officials of the Kushinagar District Administration, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mrida, and the local Mahindra dealer.
Under the Mahindra MPowered Village Initiative taken up last year in the District, 11 off-grid villages were lit up using solar micro grids. Lighting up of the Villages is but the first step in this unique developmental initiative, which focuses on providing avenues for livelihood generation, skill training and economic enhancement leading to social change. Since these are rural communities, the focus is also on agri-interventions and providing inputs to ensure that optimal benefits can be derived from the parcel of land that the farmer cultivates.
With the E-Hub, education, entertainment and e-commerce come within easy reach of remote, underserved communities. With the battery operated E-Rikshaw, villagers are able to commute in a convenient and eco-friendly way. Keeping in mind the agrarian nature of the local economy, the Soil Health Cards are able to enlighten the villagers about the condition of the soil – the first step towards providing proper inputs that could significantly improve agricultural output and productivity. Likewise, a Health camp was conducted to make the villagers aware of the health issues and establish a baseline from which a concerted initiative at improving the villagers’ health can be taken up.
According to Arun Nagpal – Co-founder & Director, Mrida Group, “Even small interventions can lead to major changes. At Mrida, we advocate the concept of ‘Think Small’ and ‘Be a Transformer’. Mrida therefore, worked on the immediate, basic needs of these rural households. We are happy that Mahindra and Mahindra and the District Administration were completely in sync with our plan and fully supported us to ensure that providing the basic amenities became a part of our mandate. As he says – “Our biggest gratification has been to watch the joy on the faces of the beneficiaries”.
Mrida conducted a baseline survey, which encompassed the complete population of these hamlets and came up with the core issues and concerns. The Survey showed that besides electricity, what was required by the people was transport connectivity, agri inputs, education and healthcare – and this is what the MPowered Village Program is now concentrating upon.
“We at M&M are focused on creating real changes in the communities that we operate in. We are very happy that Mahindra MPowered Villages are promising to change the lives of their residents for the better. What is also important is that for us CSR means sustainable initiatives, and not just charity – and we can clearly see signs of sustainability in the inputs that we are providing”, says Mr. Anirban Ghosh, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Mahindra and Mahindra. “We are also very happy that the District Administration has taken cognizance of our efforts and has been very supportive of our initiatives”, he adds.
The focus on sustainable development stays centre-stage with the MPowered Village initiative in Kushinagar. Energy access and related interventions are being used as tools for holistic development across other villages including Belwa ulf Belwania, Jhajhwa, Kashi Tola, Chilwan Tola, Ragarganj, Chakani Bhumiyari Patti, Lehni II, Chakani Puran Chapra, Chakani Bhoj Chapra, Mishrauli and Inderpur.