Women Power at Jawaharlal Nehru Pharmacity
Jawaharlal Nehru Pharmacity (JNPC), located in Vizag, A.P is a dedicated Special Economic Zone for Pharmaceutical companies. The sprawling 2400 acre facility is equipped with state of the art facilities making it an ideal location for companies to operate with global standards. The facility hosts 58 companies, most of them international heavy weights.
While allotting this land for the SEZ, the local residents were relocated to a nearby area, which is now known by the name of Pharma city colony. Basic infrastructure including residences was provided to all who were relocated. The SEZ also had two neighboring villages - Thadi and Thanam, with population of 5000 each.
Once the SEZ became operational, the companies in SEZ found the local residents to be resistant and demanding. They decided to pacify the residents by providing the jobs in their facilities. This strategy turned out to be a failure when it was realized that most of the jobs were bagged by non-residing supporters of local politicians, who used this opportunity to get jobs for their political affiliates. The local residents felt cheated and at times they turned aggressive towards the company officials and employees of the companies.
This was the scene when Ramky Foundation (RF) ventured to find a lasting solution for the problems that arose out of distrust and apprehension from the local residents. RF appointed a Community Development Officer (CDO) to look into the issues in a subjective manner and build mutual trust among the communities and JNPC management.
The CDO took note of the burning needs of the villages and took up a number of welfare initiatives. Meritorious students were offered scholarships and donations were given for the purchase of teaching and study materials. Health awareness and check-up camps were organized at routine intervals for the villagers.
The RF team realized the need to offer sustainable livelihood options for the neediest ones of the village and it was felt that intervention among the women folk in the village was the best way to initiate positive change.
And so, 1200 women from the villages were organized into self-help Groups (SHG) and these groups were affiliated into a Mutually Aided Co-operative Society (MACS). RF began providing capacity building training for all the MACS members from September 2010 in a variety of skills and capacities like book keeping, management of SHGs, awareness of schemes, etc.
The training started bearing fruit when a group of 50 women ventured to take up an idea put forth by the RF team - to start a supermarket! The whole idea was to manage the complete value chain. Members of the MACS would supply pulses, cereals and vegetables to the supermarket.
The produce was mainly grown in 20 acres of land leased out by RF to the MACS members and others in the village. RF convinced all the companies to purchase groceries for their canteens from MACS supermarket only. The supermarket managed to get a decent customer base from the local residents as well. A great number of women benefited from this initiative.
Members of MACS were a confident group by then. Selected members of the group were made members of the Human Resource committee of JNPC, which also had representation from all the companies functioning in the SEZ. This proved to be an ideal forum to put forth the concerns and grievances of the local residents in front of the SEZ management and the companies. Arrangements were made to report every job vacancies before the committee, which helped the local residents to grab them before anyone else does.
An incident that happened during the period of capacity building training is worth mentioning here. The local men planned for an agitation calling for address of a number of demands. But the agitation never happened, as the women folk of the villages stopped their men and assured the issues will be handled the best way possible. The Ramky Foundation had already won their trust.
In a very short span of time, it really has been a remarkable journey for RF at JNPC. “Come to JNPC one can clearly see how important Corporate Social Responsibility is, and how it can make a lasting impact on the lives of those whom we serve” proudly says P. Vinay Kumar, the champion of RF’s success in JNPC. He reiterates ‘All it takes is persistent effort and good intention, with a lot of passion to serve!”