What makes a restaurant stand out? Is it just the food? What about the am- bience and service?
Talking Hands, an unassuming restaurant in Hyderabad, has no Michelin stars, and no celebrity chef. It serves all the local favourites like Chicken 65, and chilly chicken. For me, though, it stands out because it is proof of how inclusive em- ployment can make perfect business sense. Save for the cook, all the staff are deaf. It was set up a few months ago by our NGO partners the Deaf Enabled Foundation (DEF) along with the Telangana tourism department. I was delight- ed to enjoy a lunch at Talking Hands with the TMF team on a recent visit to Hyderabad.
As soon as you enter the restaurant, a bright mural shows the most common gestures in sign language. The menu further teaches you how to communicate with the staff, as do the table mats. Each dish on the menu has a sign code, and diners can learn the ges- tures to place their orders. I am happy to add that 13 of their employees were trained at our SMART+ centre run in partnership with DEF. We were served personally by Mohammad Hanif (in the photo below), a SMART+ trainee, who has also worked at the Lemon Tree Hotel, and is now proud to be the Senior Steward at Talking Hands.
With only a little more attention to detail than your average restaurant, Talking Hands succeeds in walking the talk as far as inclusion for persons with disabilities is concerned. We hope to see the hospitality industry welcome more persons with disabilities into its workforce.
Talking Hands has brightened up the lives of 25 deaf employees. I hope that this festive season will bring the Talking Hands team suc- cess in their endeavours!
May this Diwali bring us all light and inspiration from role models like Talking Hands!
With best wishes,
Government schools come under a lot of flak for underperforming, and in most cases, rightfully so. Some time ago, I’d spoken about how government school teachers are not under-qualified, but what is missing is a ‘tadka’ of motivation, pushing them to transact better in the classroom.
One project shattering the stereotype of the disinterested teacher is the In-Service Teacher Education Institute (ITEI), the result of a successful public private partnership between Tech Mahindra Foundation and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC). EDMC directly runs 365 primary schools. It employs nearly 5,500 teachers to teach 2.15 lakh children. This year, ITEI will complete five years. Over the past five years, it has conducted several workshops not just in subject matters such as mathematics, English and science, but also techniques to manage large classrooms, creating a child friendly environment in school, practices to ensure inclusion and equity, fair assessment of children and ways to enhance parental involvement in children’s education.
Perhaps one of the most significant changes we have managed to bring about has been in the attitude of the teachers – where they now look forward to workshops with our trainers, rather than viewing it as yet another duty to discharge. Each training session ends with feedback from the teachers, and over 85% of the participants find the trainings relevant and enriching. Do watch this video to see how ITEI is transforming government schools in East Delhi, one teacher at a time!
I am pleased to share that EDMC is keen to extend this partnership beyond the original five years, and other municipal corporations have expressed interest in a similar programme being created for their schools. We hope that in the coming years, ITEI will show that government schools can deliver value to their students.
The subject of the mail “Inviting Artists” was so overwhelmingly enticing to the people like us who spend our whole time in the workspace, sadly parted from our colourful hobbies. The thought of painting came off as very refreshing to our minds. There was also this feeling of excitement when we got to know that the tiny tots of BBMP Chinnayanpalya were the targeted audience.
As the schoolchildren were enjoying their summer vacation, TMF in association with volunteers from Tech Mahindra thought of giving them a warm welcome on the school re-opening day by adding an essence of freshness. As a part of that, we initiated a plan to white wash the walls and give the school a brand new look. The activity of cleaning the walls of the classrooms and getting it ready for the white wash lasted around two weekends. We could have hired an external vendor and got the things done in a regular manner, but we did not opt that way though it was easy. Instead, we all assembled and started working on it in spite of the hurdles we came across in accomplishing our plan.
Scrapping the remains on the walls, dusting the rooms and cleaning was a tedious task. Nevertheless, the teamwork paid off well and we could successfully wind up the task over a weekend. Accomplishing the other pending activities such as painting the black boards, white wash of the entire school was the target for the next weekend. It was a challenging task for all the volunteers as no one was aware of white washing and painting the walls. However, the volunteers were so stubborn and never gave up until we got everything done. A strong feeling of inner joy kept us motivated and that is how we achieved our targeted milestone.
Our next mission was to paint the educational aids in the classrooms, make specific pictures related to library area, idea zone etc. For adding a touch of beauty to the freshly painted school walls, there was an invite for artistic volunteers. When the interested parties gathered, we held a short meeting to discuss and materialize the third weekend activity. Different themes and educational/informative images aimed at changing the look of classroom walls and the common area, were brought up and listed down. We finally geared up for the planned activity.
We distributed the task among all our members and started working on it. It is a wonderful feeling to do paintings on walls. We, who were used to paint on chart papers and canvas boards were immensely happy painting a big picture on the walls. The colorful outcomes depicted cravings of the artists hidden in us and our passion towards these artistic hobbies. Smears of colorful paints on our hands served as a pleasant reminder of the fun we had in this process of decorating the classrooms.
Finally, I would like to thank TMF for giving us this wonderful opportunity, yanking us out of our monotonous routine and awakening our inner artist. Wish to see more of such assignments from TMF and all the very best to the lovely and energetic volunteers who contributed for the event’s success. It leaves us in a great contentment when our efforts contribute in making someone smile.
Farheen KhanRead More
Today Tech Mahindra Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Tech Mahindra Ltd. reaches two important milestones.
The first milestone is that April 2017 marks ten years since the establishment of the Foundation. Since 2007, we have been diligently working in the areas of education, employability and inclusivity for persons with disabilities.
What I would like to say here is that it is not the mere fact of completing 10 years that is noteworthy, but the journey the Foundation has taken over the past decade.
Mr. Anand Mahindra said to us once, “Education is the single most powerful intervention for transforming lives.” India is a young country compared to many developed nations. The median age is 29 years, and a majority of the population is below the age of 35. There has been a lot of buzz around India’s ‘demographic dividend’ waiting to be tapped, and an equal amount of concern about the same young people whose progress in life might be obstructed by a lack of access to education and skills at the right time. We hope to make sure the ‘demographic dividend’ pays off by living our motto of ‘Empowering through Education’.
A SMART Solution
With this in mind, in addition to our school support programmes ARISE (All-Round Improvement in School Education) and Shikshaantar (where we train teachers from government schools), we began to work in the area of skill development 5 years ago. In 2012-13, we opened three SMART (Skills for Market Training) centres to skill young people in urban areas, most of whom were school drop-outs or unable to continue to higher education. We taught them English, computer skills and crucially, coached them in ‘workplace readiness’ so that our SMART trainees could walk into a new job prepared for what would be expected of them. Two years ago, KPMG assessed SMART and concluded that there is a social return on investment (SROI) of Rs 13.29 for every rupee invested. When the most vulnerable in society are empowered, everybody benefits.
In five years, we have grown from 3 to 99 centres and have imparted skills to 50,000 young people. Under the banner of SMART, we created SMART+ which skills persons with disabilities and SMART-T which imparts technical training. Last year, we raised the bar for our SMART programme by establishing the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare in New Delhi, which has the capacity to train up to 2000 allied health professionals in a year.
This brings us to our second milestone.
Today we will inaugurate the 100th SMART centre in Mumbai, in association with the Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and Deaf-blind. This centre is the first of its kind as it will tailor elements of SMART-T and SMART+ to provide technical training to persons with disabilities.
Where we are now
The TMF team has grown to over 50 people in 12 cities across India. We have been fortunate to see our programmes deliver value to our beneficiaries and also to society in general. It’s been a joy to see more and more of you join us in volunteering every year. 2016-17 saw the largest rise in both how many of you volunteered and how many hours you spent volunteering with us.
Here’s where we will stand by the end of today:
100 SMART Centres
67 Education and Disability Projects
50,000 young people skilled
Over 2,50,000 beneficiaries across programmes
As the world progresses, it is all the more imperative that we ensure that our young people at the bottom of the pyramid are not left in the past by what the future holds. We do not hold the answers to all the problems society faces, and we know that our work touches a fraction of the total number of people who need interventions like SMART to be able to take charge of their lives.
The road so far has neither been easy nor perfect. We have struggled against the challenges of India’s huge young population, made mistakes and come away wiser for them. Through all these years, what has ensured that we persisted, even when we worried about the impact we were making, has been the unstinting support the Tech Mahindra family has given us.
We now have a decade of learning and growth behind us, and are earning the trust of the communities we work with. We are quietly confident about taking on the challenges of the next 10 years.
A small note:
Going beyond numbers, it is absolutely crucial to understand what it really means to ‘impact’ someone’s life. On the occasion of 10 Years – 100 Centres of Tech Mahindra Foundation, we’ve created a short video called ‘Do Gullak’ (Two Piggybanks) loosely inspired by a true story to showcase what ‘empowering through education’ really means.
And to all of you at Tech M, please know that all your efforts, and our efforts are together making someone’s life – and nearly 2,50,000 other lives – change for the better!
Tech Mahindra FoundationRead More
Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the Union Minister Skill Development and Entrepreneurship inaugurated a dialysis laboratory at the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare, Kingsway Camp, New Delhi. This inauguration coincided with celebrations marking 10 years of Tech Mahindra Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Tech Mahindra Ltd. and the establishment of 100 Tech Mahindra SMART skilling centres. Vineet Nayyar, Executive Vice Chairman of Tech Mahindra Ltd., Rajyalakshmi Rao, Director, Tech Mahindra Ltd, and Dr. Loveleen Kacker, CEO of Tech Mahindra Foundation were also present.The inauguration of the dialysis lab will pave the way for youth to be skilled as dialysis technicians.
Rajiv Pratap Rudy, upon inaugurating the dialysis lab said, “Previous governments have focussed on giving people degrees. There are many graduates without jobs while we have a great need for skilling. Our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi places the utmost importance on skilling, which is why we launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. I am sure these boys and girls at the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy will succeed in the healthcare sector not just in India but anywhere around the world.”
Vineet Nayyar, Executive Vice Chairman, Tech Mahindra Ltd. said, “The SMART Academy for Healthcare is a very small and humble attempt, but with the right kind of support and guidance from the government I’m confident that we will be able to take this programme to greater heights.”
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Loveleen Kacker, said, “India has a dire need for allied healthcare professionals, and our youth are looking for meaningful jobs. A government report estimated a shortage of a whopping 64 lakh health professionals. The Academy aims at giving top-notch health skills to young people through its state of the art labs.”
The minister also flagged off 80 new bicycles in the Last Mile Connect project, a Green Ride initiative to connect Metro stations with colleges through a public bicycle sharing system. This is a smart-card based system which allows students to pick up bicycles and use them free of charge to commute between the Vishwavidyalaya and GTB Nagar Metro Stations and the Delhi University campus.
The Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare works towards skilling low-income youth for careers in the healthcare sector by providing subsidised training courses. The Academy has been set up in collaboration with Harijan Sevak Sangh, an organisation established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1932 to provide skills to the underprivileged.
Launched in 2016, the Academy has already trained youth as General Duty Assistants and the first batch of Operation Theatre Technicians will graduate later this year.Read More
Kickstarting the Digital Revolution: Tech Mahindra Volunteers in Mumbai lead the way
We’re trying to kickstart a digital revolution! It’s impossible for us to imagine our lives today without email or apps. Access to email and bank accounts are necessities to us, but to many young students at our Tech Mahindra Foundation SMART centres, they felt out of reach.
Thanks to over 80 volunteers from Tech Mahindra Limited and Tech Mahindra Foundation’s Mumbai team, a small digital revolution is just getting started. On the 4th and 7th of March 2017, 84 volunteers from Tech Mahindra Ltd. helped SMART students and alumni go digital at 9 SMART centres across Mumbai. From being off the digital map entirely, within a few hours, over 390 SMART students and alumni emerged armed with bank accounts, email addresses, apps to scan their documents and operate their new bank accounts and of course, Facebook accounts to show off these new skills.
“Our day began by visiting Tech Mahindra Foundation SMART Centre to teach students creation and usage of email accounts, social media platforms, cloud storage and bank accounts. To be presented with such an opportunity was like a breath of fresh air in our daily routine. We were still doubtful about whether these students may need knowledge from us pertaining to social media and use of applications in a world where internet has reached every corner…but we realised …it’s still a dream to be accomplished by them.” says Vidhi Sony and Priyanka Nair, Tech Mahindra Ltd.volunteers.
Our volunteers patiently helped the students to open email accounts and to use Google Drive to store their files. They also taught the students to open Facebook accounts and added them to the newly created TMF SMART centre Facebook groups.
Also supporting this drive were branch managers from Karnataka Bank Ltd. The branch managers spoke about the importance of having a bank account and helped the students open their own accounts. In fact, we are happy to say that of the 390 plus SMART students and alumni, 299 opened accounts! Those with the minimum balance will receive access to debit cards, cheque books and more facilities. Crucially, many of these students also chose to sign up for insurance coverage provided by the bank.
With these basics in place, the students were then shown how to make good use of the apps on their phones. Apps like Cam-Scanner are extremely useful to quickly scan documents and share them such as offer letters, appreciation letters and more. Thanks to BHIM, they can check their bank account balance and carry out transactions.
The volunteers also spent time impressing on them the need to maintain security and privacy on the internet. “The entire initiative was just as useful to us in understanding and socializing with people outside the social media just as much it was for them understanding social media. We hope our contribution goes a long way in helping more underprivileged students.” says a Tech Mahindra Elitian.
Our SMART students are enthusiastic and capable but have not received enough opportunities in life because of their backgrounds. Through our SMART centres we hope to give them the skills to succeed in modern India. As Sagar Mestri, a Tech Mahindra volunteer put it, “It was a very good experience for the volunteers as well as the students, as the students became aware about the importance of digitization and its benefits.”
The total count at the end of the digital drive
Bank accounts registered: 299
Email accounts opened: 352
No. of students who downloaded apps: 243
Facebook accounts opened: 309
Volunteering doesn’t have to be complicated or very time-consuming. Even one afternoon can help make a difference to someone’s life, as our now digitally savvy SMART students can attest to. As our volunteer Vidhy Sony put it, “Finally coming to an end to a stellar day, we were catalyzed with a sense of commitment to carry on undertaking such events in future where we can contribute towards the bright future of our nation. As it’s said “Man maketh society, and society maketh the world.”Read More
Author: Dipti Wadhwani
“I would suggest everybody to volunteer and experience the joy of making people happy”
Before I could realise I was done with four years of my college. Travelling, partying and socialising was all I did along with my studies. I always wanted to work for a social cause but had no idea of nearby NGOs as I had recently shifted to Mumbai. I joined Tech Mahindra and in the second week itself, along with my colleagues I was taken out to do some social work. It gave me an amazing opportunity to do some actual work for a good cause, in fact I felt fortunate to volunteer for Tech Mahindra Foundation.
As part of volunteering programme, we had to visit slums and inform people about the SMART programme that provides skilling opportunities to youth enabling them enter a career of their choice.
We did some interactive fun activities like street play, taking out rallies to spread awareness about the SMART programme. We told people the benefits of joining the programme and how they can realise new heights. It gave us immense pleasure and inner peace when they showed interest.
While interacting with young boys and girls I learnt that lack of interest and support hinders their educational and vocational capacities. We pledged to help people know about the programme and told them that the Foundation offers the course FREE.
Unexpectedly, we also met a young girl who got job after completing the course from SMART. She happily came forward and shared her positive experience with the people of her community.
The interaction made us love the community and the young people even more. In a nutshell, I would like to say that Volunteering at Tech Mahindra Foundation taught us some beautiful life lessons
“To see someone smile and to know that you contribute something for that smile gives ultimate joy.”
Thank you Tech Mahindra Foundation Team and TLS Team for giving us this priceless opportunity.
In an effort to promote hands on learning experience and inculcate scientific temper in children, Tech Mahindra Foundation supports Sahayata Trust an organization which reaches out to 18 government schools in Hyderabad through a Mobile Science Lab.
When we began, we came across many government school children who had to rely on a few colorful pictures and of course their imagination, to understand basic scientific phenomena such as the reflection of light or photosynthesis in plants or burning of magnesium.
Today, these students are not only able to effectively handle and use different scientific instruments but are also confident enough to demonstrate experiments to the larger world through videos. Now, these kids not only listen but also can question with full confidence.
On the 7th of December Mr. Riaz Mulla, Professional Learning Head at Tech Mahindra(Technical Learning Services) & Location Council Head Mumbai, inaugurated the 11th SMART Technical Centre in Thane District at Bhandup West. The SMART Centre will provide two and three wheeler Automation Training and equip the students to be placed as Assistant Auto Technicians. The training program is four-months long, and will include Job Training.