Two young girls began a hunger strike in Bidadi, a town that has grown into an industrial cluster in Ramanagara district, on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Nothing that their families said nor the delicacies they offered, swayed them. The girls stayed adamant until their parents built toilets for their families’ use. Having experienced the benefits of having clean toilets in their school, the girls were determined on ensuring their homes had similar sanitation.
Auto industry honcho Vikram Kirloskar beams with pride when he narrates this true life story. The girls are students of one of the 44 government schools where Toyota Kirloskar Motor has built 71 toilet units and their action was spurred by learning ABCD – no, not the alphabet but ‘A Behavioral Change Demonstration’ promoted by the company.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor, established in 1997, is a joint venture of Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan and Kirloskar Systems Ltd, India. Vikram Kirloskar is the Vice Chairman of Toyota Kirloskar Motor which has two manufacturing plants in Bidadi. “Our commitment to CSR has emerged from a persistent desire to grow as responsible citizens, and our drive towards building a sustainable company for the future. This mindset drives us to find innovative solutions for the next big challenge, whether that is introducing the electric car in India or ensuring our communities have accessible sanitation units”, he says.
The ‘Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya’ (Clean India Clean School) campaign is one of the many corporate social responsibility initiatives of the company. It is in line with Toyota’s global vision that goes beyond creating better cars to enrich the lives of communities by solving local issues.
In India, Toyota’s CSR has touched 1 million lives through its activities in road safety, environment, education, health and hygiene, and skill development. Toyota brings the same rigour used in its manufacturing and business units to its CSR practice, and its plan-do-check-act model brings transparency and accountability, and ensures continuous improvement of the projects.
Rural government schools are often of poor quality, some dating back to pre-Independence era, with dilapidated structures, few toilets, and no libraries. This reflects in high drop out rates in the Ramanagara district. Toyota uses an integrated approach, working with multiple stakeholders to improve outcomes in education for students. Last year alone, it distributed books, bags and stationery to 12,500 children in 172 schools and learning kits to 5600 children in 200 anganwadis (rural childcare centres).
Building healthier communities
Significantly, the company has initiated sanitation, water and toilets projects with the active participation from communities. People from the community are involved right from the planning stage and throughout the implementation to ensure that the projects are self-sustainable. This happens only if the communities can take ownership of the assets created and are responsible for the benefits of the programmes.
Sanitation and hygiene are key development priorities in India; only 57.8% of households in Karnataka use an improved sanitation facility with just 13.6% of people having latrines appropriate to the geographical area. Apart from building toilets in schools in Ramanagara district, the company has also built public sanitation units in different parts of Karnataka: Haliyal, Dandeli and Joida in Uttara Kannada district.
It designed the unique ABCD programme to create awareness about good sanitation practices among children, teachers, and the community. Initiated in schools where it had previously built toilets for girls, it was aimed at motivating individual households to build toilets. Children were inspired to spread the message in the community, and this led to 7000 households building toilets and 90 villages being declared open defecation free.
Toyota takes healthcare to the people through a mobile medical unit that benefits 1800 people and has donated medical equipment to health centres in Byramangala and Bidadi. It has also set up six safe drinking water purification units that benefit close to 150,000 people.
An alarming 17 deaths occur every hour on Indian roads, and causes a loss of 3% of GDP annually, translating to around $58 billion in losses. Road safety is one of Toyota’s global focus areas along with its focus on building quality cars, and the company focuses on reducing accidents and fatalities through several programmes educating people about road safety and disciplined driving.
Toyota Safety Education Programme for students from Classes 5 to 9 includes classroom training, behavior change and formation of road safety clubs. It organised a national level competition at IIT, Delhi where the best road safety clubs from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru exhibited their efforts to various stakeholders such as UN, WHO, policy makers, AIIMS and the police. It has also built 7 safety parks to train students and drivers of school buses in road safety protocols.
By 2022, it is estimated that the automotive sector would need 15 million skilled workers, and assessing the need among students and youth for skilling, career guidance, counselling and awareness about job opportunities, the company set up the Toyota Technical Education Programme where it provides free training and education to meritorious, financially disadvantaged students from rural Karnataka to get them ready for the industry. Toyota also partners with Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) throughout India.
The Toyota Technical Training Institute is a Centre of Excellence, the first institute of its kind outside of Japan, and is in the factory in Bidadi. It includes a training centre, a sports ground and a dormitory where 64 young people are trained each year and placed within Toyota’s automotive workforce.
Going beyond technical skills, the institute equips students holistically and develops people rather than just skills. It is globally recognised, and has been certified both in India and in Japan as a leading training institute. It is considered a model institute by the Karnataka government, and Toyota’s efforts have received recognition from the Government of India. Many corporates consider it a model for high-quality training.
Nurturing the environment
Concerned about the dearth of awareness among students and the community on keeping their surroundings clean, Toyota has created GreenMe, a programme to develop eco consciousness among students, teachers and community, focusing on themes such as water, waste, biodiversity, community intervention and climate change. This year, 35 schools were part of this project and saw the awareness level rise from 16% to 66%. Proper waste disposal systems were also established in these schools.
Toyota has motivated and involved the community to adopt environmental stewardship by rejuvenating a lake in the vicinity of Bidadi. It also plans to set up a theme-based eco park that will focus on environment conservation.
Awards & Recognitions
- CSR Excellence Award for Project ABCD by Bureaucracy Today in 2017
- CSR Impact Award for Project ABCD by India CSR Summit in 2017
- Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Award (AREA) 2017 for Health and Hygiene
- Awarded CSR Practice of the Year at the CSR Excellence Awards 2017
- Recognised as one of India’s top 100 companies for sustainability and CSR by Responsible Business Ranking in 2017