Clean India: Indian top companies pledge ₹100 crore

Girls ToiletThe corporate sector in India has responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a “Clean India,” with much enthusiasm.

During his Independence Day speech, Modi had exhorted businesses to build toilets in schools as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. And two of India’s biggest companies, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Bharti have stepped in to commit Rs 100 crore (around 17 million USD) each to build toilets in schools for girls.

While Coca-Cola India, which runs the ‘Support my School’ campaign, has also expressed solidarity to “Clean India” by stating that it hopes to build on its ongoing sanitation programme by constructing toilets in schools.

During his address to the nation on August 15, Modi announced that his government would launch a ‘Clean India’ campaign with the objective to provide all schools in the country with functioning toilets, with separate ones for girls.

TCS said it would spend Rs 100 crore for constructing hygienic sanitation facilities for girl students across 10,000 schools.

“We firmly believe that achieving the mission of providing hygienic sanitation for girl students will have a tangible impact on the level of education achievement and development of India’s next generation,” said N Chandrasekaran, managing director of TCS.

Bharti Foundation pledged Rs 100 crore to build toilets in Punjab-Ludhiana over the next three years. The group will expand its ‘Satya Bharti Abhiyan’ initiative to improve sanitation facilities in for girls in government schools in rural Ludhiana.

According to the 2011 census, about 600 million people in India do not have access to a toilet either at home or in their communities. Even schools with toilets lack separate toilets for girls and are usually devoid of running water or proper maintenance. According to experts, the lack of separate and functional toilets for girls increases their chances of dropping out.

Modi, who spoke of a need for greater sense of cleanliness on August 15, has managed to rope in corporate houses to fund the government’s ambitious programme as part of their mandatory CSR.

India is one of the few countries to make CSR activities mandatory for corporates. Since April 2014, the corporate sector has to set aside two per cent of its net profits towards CSR activities.

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