The Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme (Tata ISES) continues to provide a unique learning experience to students from across some of the world’s best universities in the area of community development and social entrepreneurship.
The 2013 edition of Tata ISES culminated, today, with a contingent of 20 international students – seven from University of California, Berkley, USA; one from the University of California, Davis, USA; seven from the London School of Economics & Political Science, UK; and five from the University of Cambridge, UK – completing their two-month experiential internship in the ongoing corporate sustainability (CS) projects of the Tata companies in India.
The batch of Tata ISES 2013, worked hands-on on the community initiatives of the Tata companies and entities like Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, Tata Motors, Titan, Tata Teleservices, Tata Capital, Tata Coffee, Tata Quality Management Services, Tata Medical Center and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust for a period of two-months. The areas of their projects ranged from the impact assessment of CS programmes at various Tata companies to sustainable livelihoods; perceptions about infection control at hospitals; safe drinking water; affirmative action; climate change programme evaluations; and road maps for a carbon neutral village (Please find attached Annexure 1: Tata ISES – 2013 project list).
The programme structure of Tata ISES 2013 provided the interns with grassroot-level exposure to India and at the same time brought international perspectives and practices to these projects at Tata companies, promoting international understanding.
One of the interns, Peter Myers, currently pursuing a M.A. in Development Practice from UC Berkley undertook a project at Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and worked in the district of Murshidabad, West Bengal with underprivileged children to gauge the impact of Integrated approach to Technology in Education (ITE) being deployed by the Trust with the objective of bridging the digital divide and improving learning processes among the ‘have nots’ of the society.
Describing his experience Myers said, “I got a real flavour in India for what local governments have the capacity to provide for their people, especially the poor, and how that gap needs to be filled by private industry, NGOs, and organizations like the Tata trusts. Vital changes like education reform, if left only to the government, will not reach the current generation fast enough. The private sector is hugely important for helping speed that change, and the Tata trusts are a major part of the effort”.
He further said, “My early career in international development has already taken me to several places around the world. The experience that the Tata ISES programme has given me is important for my future work, both in terms of improving how well I understand situations from the sub-continent that will come across my desk, and in terms of giving me a leg up over other colleagues who haven't worked in such a key area as India.”
Herbert Santo de Lima currently pursuing Msc. Environment and Development from London School of Economics interned with Tata Quality Management Services in Mumbai. He did a project on resource use efficiency and waste management for key Tata companies with the objective of generating more value, minimizing costs, and increasing operational stability.
According to Dr. Avinash Patkar, Head-Sustainability, Tata Quality Management Services, “Herbert’s Tata ISES project will be instrumental in devising waste minimization management practices for the seven Tata companies studied. The project output will be used to regularly update data on solid waste management in the companies studied and can be extended to other Tata group companies not included in the current scope.”
The visiting interns, selected by their educational institutions along with Tata representatives, come from diverse academic backgrounds such as public health & public policy, Linguistics & South Asia Studies, Development Practice, Biochemistry, Economic History and Social Anthropology. The first phase of the internship programme kicked off on June 3, 2013 with the UC Berkeley students. The second phase for the interns from UC Davis, Cambridge and the London School of Economics commenced on July 1, 2013.
A distinctive corporate sustainability internship programme, Tata ISES was launched in 2008. The objective of the programme is to provide a holistic experience in the area of community development and social entrepreneurship in India to international students.
Says Professor Lawrence Cohen, Director, Center for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley, “The Tata ISES programme provides talented students with unparalleled opportunities to design, research, and implement path-breaking rural and urban development programmes in health, education, infrastructure, and much more”.
Expressing his excitement, Professor Jaideep Prabhu, Judge Business School, Cambridge said, “Tata ISES is an outstanding programme. It is a wonderful way for Cambridge students and faculty to learn about India and Tata, and vice versa. The Cambridge community is proud to be part of Tata ISES”.
Further commenting on the need for contributing back to the society, Professor Stuart Corbridge, Pro Director for Research & External Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science said, “LSE is renowned for putting the finest academic social science expertise at the service of wider society. We are therefore delighted to join with Cambridge and Berkeley in this highly valuable initiative to promote social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility in India, and we are grateful to Tata for providing this excellent opportunity to some of our best students.”