Much before CSR and social audit became a corporate mandate in India, mass philanthropy and charity were an integral part of the Birla family culture. This legacy was inherited by Jayshree Tea & Industries Ltd from the founder – Shri Basant Kumar Birla, his wife Dr. Sarala Birla and then from their daughter and current Chairperson Smt Jayshree Mohta.
Healthcare and Hygiene
Since the workers and their families live inside every tea estate, health and hygiene is an immediate concern and therefore the company has established infrastructure to provide the same:
- All gardens are equipped with Divisional dispensaries, RMOs and para-medical staff. Some, like Tukvar in Darjeeling also have a fully equipped Hospital.
- Regular eye checkups, dental checkups, HIV/AIDS awareness, family-planning camps, various vaccination programmes are held regularly in all gardens.
- Rabies and Snake-bite facilities are also available in sensitive areas
- If and when major health ailments show up, the company provides emergency transportation to nearby hospitals and also reimburses expenses incurred.
- The company has established covered toilets for every worker’s family with septic tanks for personal and environmental hygiene.
- Clean drinking water is provided to workers maintaining WHO standards.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company organized the distribution of masks, sanitizer, soap and immunity boosting medication to all workers. The company also organized awareness programmes and practiced social distancing.
Education in India cannot be explored without mentioning the contribution of the Birla family. Contributions range right from the construction of pre-school crèches for workers’ children to establishing primary and secondary schools and even higher education and vocational institutes for the tea estate communities. Some of the work carried out in this field are as follows:
- Establishing Jayshree High School in Meleng, Assam.
- Donation of new science building to Kakojan College in Jorhat, Assam.
- Financial aid is provided regularly to meritorious students from Tea Estate communities to pursue higher education.
- Donation of books, furniture and assistance in the maintenance of Government schools in the tea gardens.
Being a company engaged in agriculture – protecting and safeguarding the environment is rooted deeply in the company’s culture and policy. Some engagements in this field are as follows:
- Afforestation programme of 70,000 teak trees in the Lepcha Division at Tukvar, Darjeeling
- Garbage Bins separated as wet waste, degradable waste and non-degradable waste are provided in all estates across communities.
- Rivers, streams and canals pass through almost all the tea estates. Regular cleaning is done to remove pollutants. Entry and Exit points are tested regularly ensuring the estate is not adding any contaminants.
- Conservation of flora and fauna in the gardens is a regular operation as this ensure ‘organic’ nurture of the tea bushes. Numerous standards and Certifications have also been obtained – Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, UTZ, USDA organic, India organic, JAS, EU organic, etc.
- Organizing social forestry with meritorious workers’ children during forest week.
- During the visit of any distinguished guest, planting a tree is a ceremonial mandate.
From the bare necessities of life to recreational facilities, the company has donated, created, established and maintained a multitude of programmes. Some of these are:
- Constructing an indoor stadium in Sonari, Assam for sports and cultural programmes
- Providing cycles, quilts, umbrellas, cookers, stoves and water filters to the workers’ families
- Selected working and retired employees are annually facilitated with appreciation letters and awards on annual sports day for their diligence & and hard work every year.
Heritage and Culture
India is a land of ancient traditions and rites, which cannot be separated from the daily lives of Indians. Indian spiritual institutes like temples, shrines, gurudwaras and monasteries have an innate mandate of social philanthropy for eons. Also, preserving the cultural heritage of the nation has been of great importance to the family and the company. The following are some of the contributions in this area:
- Restoration of the 350-year-old Sivadol Temple at Sivasagar, Assam.
- Construction of Siva temple at Meleng, Assam.
- Establishing the Radha-Krishna temple at Liza Hill, Darjeeling where a community event is held every year during Janmashthami.
- Establishing the Siva-Gauri temple in Tukvar, Darjeeling where community events are held during Sivaratri and Sawan Purnima. The temple community called Sai Samaj also runs a rehabilitation programme for the deaddiction of alcohol and drugs.
- Monasteries and Temples in and around the Tea gardens have received generous donations from the company’s founders over the years.
- Organizing cultural programmes and Providing financial assistance to various ethnic groups across the gardens in India to preserve their cultural heritage through their dance, music, attire and storytelling.