Swati Bhattacharya- Making a difference and making it count.
Ingersoll Rand’s vision is to advance the quality of life through their social commitments to help build healthy, sustainable, efficient and educated communities. In India, their social initiatives focus on sustainability and providing education, healthcare & sanitation, and skill-development and livelihoods. Swati Bhattacharya helms Ingersoll Rand’s Corporate Relations, Public Affairs and Branding.
Swati is passionate about creating a better future and meaningful difference in people’s lives. She was born and raised in the small idyllic town of Darjeeling. As a child, the concept of rich and poor, and different strata of society did not occur to her- she had friends from diverse backgrounds, and did not understand these socio economic differences until much later. “I slowly starter noticing small differences between me and some of my friends: Why don’t they go to the same school as me? Why don’t they eat chocolates as often as I do? Why don’t they have birthday parties?” These questions played on her mind a lot as she was growing up, and they played a significant role in shaping her as an adult. Especially because these people were her friends, people she was emotionally connected to.
When CSR became a part of Swati’s role, it was like a dream come true for her. She could finally work towards giving back to society, doing her bit to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots. “I felt like I finally found my calling! This is something that I enjoy immensely and something that I have always longed to do. It gives me a great sense of purpose, and immense satisfaction. This is the part of my job that I talk to my children about, the part that helps me sleep better at night”, she says.
Swati’s career trajectory has been quite spectacular- her first job was at a small start-up, the second at a PR agency where her efforts were focused on communications and branding strategies. It wasn’t until her third job that she forayed into the world of CSR, and began this incredible journey. This only grew stronger as she joined Agilent and took over their social responsibilities along with her other role. “If I were to ever look at career opportunities, I would make sure that the CSR component is a part of it, because that’s where the satisfaction lies for me” she says.
Working in CSR has presented Swati with many possibilities for contributing to society, and making the country a better place to live in. “Our work in CSR allows me to focus on the causes I believe in, to engage with NGO partners and to create a positive impact. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring about changes in peoples’ lives, and that is what matters the MOST”. Ingersoll Rand is committed to good corporate citizenship and believes that advancing the quality of life requires taking an active role in addressing the social issues impacting the company and communities.
Swati’s relationship with Agastya goes back many years, when she used to work with Agilent and head their CSR program. “It was at that time when I met Ramji, and he invited us to accompany him to your campus in Kuppam. Just being in that place and meeting all the wonderful children that Agastya works with made me realize that I want to support this cause. The brilliance of these children would have never emerged if it wasn’t for Agastya”.
She feels that the children become completely different once they have gone through an Agastya program, and that gives her a lot of joy. Working with Akshaya Patra and providing nutritious, wholesome food to children has also been very special for her. Another distinctive partnership she remembers is working with Habitat for Humanity, for rehabilitation of villages affected by the floods in Karnataka. Swati personally went to the village and met with the victims whose homes and lives were destroyed in the calamity. “Meeting with the beneficiaries is the best part of my job”, she adds.
Ingersoll Rand started their partnership with Agastya by the setting up a Science Centre at the Government Girls Senior Secondary School in Jacubpura in Gurgaon (part of Delhi NCR). “With the Science Centre we have impacted over 12000 children today with a special focus on the girl child. We have also trained over 150 teachers through this project.” Today, Ingersoll Rand has deepened their partnership with Agastya and pledged their support towards providing Experiential, hands-on science education and Teacher training to children from rural and underprivileged backgrounds in Chennai, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.
When asked about her relationship with Agastya, Swati says-“We have had a very rewarding experience working with Agastya and the team. Agastya’s wide reach across the country with their innovative projects provide just the right platform for any organization to partner with them. As an engineering company, our goal of furthering science education for children from underprivileged and backward areas has not only been successfully met but we have been able to create a larger impact with our employee involvement.”
We were very keen on hearing Swati’s views on CSR in India, and what she thought about collaborations between NGO’s. Swati believes that the 2% CSR rule is a landmark decision and the greatest one yet for India. It for sure raises the bar on governance, deals with investor protection, fraud mitigation, auditor accountability, director responsibility, enhanced disclosure norms stricter enforcement and institutional restructure.
“With the 2% rule coming in, I believe there is great scope for the country to develop quickly. The mandatory 2% contribution to CSR will help organizations like ours to further our Corporate Social Responsibility footprint in the country and scale up our involvement and commitment for the causes we believe in. Most importantly, it will provide an excellent opportunity to converge multiple technologies, applications and resources of various Organizations including government, community, and private sector to deliver a comprehensive solution to improve the living standards of the societies around us. Convergence is key; together we can have a much larger impact than working in isolation. Good governance will be key to ensure that the Act is run and managed in the spirit that it was created.”
Our gratitude and appreciation goes out to Swati and her team, for taking the time out to talk to us. We wish them and Ingersoll Rand the very best for the future.