Creating Model Villages in India

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Creating model villages in India

The future is now bright again for Nandal 10-year-old Dhyaneshwar Kolekar

The future seemed very bright for Dhyaneshwar Kolekar, a 10-year-old boy growing up in Nandal, a poor village not far from Cummins’ Megasite in Phaltan, Maharashtra, India.

He was excelling not only in his studies, but in music and sports, too. But then one day he had trouble threading a needle at a special camp to test children’s eyesight created as a result of a Community Impact Six Sigma project at Cummins.

Dhyaneshwar was eventually diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes. Doctors said he could lose his sight if he didn’t get surgery right away. The boy underwent operations early in 2013 and today Dyaneshwar’s future is once again filled with promise.

It’s one of many success stories from Cummins India’s Model Village Program, a concerted effort to improve the quality of life in Nandal village.  Using techniques like Six Sigma, the business process improvement tool, employees are putting their skills to work helping Nandal develop economic opportunities, upgrade sanitary conditions,  increase access to water and healthcare and much more.

“It is most fulfilling to see the multi-fold benefits of the Model Village Program and its positive impact in Nandal,” said S. Ravichandran, head of Corporate Responsibility at Cummins India. “The efforts of our employees coupled with the resilience of the villagers have transformed Nandal into a sustainable, largely self-sufficient village.”

Cummins’ Megasite was inaugurated in January 2011 in Western India, about 110 kilometers from Pune, a city of about 5 million. The 300 acre-site will eventually be home to 10 Cummins facilities. The Company’s fifth facility, the Phaltan MidRange Upfit Center, was inaugurated in March 2013.

As part of the site’s development, Cummins India officials are committed to helping improve the quality of life in nearby villages in keeping with the Company’s Corporate Responsibility value to “serve and improve the communities in which we live.”
Cummins India started by addressing indoor air pollution, launching a clean cook stove project in 2010 that provided clean-burning, energy-efficient wood stoves to about 1,000 residents of the villages nearest to the site.

The Model Village Program began in 2011 with the goal of identifying the many fundamental needs in Nandal, the poorest village in the area. The Company developed a holistic plan that will span four or five years to address the village’s access to water, agricultural resources, sanitation and heath care.

For example, to resolve the village’s water scarcity, a 6-kilometer long bund or barrier was built to harvest rain water and Cummins persuaded the government to repair the village’s existing percolation tank.

The Company also worked with experts from the Agriculture Development Trust to conduct soil tests around the village to determine crop varieties that would reap the maximum yield.

To improve sanitation, villagers worked with Company employees to help build low-cost, low-water toilets as part of another Six Sigma project. The toilets were accompanied by an education effort on the importance of hygiene to the collective health of village residents.

Finally, the program addressed health care in Nandal by providing multiple health “check-up” camps like the one Dhyaneshwar attended. Nearly half the villagers have been examined as part of this initiative and 29 were diagnosed with cataracts and underwent surgery.

Improving villages is critically important in India. If more people can find work and fulfilling lives in their home villages, they will be less likely to move to large urban areas where many end up living in extreme poverty. These crowded, impoverished areas have become a major challenge for the country’s large cities.

Ravichandran said while the village has benefitted from the Model Village program he believes Cummins employees have also gotten a lot out of the project.

“We are privileged to be able to improve people’s lives in meaningful and innovative ways,” he said.

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