In his AGM address Mr. Sanjiv Puri, Chairman and Managing Director, ITC Ltd, shared his Vision on ITC Next: Reimagining Business for the Redefined Future. Relevant Excerpts from the speech is below:
The pandemic reinforced the urgent need for quality healthcare services in rural India. Addressing this crucial requirement, I am happy to announce today that ITC is progressively launching an Integrated Rural Healthcare Programme as part of our social initiatives. This community-based rural healthcare initiative, envisaged as a ‘phygital’ model, will provide comprehensive, onsite primary and secondary healthcare facilities together with telemedicine services.
ITC’s commitment to contribute to national priorities inspired our efforts in combating the impact of the pandemic on society. As the first wave hit the country, ITC set up a Covid Contingency Fund of Rs 215 crores to support the vulnerable. Essential food and hygiene products were speedily distributed in 25 States and Union Territories.
The severity of the second wave put untold pressure on the availability of oxygen and on medical infrastructure. ITC was among the first to initiate the airlifting of 24 cryogenic containers to ease the bottlenecks in transporting oxygen. ITC also sourced more than 1,200 concentrators and 22 oxygen generators to help enhance healthcare infrastructure. Addressing this critical need, ITC also helped set up 3 temporary medical facilities with 600 beds in record time in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. In addition, ITC’s Paperboards unit in Bhadrachalam stepped in to produce and supply medical oxygen to Government hospitals in Telangana. To ensure the well-being of ITC’s human resources, nearly 100% of eligible employees have been vaccinated with at least one dose. We are also extending this assistance to our partners and communities in the ecosystem.
An unfortunate fallout of the pandemic was the loss of livelihoods. Redoubling our efforts to assist in creating livelihoods and developing community assets, ITC facilitated daily wage earners access the MGNREGA scheme. This helped generate 55 lakh person days of work in nearly 2,500 villages, including the building of over 5,600 crucial water harvesting structures.
The pandemic fast tracked the future into the present in ways unimagined. The Black Swan event accentuated the undercurrents of digital and sustainability as predominant megatrends. The rapid development and roll out of vaccines demonstrated the power of science and technology to develop and implement new solutions rapidly. The world is redefining a new future where ‘normal’ is transient and the ‘next’ horizon is ever evolving shaped by constant breakthroughs in technology and innovation, escalating sustainability concerns as well as geo-political realignments.
Increasing digital adoption is also scripting new social ecosystems. How people work, get educated, engage, buy and sell products and services, seek entertainment, form new cohorts and social groups have fundamentally changed. The future will no doubt be an evolving hybrid. As society forges ahead, it is important to ensure that technology and the digital revolution also foster inclusive and sustainable growth, else social inequity will only get accentuated. An example of bridging this digital divide lies in the innovative way ITC enhanced capacity of farmers during the pandemic. Digital training platforms were leveraged through customised apps together with the formation of more than 4,800 WhatsApp groups in 5,000 villages, building capacity of 3.8 lakh farmers to achieve the objectives of ITC’s collaborative initiative with NITI Aayog in 27 Aspirational Districts. Cumulatively, over 25 lakh farmers have been trained so far, raising farmer incomes by nearly 60% for select crops in the Kharif 2020 season.