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Towards an inclusive society: Tata Steel Foundation hosts ‘Sabal Awards 2019’

Jamshedpur , September 05, 2019

~A Unique Platform to Spread the Message of an Inclusive Society-

Our larger engagement

Tata Steel Foundation organised the first edition of ‘Sabal Awards 2019’ ceremony at Michael John Auditorium, today. Sabal, initiated by Tata Steel Foundation in December 2017 at Noamundi, is a first-of-its-kind centre in eastern India in partnership with Enable India which is aimed at creating abilities for Persons with Disability (PWD) through a participative atmosphere and customised infrastructure.  The event was a commemoration of Tata Steel Foundation’s engagement with PWD, and its message on inclusivity to the larger society.

Present at the event were distinguished guests including Mr Satish Chandra, State Disability Commissioner, Mr T V Narendran, CEO & MD, Tata Steel, Mr Avneesh Gupta, Vice President, Shared Services, Tata Steel, Mrs Ruchi Narendran, amongst others.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Narendran said “We respect diversity and believe in equal opportunity for all. As a responsible corporate, we have always worked towards creating an inclusive society around our areas of influence. The Sabal awards are a significant step in this direction. We are deeply appreciative of the inspiring accomplishments of all participants who have been recognised here tonight.”

In his address, Mr Sourav Roy, Chief CSR said: “Tata Steel Foundation believes in an equitable society, and encouraging a space for a discourse on disability is an integral part of this belief. We have been on a journey with Sabal for the past two years now. The Awards represent an effort at recognising and amplifying the stories that have inspired us the most”.

The Sabal Awards are designed as a step forward to reach out to several exemplary persons who are engaged in contributing to the larger cause of disability in their own unique ways. The evening saw recognition of four distinct areas of engagement including sports, employment, academics and entrepreneurship development. The names of award winners and the categories are as follows:

Ms Sarita Rout Ray in intellectual disability category and Mr Umesh Vikram Kumar in locomotor disability category won Sabal Sportsperson of the Year award for remarkable achievement in disability related sports.

Mr P K Rath, CEO Open Learning System bagged the Sabal Employer of the Year award for hiring Persons with Disabilities thereby aiding financial independence and encouraging inclusiveness.

Mr Nagesh Kumar received the Sabal Entrepreneur award for demonstrating exceptional business skills.

Ms Ritu Kumari was bestowed the Sabal Student of the Year award for exemplary performance in academics.

A profile of the awardees is appended at the end of this document.

The award ceremony also included the felicitation of change agents - the ‘Sabal Saathis’ – thereby acknowledging their selfless service towards the cause of PWD. 

The audience applauded the exemplary softer skills of several members of the PWD community in different performing arts.

Tata Steel Foundation and Sabal
Tata Steel Foundation in partnership with Enable India, a leading organisation in the field of disability empowerment, instituted Sabal - a center of excellence for PWD in 2017. This centre is based on the principles of creating a participative infrastructure that will allow PWDs to find a one-stop resource center for skilling, employability and financial independence.

Sabal caters to the need of capacity building of other organisations through ‘train the trainer’ programmes and is thus instrumental in scaling up the skill development programme at the national level. Training the trainer for rural areas will facilitate PWDs to be self-employed and manage their own business, given that employment against wages in rural India is limited.

Project details and achievements

Sabal presently caters the need of persons with three major disabilities - sight impairment, hearing impairment and orthopedic impairment. In the last two years, it has enabled:

  • Transforming lives of PWD through providing digital literacy program, employability training, Entrepreneurship development and foundation course in computer and employability
  • Capacity enhancement of trainers by TOT program for benchmark disabilities
  • Creating awareness by celebrating several days on disability and sensitization programs on disability.
  • Certification of person with disability in rural areas of Noamundi and Joda along with aids and appliances distribution.
  • First of its kind in eastern India, first residential training centre for sight impaired in Jharkhand.

At the later part of project, Sabal will execute namely:

(a) conceptualize and execute workshop for government functionaries and senior corporate executive with a focus on building an “Inclusive and Adaptive Leadership” team

(b) disseminate training through digital literacy center across India in collaboration with various NGOs and Institute.

The center will also help to scale employability training of PWDs at national level and will be a pioneer for knowledge and capacity building for interested organisations working in the field employability for PWD. It is noteworthy that CSR, till date, has single-handedly enabled the PWD certificate provision to more than 4500 cases through its Sabal and Health avenues.

Profile of Awardees

1. Student of the Year

i. Ms Ritu Kumari

Ms Ritu Kumari from Jamshedpur is currently pursing Bachelors of Arts from Karim City College. She earlier studied in braille at National Association for the Blind. She had to drop a few years of education owing to personal issues. However, her dedication for learning as well as persuasion from her older siblings, gave her the courage to commute between school and home alone. Her parents also mustered the strength to leave her all by herself to continue her passion for learning. However, the gap in her education did not deter her. In a span of few years, she was able to pick up the knowledge and was able to appear for her matriculation at the age of 16 along with other students.

While she continued her studies, she also spent time pursuing her hobbies. She learnt music, candle making and also underwent computer training at the Sabal Center. She wants to secure a Government job and support her family. 

2. Sabal Sportsperson
i. Ms Sarita Rout Ray

Ms Sarita Rout Ray from Bhubaneswar, Odisha, has intellectual disability. She has shown exceptional interest in sports and has won gold medals for India in special Olympics held in Australia and USA. She is trained in cycling, beach volleyball, floor hockey and handball.

ii: Mr Umesh Vikram Kumar

Mr Umesh Vikram, from Jamshedpur, will inspire generations to come. An engineer from BIT Mesra, he recently won a bronze medal in para-badminton world championship held at Basel in Switzerland.

When Umesh was only over a year old, he developed polio. While his body was weak, he was able to walk. Sports interested him and he played cricket, volleyball, high jump, badminton and handball. Having done his schooling from Tamil Nadu, Umesh represented his school at various district and zonal level handball competitions. He won National Gold medal in para high jump in 2010. Despite various struggles that any sportsperson goes through, Umesh held on to his passion.

He took to badminton and his coach at Khelgaon supported him thoroughly. Soon he became the institute captain of badminton of his college. 2013-16 was a period of struggle on all fronts. Placements pressures after college, academic backlogs and a continued pressure of choosing the right career path. He continued his association with badminton. 2013 onwards, Umesh has played various national and international badminton championships like Uganda Para Badminton Championship 2018, Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2018, BWF Para Badminton World Championship, South Korea, Irish Para Badminton Championship 2017 and many more.

3. Sabal Employer
i. Mr P K Rath

P K Rath is a person with a prolific journey. As head of Open Learning System, an organisation which he set up in 1987, it was his single-point agenda to drive change among the most vulnerable sections of our society. Together with his team of psychologists and educationists, Open Learning Systems work in areas including women and children rights, rights of Person with Disability (PWD), to name a few.

Mr Rath seeks his inspiration from his mother whom he saw engaged in social service all through his years of growing up. During his 3.5 decades of experience, he has played key roles in the development sector which includes serving as the country head of Eye Bank Association of India; being the first person to join CSR unit of ICFAI University, Hyderabad.

At ICFAI, the team, under his guidance, engaged in various programmes across education, health and vocational training, from their conceptualisation to the implementation to ensure maximum impact for those they engaged with, including children of various age groups, youth and the elderly.

In 1991, OLS rolled out the Centre for Special Education, laying emphasis on four disabilities. The school takes keen interest in designing its curriculum to impart vocational training including hardware and data programming, laundry, baking and chocolate making. Its preoccupation also includes providing rehabilitation training to parents and interested community members. It provides customized workshops across the country to enable an enlightened and inclusive society. Besides, the school also motivates its students to take part in Special Olympics and performing arts to effect a wholesome development. The school runs on the motto of ensuring ‘Life to Right with Dignity’.

The journey through the 90s, opines Mr Rath, has been an uphill task. For one, his team and he were engaging with persons where every individual required a focussed approach. It was also difficult to get like-minded people or persons who shared a common goal onto one platform. Many a times, their advocacies against abuse of various manifestations on PWD fell on deaf ears. People also lost the interest once they felt that things were not moving. Communities and government remained largely indifferent.

However, while these were problem areas, what emerged was a definite need for the team to ensure their people were empowered enough to lead their own lives and even impact others in the process. Their patience and perseverance paid off. Both the society as well as the government took note of the effort and directed resources towards their engagement. This has motivated the team to direct strategies which will enable the government to put in place schemes and facilities that benefit the PWD community.

Sabal Entrepreneur
Mr Nagesh Kumar

Mr Nagesh Kumar from Hazaribagh and his wife both suffer from locomoter disability. They believed in dignified living and have wanted to explore ways in which they could also alleviate poverty around them. They initiated the ‘golgappa’ business. With over 15 persons with disability employed under them, the duo have expanded their business for over a decade now. Moving from manual to machine crafted golgappas, the duo supports the families of employees under them promoting dignified living and enabling independent lives.

About Tata Steel                         
Tata Steel group is among the top global steel companies with an annual crude steel capacity of 33 million tonnes per annum (MnTPA). It is one of the world's most geographically-diversified steel producers, with operations and commercial presence across the world. The group (excluding SEA operations) recorded a consolidated turnover of US $22.67 billion in the financial year ending March 31, 2019. In 2018, Tata Steel acquired Bhushan Steel Ltd (now renamed as Tata Steel BSL Ltd).

A Great Place to Work-CertifiedTM organisation, Tata Steel Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, associates and joint ventures, is spread across five continents with an employee base of over 65,000.

Tata Steel retained the ‘Global Steel Industry Leader’ position in the DJSI 2018. The Company has been recognised as the Climate Disclosure Leader in ‘Steel category’ by CDP (2017). Besides being a member of the World Steel Climate Action Programme, Tata Steel has won several awards including the Prime Minister’s Trophy for the best performing integrated steel plant for 2016-17, ‘GreenPro’ certification for products (Tata Pravesh Steel Doors, Tata Structura, Tata Pipes) by CII, Authorized Economic Operator  (AEO) status (Tier 2) by the Directorate of International Customs (Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India), ‘Corporate Strategy Award’ by Mint (2018), Golden Peacock Award for Risk Management (2018) and Best Risk Management Framework & Systems Award (2019) by CNBC TV18. The Company also received the ‘Most Ethical Company’ award from Ethisphere Institute for the eight time (2019), Steel Sustainability Champion (2018) by the World Steel Association, Dun & Bradstreet Corporate Awards (2019), Golden Peacock HR Excellence Award by Institute of Directors (2018), ‘Best Companies To Work For’ recognition by Business Today, 'Asia's Best Integrated Report' award by the Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards (2017), among several others.

In 2018, the Company launched a corporate brand campaign #WeAlsoMakeTomorrow

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