Interview with Mr.Manickavelu M, Mindtree
Manickavelu M (Manix) is Program Director delivering Assistive Technology solutions and Corporate Social Responsibility projects at Mindtree Foundation, Bengaluru.
Manix is involved in a number of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects supporting underprivileged children category, and specifically Persons with Disability (PwDs).
The getmeenabled team got in touch with Manix over an interview and provide excerpts of the interview here.
Getmeenabled: Please share with us some of the good work Mindtree Foundation has been doing in disability space.
Manix: Mindtree focuses on 3 areas: (1) Promoting Education among underprivileged children, (2) Benefit the differently-abled or People with Disabilities, (3) Create sustainable livelihood opportunities for the underprivileged. Mindtree Foundation delivers 17 social projects through 15 reputed NGOs. We deliver 10 projects in Karnataka, 2 in Tamilnadu, 3 in Odisha, 1 in Andhra Pradesh, and 1 in Maharashtra.
Our unique way of delivering projects is at the Taluk levels (a subunit of a district that on an average has approximately 300 villages). The total people impacted in FY 2016-17 are 37,893 (8% increased from 2015-16)
Mindtree Foundation strongly believes in end-to-end solutions for the beneficiaries. In PwDsegment, we conduct screening camps in remote rural areas for identifying the children with disabilities from their 2 days of birth (early identification), offer them free medical check-ups, free corrective surgeries to the muscular-skeleton deformities, neurosurgeries, post-surgery therapies, mobility aids, constructing toilets in their homes, providing access rails on the walls at their homes so that these children can move around, transport to the nearby schools, conducting accessibility audits in the schools, providing accessibility in rural government schools such as ramps, toilets, and physiotherapy aids and rooms for the children with disabilities. These schools have become model schools and started attracting more children with disabilities from surrounding villages. This year we are planning to increase the number of schools with accessibility.
Getmeenabled: Please share with us what keeps you personally excited on this journey.
Manix: We devised a framework called "H-E-A-T" that is: Hunger, Enforcements, Awareness/Advocacy, and Transformation. Social transformation is like a flower and for any meaningful social l transformation to blossom all the three Hunger, Enforcements, and Awareness/Advocacy is crucial.
What is really motivating me is in our social projects I see that all the above: alignment with the right-hunger, enforcements byways of aligning with the right hunger of the society and conduct awareness through our NGO partners. What is more interesting is that I see some lights of social transformations although typically it might take 5 to 6 years to see any real social impact.
Getmeenabled: Would you like to share key developments in corporate, government, regulation and other ecosystems?
Manix: The awareness about the disability is increasing in Corporates, Governments. In 2016, Mindtree is co-sponsoring with National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) NCPEDP-Mindtree Helen Keller Awards 2016, to recognize role models of individuals, and corporates who do exceptionally well in the PwD segment promoting employment.
Last year NCEPDP celebrated with Mindtree on the 20th anniversary of Disability Act 1995 by launching an event called: Equality+20. In this event, Mindtree and NCPEDP collected and published inspiring stories of 20 PwDs across India.
Government through various programs for PWD bringing in special incentives for promoting people with disabilities. Yet the real challenge is identifying and aligning with the right needs of the PWD, especially for their education and livelihood.
Getmeenabled: How has technology helped advance the cause Mindtree Foundation is fulfilling?
Manix: There exists a wonderful synergy between technology and society. While technology enables the society in social, economic, and environmental sustenance, society in turn shapes technology for its own needs. Typically, social speed of adoption is way slower than that of technology, business, and academia. Society adopts anything new only when it meets lifestyle needs, culture, affordability, simplicity, and usability. Hence it is important for technological innovations to have the right mix of technology, affordability, and ease-of-use.
Mindtree Foundation through its volunteers from Mindtree is developing affordable, accessible, Indianized solutions focused on education. Mindtree Foundation delivers the solutions to special schools and NGOs such as Inability Foundation for the use by the children with disabilities.
Getmeenabled: What role you see Getmeenabled.com playing in this ecosystem?
Manix: The real challenge in delivering the Assistive Technology solutions are: Reaching the PwDs who are scattered, identifying their needs, conceptualizing and developing the solutions, delivering them to the PWD, and supporting them after sales with education, clarifying the technical issues, etc.
In this world of Digital Revolution, Getmeenabled.com can play a major role in reaching the PwDs through online, collating their needs, and delivering the solutions to them. Without this part of the big picture, it would be extremely difficult to reach the PWD. In this way, Get Me Enabled can play a major role towards reaching the PWD.