A catalyst for transformation

On the road to development for over six decades, Oil India Limited (OIL) has designed unique programmes for inclusive growth of marginalised communities

Incorporated in February 1959, the Navratna company, as a ‘Responsible Corporate Citizen has been deeply committed to socio-economic development in its areas of operation’. Prasanta Borkakoty, Resident Chief Executive, OIL, Duliajan, elucidates, “Our focus has always been to take development beyond boundaries and be inclusive in our approach.” The Company’s CSR activities have received several global recognitions like ‘Asia best CSR’ by CMO Asia and ‘Best CSR case study’ by World Petroleum Congress for its strategy of identifying and blending with the unique developmental needs of the local communities. Over several decades, many successful CSR interventions in the key thrust areas of education, healthcare, environment, livelihood, sports, women empowerment, skill development, etc. have been implemented by India’s second largest National Oil and Gas Company by engaging with local communities for holistic development. OIL has been able to impact a large population ushering in sustainable social change.

OIL Dikhya

Mayuri Baruah of class VII, Laipuli ME School,Tinsukia district, is happily sitting in a smart bus and studying on a laptop. Her classmates are also busy doing the same, a privilege they enjoy for 45 minutes every week. “We are very happy to get hands-on experience with laptops in the smart bus. We have been taught Paint, MS Word, PowerPoint, MS Excel, how to use the internet,” she smiles.

Taking education to the doorstep of all those who cannot reach out to digital and good educational resources due to socio-economic or geographical constraints, OIL Dikhya was started in 2012. This flagship project promotes smart education amongst rural government schools in the districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Charaideo, Assam.

OIL took a revolutionary step by converting nine buses into mobile technology-enabled classrooms. Each bus is equipped with 12 laptops which can be used by 24 students. They have a router and a K-YAN device, powered by a portable generator. K-YAN is a portable computing device with a simple user interface, projector, speaker, wireless connectivity for input and USB interface for storage. It needs limited electricity and enables the teachers to make the classes more interesting with audio-visual content. The buses also house a small library, encouraging reading habits.

Each bus has two computer instructors to teach the children of classes VI, VII and VIII. “We train students of 30 participating schools in the basics of computer usage. The children almost never miss a computer class. Some of them like reading and often borrow books from the library,” says computer instructor Durlav Baruah, who has been working on the project since October 2017.

The course content of 33 hours is designed to match the academic calendar. In addition to computer, various value-added sessions and life skills education on health & hygiene, road safety, environmental awareness are imparted through peer group learning and sports-based modules. Certificates are given to all the students who pass the annual computer exam, with prizes for the top 10 performers.

Nitul Gogoi, Principal, Laipuli ME School, says “We have 221 students and see an increase in enrollments after the introduction of Computer Education under ‘OIL Dikhya’. OIL has also provided us with supplementary teachers in Science, Maths and English and study aids such as K-YAN with multilingual content and other interactive kits. Students are also provided with an education kit which includes a bag, books, note books and stationeries.” In addition, OIL Dikhya uses innovative application of BALA (Building as Learning Aid) concept for an interactive environment wherein the physical spaces of the classrooms were converted into interactive teaching learning tools.

Out of the fleet of nine, six buses work in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts while three work in the Charaideo district.

Centre of Excellence for Handicraft, Handloom and Entrepreneurship

To skill the women in native crafts and handlooms, Oil India Rural Development Society (OIRDS) established Handicraft Training and Production Centre in 1984 which was upgraded to a Centre of Excellence for Handicraft, Handloom and Entrepreneurship (COE) in 2021. The Centre is located at Tipling, Duliajan. Master trainer in water hyacinth and bamboo crafts, Rajib Medhi says, “At this Centre, we teach the women how to convert abundantly available, natural resources into products of financial as well as environmental value.”

The focus of the Centre is on making the women self-reliant and promoting a circular economy. The women are trained to be creative artisans and thinkers, innovate new designs, make their own establishments and generate job opportunities for others.

Training is imparted in the three trades of bamboo and water hyacinth crafts and creative textiles (handlooms). The training duration of the Centre is a mix of long-term training of 06 months, short-term training of 01 month and community-based training cum awareness. Emphasis is given on certified skill training on diversified production of handlooms and handicrafts and entrepreneurship education. During the training, the trainees are exposed to eco-friendly production by using natural fibres and organic dyes. Post training at the Centre, clusters are formed and Common Facility Centres are created at the community level for production, marketing and other forward linkages. The Centre functions on a Hub & Spoke model for mobilization of the rural artisans and weavers improving efficiency.

Tensmina Konwar is training in handlooms. “I have learned to create different products using different machinery and dyeing methods. I want to start a small business and rope in more people from my village to start a bigger enterprise in the future.”

Each course is conducted by a master trainer, who guides them on pre-processing as well. There are theory and practical sessions. For water hyacinth crafts, the women are trained to use special looms, sewing machines and moulds of multiple shapes and sizes. In the textile training, women experiment extensively with new designs and products.

Noteworthy products include stoles, shawls, table runners, table mats, cushion covers and yardages made from twisted cotton yarn and handspun Eri silk yarn. Lamp shades, tray sets, yoga mats, pen stands, tissue boxes, storage baskets, laundry bins and file covers are made by weaving bamboo. Dried water hyacinth stems are used to make table mats, handbags, storage containers, planters, coin purses, coasters and a lot more.

Dipsikha Gogoi Tairai is training in water hyacinth crafts. “We have learned the economic and aesthetic values of commonly available resources. We are discussing the possibilities of forming an organization to sell our products and make more people self-sufficient.”

In the future, OIL plans to directly buy back most of the products made by the entrepreneurs and use them for corporate gifting.

OIL Arogya

"Mothers and babies are well looked after,” says Minati Kurmi, a homemaker residing in the Laipuli village, as she cuddles her one-and- half-year-old daughter. “All throughout my pregnancy, there were check-ups and we were provided dietary plans and supplements. After my daughter’s birth, I was even helped with the necessary vaccinations.”

Backbone of basic healthcare, OIL Arogya is a multi-pronged healthcare intervention started in 2012 for prenatal and postnatal care for both children and mothers. The aim is to reduce Infant and Maternal Mortality Rates (IMR/MMR) through healthcare promotion, specific protection, early diagnosis and referral for treatment.

Implemented in 30 villages of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts, Assam, the project involves pre and post-natal health check-ups, clinical tests, sensitises women on maternal health, childcare and benefits of institutional delivery, conducts tracking and counselling of pregnant women, babies, lactating mothers and adolescent girls. There are regular training sessions with focus on Menstrual Health & Hygiene (H&H) Management, immunization, nutrition, sanitation, family planning, etc.

Follow-ups and handholding being an important aspect of change, OIL Arogya has formed community support groups called Saathiya Clubs. In this, a select group of population like women, adolescent girls, healthcare providers like pharmacists, gynaecologists, community health workers and other service providers like local transport providers, etc. form a well-knit group to extend support to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children. In addition, the clubs carry out mass awareness in the rural areas pertaining to reproductive health and mother and child care.

Regular health camps are organised which include clinical tests, awareness sessions on nutrition, water and sanitation. The Saathiya Club women are supported to grow organic and locally available vegetables under the umbrella of 'Nutrition Gardens'. The produce is distributed amongst pregnant women and lactating mothers by the Saathiya Club women at nominal cost. The money earned is used in maintaining the gardens while also providing an opportunity to earn livelihood. The Nutrition Gardens have helped the community in getting better access to inexpensive nutritious food. Primary yields include the plantain, fiddle head fern and yam, which are a good source of iron and calcium. Then there are leafy vegetables, mango, jackfruit, Indian gooseberries or amla. Field health consultant Jobonita Gogoi elaborates, “While educating the women on the value of minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, we also guide on the best ways to cook to retain the nutritional value. We distribute balanced diet charts and educate them on dietary restrictions.”

Talking about the benefits, Muleshwari Kurmi of Laipuli Panchayat, says, “We have been given many sessions on how to obtain or clean water for drinking, especially during the monsoon, as well as the foods to eat.”

OIL Shakti

No session on female hygiene can be complete without focus on menstrual health. Inaugurated in 2020, ‘OIL Shakti’ is a community-based Sanitary Napkin Production, Distribution and Awareness Building Unit under the aegis of OIL Arogya. It is located at Hijuguri village, Tinsukia district, Duliajan. Shakti means sacred force or empowerment. OIL believes that menstrual health & hygiene is at the core of women empowerment, equity and rights.

“Saathiya Club members distribute the pads free to all the adolescent girls in the neighbouring villages,” says Bhobita Gohain, Saathiya Club member of Hilikhaguri village. “We also take feedback from the users to improve the product.”

The unit is managed and run by women of the Saathiya Club. The goal is to spread mass awareness on behaviour change communication and focus on production of environment-friendly and biodegradable sanitary napkins at an affordable cost. The result: better hygiene and opportunities of rural livelihood. For awareness against the social stigma, a comic book based on scientific facts in Assamese was distributed at the schools, colleges and community levels.

As of now, production is only one size and 500 pieces are manufactured daily. Three women operate the machine. Two handle the main pad-making machine which compresses and seals the materials, then cuts them into the necessary shape. The third person sterilizes them in an ultra violet sterilizer. Then they are packed into packs of eight pads each and sent for distribution at the beneficiary villages of OIL Arogya by the large network of Saathiya Club women.

Skill Development Institute Guwahati (SDIG)

In the sprawling campus on the green shores of the mighty Brahmaputra river in Amingaon, students have their heads in books or are focussed on practical lab sessions to master new skills. Jayanta Barua, CEO, SDIG, says, “India’s economic growth has created a huge demand for a skilled workforce in all sectors.” And SDIG offers over 16 courses for the young ones to find steady work across industries.

Seeing that 19 per cent of India’s young force is in the age of 15-24 and has limited or no access to vocational skills, the Skill Development Institutes (SDI) were started in 2017 by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in line with the Government of India’s National Skill Development Mission. Besides Guwahati, five more SDIs were set up in Kochi (Kerala), Vizag (Andhra Pradesh), Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Ahmedabad (Gujarat) and Rae Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh).These are supported by BPCL, HPCL, IOCL, Oil India, ONGC and GAIL respectively.

OIL holds a major stake of 30 per cent in SDIG. As the managing partner, all the functioning and maintenance falls under its ambit.

The SDIs offer courses designed under the National Council of Vocational Training (NCVT), State Council of Vocational Training (SCVT), National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) and Sector Skill Council (SSC).

The huge area of SDIG campus includes labs, workshops, offices, hostels, sports grounds. The students get free accommodation and food, besides the free training. SDIG started with two courses: Industrial Electrician and Industrial Welder with a capacity of 30 trainees per batch. But the growth has been phenomenal.From just 60 trainees and two courses in FY 2017-18, the institute has trained 1,100 students in 16 courses in FY 2021-22.

Pompi Gogoi is enrolled in the one-year Machine Operator Certificate course. “Apart from technical education, we are also trained in soft skills and communications. We have rigorous tests including MCQs and vivas.”

And there are four training providers with over 100 trainers on board. The courses are carried out in different locations across Guwahati, based on the resources, expertise, number of seats for each course and its duration. Priyanka Neog joined the CNC Turning course after passing class XII. “Along with the theory, we are also trained to operate various machines. We get free uniforms, shoes, notebooks along with free lodging and boarding.”

The admissions for the courses are advertised, even the Army helps in remote areas and a local resource person moves in the communities to mobilise young ones. The selection process involves written and oral tests and interviews.

The Technical Intern Training Programme is an important course as it falls under the healthcare domain. The goal is to train young ones in elderly care, both for India and abroad. Besides certification, the institute also gives placement assistance.

Students are placed across sectors such as hydrocarbon, energy healthcare, clothing and apparels, automobiles, FMCG, and hospitality. Sangeeta Shyam Gohain, trainer for Certificate Course in Machine Operator and Certificate Course in Fitter and Rigger, says, “Over 80 per cent of our students have been placed in good companies.” Noteworthy companies include ITC, Dabur, Adani group, Pidilite Industries, Sharda Hospitals, Novotel, Oberoi hotels and more.

There are plans to add new courses such as Pipe Fitter and Welder for CGD, Plumber for CGD, and more. Enhancement of the EMT & GDA, Industrial Electrician and Industrial Welder courses is also on the cards.

OIL Jeevika

Firmly going by the principle of making communities self-sufficient and financially stable, OIL Jeevika was started in 2016. Under this, cluster based sustainable livelihood interventions were implemented in the remotest areas of Diyun Circle, Changlang District, Arunachal Pradesh. The USP: It is the first induced cluster-based livelihood intervention in Northeast India.

Under this project, there are two broad economic activities: Bee Keeping & Honey Processing, and Mustard, Buck Wheat and Local Pulses Processing. The project has impacted 400 households in five villages of Innao, Innao Pathar, Innao Chengmai, Kumchaika and Piyong. The majority of the population comprises Singpho, Khamti and Ahom communities who used traditional methods of crop cultivation with little knowledge of intercrop plantation through the year.

Though the produce is organic and high quality, it was being sold to middlemen, who offered low prices to the farmers. OIL trained the farmers to scientifically scale up their produce incorporating value-added production addition, aided them with infrastructure, brand building, packaging and forward market linkages. The farmers were supported in forming a cooperative society and registered a brand ‘Harbest’, meaning ‘Best of Harvest’ to sell their finished products. All products have been tested for their nutrition quotient and are FSSAI certified. Some of the products have also obtained organic certification.
Debajit Phukan, a beekeeper from Innao Pathar, says, “After the training in 2016-2017, we were sent to Jorhat, Guwahati, Shillong and Pune to learn more about rearing, collection and processing. Now, we can do everything ourselves, right from collection to packaging of honey.”

OIL also helped the farmers in identifying more crops, fruits and spices. The product basket now includes honey, bee wax, mustard oil, mustard cake, buckwheat flour, green gram, ginger powder, turmeric powder, Singpho tea, amla, banana chips, jackfruit chips, elephant apple powder, black pepper and Khamti Lahi rice.

Under the project, a massive 6,000 sq ft Common Facility and Business Information Centre (CFBIC) was constructed in Innao village by OIL. This houses state-of-the-art machinery for processing, filtering, packaging and all other functions. There is a storehouse for raw materials and semi-finished products as well. The community was also given two vehicles to facilitate transport from the fields and marketing of finished products.

The CFBIC is managed by Konseng Harbest Co-operative Society. Lajalah Singpho, Chairman, Konseng Harbest Co-operative Society, says, “Previously we sold raw produce at a low price, but now we are able to sell processed and finished products which fetches us more income. We are now connected to all the farmers of the region for supply of raw materials thereby generating employment opportunities. We hope to export the products too.”

Jahom Roy Singpho, Treasurer, Konseng Harbest Co-operative Society, cites other benefits, “The project has encouraged and empowered the ‘once idle’ youth to participate actively. They now work in the field or processing plant.”

The co-operative society has plans to set up counters where there are more footfalls to increase their range and sales. They also want to align with companies for corporate gifting.

Development Beyond Boundaries

Please tell us about the CSR initiatives.
It has been our priority also to see improvement in the socio-economic conditions of the people living in the regions we operate in. Some of our flagship projects include OIL Jeevika, OIL Arogya and OIL Dikhya. As the names suggest, the projects are focused on livelihood, healthcare and education. Now, the transformation is evidently visible and our efforts have been rewarded globally as well.

COVID-19 left an indelible mark worldwide. How did it affect the organisation and its CSR activities?
Undoubtedly, the pandemic changed the world. The initial phase was challenging, but the Company remained committed to its vision of supporting the underprivileged communities. We contributed more than Rs 100 cr to PM Cares Fund as the government rolled out many schemes countrywide. OIL Arogya was implemented in full swing during the peak phase of the pandemic, ensuring that women and children received all the medical and supplementary aid. Even the work on infrastructure related to OIL Jeevika continued. As a special measure, to keep the zeal of education alive amongst the school students, Home Based Digital Leaning was implemented during the lockdown under OIL Dikhya.

How do you measure the impact of the initiatives?
Before launching any new project, we do a baseline study to understand the possibilities and probabilities. We collect the demographic profiles, trends, educational qualifications, and then we see what skills we can develop. With a thoroughly stringent scientific process, we can reach out to more beneficiaries and the results meet our expectations. Our team of experts and professionals ensures our commitment to making all the initiatives successful.
The evaluations are carried out by reputed third parties. We measure the impact based on Social Return on Investment. The reports for all our projects have been very encouraging, highlighting the visible changes to the demographics of this region.

What are the future plans?
In the last couple of years, sports have taken centrestage because physical health is linked to sports. Sports also encourage goodwill. These young ones will carry this spirit of teamwork and goodwill to their homes and throughout their lives. We have been implementing ‘OIL Volleyball Mission’ in association with the Brahmaputra Volleyball League to popularise the game at the grassroots level. Young ones, especially from the age of 12, are very passionate about volleyball in this region. We also hosted a league in Duliajan in association with ONGC. Football is another game we are promoting under ‘OIL Lakshya’. We also aim to reach a carbon-neutral status by ushering in a green revolution in the areas of our operations. The famous Padma Shri Dr. Jadav Molai Payeng, the man who grew a forest in Majuli, has been engaged as the Green Ambassador of OIL. Under ‘OIL Vasundhara’, we are planting 2,50,000 tree saplings in 100 hectares of land in a highly degraded forest land in Upper Dihing reserve forests (west block) in collaboration with Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Digboi Division, Government of Assam. We are also creating a Bambusetum in 2 hectares. In future we aspire to replicate the activities in other operational areas of Assam.
With the commitment to work together for a ‘Cleft Free North East’ and impact lives of cleft patients, who are unable to afford quality cleft care, OIL and Mission Smile have collaborated through an agreement to support 100 nos. of surgeries for children born with cleft deformities from the districts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia under OIL’s CSR. According to the agreement, 50% costs will be borne by OIL and balance 50% will be borne by Assam Government as per the public private partnership (PPP).

“With a thoroughly stringent scientific process, we can reach out to more beneficiaries and the results meet our expectations ”
Prasanta Borkakoty
Resident Chief Executive, Oil India, Duliajan

1.. OIL took a revolutionary step by converting nine buses into mobile technology-enabled classrooms, equipped with 12 laptops which can be used by 24 students
2.. The women are trained to be creative artisans and thinkers, innovate new designs, make their own establishments and generate job opportunities for others
3.. Regular health camps are organised with awareness sessions on nutrition. The women are encouraged to grow organic and locally available vegetables
4.. The courses are carried out in different locations across Guwahati, based on resources, expertise, number of seats for each course and its duration