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Diversity: Why Bother? Lest we forget – The ‘Nanhi Kali’ wake-up call!

Oct 28, 2017


A deep DiveIn is indeed what allows you first hand unhindered insight into the grass root level reality. Thanks to the Chartered Insurance Institute’s D&I event of October 9, we got a telling glimpse into what is not right there. Most diversity discussions end up covering the gender composition and deficits thereof at board and management levels. The Mahindra group’s CSR initiative ‘Nanhi Kali’ (literally little bud), presented by Sheetal Mehta, poignantly reveals the extreme bias against girl child from their very infancy and many a times even before birth.

For those of us who were present – here is the gist and for those who were not – this should serve as a wake-up call:

  • In India, almost 20 million girls are still denied education
  • National Literacy level: 65% for females versus 82% for males
  • Rural Literacy level: 46% for females versus 71% for males
  • Child Sex Ratio: 914 girls to 1000 boys

(Source: 2011 Census)

  • Drop-out Rates: 1 out of every 2 girls by Grade 10

(Source: Ministry of Human Resource Development, 2013-14)

Why does this situation prevail for girls in India?

  • Poverty, household chores, regressive social practices like child labour and child marriage lead to girls dropping out of school
  • Poor quality of education

Setup in 1996, Project ‘Nanhi Kali’ is managed by the KC Mahindra Education Trust and Naandi Foundation. Till date it has educated 300,000 underprivileged girls. It provides academic, material and social support. Is responsible for the yellow tablet revolution and today over 4000 Nanhi Kalis are pursuing undergraduate and graduate courses across 4300 academic centres. Through its dedication and focus, it is able to maintain 83% attendance; learning outcomes have reportedly improved by 10% – 20%.

That we generally obsess with the creamy layer at the very top and tend to miss out the underlying reality – applies here as well! The foundation of Diversity & Inclusivity must be laid at this very level to insure that a today’s Nanhi Kali blossoms as tomorrow’s top manager or a board member and beyond.

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