Chairman's message in 2016-17 annual report

Making a meaningful difference in the lives of the people and communities that we serve remains the cornerstone of the enduring Tata commitment to philanthropy. The means and methods of achieving this objective have evolved over a century and a quarter since the setting up, in 1892, of the JN Tata Endowment for the higher education of Indians, the first step in the creation of what is now collectively known as Tata Trusts. Our allegiance to the legacy and values that sustain us has remained constant, but we have changed course over the recent past to enhance the effectiveness of the numerous projects and programmes that we are involved with across India’s social development spectrum.

Strategy and long-term goals, technology and innovation, collaboration and cooperation, sustainability and scalability are now more crucial than ever before for Tata Trusts. No longer are we merely the funders of initiatives; we have widened our view on the nature of our philanthropic interventions to become enablers. The redefining of our approach and our purpose — an exercise that began in 2014 — has resulted in Tata Trusts shifting from only grant-giving to also include direct implementation. It has led to partnerships with like-minded foundations, research institutions and the government. It has given us the capability to influence the discourse on India’s social development agenda. It has broadened the canvas of our operations. Most important of all, it has improved the quality of life of the people we reach.

Backing larger causes that are good for a wider segment of society and India as a whole is critical to Tata Trusts’ outlook, and the thematic spheres we work in are an indicator of our priorities. In healthcare, our efforts are concentrated on delivery systems and quality care, particularly in the context of cancer and infectious diseases. ‘Patient-centric’ is the watchword here, and our programmes in this space are augmented through collaborations, the building of medical institutions and information networks, the provision of state-of-the-art equipment, and the support of research programmes. The hope is that we can help replace ‘hospital’ with ‘hospitality’ in our treatment lexicon.

Our initiatives in water and sanitation are similarly focused; the exemplar being Tata Trusts joining hands with the Indian government to implement the ambitious Swachh Bharat Mission. We work with the mission to bridge gaps in resources and skills through training and capacity building across 35 districts in eight Indian states. Tata Trusts also partners with government bodies in their projects focusing on nutrition, livelihoods, data-driven governance and child protection. There is a multiplicity of other ways in which we are lending a hand to build a better India — teaming up with globally renowned universities to support research programmes; instituting wide-ranging initiatives to benefit marginalised communities in rural regions; reducing the energy deficit that many parts of the country suffer; ensuring an education for those outside the learning loop; and providing succour to the urban poor.

Tata Trusts is at the heart of the Tata philosophy of giving back to society. The manner in which we undertake this responsibility is vital to all of us at Tata Trusts and, consequently, to the large number of people whose lives we touch.   By utilising our resources, our skills and our long years of experience in social uplift and community development, we will continue to address India’s needs, and the needs of its citizens through relevant and sustainable initiatives that can benefit the largest number of people in the quickest possible time. The quest at Tata Trusts will also be to amplify the impact of our philanthropy where it matters the most — on the ground — to create prosperity through self-sustaining programmes that will enhance the quality of life of the communities we serve.