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Mahindra eyes much wider CSR scope with #LadkiHaathSeNikalJayegi: Vivek Nayer

To mark the National Girl Child Day this year, Mahindra Group together with the Project Nanhi Kali launched ‘Rise Up – Anthem for the Girl Child’, that draws on from the #LadkiHaathSeNikalJayegi campaign in an all new avatar. This time the aim was to celebrate unconventional career choices of women, which can be an inspiration for all Nanhi Kalis in India and help refuel conversations around #LadkiHaathSeNikalJaayegi. Created by Mahindra Group and Project Nanhi Kali, the anthem was conceptualised by 22feet Tribal Worldwide, Mumbai. 

The anthem is an unconventional rap mix, through a first-time collaboration between Deepa Unnikrishnan, aka Dee MC, who is regarded as one of India’s finest female rappers (writer and vocalist), and Simi Talsania, one of the upcoming female dancers in the hip-hop space in the country. The anthem went live from January 24, 2019 across all digital channels of Project Nanhi Kali and Mahindra Rise, and is being reinforced through the social media pages of the two artistes. 

Commenting on the purpose and genesis of the anthem, Vivek Nayer, Chief Marketing Officer, Group Corporate Brand, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, said, “Mahindra is a socially responsible and trusted brand, and with the Rise for Good initiatives, we not only want to do good in the community, but also aim to inspire others to drive societal change. #LadkiHaathSeNikalJayegi was one such campaign which provided a positive perspective on an age-old and negative mindset. Expanding the mindset beyond girl child education and helping them envision their preferred, potentially unconventional career choices was the logical succession to the campaign.” 

“Project Nanhi Kali has consistently communicated that education is the only tool which enables girls to rise from a life of poverty and go on to live a life of dignity. Our campaign #LadkiHaathSeNikalJaayegi, referred to the patriarchal attitudes towards girls which discouraged them from getting educated, but gave a positive spin to the phrase, by linking their education to achieving their aspirations, to become self-reliant and independent women. Our TAG (Teen Age Girls) Report launched recently, in fact, revealed that 74 per cent girls wish to work after their studies, and have a specific career in mind. The Rise Up anthem will definitely open up the minds of girls and encourage them to be fearless in making unconventional career choices,” said Sheetal Mehta, Senior Vice President – CSR, Mahindra Group, and Executive Director, K.C. Mahindra Education Trust

In conversation with Adgully, Vivek Nayer speaks at length about the core concept behind the #LadkiHaathSeNikalJaayegi campaign, the Mahindra Group’s long association with CSR initiatives, the objective to being about a greater social change in India and more. 

Could you elaborate on the core theme of the campaign?
There is continuity in the core theme. Six to seven months ago we had launched a film called ‘Ladki Haath Se Nikal Jayegi’, where we tried to turn this phrase on its head because this is a phrase, we have all heard growing up as part of our culture. It is a negative phrase. The message we wanted to send out is allow the girl child to get educated and pursue her dreams. This was the second intervention, a few months back we had done another film where there is a two-girl crew flying around the world in a micro sport glider. The video is called the V-Expedition. We decided to become their sponsors. If you remember in the film, the father says, ‘You will grow up to be an engineer’. And the girl says, ‘No! Pilot’. 

Now, on the occasion of National Girl Child Day, we thought let’s push the envelope even more. Let’s find some millennials who have chosen to fight the stereotype and choose unconventional careers. We wanted to leverage popular culture and decided to celebrate rap and hip hop in the film which are contemporary forms of music and dance. 

What was the creative brief for the latest campaign?
The first film was to create awareness that this phrase (Ladki Haath Se Nikal Jayegi) needs to be turned over on its head. Thus, that film had a more traditional messaging. Now, we decided that we need to inspire millennials, the future Nanhi Kalis. We asked ourselves “What do young girls find inspiring today?” and these two girls (one is a rap artist and the other a hip-hop artist) are role models for young girls today. So, why not push the envelope a bit and do a rendition that is based in popular culture? 

The idea is let the girl child be educated and let her be free to choose whichever career she wants, even if it is unconventional. 

How did Mahindra come to be so closely associated with this cause?
Project Nanhi Kali is an NGO started by Anand Mahindra way back in 1996. Today, everyone talks about CSR as it has become fashionable, but Mahindra started the initiative 22 years back. We have been doing good in society for years through various programmes, whether it is educating the girl child or planting trees. At a certain point we thought that since Mahindra is such a strong and trusted brand, not only should we do good but also inspire people in our ecosystem to do good as well. That’s how you change society. However, change in society does not come with just a few companies or brands trying to do good. Of course, we are doing CSR, but that’s not enough to change society. If we want to change society, then we need millions of people to join and change their behaviour. 

Our philosophy is RISE; we want to inspire people to rise for good. 

How does digital play into your strategy?
We do only digital. Even the previous film launched 7 months ago was only on digital. That is because digital allows us to not only target a large enough audience base, but at the same time allows us to be more targeted, so there is no wastage. Therefore, digital works very well for us. 

Another thing about digital is that it allows virality. If someone likes the film, they will share it on social media. When somebody feels moved by a certain cause, they go and tell their friends about it. That is what we want. In #LadkiHaathSeNikalJayega, there were a lot of people who shared the video on other platforms with their family and friends because it touched an emotional chord. We feel this film will also do the same where a lot of young millennials will get the message. 

How has the cause for the girl child evolved?
In our CSR activity the focus is to get more and more girls educated and obviously related to those are good health and hygiene practices; that is one area we work in. We also work in the areas of youth skilling, environment, uplifting farmers, etc. But this specific campaign is hoping to inspire people in society to change their thinking and inspire young girls. At the CSR level we work in lots of areas. 

Mahindra as a corporate brand has more than 100 companies and is into multiple industries. We not only have SUVs, we have tractors, Club Mahindra, Mahindra Life Space, Tech Mahindra, so for me every young woman and man in India is either a current audience or future audience. I look at a much wider scope. 

Why did you choose to showcase rap and hip hop in your digital film?
We asked ourselves what is an unconventional career choice in the field on entertainment today, because we wanted to do something in popular culture. We came up with the idea of rap and hip hop and then found these girls in their unconventional careers. 

Somehow the timing seems to be right because you have this new movie coming out, called ‘Gully Boy’ that also deals with rap culture. One of the artists in the video is also associated with ‘Gully Boy’. It is a happy coincidence that National Girl Child Day fell so close to the launch of the film.

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