For Them It Is Not Just Water

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 3137 , Published on 13 December 2011

Imagine a small village in a northern India with a few connections to the outside world. People live in mud dwellings and having electricity for only 2 hours. You can't have room for imagination of electronic gadgets like computer and fridge in such villages, rather this is the story of every village in India which is far from any highway. The fruits of so called India shining are yet to reach here. These villages are still deprived of basic amenities like (Pure) water, hospitals and education. But, this outcome is quite expected when government stresses more on 9% growth rate and knowingly ignores whether this growth is percolating down to every citizen. I am going to tell you one inspiring story of CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.


Shivnagar is the very small village in UP. This village was also facing the same problems which every remote village faces by default. But, an e-commerce company came to rescue the villagers from the inconvenience of water shortage. Before there was no source of potable water, villagers had to walk  long distance to quench their thirst. The sad story of this village changed when Kunal Bahl, founder of the decided to use some part of his profits for philanthropic work that is for the betterment of society. The philanthropic project came about after a water-cooler conversation in SnapDeal's offices in New Delhi. One of Bahl's colleagues told him that his family hailed from a cluster of villages about three hours southeast of the Indian capital, where the people had nothing. Bahl, went down to Shiv Nagar, met with the village leaders and paid to install the 15 hand pumps. The amount was not that much great it was just about $5ooo but relieve bought to the villagers by this money was much greater. This was not less than life changing event for them. They were going to save many hours from their routine which were used to be wasted just to bring water to home.
To express their gratitude villagers changed their village name from "Shivnagar" to " Nagar". Please don't get this as cheap marketing gimmick. I don't think company working in e-commerce will try to market themselves in a village where there is only 2 hrs of electricity and people are spending most of their time in bread and butter. The intention was not to ask for money but it was just nice way nice of saying "Thank you".

Their act stood as testament to Bahl of how little the government had done for the people there. He said they told him they only heard from their parliamentary representatives before elections. Then, they were forgotten, people whom a booming India has left behind. It's precisely people like Bahl who have benefited from India's emerging economic prowess. His company thrives on the pocketbooks of a growing class of wealthy Indians who can afford to buy Reebok sunglasses and get massages at upscale spas.

The irony is that none of this might have happened, had Bahl's H1B visa had not expired. The special visas granted to skilled workers are good only for six years. Bahl graduated from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After his visa ran out, he packed his bags and went home to New Delhi. In February 2010, he launched with his partner Rohit Bansal. The company became India's foremost online retailer, selling 10,000 products a day.

And now, it's probably the first e-commerce business whose namesake is an impoverished village, where life goes on pretty much the same as it did centuries ago. Bahl's philanthropic won't start here only, he has already planned to improve infrastructure of the village in upcoming years. Next agenda is to bring Computers in the village.
Bahl said, "India has about 640,000 incorporated companies," he said. "Many are much larger and more resourced than us. Even if 10 percent decided to do something like this, 64,000 villages would have clean water."

The village's previous name was Shivnagar which is derived from god Shiva but currently its which is doing god's work over there. My best wishes for the for further pending work.

This article has been authored by Sandeep Kadam from Rizvi Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai


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