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Underlining that many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at United Nations are intertwined, ONGC Director (HR) Dr Alka Mittal said that the Energy Maharatna can make a significant impact in six out of the 17 SDGs. Director (HR) was speaking at the 15th National Convention of Global Compact Network (GCN) India on 5 February 2021. These six SDGs are encapsulating poverty, hunger, education, health, gender equality, and clean water and sanitization.

ONGC Director (HR) Dr Alka Mittal speaking at 15 National Convention of GCNI
ONGC Director (HR) Dr Alka Mittal speaking at 15th National Convention of GCNI

The two-day National Convention of the Global Compact Network - India, which was being held virtually, was formally inaugurated on 4 February 2021. This year, the theme of the convention is “Raising the SDG Ambition-Pathways for Sustainable Recovery and Growth”. Several industry leaders including ONGC Director (HR) Dr Alka Mittal, Oxfam India Chairperson Shankar Venkateswaran, Sugar Business DCM Shriram Ltd ED & CEO Roshan Lal Tamak, Akshaya Patra Foundation CEO Shridhar Venkat, MedscapeIndia, Aryan Medical & Edu Trust CMD Dr Sunita Dube, Purpose Coach and former NDTV Anchor Richha Jain Kalra deliberated on several issues. GCIN Program Manager Shreya Verma and Assistant Program Manager Tamanna Girdhar were also part of the discussion.

Speaking during the Plenary Session II of the Convention, Director (HR) Dr Alka Mittal said that several SDGs can be addressed together. “Through stakeholders, we can make a difference in the world. ONGC is operating in the remotest of areas, many of which have not seen urbanization.” She added that the company has been undertaking socio-economic initiatives in these areas for a long time. “We believe that our presence should not only be felt through the royalty, contribution to the government, but it should be felt directly by local communities and those staying in these areas as well.” She said that helping local communities is one of the company’s top priorities.

Listing out a long list of noteworthy initiatives undertaken by ONGC, Dr Mittal noted that the company has also created a hospital in Assam’s Sivasagar, where there is a need for healthcare facilities. She lauded the hospital for doing a “wonderful job” at proving healthcare facilities to the locals and setting up a Covid Care center. Director HR pointed out that the company ensures it is not disturbing the ecosystem of the region when it extends assistance to the locals in health, skill development, etc. She also talked about a project in partnership with Akshay Patra for providing mid-day meals to 1.2 lakh children in Surat, Gujarat. She said that the company is planning to replicate the project in Assam as well. Akshaya Patra Foundation CEO Shridhar Venkat also talking about the project in Surat.

Mr Venkat said that Akshaya Patra’s mission to ensure that no child is deprived of education due to hunger. He said that the foundation strongly believes that feeding a child is not a charity, but a social responsibility.

A glimpse from the Plenary Session II
A glimpse from the Plenary Session II

Speaking about the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Mittal said that energy and power sector was one of the worst affected areas. “Demand was reducing due to lockdown and there was oversupply. In this, economics was not ideal. We had to ensure we were able to supply oil and gas. Our workers were allowed to work despite the pandemic.” She noted that workers willingly worked for longer hours during the pandemic.

She underlined the initiatives undertaken by ONGC including contribution to the PM CARES Fund by the company as well as the employees. Dr Alka Mittal recounted that 20 lakh masks, sanitizers were distributed among the people in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus, tankers were deployed to villages for sanitization, 20 lakh food packets were distributed and cooked food was also distributed outside some of ONGC’s colonies. Dr Mittal said that each and every ONGCian came forward to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the Q&A session, Director (HR) responded to a question seeking her views on cycling to work. The Director mentioned that ONGC is observing Saksham-2021, a month-long awareness campaign on conservation of oil and natural gas. She said that 16 work centers had recently conducted cycle rallies, in which not only employees but locals also participated.

Oxfam India Chairperson Shankar Venkateswaran, speaking on the occassion, said that India has the largest number of poor people in the world. He pointed out that this inequality is also the reason COVID-19 pandemic has an unequal impact on different sections of the society. Mr Venkateswaran expressed hope that through such interactions, these issues can be addressed.

DCM Shriram ED & CEO Roshan Lal Tamak speaking on the subject
DCM Shriram ED & CEO Roshan Lal Tamak speaking on the subject

Also deliberating during the interaction, Sugar Business DCM Shriram Ltd ED & CEO Roshan Lal Tamak said that their approach has been that sustainable business can only thrive by empowering communities. He highlighted that there is a need to embed sustainability in our business.

The national convention of GCNI aims to increase collaboration among public, private, non-profit and government sectors and to put emphasis on real, on-ground actions businesses need to take to contribute to achieving the SDGs. ONGC CMD Shashi Shanker is the President of GCNI.

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