ONGC Sankalp Scholarship 2019: Interview with Nitesh Gupta, Chief Executive, CSR Committee, ONGC

With at least 34% of the top 100 Indian corporate units supporting one or the other CSR initiatives, the combined corpus amount to about INR 10000 crore every year. ONGC is on the forefront with its focus on education related initiatives including sports scholarships. In continuation with its previous initiatives, ONGC has launched Sankalp Scholarship Program 2019 on 28th January 2019.

The launch event organised at a private school in Delhi was attended by government school students of South-West Delhi. Buddy4Study which is the scholarship managing partner of ONGC scholarship-Sankalp 2019, spoke to Nitesh Gupta, Chief Executive, CSR Committee, ONGC on various aspects of the scholarship programme. Following are the excerpts from the interview:

Buddy4Study: Please tell us about the objective behind the ONGC Sankalp Scholarship Program? What is the social segment ONGC aims to impact through this initiative?

Nitesh Gupta: Scholarships and fellowships are something that most students in India are unaware about. When we conceptualized this project, we found that over 19000 crore worth of scholarships are rolled out every year but students avail their benefits.

We wish to bridge the the gap between the available scholarship schemes and students looking for scholarships. ONGC Sankalp Scholarship is aimed at mobilising government school students of South-West Delhi, around ONGC head offices to make them aware about available scholarship opportunities.  We’ll be aiding students from classes 9 to 12 in creating their digital profiles and helping them match with various government and non-government scholarships. Buddy4Study is going to help us in operations and promotions for the duration of the project.

Also read: The success story of Advaith S. Aji, a former automobile racing enthusiast, now studying at one the prestigious B-Schools of India, with the Capital First Scholarship

Buddy4Study: How will awareness benefit students in availing scholarships? What is the model of this CSR initiative?

Nitesh Gupta: In our preliminary research, we found that most of the scholarship programs benefit students between the levels of class 9 and 12. Besides, the fact is that, we do not wish to limit the aid for students with our earmarked corpus. Numerous students need scholarships and one fund cannot provide for them all.

The ONGC Sankalp Scholarship program is designed to get 8000 students fill applications in next one year with at least 500 students successfully enrolling for at least one scholarship program. The students’ profiles will be vetted and verified by Buddy4Study and interviews will be conducted if required. We’ll then match the digital student profiles with curated scholarships from the technical dashboard powered by our scholarship partners.

We’ll also be tracking the students after they have been awarded with ONGC scholarship using Scholar Tracking System to maintain end-to-end accountability. Students benefited from this program will see through the evolution of a worthy career for themselves with our regular interventions.

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Buddy4Study: ONGC runs various sports based scholarships as well. Recently ONGC scholars bagged 15 medals at Asian Games. Please share with us your experience of running various ONGC scholarship programs. Any insights that you might have for new entrants in Education CSR field?

Nitesh Gupta: The two concepts that we deeply analyzed in our operations were turn-around-time and accountability. Ill-managed scholarships take a very long time to reach its benefactors, one always needs a more decentralized system of scholarship management. We suggest that there should be one funding end of each scholarship program, one planning end and a separate operations-execution authority for scholarships.

Technology intervention in scholarship management is surely the way to go about. Scholarships providers should try to find a solution that allows analytical feedback and low-cycle time for operations.

ONGC has always maintained the idea that certifications of NGOs and organizations are most critical in social initiatives. A scholarship program that provides skill training should be certified by say, NSDC, NIT, NSQF. Unless there’s a value, either monetary (scholarship sum) or credibly marketable (acknowledged qualification), a philanthropic gesture is nothing more than wasted effort.

Buddy4Study: Any challenges that you face during management of such education CSR initiatives? How have you managed them and how do you plan to manage them with this Sankalp scholarship?

Nitesh Gupta: Common challenges have always been there. We being a corporate organization cannot reach to the doors and steps of every student. Thus, the NGOs that we partner with should also have a pan-India footprint. An online platform can certainly be the solution for this.

When it comes to social service, intervention is more necessary than tangible outcome.

One should not rest until they have exhausted their target population. That can only come from a holistic environment of technical and physical collaboration of experienced professionals.

With Sankalp ONGC scholarship, we evolved a bit by availing Buddy4Study services. Their dashboard frankly ensured me to believe that counterfeit profiles will be reduced to bare minimum and that there would be a high adoption rate because of analytical tracking. It’s perhaps always helps to have a seasoned operations team.

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Buddy4Study: Any plans to escalate the Sankalp Scholarship to a pan-India level? Or maybe enhance the scholarship bandwidth to include sports based scholarships like your current model?

Nitesh Gupta: Sankalp Scholarship Program is a pilot program out of the 100+ CSR initiatives that our committee is monitoring. We’d first map the success of this program by organizing an impact assessment on all ONGC Sankalp Scholars. We might run this ONGC scholarship in succession for more years, until the program is ready to replicate across all catchment areas of ONGC units across the nation.

Mr. Nitesh Gupta is the ONGC CSR Committee Senior Member for CSR Initiatives of the company. Buddy4Study is the technology, operations and promotions partner of ONGC for the Sankalp Scholarship Program 2019.

ONGC India in collaboration with Prabhav Foundation and Buddy4Study will monitor and execute this program. Each student will be provided scholarship application assistance and will be tracked for continued progress even after availing the ONGC scholarship. For more information about the program, please visit this our website or email at