Shamik Trehan

CEO’s Message

Dear Friends,

The last financial year has been the closest in terms of how all of us went about our daily lives before Covid pandemic started in early 2020 and adversely impacted lives and livelihoods across the globe. While the loss is irreparable; what stands out during this period is how people worked together to manage and respond to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis. It has reinforced our trust in humanity working together against all odds when faced with events that threaten both our lives and livelihoods. It also brings into focus the urgency to replicate similar efforts in other impact areas, especially in countries with large populations living at low-income levels and having limited access to quality basic services.

Dr Reddy's Foundation
Picture Credits: Abhishek Reddy M

For India, there was high optimism before this decade started about the untapped potential of holistic and inclusive progress that we as a country can make by 2030. We should not let how the decade has begun in any way move our focus away from the imperative and opportunity we have to make this decade count. And it is in this context that it is especially important to support the aspirations of our fellow citizens for a better quality of life for themselves and their families.

For a majority of citizens, it means having access to quality health and education services, income generation activities, social security, and civic services and being a key part of the effort for action on climate and environment. How best does one contribute to this endeavour which is both inspiring and daunting for similar reasons? For it is inspiring as it can bring about change in the lives of a billion people but also daunting as there are no comparable examples of countries having achieved these changes with similar scale, complexity and within a democratic framework.

I remain optimistic this can certainly be achieved despite all the challenges and roadblocks that we face. The optimism is not based on the premise that progress is inevitable. It is based on our working together to continuously develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of issues and come up with interventions to address them in an iterative cycle. What further fuels this optimism is the parallel technological breakthroughs taking place that have the potential to leapfrog critical bottlenecks we face today. However, the elephant in the room will always be about how to go about allocating our scarce resources of limited capacities and investment pool in order to tackle these problems.

Dr Reddy's Foundation
Picture Credits: Saurabh A Chatterjee

Of course, this means that trade-offs and prioritization will need to be done at each level of the ecosystem. While we need to be as realistic as possible when allocating resources, we should also consider the potential upside that we may realise from technological breakthroughs, like in the field of generative AI we are witnessing and its’ potential to significantly increase capacities with a marginal increase in investment.

We in DRF, at sector level have prioritised education, healthcare, livelihoods and climate change. Within these sectors in education, our focus is on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy & English Language and providing access to girls from very low-income backgrounds to high-quality education at higher secondary levels and higher education. Our focus in healthcare is strengthening the public healthcare system with a focus on improving coverage and quality of comprehensive primary healthcare services; in livelihoods, our focus is on skilling youth, PwD and supporting them to get jobs in the formal sector or become self-employed; in agriculture, we are helping small and marginal farmers adopt a package of practices that help in reducing costs, improve productivity and support interventions that lead to better market linkages and price realization; and finally, in climate change our focus is promoting and scaling of regenerative agriculture practises, conservation and efficient use of water, preserving coastal ecosystems and integrating biodiversity interventions.

Our interventions in all these areas are based on our understanding of these sectors which we continuingly deepen and sharpen based on ground realities, operating environment and changes at the ecosystem level. We like to think about these interventions as working on two axis.

The first axis is about interventions that strengthen existing public and private systems to produce better outcomes and to operate within the overall boundary conditions of the system. Some examples of these include improving learning outcomes in FLN&EL in government schools; upgrading Primary health centres to help them offer comprehensive primary health care services; skilling Youth (with a focus on women) and PwD in partnership with industry and helping them get formal jobs; introduction and large scale adoption of high digestible green fodder for milch animals; creating access to climate-smart farm mechanization services for small and marginal farmers through a service provider model.

The second axis is about transformative interventions that have the potential to deliver outcomes overriding the limitations and boundary conditions of public and private systems. There are two strands that are integral to these transformative interventions– community platforms and technology. Some examples of these include – a scalable voluntary lead farmer network enabling impact across multiple states on the lives of small and marginal farmers; a self-learning app that enables learning and content creation across domains and sectors; low-cost farm implementation for seed sowing to promote zero tillage among small and marginal farmers; application of pesticides through drone spraying.

Dr Reddy's Foundation

All the interventions are developed and continually updated based on inputs/ feedback from users, technical partners, stakeholders operating in the ecosystem and data emerging from measurement systems designed to capture outcomes.

We will continue to work on both these axis, as one helps in addressing the challenges we face in the present while the other has the potential to leverage the untapped opportunities and new breakthroughs that we are likely to witness in scientific application and computational technology in the coming years.

More details about both sets of interventions, overall progress made in the last FY and priorities for FY 24 are detailed in later sections of the annual report.

The progress in FY 23 has been possible due to the trust reposed by the community whom we serve and the tireless efforts of our people. In FY 24, we look forward to continuing to work towards improving existing interventions and developing new ones to achieve better outcomes in the areas of health, education, livelihoods and climate action outcomes for low-income groups and help them improve their quality of life.

I also take this opportunity to thank all DRF staff, our board of Trustees, donors and partners for their efforts, guidance and support and for helping us be true to our mission on a daily basis.

Warm Regards,
Shamik Trehan

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