V C Gopalratnam, Trustee, Cisco Foundation & Senior Vice President, IT & CIO – International during Cisco India Summit 2018 in Goa. (Photo: TechObserver)
V C Gopalratnam, Trustee, Cisco Foundation & Senior Vice President, IT & CIO – International during Cisco India Summit 2018 in Goa. (Photo: TechObserver)

The global network technology giant Cisco is aiming to positively impact the lives of as many as 50 million by 2025, said a senior executive. While speaking at the at Cisco India Summit 2018 in Goa, V C Gopalratnam, Trustee, Cisco Foundation & Senior Vice President, IT & CIO – International and Harish Krishnan, Managing Director, Public Affairs & Strategic Engagements, Cisco India & SAARC retreated emphasized US-based firm various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

India's goal is aligned to Cisco’s global vision of impacting one billion lives worldwide by 2025 through digital solutions. As part of its philanthropic and Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, Cisco is setting up a network of “Cisco thingQbator” IoT makerspaces or innovation labs in five academic institutions in India with the objective of digital skills development and entrepreneurship enablement among student communities.

The company is collaborating with the NASSCOM Foundation for the implementation of the program. The makerspaces will enable students to get hands on with technology and conceive digital solutions to local problems. The five academic institutions that have been chosen for establishment of ‘thingQbator’ makerspaces are Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, (IIITMK), Kerala, IIT-BHU Varanasi, Amrita University Coimbatore, Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women- Delhi and Trident Academy of Technology Bhubaneswar.

Cisco is also supporting N/Core, an incubator for social sector startups, to launch N/Core tech – an exclusive track focused on incubating early-stage nonprofits that leverage digital technology to positively impact society and solve some of India’s most pressing social challenges. N/Core tech will primarily focus on incubating companies that are developing solutions in the areas of critical human needs, education, and economic empowerment. Cisco will support up to 20 organizations during the first year in two cohorts. Each selected startup will receive an innovation grant of Rs 10 Lakhs. In addition, the startup will have access to a set of mentors and technology experts from Cisco along with N/Core partners.

With the help of Cisco’s CSR grant, N/Core will invest in early-stage, tech-led ideas partnering with high-impact social sector startups to create scalable and sustainable solutions. In addition to providing cash grants, Cisco will also support these startups with mentoring, employee volunteering, and capacity building.

Cisco is also scaling up its Cisco Networking Academy program to create a pool of highly-skilled technology professionals. Through this program schools, colleges, universities and other non-profit educational institutions are provided Cisco-developed curriculum in networking, security and IoT that can be integrated with the institution’s own educational offering. Cisco also supports public sector organizations like The Academy for Skills and Knowledge, and the ICT Academy of Kerala, to provide training on networking and cybersecurity skills aimed at improving employability of engineering graduates in those states. By 2020 Cisco aims to create a pipeline of 250,000 skilled students in India as well as a marketplace for high-value technology-based careers. Already over 155,000 students have successfully picked up essentials skills from over 306 academies across the country.

Talent Outreach Program is a six-month program to provide high school students an early exposure to technical skills to better prepare them as global problem solvers. In its second year, 70 students from 12 schools have been enrolled for this program. The students of this program use technologies like HTML, JavaScript, AngularJS, Bootstrap, PHP, MySQL, Python, IoT (raspberry pi) to create platforms and apps to address real life challenges faced by schools and students. Some of the projects include a school-wide book sharing app through which students can upload books to share, read and learn with other students; and an RFID-based attendance system for class students. The latter solution eliminates the tedious time- consuming task of manually tracking attendance and minimizes risk of error.

Cisco also launched the Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Internet of Things (IoT) at R V College of Engineering, Bengaluru to give the next generation of students the digital skills and training necessary for jobs in the digital economy. On completion of the course, students and working professionals receive credential certificates jointly given by RVCE and Cisco. In the last one year, 1000 students have benefitted from this CoE.

‘Step Up for India – Spoken English Program’ is in its fourth year and has benefitted over 300+ students from three government schools in Bangalore. The program delivers structured spoken English classes to students in grade 4 and 5 studying in government schools where the medium of instruction is the local language. These structured interventions are also executed in the space of STEM learning such as in the case of ‘Project Smiles Through Science’ which endeavors to provide an experiential learning platform for students on the basics of robotics through structured year-long programs leveraging the expertise and mentorship of Cisco volunteers. 120+ students from Parikrma Humanity Foundation benefitted from the program last year.

Cisco is also supporting the Akshaya Patra Foundation, the world’s largest (non-profit) mid-day meal program to help feed children across the country and digitize their kitchens across seven locations in India. While employee giving, volunteering and company matching grants help feed 35,000 children every day, Cisco’s enterprise-grade network and collaboration suite is connecting Akshaya Patra kitchens and their offices to efficiently track their kitchen production, distribution, supply chain and logistics. This digitisation effort is expected to increase Akshaya Patra’s operational efficiency by about five percent which will help them extend the mid-day meal program to over 28,500 students every day and one step closer to their goal of feeding 5 million children by 2020

Cisco is also committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting renewable energy. It recently signed two solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) that will collectively deliver 85,000 megawatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity every year to the local electric grid near its Bangalore campus. These agreements will provide nearly 40 percent of the electricity that is needed to power Cisco’s Bangalore campus.

Cisco has also installed one megawatt of solar panels across all of its rooftops at the Bangalore campus. Collectively, these onsite solar installations and two new solar PPAs will reduce Cisco’s Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions at its Bangalore campus by over 70,000 metric tonnes per year, which is equivalent to taking 15,000 cars off roads or planting 1.8 million trees

V C Gopalratnam, Trustee, Cisco Foundation & Senior Vice President, IT & CIO – International said, “With our philanthropic and CSR efforts, we are committed to positively impact 50 million beneficiaries in India the next seven years. We work with some of the most forward-thinking partners, not-for-profit organizations, collaborative governments and scores of passionate employees to really make a difference to the world that we inhabit.”

“At Cisco, our collaborations and programs are focused on harnessing the power of technology to support and launch a generation of problem solvers who will innovate like technologists, think like entrepreneurs and act as social change agents," said Harish Krishnan, Managing Director, Public Affairs & Strategic Engagements, Cisco India & SAARC.

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