Social Immersion Program

Social Immersion Program

Social Immersion Program (SIP), a unique initiative of IFIM Business School, sensitizes students to the needs of the community and enables to identify their social problems through research. Students will learn to design solutions for social problems through a Techno Economic Viability (TEV) study, thereby enabling sustainable social positive and measurable impact - all this by completely immersing into the community.

The Social Immersion Program was introduced as a 5-credit course in 2016. Since then, 2 cohorts of PGDM students have successfully completed the SIP. The SIP is ongoing for the 2018 – 2020 batch of students. The Social Immersion Program serves a two -fold purpose. It creates in students the desire to give back to society. It also results in actual contributions being made to various communities.

Aims of the SIP are as follows:

  • To empathize with social issues and feel responsible for solving them.
  • To develop critical thinking, analytical and quantitative reasoning skills.
  • To hone problem solving and decision-making abilities.
  • To work cohesively in teams, adjust and adapt towards a common goal.
  • To enhance communication skills especially persuasive communication.

Objectives

  • To create empathy amongst IFIM family members, both students and faculty, for social issues and for the disadvantaged; (This is made possible through the 2-week immersion)
  • To let students, learn how to adjust to challenging living conditions; (This is made possible through the 2-week immersion)
  • To enable students to solve social problems in a way that is measurable, and can have social impact; (This is made possible after the immersion, when the students apply TEV analyses)
  • To allow students to be part of an ongoing effort by IFIM to give back to society (This is made possible by succeeding batches of students working on projects aligned to the United Nations SDGs)
  • To enable students to learn about project management. (This is made possible by the Social immersion Program itself, as all student groups operate in project mode)

IFIM Business School has tied up with many NGOs to facilitate the immersion component of the program. These NGOs are known as IFIM's partner NGOs for that cohort of students and Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) are signed with these partner NGOs.

IFIM has tied up with NGO’s across India who work closely with students, such as World Vision India, Action Aid, Art of Living (AOL), Anti-Pollution Drive, Help Age India, Biocon Foundation, CARE India, CRY, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, etc. to name of few.

Students form themselves into groups of 8 – 10 members. Each group selects a partner NGO with which that group of students will be attached during the immersion period. Each SIP student group is then allocated a faculty mentor and an NGO mentor. Each SIP student group is then assigned a social issue for it to work with.

SIP student groups then visit the NGO's activity area and are immersed in that location for a period of 2 weeks. These areas are usually less developed. There are thus many social issues which can be investigated. The areas where the SIP student groups work span the breadth and length of the country.

The immersion sites are spread out across the length and breadth of India. During the immersion period, students collect data about the social issue they are examining. On the last day of the immersion, students present their findings to their NGO mentor. At the conclusion of the SIP immersion, students return to the IFIM Business School. Most students are deeply affected by their immersion experience. Each SIP student group makes a presentation about their immersion experience to their peers. They then write an account about what touched them the most during their immersion period. Each assignment is read by the Faculty Head, SIP and aligned with one of the 17 United Nations Sustainability Developments Goals (SDGs).

In 2019, students have indicated an interest in contributing to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)s:

  • SDG 1: End Poverty in All Its Forms Everywhere.
  • SDG 2: End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition and Promote Sustainable Agriculture.
  • SDG 3: Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Sustainable Agriculture.
  • SDG 4: Ensure Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promote Lifelong Learning Opportunities for All.
  • SDG 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls.
  • SDG 6: Ensure Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All.
  • SDG 11: Make Cities and Human Settlements Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable

SIP student groups are then re-grouped based on the SDG aligned social issue they have indicated interest in. The newly constituted SIP student groups the use techno-economic-viable (TEV) analyses to formulate a solution for the social issue they have tackled. The students work in project mode and present their proposed solutions to NGOs working with the SDG examined.

The Immersion Pathway

The Immersion Pathway is built on IFIM’s philosophy of making a positive social change.

These are key learnings are as follows:

  • Every project is unique
    SIP has been designed to give every student team tools to achieve their goals. Each community, need and project are unique, and these tools will need to be applied with that unique context in mind.
  • Making a massive difference is HARD
    Some days might be boring and repetitive but are necessary to make a meaningful change in the community. Students are advised to remember the end goal and keep persevering.
  • The communities are customers, not beneficiaries
    It is critical that we see the members of the community whom we are trying to serve as customers rather than as beneficiaries. This gives the community more autonomy over the solution and ensures that the solution is something the community actually wants. Therefore, students are encouraged to use research skills to arrive at the ‘social problem’ and management skills of determining a ‘sustainable’ business solution are critical.
  • Poverty is not just about money

It is believed, that to truly affect a meaningful change in a person’s life, we need to understand their lives holistically. The traditional measurement of ‘Rs. X per day’ cannot adequately capture the full effect of a life lived without opportunity. With experience in working with different communities, it is found that ‘Needs’ can revolve around certain key areas, which have been captured in the Social Impact Wheel.

The impact of the Social Immersion Program can be seen in the following select examples:

SIP IN KARO VILLAGE, LADAKH

In April 2019, Business Standard presented a SIP group of the 2018 – 2020 batch of PGDM students with certificates, for being semi-finalists in the Business Standard Best B-School Project Award, 2018.

The students had looked at how plastic waste could be managed in Karo village, Ladakh in a way that contributes to the sustainable development of their community. This effort is aligned with SDG 11.

SIP IN MANGALORE

The impact of the Social Immersion Program can be seen in the following select example: A SIP group collected data about the lung conditions of 300 autorickshaw drivers in Mangalore. A spirometer was used to conduct pulmonary function tests. 20% of the autorickshaw drivers were found to have lungs damaged by pollution. This data was presented in the Vidhan Soudha by a sitting member of the legislative assembly. This effort is aligned with SDG 3.


Achievements of the Previous Year:

Awards: (a) Won the award for best CSR practices of an institute of higher education from the Karnataka Rotary Club. Passed two selection rounds before emerging the winner. (b) Was a finalist for the NHRDN best CSR practices award and was invited to showcase SIP at the NHRDN fair. (c) Student SIP project was selected for the preliminary round of the Business Standard Best Management Project Award 2020.

Some of the SIP reports were developed into RI papers.

Response to the COVID Crisis.

Some headway to make a presence in Kolar was made on April 10, 2020, when 640 one kilo packets of ghee were distributed in the adopted villages of Kolar as a mark of solidarity during the current coronavirus outbreak.

The students and staff of IFIM Business School led by Prof. Nina Jacob led this initiative to help the residents of the adopted villages.