A prestigious scholarship programme announced in Johannesburg will see Tata Africa providing funding to allow postgraduate students at the University of the Witwatersrand to research projects for the benefit of citizens across the continent.
Raman Dhawan, managing director of Tata Africa, presented the awards to students in various fields whom he referred to as 'the future leaders of this country and continent.'
'The Tata Group has always believed in returning wealth to the society that it serves. Tata believes that no success or achievement in material terms is worthwhile unless it serves the needs or interests of the country and its people and is achieved by fair and honest means,' Dhawan said Monday.
Offering advice from his personal experience to the graduates, Dhawan urged them to resist corruption at all costs and to 'give back to society when you become hotshot executives.'
'Avoid any form of corruption and gain respect as leaders.'
Dhawan said this could be easily accomplished if the graduates followed the values that Tata firmly believed in – integrity, understanding, excellence, unity and responsibility.
This is the third year that Tata Africa has provided the scholarships, with 39 students at Witwatersrand University who are financially challenged and have a proven academic track record, having benefited so far.
Loyiso Nongxa, vice chancellor and principal, lauded the efforts of Indian companies to develop partnerships with academic institutions.
'I made two distinctive observations (during his recent rip to India) which speak directly to the establishment of these prestigious awards – the investment by corporations and the private sector into higher education and knowledge institutions and the emphasis on producing quality teaching, learning and research (academic excellence) despite socio-economic disparities.'
Rob Moore, deputy vice chancellor (Advancement and Partnerships), said the partnership between Tata Africa and the university represented a new trend in the field of corporate social investment, incorporating triple bottom line reporting – society, environment and profit.
In addition to the Tata Africa scholarships, Tata has donated a top-of-the-range off road vehicle for use in the Ndlela Research and Clinical Trials Unit, a major rural community health project run by the university's School of Public Health. It was established in 2006 to conduct clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of HIV and related diseases like tuberculosis in rural South Africa.
The university has enjoyed a strong relationship with Tata Consulting Services (an IT-focussed subsidiary) and negotiations are underway for it to partner Tata in an extensive programme to provide access to technology for marginalised communities.