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Can a brand be an inspiration?


I had promised myself that my next post will be after I completed this project. You can read about the project here. Its been just over a year. The Chirag project, my last blog, was about a dream that we all nurtured. To build a brand that would not only make a real difference to children studying in the villages, but be a constant source of inspiration: ‘Zyada pado, aagey bado’ or “Study more, progress more”. We needed something more than just the product.

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The team had met hundreds of children during the rural promotions. They had no inhibitions. They will take any chance to move ahead in life. The look in the eyes of those children tell stories of yearning. To rise and be considered. To find a way out of poverty through education. Chirag gives them uninterrupted light to study, but they want something more. Something real. So that they could push themselves to the limit. Could we help them do that? This had to be the real purpose of the brand. To connect with their dreams. To inspire and help our students in villages to rise.

The BPL Chirag scholarship. We proposed it to K Vijaya Kumar, the ebullient and enthusiastic CEO of BPL. It would be the perfect compliment to the brand promise. Schools in rural and semi urban areas in each district would select meritorious students to participate in a talent search. All the selected students need to do is write an essay about their dreams. The essays would be judged by a panel of district teachers and every year the winners would get the Chirag scholarship. It was easier said than done. The challenge was not about doing it one year, but to make it perpetual.

After a few months, Vijay came back. Not with an approval but a plan of action. He was convinced they should do it. They had selected Gorakhpur district in the state of Uttar Pradesh to start with. They had mapped the schools, contacted the authorities, explained the scholarship program and enrolled them. It was a mammoth task and we are so thankful to all the field sales guys to have painstakingly met every single school in the district.

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One thousand and ninety students selected by the local schools participated in the scholarship exam. The excitement and interest generated amongst the students, community and most importantly the media was palpable. Thanks to superb logistics planning, the students arrived at the three examination centers spot on time. Were briefed about the examination and the rules well ahead of the exams. It was wonderfully organized thanks to the efforts of the BPL team.

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Sarvesh Mishra could not believe his eyes. He looked at the Rs.11,000 scholarship cheque that he had won for his first prize winning essay.  “I’ll invest this money in my engineering preparation coaching, my family will be proud on me”, he said. Juhi Jaiswal, one of the three scholarship winners for the second prize of Rs.5100, said  “I’ll give this money to my parents as this is the 1st time I won”. One of the teachers present summed it up for all,  “this type of program not only encourage the winners but also the other students in the school”, he said.

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A big thank you to K. Vijaya Kumar and his team. We are so grateful to them for having completed the circle of the Chirag brand. Reading some of the essays made every minute of effort on this brand worthwhile. It also gave us a sense of completion: Chirag is an inspiration to so many students today. And to the brand team.

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