For 44-year-old Ruchi Mathur, it was not enough to belong to a city. She wanted to be its change agent, too. So, she gave up the cushy life of a corporate executive and headed for the slums, deciding to dedicate her life to getting officials, politicians and companies to do something for the city and its people.
"The complexity and scale of social problems today require large-scale transformation rather than incremental change," says Mathur, an alumnus of the prestigious IIM-A whose three-year stint with CRY was what prodded her towards Pune City Connect (PCC), a platform to bring together government agencies, corporate houses, experts and common citizens and direct efforts to make Pune more liveable. "I knew this is where I wanted to be." She joined PCC as the CEO, after working with Citibank, Lintas, Planet M and Zensar, three years ago. It was just the platform she needed to initiate the change she had envisioned. "The idea was to make PCC a collaborative forum where stakeholders could work together to address urban issues, especially the development of low-income communities," says Mathur.
The biggest win for PCC was roping in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). "In social development, the key is the involvement of the government, as it drives the system and can bring about systemic change." PCC, which has signed an MoU with the PMC to be the interface between companies and the government, works in the four crucial areas of education, digital literacy, sustainable livelihood and governance.
In education, it is training 46 "super trainers", who can be used for capacity building in schools. It is developing model schools that will serve as pilots. "We are working with 15 schools to directly train the teachers," says Mathur. Next on the agenda is "Digital Pune 2020". The aim is to eliminate the digital divide between the rich and the poor. The third is large-scale skilling and employment. "We have established three centres called lighthouses," says Mathur. "Among the 1,500 youth enrolled, 70 per cent are women," says Mathur. For governance, PCC has set up a City Transformation Unit whose management experts support the PMC in timely execution of Rs 32,000 crore worth of projects.