YPO Global Impact: Abhijit Pawar

Witness the birth of a movement.

In January 2013, Abhijit Pawar’s Sakal Media Group deployed reporters across the western Indian state of Maharashtra to unleash the transformative power of women. Backing woman-to-woman networks with the power of the media, the Tanishka Women’s Dignity Forum (Tanishka Stree Prathishtha Abhiyan) empowers women to be agents of change and improvement in their villages and society. Pawar joined the YPO Pune chapter in India in 2004.

This effort began with 1,500 members of female-only forums, the Tanishka Women’s Dignity Forum movement has grown to 45,000 active members and 50,000 volunteers. These numbers are increasing every day, growing beyond the 95,000 women committed to improving their communities through shared effort and self-empowerment.

At the heart of the Tanishka movement is the forum, a group of 20 women who come together in an open format to discuss issues affecting their lives and those of women in their communities and to find and implement solutions to those problems. Representing all 35 districts and 290 talukas (subdivisions) of Maharashtra, the forums tackle issues from healthcare to land ownership rights to personal safety, sanitation, access to clean water, barriers to employment and much more.

SMG and its Sakal Social Foundation run on the philosophy that media is a medium of social change. Pawar’s father, having served on the Sakal board for nearly three decades, instilled in his son the importance of giving back. As managing director of Sakal, Pawar has taken this idea to heart.

“A seed, nurtured by my father, has turned into a tree bearing fruits, which are being shared with society,” explains Pawar. “We believe that Sakal belongs to society; and while running it, one should not think of only profit and loss but how much we give back.”

Today SMG is recognized as the 11th largest donor company in India and the largest donor company in the Indian media sector. They give back a minimum of 30 percent of their profits to the community.

Pawar has personally developed and launched numerous non-political social change initiatives during his time at SMG, focusing on education, empowerment and socio-economic transformation, including the Tanishka Women’s Dignity Forum.

He brings innovation, business acumen and passion to everything he does. Recognized as an impactful social leader, he has been asked by all major Indian political parties to campaign in the general elections as their candidate, but has declined to do so. It is the opportunity to affect social transformation outside of politics and beyond personal success that he takes as his calling.

“My remaining life will be dedicated to society, preferably outside the public political realm,” says Pawar. “I receive great peace of mind due to the various social activities undertaken through SMG.”

(The author of this article is Annu Ross, communications project manager, writer for YPO)

YPO Global Impact celebrates the members who are making a difference, leading each other to ever-greater accomplishments. As chief executives, members of YPO are in a unique position to identify problems and solve them, leveraging their knowledge and network to make this world a better place. Together, their actions are having a profound impact for good.

(Image: YouTube)

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