Recognizing the efforts of the driver community in India
A New Chapter in Driver Upliftment – Gyproc, Saint Gobain, Bengaluru
Recognizing the efforts of the drivers in maintaining the transport lifeline of the country, Drivers Day Utsav was not only an occasion to celebrate the spirit of this community but also an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to safety. Raghuram Sharma reports
This year, Transport Mitra celebrated Drivers Day Utsav (DDU) at the Saint-Gobain Gyproc India’s plant at Bengaluru and the Adani Port CFS area in Mundra. Despite the need for implementing precautionary measures in view of the pandemic atmosphere, the enthusiasm for the DDU was evidently abundant. Replete with face masks and hand sanitizers, the drivers at Mundra as well as at Bangalore maintained a social distancing norm to the last tee. Such an attitude not only helps in arresting the pandemic but also creates a level of confidence to ward off any psychological fear – a rare combination of contrasts, so to say, with celebrations for the soldiers of the highways in a combative mood against the pandemic.
Shekhar Kulkarni, Head (Supply Chain Management) at Saint-Gobain Gyproc India set the ball rolling by highlighting the importance of truck drivers in the sustenance of the country’s economy. “Sustainability is a core value at the Saint Gobain India (P) Ltd. Our products and services reflect this core value. We believe that the way the logistics eco-system is evolving in India, sustainable and green logistics is an imperative that cannot be ignored. The driver fraternity is the key to drive this sustainability effort. Driver Day Utsav is a step towards creating a sustainable logistics ecosystem. It was created as a special day to acknowledge and thank the drivers and also as a day to commit to their wellbeing. We are very pleased to partner with Transport Mitra and Freight Tiger for this initiative,” he said.
Swapnil Shah, CEO, and Founder, Freight Tiger echoed similar views about the driver fraternity and added, “Freight Tiger’s mission is to simplify and improve the lives of every stakeholder in the logistics supply chain. Partnering with Gyproc India and Transport Mitra for this event gave us the opportunity to acknowledge and thank the driver community – one of the most critical stakeholders. I would like to thank Transport Mitra and Gyproc India for this and we look forward to doing a lot more for the community.” Saint-Gobain Gyproc India has four gypsum board manufacturing plants at Wada in Maharashtra, Bangalore in Karnataka, Jind in Haryana, and Jhagadia in Gujarat.
The plant in Bangalore is about 50 km from the heart of the city in the Horahalli industrial area. Supply logistics is outsourced. The drivers and vehicles are under the management of the vendors of the company which follows the mantra that outsourcing is certainly not the adjudication of its responsibility towards the drivers. And with this mindset, the company sought the expertise of Transport Mitra in taking the first baby step towards driver relationship management. Drivers Day Utsav was a golden opportunity to kick-start the intended goal, and hence the celebrations on September 22, 2020, at their plant.
The surprised but pleasing looks on the faces of the drivers were a testimony to the fact that it was for the first time their contributions were acknowledged officially. The huge banner declaring the DDU was a point of attraction for the drivers, employees, and passers-by. The involvement of the staff and the officers of the unit right from the word go was in itself a testimonial to the earnest desire of the think-tank to showcase their intent in making the driver community of the company a part of its strategic workforce.
There are about 50 drivers working for the company. As an utmost precaution, in view of the pandemic, the celebrations were held in two sessions. Each and every driver was welcomed with an ‘angavastram’ to the venue. General Manager Saravan Kumar was the guest of honor. He was welcomed on the dais along with other guests with a shawl presented by the drivers. The event was declared open traditionally with a lamp-lighting ceremony by the guests and two of the senior drivers present on this occasion. The national anthem was sung in unison by one and all with patriotic fervor. There were short speeches by the invited speakers. Saravan Kumar emphasized the importance of the role of drivers and the need for safety in their personal and work life alike.
The HR team of the unit administered the oath in Kannada to the drivers. All the dignitaries and the drivers signed the pledge banner. P Prasanna, Head (MHD) was the company’s man on the ground and his coaxing the drivers to double up as ambassadors of the company was well received. A quiz competition was organized in which the drivers participated energetically. The theme was related to the knowledge of road signs and safety. An opportunity to demonstrate the drivers’ skills of mimicry and mono play was also part of the program. All the drivers were given a gift by the company as a token of appreciation for their work. Fruit hampers and lunch packs were part of the giveaway to the drivers on the occasion.
The happy faces of the drivers were the tell-tale stories of the positive impact. Kudos to Gyproc, Saint Gobain, for their thoughtful decision. It will certainly go a long way in boosting the sagging morale of the driving clan.
Over the past few years in the transport industry, we could see green shoots of hope in bringing back the social respect for the drivers and a serious attempt to rebuild the lost dignity for the driving profession. Keeping other social compulsions aside also, it is certainly a need of the hour to overcome the acute shortage of professional drivers.