Thanks to the increasing awareness, business owners are indeed keen to invest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives doing their bit for the good of the society. The eyecare industry is no exception to this trend. Here is a look at the work done by Goa-based Mukta Opticians in this domain
India has a total population of more than 7 billion. Of these, about 2.5 billion individuals experience the ill effects of uncorrected refractive mistakes. There are studies which indicate that vision correction in these affected individuals will also lead to a boost in the efficiency of professionals by a startling 34%. As a result of this, the specialists pay is expected to go up by 20%. World Health Organization evaluation further establishes that India loses about USD 37 billion yearly in terms of revenue due to the impact of these uncorrected refractive errors in professionals.
Vision is one of the most empowering senses of human body that enables a person to work to the fullest of their potential. However, what many people do not realize is that 80 percent of the various types of visual disabilities can actually be avoided with a few basic precautionary measures. Around 495 million Indians require vision rectification. Adhering to a basic eyecare regime can help prevent these vision rectification issues manifest into major problems.
The Indian eyecare industry is a staunch supporter of such causes and is always undertaking initiatives to help the society improve its eye health. There have been a number of activities carried out by many industry comrades in the same field. They have provided access to eye care services for the rural population, made spectacles available to the needy, etc. In fact, initiatives have been undertaken to reach out to the children, elderly and many more who need vision supervision and correction.
In order to get an insight into the community better, VisionPlus magazine spoke to Mr Kishor Sarsolkar from Mukta Opticians in Goa, who are also winners in the Best CSR Initiative category at the ZEISS ‘YOU&EYE’ AWARDS last year. Mukta Opticians inclination to work for the welfare of the society stems from the founder’s vision. When the late Ratnakar Sarsolkar founded Mukta Opticians in 1977, he was inspired by his wife’s idea of working to meet people’s aspirations and do good for the community. Today, Mr. Kishor Sarsolkar carries forward this vision with pride continuing to undertake initiatives that ultimately contribute towards improving the vision health of the community.
Apart from the free eye check-up camps, Mukta Opticians also has a fully functional mobile eye examination unit. As Mr. Sarsolkar, owner of Mukta Opticians elaborates, “We use this mobile unit to reach out to the rural areas. These are areas where access to eye care is relatively poor and so the risk of vision problems developing into major issues is higher. Through our mobile unit, we are able to provide basic eye check-up to the people in these areas and therefore help prevent vision problems from growing.”
Adding further Mr. Sarsolkar added, “Every employee at Mukta is motivated as he/she feels that they are contributing immensely towards improving the vision health of the community by participating in the initiatives that we undertake as part of our CSR. In fact, regularly indulging in such activities ensures that we have a very conducive and work-friendly atmosphere in all our stores.
Till date, Mukta Opticians has conducted free eye testing camp across villages, schools, corporate offices, local clubs, women welfare organisation, among others. The camps are conducted in collaboration with companies like Cipla Ltd, Sesa Goa, GSL, SGL, Fomento Resources, IMA , Adani Ltd, WOCHARDT, Konkan Railway and other corporate as well as not-for-profit organisations.
VisionPlus (VP): Today we see a shift in your approach towards business. Along with business, there is a concentrated effort in wanting to fulfill a social responsibility. Is this a pure business strategy or a conscious call from within?
Kishor Sarsolkar (KS): Along with regular business, there is a concentrated effort of fulfilling our social responsibility towards the society. This is a conscious call as we are aware of our responsibilities towards the society. Mukta Opticians has always been at the forefront of offering new and innovative solutions to health problems especially eyecare and implemented them on a large scale.
A business entrepreneur measures performance on the basis of profit but here at Mukta Opticians, our focus is on creating social capital for the larger economic benefit. CSR at Mukta Opticians is a continuous commitment to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life for the workforce and society at large.
Since 2009, we have conducted more than 600 eye care camps have screening more than 90,000 people for free. Free spectacles were provided to more than 25,000 people. In fact, we are honored that our efforts were recognised on a platform like ‘ZEISS ‘YOU&EYE’ AWARDS.
VP: How challenging is it to implement it?
KS: I believe in taking a challenge heads on and working hard to achieve my goal. Nothing comes without hard work, performance, dedication, devotion, determination and discipline.Even when it comes to CSR activities, breaking the norms to achieve the goals is always tougher initially. In my case too, we faced similar challenges.
It seemed like a tough job when we started. But when I saw the underprivileged benefiting from it, my hard work became worth the effort. The smiles on their faces is truly one of my biggest earnings because these are people who did not have access to basic eye-care as well before our mobile van reached them.
VP: Which are the regions or places that are more receptive /less receptive to this change that you are bringing in, in terms of CSR activities?
KS: As of now, the people in the villages and remote corners of the state seem more receptive to this change. Many people in the villages lack basic eyecare services. The team at Mukta Opticians provides them with education about eyecare and key preventive methods that can improve their vision health.