An eclectic group of friends from the 1980 batch got together to think about how they could ‘give back’ to their alma mater – BITS Pilani. This led to the birth of the Pilani Atmanirbhar Resource Centre (PARC), with a simple objective: to help in local community development and support the less privileged people living in and around Pilani.

PARC is a platform that involves students, alumni and staff of institutions in activities & projects focused on community development by making basic amenities accessible. PARC is also an enabler for non-profit organizations and experts to engage with the local communities to develop their entrepreneurial skills, make them employable and help them become a little more self-reliant.

Over the years, PARC has undertaken various community development initiatives in the form of skill training & job creation for the youth, vocational training for young adults, pilgrimages & excursions for senior citizens, a playground of children, as well as, safeguarding the interests of women and children.

PARC, along with the TCS Foundation, started the Youth Employment Program (YEP) in 2022-23. Students from local colleges in and around Pilani were enrolled and trained. Many who passed the written exams were employed by TCS. Over 2022-23, from a single college the Youth Employment Program was extended to 2 then – 3 more colleges, making it a successful community development initiative for PARC.

In 2023, PARC, with the help of Student Team volunteers also organized Rozgar Melas to promote the Youth Employment Program among college students attending local colleges in and around Pilani. They’ve been attended by local community leaders, including village sarpanches, who have advocated the Youth Employment Program at colleges in their areas.

Pratham and PARC have collaborated to develop residential training programs for rural youth so that they are employable by the hospitality sector. Young adults have the opportunity to get trained in F&B and Housekeeping, where they are exposed to hands-on scenarios at a mock restaurant & bar and a hotel room & bathroom. The programs are certified by the Taj Group of Hotels, with regular lectures by the BITS faculty. Thousands of the trainees have been employed by the Taj Group and other star hotels.

Pilgrimages & excursions for senior citizens have been well-appreciated initiatives in community development. In partnership with Helpage India, PARC has organized many tours to historical places within the Country. These tours have later become the focus of many storytelling sessions among the seniors.

Handling children’s needs often takes priority in community development because, as they say, there’s nothing brighter than a smile on a child’s face. PARC, the student team and Anthill got together to develop a colorful playground for children in Gyan Vihar, Pilani.

It is a 5000-square-foot play-cum-learning ground adjacent to the PARC complex, with various educational and fun equipment like swings, a walker maze, a balance beam, a double swing and a transverse beam. Senior citizens and specially-abled children have also benefited from this initiative.

Community development is incomplete if the interest of women and children aren’t safeguarded, especially against domestic violence, sexual offences and harassments, dowry issues and child marriage. PARC has created and supported a women’s cell by giving them access to lawyers and legal services when required. This has injected a sense of comfort and trust in the community.

We have had some experience in sustainability and community development too. Sustainable Innovations, a US-based non-profit, operated from the PARC complex with the objectives of rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation. They went across villages, educating the villagers and setting up customised solutions. We’ve also participated with the BITS Faculty on certain projects, especially developing bio-pesticides with a grant from the Department of Science and Technology (Ministry of Science).

Adam Braun’s thought – “For any movement to gain momentum, one must start with a small action” resonates with us. At PARC, we started with a need to ‘give back’ which has then fuelled a continuous pipeline of initiatives in community development. As we reach out to others like us, we are hopeful of the movement growing in size and stature in the near future.