Delhi Half Marathon, Anil Agarwal’s ‘Zero Hunger’ dream | In conversation with Priya Agarwal of Vedanta

Priya said: “My dad went through a lot of real struggles in life. He started his business dealing in scrap metal. He slept on an empty stomach and couldn’t buy nutritious food. That’s why my dad doesn’t have hungry eyesight.” She added that Vedanta’s #RunForZeroHunger is a mass movement to create awareness that no child should go to bed hungry.

The Delhi Half Marathon is less than a month away, and the registration of participants shows how enthusiastic Indians are for fitness and running. The 17th edition of the prestigious marathon, scheduled for October 16, took on a new identity this year when Vedanta Limited announced support for the distance running event. Vedanta’s non-executive director, Priya Agarwal, told Livemint that more than 45,000 people will run at the Delhi half-marathon, of which 25% are women. More than 13,500 athletes participated in the 2020 event.

Vivek Singh, joint managing director of Procam International, which organizes marathons in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata, said, “We are delighted to welcome aboard Vedanta as Sponsors. for the Delhi Half Marathon. Major Natural Resources has chosen to run the distance to make its mark on our country’s sport. Vedanta has been at the forefront of social initiatives and paved the way for development. Now, with the addition of sport, together we will continue to strengthen the legacy of this event as a catalyst for change.”

The Vedanta Delhi Half Marathon will have a prize pool of $268,000 ( 2.14 crore), and the international elite winner will receive $27,000 while the Indian winner will take home 3,50,000. Bonuses for amateurs are also available in different age categories.

In an exclusive chat with Livemint, Priya Agarwal, the non-executive director, shared her vision for Vedanta entering the sports sponsorship space:

What is the thought process behind this move and what message do you want to convey from this alignment?

Priya Agarwal: Vedanta’s DNA is to give back to society. My grandfather used to believe in the philosophy of Artha and Buddhism, where the former meant creating ‘value’ and the latter meant giving back that ‘value’ to society. And that is why Vedanta has planned to sponsor the half marathon in Delhi. Vedanta has maintained a marathon for a greater purpose, “Run for Zero Hunger”, because my father always said that no child deserves to go to bed hungry. If we had about a thousand people talking about not being hungry, I’m sure this would make a big difference.

What is your view on the marathon market in India? How is it different from the IPL market?

Priya Agarwal: What makes marathons special is that it’s not limited to specific individuals. It allows an ordinary man regardless of race, sex, age and disability to participate without any limitation. Marathon is not only holistic, it is goal oriented. Thousands of people ran across the ground, celebrating the human spirit. Every individual runs for a cause. So far, the Delhi marathon has raised funds around 80 crore for various social issues for many years just by operating. Marathon is like a mass movement where one runs to stay healthy, enjoy and raise awareness of social challenges.

TCS is a dominant name in the marathon. Is your company also planning to add more marathons to its roaster?

Priya Agarwal: We have sponsored the Jaipur marathon so far, but it is on a smaller scale than the Delhi Half Marathon. The Jaipur marathon is mainly for breast cancer awareness. We can create our marathon if we achieve our greater purpose through the Delhi marathon. The Delhi Half Marathon is our first step and we are optimistic that it will go well.

Is Vedanta Ltd also planning to sponsor other sports like IPL, Pro Kabaddi League etc?

Priya Agarwal: As a company, we believe in participating in events that serve our community and elevate society. Therefore, we do not plan to sponsor any IPL events.

How does sports sponsorship contribute to brand positioning?

Priya Agarwal: Our company has been very active in grassroots sports activities. We have two football academies in Rajasthan and Goa. We teach judo to women who are part of our Nand Ghar initiative. Our company also provides training for state and national level supply shooters. However, this is the first time our company has decided to go into the urban scene.

I think in terms of branding, it’s more important if we have initiatives like Nand Ghar where we want to take care of 8 kids and 3 (about) crore women. Bigger issues require more public participation, which is why the marathon serves that purpose the city participates in and creates awareness.

What is the role of fitness in your life?

Priya Agarwal: I have three passions: One is philanthropy, the second is passionately working for Vedanta and the third is animal welfare and music. To balance the three factors above, I need to keep myself a fit and healthy body. I think fitness needs to be valued a lot, especially after the pandemic. As soon as I feel nervous, I go out for a walk. I run about 9 kilometers three times a week. Through fitness, your mental, physical and emotional health is taken care of. It’s a great way to mentally connect with yourself.

You have a musician in you. You also have a philanthropic mindset. And you are the non-executive director of India’s largest mining company. How do you manage all three of these?

Priya Agarwal: Vedanta is my responsibility. It’s like supporting my father in any way I can. While music helps reduce my stress levels. It clears my mind and I think better for the next day at work. Animal welfare and charity are ways to give back to society. These three things are close to my heart and my life because they give me a purpose to wake up in the morning.

What’s the biggest lesson learned from your father Anil Agarwal?

Priya Agarwal: One of the best things my dad taught me, ‘don’t be afraid of who you are’. When my father came to Mumbai from Bihar, he struggled to fit in with the metropolitan city. A simple and ordinary person, my father faced rejection because of his non-English background and appearance. But my father accepts him for who he is. He believes in the 25% rule, which means working 25% harder every day to accomplish your goals. I applied his teachings to my life when I went abroad for further study.

My parents always told me that happiness is the most powerful thing in the world. I think that by pleasing others, one should not sacrifice their happiness. Only do what makes you happy.

What is your ultimate goal?

Priya Agarwal: My ultimate goal is for my father/Vedanta President to achieve his dream of spending 75% of his wealth for the development of society. Vedanta is a professional company, and the family is only the trustee. So it should run professionally for generations. I want Vedanta to be immortal.

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