Whether in life or in business, it’s the warmest of comforts to know somebody has your back when you take those first baby steps. That’s the part Social Alpha has been playing as it nurtures and shepherds a bunch of startups looking to make a mark in the development sector with solutions that are, necessarily, of a distinctive order.

The focus of our cover feature in this issue of Horizons is as much an ecosystem as an organisation. Social Alpha, an initiative supported by the Tata Trusts, seeks out and sustains fledgling enterprises offering products and services that address India’s development challenges. Beginning right and bright is crucial for these startups and that’s where Social Alpha pitches in as enabler, collaborator and cheerleader. There’s more than the monetary in the blended boost that Social Alpha offers as it pushes forward with its mission of creating social, economic and environmental impact.

Sports and the backing it gets from the Tata Trusts is the subject of our special report. Befittingly, we have chosen to tell the story through photographs and there is, given the breadth of the involvement, a lot to capture: hockey in Jharkhand and Odisha, badminton and football in Mizoram, athletics in Uttarakhand, boxing in Manipur and cricket in Mumbai. It’s a full spread pf programmes, from the grassroots to top-notch academies, and completing the coverage is an insightful article by Neelam Babardesai, head of sports at the Trusts.

In our basket of feature articles, we have a crop-mapping effort in Maharashtra that has gone digital; a collaborative skilling project by the Trusts and Siemens that makes jobseekers job-ready; an ecology-friendly endeavour that has turned the tide for once-dry Dayarani Lake in Uttarakhand; a programme to help rural communities access and benefit from what is called ‘commons’, or shared natural resources; and a tech-heavy initiative that is ushering in change for farmers in Odisha.

We also have in this edition a thought-provoking interview with Mridula Ramesh of the Sundaram Climate Institute on the water crisis we have brought upon ourselves and why we need to rethink our ways to avoid swimming further towards disaster. Speaking to us in a different context are the prolific and exceptional Malayalam writer S Sivadas and author and illustrator Deepa Balsavar, both winners of the Big Little Book Awards, instituted by the Parag Initiative of the Trusts, to encourage children’s literature.

Wrapping it up is our showcase section, which is about tomatoes and the farmers who grow them to juicy advantage in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.

Christabelle Noronha

We hope you will help us make Horizons better with your valuable feedback. Please do write to us at horizons@tatatrusts.org.

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