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

“My father faced a real struggle in life. He started his business trading in scrap metal. He sometimes slept on an empty stomach and could not afford nutritious food. That’s why my dad has a zero hunger vision,” Priya said. She added that Vedanta’s #RunForZeroHunger is a mass movement to raise 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 just how passionate Indians are about fitness and running. The 17th edition of the prestigious marathon, scheduled for October 16th, has taken on a new identity this year as Vedanta Limited announced its support for the distance running event. Priya Agarwal, non-executive director of Vedanta, told Livemint that more than 45,000 people would run in the Delhi half marathon, of which 25% will be women. More than 13,500 runners took part in the 2020 event.

Vivek Singh, Co-Managing Director of Procam International, the company that organizes marathons in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata, said: “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Vedanta on board as our title sponsor for the Delhi Half Marathon. The Natural Resources Major chose distance running to make a name for itself in our country’s sporting landscape. Vedanta is at the forefront of social initiatives and has paved the way for our nation’s 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 has a purse of US$268,000 ( 2.14 crore), and the International Elite winner gets $27,000 while the Indian winners take home 3.50.000. There is also prize money for various age groups for amateurs.

In an exclusive chat with Livemint, Non-Executive Director Priya Agarwal shares her vision for Vedanta’s entry into the sports sponsorship space:

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What was the thought process behind this move and what message would you like to send from this association?

Priya Agarwal: Vedanta’s DNA is all about giving back to society. My grandfather used to believe in an Artha and Dharma philosophy, where the former means creating “value” and the latter means returning that “value” back to society. And that’s why Vedanta planned to sponsor the Delhi Half Marathon. Vedanta kept the marathon for a greater purpose, “Run for Zero Hunger” because my father always says that no child deserves to go to bed hungry. If we have like 1,000 people talking about zero hunger, I’m sure it will make a big difference.

How do you rate the marathon market in India? How is it different from the IPL market?

Priya Agarwal: What is special about marathons is that they are not limited to specific people. It allows an ordinary man, regardless of race, gender, age and disability, to participate without restrictions. Marathons are not only inclusive, but also goal-oriented. Thousands of people take to the ground celebrating the spirit of humanity. Each individual runs for a cause. Word has gotten around about the Delhi Marathon so far 80 crore for various social issues over the years just by walking. Marathon is like a mass movement where people run to keep fit, have fun and raise awareness of social challenges.

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

Priya Agarwal: So far we have sponsored the Jaipur Marathon, but to a lesser extent than the Delhi Half Marathon. The primary purpose of the Jaipur Marathon was to raise awareness of breast cancer. We could complete our marathon if we achieve our greater goal through the Delhi marathon. The Delhi Half Marathon is our first step and we are optimistic that it will end well.

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Does Vedanta Ltd also plan to sponsor in other sports such as IPL, Pro Kabaddi League etc.?

Priya Agarwal: As a company, we believe in attending events that serve our community and strengthen society. As such, we have no plans to sponsor IPL events.

How does sports sponsorship contribute to brand positioning?

Priya Agarwal: Our company is very active in popular sports. 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 trains archers at the state and national levels. However, our company has chosen an urban environment for the first time.

I think in terms of branding it’s more about whether we have initiatives like Nand Ghar where we want to care for 8 million children and (roughly) 3 million women. Bigger issues require more public involvement, which is why the marathon serves where the city gets involved and raises awareness.

What role does fitness play in your life?

Priya Agarwal: I have three passions: one is philanthropic activities, the second is zealous work for Vedanta and the third is animal welfare and music. To strike a balance between the three, I need to keep myself fit and healthy. I think fitness should be taken very seriously, especially after the pandemic. When I’m scared, I go for a walk. I run about 9 km three times a week. Fitness takes care of your mental, physical and emotional health. It’s a great way to spiritually connect with yourself.

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You have a musician in you. They also have a philanthropic mindset. And you’re not the executive director of India’s largest mining company. How do you handle all three things?

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

What is the greatest learning from your father Anil Agarwal?

Priya Agarwal: One of the nicest things my dad taught me was “don’t be afraid of who you are”. When my father came to Mumbai from Bihar, he struggled to integrate into the metropolis. Being simple and ordinary, my father met with resentment due to his non-English background and appearance. But my father accepted himself for who he was. He believes in the 25% Rule, which means working 25% harder every day to reach your goals. I implemented his teachings into my life when I went abroad for higher studies.

My parents always told me that happiness is the most powerful thing in the world. I think by pleasing others you shouldn’t sacrifice their happiness. Just do what makes you happy.

What is your ultimate goal?

Priya Agarwal: My ultimate goal is for my father/Vedanta Chairman to realize his dream of spending 75% of his wealth on the advancement of society. Vedanta is a professional company and the family is only the trustee. Therefore, it should run professionally for generations. I want Vedanta to remain immortal.

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