HomeSportPriya Agarwal speaks on Delhi Half Marathon, dad Anil Agarwal's dream

Priya Agarwal speaks on Delhi Half Marathon, dad Anil Agarwal’s dream

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“My dad has seen real struggle in life. He started his business by trading in scrap metal. He slept empty stomach sometimes and could not afford nutritious food. This is why my father has a zero hunger vision,” Priya said. 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 signifies how enthusiastic Indians are for fitness and running. The 17th edition of the prestigious marathon, scheduled for 16 October, has donned a new identity this year as Vedanta Limited announced its support for the distance running event. Vedanta’s non-executive director Priya Agarwal told Livemint that more than 45,000 people would be running at the Delhi half-marathon of which 25% will be women. More than 13,500 runners participated in the 2020 event.

Vivek Singh, joint managing director of Procam International, the company that organizes marathons in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata said, “It gives us immense pleasure to welcome on board Vedanta as our Title Sponsor for the Delhi Half Marathon. The natural resources major has chosen distance running to make its mark on our country’s sporting landscape. Vedanta has been at the forefront of social initiatives and paved the way for the development of our nation. 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 prize money of $268,000 ( 2.14 crore), and the international elite winner will take $27,000 while the Indian winners will take home 3,50,000. Prize money for amateurs is also there for different age categories.

In an exclusive conversation with Livemint, Priya Agarwal, the non-executive director, shares her vision about Vedanta’s entering the domain of sports sponsorship:

What was the thought process behind this move, and what message do you want to drive from this association?

Priya Agarwal: Vedanta’s DNA is all about giving back to society. My grandfather used to believe in a philosophy of Artha and Dharma where the former means to create ‘value’ and the latter stands for giving back that ‘value’ to society. And that’s why Vedanta planned to sponsor the Delhi half marathon. Vedanta has kept the marathon for a larger purpose, “Run for Zero Hunger”, because my father always says that no child deserves to go to bed hungry. If we have approximately one lakh people talking about zero hunger, I am sure this will make a big change.

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

Priya Agarwal: What makes marathons exceptional is that it is not limited to specific individuals. It allows a common man irrespective of race, gender, age, and disability to participate without any limitations. Marathons are not only inclusive, but it is also goal-oriented. Thousands of people run on the ground, celebrating the spirit of humanity. Each individual runs for a cause. So far, the Delhi marathon has raised around 80 crore for different social issues over the years just by running. Marathon is like a mass movement where one runs to stay fit, enjoy, and raise awareness about social challenges.

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

Priya Agarwal: We have been sponsoring the Jaipur marathon till now, but it was at a smaller scale than the Delhi Half Marathon. The Jaipur marathon has been for breast cancer awareness primarily. We might create our marathon if we achieve our larger purpose through the Delhi marathon. The Delhi Half Marathon is our first step and we are optimistic it will turn out well.

Is Vedanta Ltd also planning sponsorship in other sports such as IPL, Pro Kabaddi League, etc?

Priya Agarwal: As a company, we believe in participation in events that serve our community and uplift society. Thus, we have no plans to sponsor any IPL event.

How sports sponsorship contributes to brand positioning?

Priya Agarwal: Our company has been very active in grassroots level 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 provides training to state and national-level archery players. However, for the first time, our company decided to go into an urban setting.

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

What is the role of fitness in your life?

Priya Agarwal: I have three passions: One is philanthropic activities, the second is zealously working for Vedanta and the third is animal welfare and music. To make 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. As soon as I feel anxious, I go out for a walk. I run about 9 km three times a week. Through fitness, your mental, physical and emotional health is taken care of. It’s a great way to spiritually 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 things?

Priya Agarwal: Vedanta is my responsibility. It’s something like supporting my father in whatever way I can. While music helps in reducing my stress level. It declutters my mind, and I think better for the next day at work. Animal welfare and philanthropy are ways to give back to society. These three things are close to my heart and life as they give me a purpose to wake up each morning.

What is the biggest learning from your father Anil Agarwal?

Priya Agarwal: One of the most beautiful things my father taught me, ‘not to be afraid of who you are’. When my father came to Mumbai from Bihar, he struggled to fit in the metropolitan city. Being simple and ordinary, my father faced rejection 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 to work harder 25% each day to fulfill your goals. I implemented his teachings into my life when I went abroad for higher studies.

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

What is your ultimate goal?

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

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