An inclusive ITC panel is working with visually challenged fragrance testers.
Rekha, Narasimman and 28 others recently gathered in Chennai for a unique event. Mangaldeep, India's leading incense brand, invited them to join the inclusive Mangaldeep Sixth Sense Panel, a fragrance testing council, a few weeks ago, and the lives of 30 people who were unlikely to ever meet converged.
Mangaldeep has historically had each of its fragrances tested by a trained consumer panel that provides feedback on fragrance profile and strength. Learnings are incorporated in products when products are developed and launched. But the Sixth Sense Panel, set up three months ago, is somewhat different. All panellists - 30 in Kolkata and 30 in Chennai - are visually impaired. All are also active incense sticks users, and some have used Mangaldeep agarbattis.
Becoming panellists was not only monetarily remunerative for the participants, but also deeply meaningful, tied to their sense of identity. Rekha is happy to be able to contribute to the testing; it affirms her self-worth and, she says, makes her family proud. Narasimman is glad, too. For years he had hoped to do more than selling trinkets on Chennai local trains, and his new work has given him the chance to explore a different world while supplementing his income, and gives him a sense of pride.
The Sixth Sense Panel celebrates the unique aptitudes and talents of its differently abled members. Rekha, who has always refused to let her disadvantages define her life, is rediscovering her enjoyment of learning new things. And the disability that has cost Narasimman dearly has opened up fresh opportunities for a stable livelihood. Panellists are unanimously pleased with the fact that this new vocation is helping them support themselves.
At the Chennai event, Sixth Sense Panel members shared their thoughts on different fragrances. Each participant got a certificate specially printed in Braille by ITC's Printing Division. A simple, moving story emerged when the participants spoke to our team - their work has made them all feel valued. Many talked about a deep satisfaction that products they tested are being sold nationwide.
We are glad that we have set out on this journey and are helping empower a vulnerable group, letting them become professionals in their own right. By the end of 2023, Mangaldeep plans to engage more visually challenged individuals to the Sixth Sense Panel in 5 cities - Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Quite literally, the Panel has made headlines. This Times of India article reports how ITC is training its panellists to hone their sensory evaluation, thereby preparing them for similar work in the industry.