Saturday, May 24, 2008

What are we waiting for?

Here is an outline of what has been happening over the last few months.
  • OUR OBJECTIVE is officially posted on Targeting the Roots
  • Aish, Badhri, Jagan, Ranjit, Shashi, Shabnam, Dhaval agree to it.
  • Priya, Sarathy, Krishnakanth have officially taken a "sabatical" for their current personal commitments
  • A comprehensive teaching module aimed at imparting the following to underprivileged kids was proposed and agreed to by the members in general (any disagrements by the members welcome!)
    • academic education based on demonstration filling up the void of lack of labs
    • civic sense and commitment to the society
    • (other ideas! The link to UNICEF will help in this regard.)
  • Shiva Narayan, of India Sudar, an experienced person in education inducted into the team
  • Badhri sent his initial draft of science demo material to the group

After months of enthusiastic discussions, distractions due to personal commitments, feeling lost mid-way an objective is commonly agreed upon. The time has come to move to the next step. Implementation. What are we waiting for?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Child Labour

Most of us may have discussed and thought of how the Child Labour Laws in India are strong enough but leave much to be desired when it comes to implementation of the laws and rehabilitation of the 'rescued' children. A start has obviously been made with the government recognizing the problem and amending the earlier Child Labour Act 1986 and bringing more professions under the purview of the act.

Immediate reason for the post: This article

Friday, May 9, 2008

Like Minded People and a Mine Of Information

I was searching for more information on SABRAS - a company founded by salt pan workers in Gujarat, when I stumbled upon two links.

Think Change India and IndiaCorps

Think Change India, as is clearly mentioned on their website tracks social innovation and social entrepreneurship in India - A topic of great interest to me.

IndiaCorps is a well established organization which takes up social projects in partnership with other NGOs. They also have a fellowship programme for people who want to work in the field of social responsibility.

I am in the process of browsing through the website and collecting useful information but wanted to let you know about these two links. Both these websites link to many more useful and interesting resources.

I find it useful for people in US because both these organizations/groups are centered there. Members over there should see how they can help us in finding our feet.

Follow up on RangDe

Abhishek Khurana and I had a couple of queries which we mailed to They responded promptly. Reproducing the responses here.

Query 1: When I was searching for borrowers whom I could lend to, I realized that the search for borrowers in UP or J&K did not throw up any results but searching in Tamil Nadu gave quite a few. My query is, are you concentrating on a particular state or group of states to start with? Or is there something wrong in the way I was searching?

Response: Thanks for your support to Rang De. The reason why you did not find borrowers in the states that you searched is because we have not been able to reach out to people in these regions due to lack of resources.

RangDe.Org went live on 26th January 2008 and so far our field partners are from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu (precisely why you found many from TN). We at Rang De hope that we will soon be able to spread to different parts of India with the help of field partners based in these regions. Our field partners are NGOs and non profit microfinance institutions with a committed development approach and values.

We are now moving to other states such as Karnataka and Rajasthan and the moment we find a credible partner in the states you have mentioned, we will be able spread out there as well.

We now also have the advantage of a full fledged team who will be joining us on 5th of May and we are hoping that they will help us enhance our reach in other parts of India sooner rather than later.

Query 2: "There are a lot of women" in the search results. We really do not have anything against this but were wondering if this is something to do with the demographics of that area or is it that you have a focus on women.

Response: Traditional microfinance is aimed mainly at women. You must have noticed that these are unsecured loans. What typically happens is that the money is lent not to an individual but to an inidvidual who is part of a group. These groups ususally consist of not more than 20 women. These groups are either Joint Liability Groups or Self Help Groups. In both the cases the group has an important role to play. In JLG, if a woman does not repay, her peers in the group need to pitch in in which case there is some kind of a peer pressure that builds and the woman is forced to repay. Research says that this peer pressure can work only with women. In case of the SHG, the group has their own savings, and if the woman cannot repay, it comes from her savings.

In both these cases the key features are responsibility and peer pressure. it is considered these work best with women. However, we at Rang De have not given up on men. We are trying to work out different ways in which we can reach out to male borrowers and we will soon be facilitating loan for our first male borrower.