Archive for January, 2009

100+ jobs, 3000+ patients treated each month, over 100 girls getting empowered, and more.. that’s Growth-For-All’s first ‘pilot’ project at work

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Inclusive Growth! 

Growth-for-All’s pioneering integrated and collaborative model is being run on a pilot basis in two project areas. The first project (urban area) began in early-2008 in the Savda Ghevra re-settlement colony of North-West Delhi, while the second (rural area) project work is about to begin at Potka block of East Singhbhum district in Jharkhand.
Growth-for-All aims to eventually scale-up, to cover a large number of India’s backward districts, as well as poor urban clusters.

Savda Ghevra is a massive re-settlement colony for slum dwellers shifted from rest of Delhi. Currently around 3000 families are living there, but this 259 acres’ area will eventually house over 21,000 families. Hasty, unplanned shift has led to plethora of problems for this poor population.
Since Jan’08, GFA has been working (with the Delhi government; Chief Minister’s office) to address livelihood, health, education, and cultural issues in partnership with various stakeholders such as : Dr Reddy’s Foundation (DRF), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Child Survival India (CSI), Jaipur Rugs, Hasmukh Kala, Association for Stimulating Know how (ASK), Society for All-Round Development (SARD), Multiple Action Research Group (MARG) etc.

Case Study: DRF’s Partnership with Growth-For-All

Dr Reddy’s Foundation(DRF) and Growth-for-All came together for a unique, collaborative effort wherein 105 students underwent an intensive training in Hospitality, Customer relations and Sales and Automobile Mechanisms.

Case Study: Dr Reddy’s Foundation

After the successful training, the students were placed into various organizations. The program not only saw transformation of participants into confident individuals but also augmented the income of the family. Many of the individuals were placed into corporate organizations like Pizza Hut, Spencer’s, Radha Krishna Hospitality Services and in addition to this few also started their own micro-entrepreneurship.

Case Study: CSI’s Partnership with Growth-for-All( supported by Samir Arora & Paul Hamlyn Foundation)

Child Survival India and Growth-for-All, came together to collaboratively enhance the existing health systems in Savda.

Case Study: Project Suraksha

Project Suraksha has sought to strengthen and enhance the primary health care facilities in the resettlement colony, and develop its linkages with public health system so that there is an improvement in the health status, especially the maternal and child health status.

Supported by Samir Arora, this is being done through three Prakash Arora Memorial Suraksha Clinics, which service over 3000 patients each month. Additionally, the project is working towards mobilizing women to form groups i.e., Swasthya samoohs of 10-15 members, for every 200 families. Monthly health and nutrition camps, and an ambulance service complete the picture. Paul Hamlyn Foundation supports these efforts.

Case Study: Hasmukh Kala’s partnership with Growth-For-All

Case Study: Hasmukh Kala

 Hasmukh Kala uses art in the form of music and dance to bring. about transformation and empowerment of women. Envisaged as a long-term partnership, the first initiative has focused on over 100 young girls and women of Savda Ghewra, Delhi.  Hasmukh Kala, a brainchild of Hemu Javeri, endeavors to help them gain respect through their talent, and provides them the ability to earn a livelihood.

Growth-For-All is CII’s Knowledge Partner at the ‘CSR Best Practices Meet’ on February 4

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

CSR That Works!

This year’s ‘CSR Best Practices Meet’ by CII North Region will be a departure from the past.  It goes beyond the traditional format of nice, informative panel discussions that create a feel-good factor, but don’t lead to tangible actions.

Growth-For-All( GFA) is working with CII to create a specific focus on the livelihood and gender challenges in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and HP. GFA has commissioned a ‘knowledge paper’ that researches these challenges in great detail. Having done that, the February 4 Meet will have participating delegates exposed to the government, NGO & Corporate points of view. But the most important innovation is a workshop that they will go through, which guides them on how to create an actionable CSR plan for their organisations. The workshop, anchored by consulting firm, Green Kettle, will aim to trigger positive actions in these three states, and especially relating to livelihood and gender challenges. 

Mrs Meira Kumar, Minister for Social Justice, will be the Chief Guest at this Meet.

Some fascinating encounters

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Remarkable people!

I’ve met some very interesting people in recent months, who opened my mind to a range of issues and ideas.

Mrs Anjaly Duggal Chib( IAS), Punjab government’s Resident Commisioner in Delhi spent over an hour describing the various dimensions of the gender issue in Punjab.  While the outward manifestations of the gender issue - in the form of dowry and female foeticide - are well known, I understood well, for the first time, how basic cultural upbringing  perpetuates this inferior status further. Whether it is to do with women not taking a share of family property, or women eating after the men have eaten, or the fact that boys are taken to hospital faster, or how a ‘get rich fast’ attitude leads to dowry demands, these are facets of the gender issue that were put across very lucidly.

Around the same time, I also met Ena Singh, who heads UNFPA, and tackles the gender issue with the same vigor and passion. She emphasized how it was critical for everyone to get women in Punjab into visible, non-conventional jobs like driving a crane, a tractor, or a taxi. This, in her view, would be an important step in changing society’s perceptions of what women can do, or should be doing. She  gave the example of the newly-started Azaad Foundation in Delhi, which is a ‘by women’, ‘for women’ NGO that aims to train poor women in Delhi to become drivers, besides organising them into a taxi service.

I was also introduced to Niranjan Khatri, who drives CSR for ITC Hotels’ Sheraton and luxury brands. Niranjan told me about their tie-up with the Ministry of Social Justice to train 400 destitute women in aspects like hygiene, cooking, housekeeping, and safety, which would prepare them for careers in hospitality or as domestic help. For instance, the Eva Floor at ITC hotels, meant exclusively for lady guests, is staffed only by women.

Then there was the conversation with Manish Sabharwal of TeamLease, who is on the PM’s Skills Development Mission. Manish broadly described the Mission’s attempt to create a supply of  range of skilled and semi-skilled talent for the job market simply by making available a vast array of vocational training options. It ended on a strong note of disagreement because I felt strongly that the approach would falter on two counts. One, because it appeared to be too much of a simplistic, cookie-cutter approach which fails to take into account the executional complexities. The bigger disagreement was on account of the Mission’s assumption that bulk of India’s unemployed should be directed to job-based employment, as opposed to self-employment. In fact, the Mission’s bias seems to be against self-employment. To me, it seems not just impractical, but a wrong objective to aim for. A large proportion of India’s unemployed youth- for reasons of education, or mindset - will not be the right match for the vocational training options offered.  More important, because they don’t want to commute long distances, or be dislocated from their communities, many are happiest being in self-employment. While I completely agree that inadequate or sub-optimal self-employment is undesirable, but any employment generation policy simply cannot discount the value of creating a vibrant self-employment culture and eco-system.

Finally, there was young Sumant Dubey, an executive at TERI, who reached out to me. He spoke about a range of innovations that various people and organisations were exploring. Apart from TERI’s own ambitious Solar Lantern project, he told me about the Water Purifiers’ project run by Nandi Foundation, and an Eco Tourism project in Maharshtra.

Just 40 km from Jamshedpur, and India certainly wasn’t shining.

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

On the road!

Recently, in November, Growth-for-All took a trip into Jharkand’s predominantly-tribal East Singhbhum district. And discovered that India certainly wasn’t shining here.

Driving out of Jamshedpur, within 20 km, it was clear that development had either bypassed the tribal belt, or had been siphoned off.  Over the past eighteen months, I have spent time in rural UP, Rajasthan, Orissa, and relatively-prosperous Maharashtra, but this was very different. Leave aside the condition of the roads - which I would label as an urban luxury - even the basics were missing or had been stolen.

In most tribal villages we visited, access to government healthcare was non-existent; the absence of irrigation meant that agriculture was barely at a sustenance level; and, non-farming livelihood options were negligible. In one village, where we we were taken by NGO, Kalamandir, and sat down for a leisurely group meeting with villagers, the frustration was evident and articulated. Among other things we saw was a barely-begun canal-digging project under the NREGA scheme; apparently, the project was aborted after the villagers did not get paid for the initial phase of work.

This village, like a large part of Jharkhand, is close to the Naxal belt. In fact, during our visit, the villagers pointed out the hills through which they often get Naxal visitors. Given the state of governance, not surprising.

For us, at Growth-for-All, the priorities for our rural project quickly became clear. When we begin in early-2009, the initial focus will clearly have to be on providing access to basic healthcare( via mobile dispensaries); exploring sustainable, land-based livelihood and self-employent options; supplementing basic education via computer skills and adult literacy; and supporting local music and culture.

TERI’s solar lantern project, coupled with microfinance could be India’s green answer to rural lighting.

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

On the road!

We met Mansa Tudu in village Mahtabeda( population=400) as we drove around the district with local NGO, SEEDS, who wanted to show us the rural lighting project.

The Class-10 pass Mansa makes money by renting out 34 solar lanterns at Rs 2/lantern/day, to other villagers. Under the TERI model,  village “entrepreneurs” like Mansa( all they need to have is adequate infrastructure, viz. a pucca roof) are given a set of lanterns, charging units and solar panels. The villagers bring the lantern back every morning for recharge.

This model is an interesting self-sustaining model which provides livelihood for an entrepreneur and inexpensive, non-polluting lighting for the community. Vis-a-vis kerosene which, at Rs 32/litre, is expensive, and erratic state electricity supply, this model has many positives.

A nationwide, scale-based expansion of this project is currently restricted by the initial investment in lanterns and charging units. TERI presently funds this through sponsored support, but it does appear to me that, if one dovetails microfinance, this could be rapidly scaled up. The challenge, however, is that microfinance is not widely available in these most-needy states and districts.

Evidence that ‘one size fits all’ prescriptions do not work in the economic development arena

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

On the Road !

Don’t we often wonder why - for reasons other than leakage and corruption, of course - huge sums of money spent on anti-poverty measures do not give desired results?

During our trip into East Singhbhum( Jharkhand), we got to see the cultural issues that adversely impact even the noblest of intentions.

Pradan, one of the best NGOs that one encounters, mentioned 2 projects that failed because of non-compliance with the local culture. When they tried to introduce watermelon as new crop,  the red color of the fruit was a deterrent for the tribes, as red has bad connotations. Similarly, a Dairy project initiated to improve health conditions,and also as an income-generating income activity failed miserably, because the tribal population believed that the milk should exclusively be drunk by the calf and not by humans. They also don’t milk the cow to sell the milk.