Archive for the ‘Inclusive Growth’ Category

What makes kids in urban slums what they are? Growth-For-All publishes first volume of ‘Viewpoint’

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Foolish governance & politics!

When the kid stars of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ found their homes demolished, it made headlines. But, evictions and relocations are pretty much par for the course, for most kids in urban slums.

The Growth-For-All(GFA) team spent time studying the experiences of kids at Savda Ghevra, a relatively-new resettlement colony in the outskirts of North-West Delhi.  

By the age of 10, these kids had experienced displacement from their rural habitations to an urban jhuggi( slum) in Delhi, and then from the jhuggi to this resettlement colony. The uncertainty has still not ended because their parents only have a 7-year lease for plots alloted to them at Savda Ghevra.
Udit is a 12 year-old boy migrated from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. He fondly recalls the “bara khet” (big fields), “kua” (well), “maidan” (playground) in his village. He is still coming to terms with the fact that his house in Sawda is on a mere 12.5 square meter plot, and that there are no wide lanes and fields here.
However, for most such kids, Delhi is home now.  Kajal( age 13) and Jyoti(15) are sisters who, when asked, are categorical about this, and refuse to go back to their village in Bihar, saying “Hum Dilli kay hain, aur yahin rehna chate hai” (we are from Delhi and we want to stay here only).

Notwithstanding this determination, they face a considerable amount of hardship and alienation. The GFA team has published the first volume of ‘Viewpoint’, which records the dismal condition of children at Sawda Ghewra.

Viewpoint(1): Impact of displacement of children 

We see these youngsters of Savda a certain lack of trust and motivation; and an abundance of lethargy because of their experiences and current condition. The outcome of these cumulative set of experiences is that by the time they become adults, they certainly do not have the drive and achievement orientation, which will charge them up  enough to learn new skills, and find jobs for themselves. When we connect the dots, and look at the livelihood study we completed a few months ago, it is no longer surprising that our livelihood programs did not have enough takers.

It is once again clear that the task of motivating and moulding these youngsters has to begin much earlier, when they are still in their early teens. That is the only way in which the country’s ambitious skills development and livelihood initiative can really take off.

( In case you are unable to download the Viewpoint document here, please email

Teach a man how to fish, and he’ll never be hungry again

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Inclusive Growth!

As they say, ‘Either you provide every meal for a man , or teach him how to fish, and he’ll never be hungry again’.

The dilemma in any social intervention is how long to remain engaged with a community? The longer you remain engaged, the more difficult it is for the community to become self-reliant, while other equally or more-needy communities are deprived of support. Creating sustainable intervention programs is the key. To make this happen, a crucial aspect is to train community leaders and volunteers to take charge of their own future, and empower them to demand services from the government machinery.

When Growth-For-All faced this question at Savda Ghevra, one of the strategies we chose recently was to launch a 18-month long legal awareness program in collaboration with specialist NGO, Multiple Action Research Group (MARG).

MARG legal expert training community volunteers

As a part of this program, funded by my friend, Kanika Mathur, 16 Para-legals and 45 Community leaders are undergoing intensive legal awareness training within the colony.  They will learn necessary information and skills so that they are able to discover answers to most problems faced by them. One of the volunteers, Kamna, speaks about how she was often chased away by various government departments. Now, with adequate information, she is confidently able to articulate her problems, and also makes sure that government  officials are accountable to her. Simple things such as keeping a copy or proof for applications filed in government offices, were not something that people from Savda Ghevra were aware of. Getting trained on matters pertaining to Police, their Fundamental Rights, the Constitution, about government departments, etc will help equip them in matters concerning their daily lives.

Growth-For-All’s Integrated Model at Work: Profile of a beneficiary

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Remarkable People!

Kamna lives at house number A-6, in Savda Ghevra, along with her 3 children and husband. When their former home at Laxmi Nagar slums got demolished, they were allotted a 12 sq.m plot in Savda Ghevra, for Rs 7000; they then constructed a pucca house here. Kamna’s husband is a government employee and works as grade IV worker in Anand Vihar. He leaves his house at 6am only to return at 11 at night. Kamna’s children seldom see their father.

The children go to the local government school. Kamna herself runs a small tea shop from her house, with erratic earnings. Her. husband earns a salary of Rs 3000 but most of his earning is spent on commuting.

 Profile of a beneficiary

Kamna speaks about how inadequate medical services in the colony were, when she arrived here in 2005. She would rush to Laxmi Nagar, to see her old doctor in case of medical emergencies. She also complained about distance of Savda from the main city, making life for her husband extremely difficult.
She has also filed many complaints to government officers for non-issuance of voter’s card and also complains about the lack of quality of ration provided from the PDS shop. She agrees though, that things have improved over time, but much more progress still has to be made.

The private doctor working in the government clinic (as part of a health project carried out by Child Survival India and Growth for All) has helped her access medical treatment faster and in cheaper ways.  She also speaks about the sweet nature of the doctor.
Even though, she herself has not used the ambulance service provided by this project, Kamna knows about neighbors who used the van to go for institutional deliveries in hospital. Ambulance is something which has benefited people a lot as they can now go to hospital without facing much hassle.

She is also thankful to this initiative which has made the hospital accessible, and somewhat welcoming. Earlier, she used to be afraid to communicate with the doctors. Now, regular interaction with government hospital has made Savda Ghevra a known name amongst doctors and therefore they are now more than willing to help patients coming from there.
She also benefits by attending meetings of the ‘Swasthya Samoohs’ (groups of women on health issues). Information is thus not beyond her reach. This has also helped her gained more clarity about work in other areas, e.g. government services, responsibility of government officials and so on. She eagerly waits for the monthly sessions on legal awareness training provided by MARG(Multiple Action Research Group) and Growth for All, which will help her consolidate her knowledge and train her on how to solve her legal and administrative problems.

During week-ends, Kamna sends her children to music, dancing and singing classes provided by Hasmukh Kala and Growth for All in the community. She would like her children to continue their practice at an advanced level.
She definitely wants to provide the best to her children, and monitors their education closely.  This according to her “will help them not become like her”. Kamna herself is a model as she has shown exemplary dedication in her personal development. She was the most regular member of the TCS-supported adult literacy classes while the project lasted. Though, at the end of it, she was only able to read and write a little, she proudly says that she can now read most important thing in her daily life, which is the “bus numbers and destination”.

Gandhian School of Management or C.K Prahlad B-School?

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Inclusive Growth!

Can social change be achieved by selfless, not-for-profit NGOs, or are businesses inspired by bottom-of-the-pyramid model better equipped to do so?

I had the opportunity to chair a discussion on ‘High-Impact Social Entrepreneurs’ at the recent TiEcon, in Delhi, where we assembled a panel comprising these diverse actors. It was a fascinating experience not only because of this diversity, but also for the discussion it provoked.  
On the one hand was Anshu Gupta of Goonj who chucked up his corp comm job many years ago, and has focused on collecting and recycling old clothing from urban areas to make sure that it reaches the needy in villages( over 30 tonnes/month!). On the other hand was Varun Sahni of Acumen Fund( leading global VC for social sector), and two young for-profit entrepreneurs, Sam Goldman( of D’Lite Design) & Amir Alexander Hasson( of United Villages)• 

Anshu Gupta is in the classical Gandhian mould, and believes that mass involvement and commitment are sufficient to take his ‘clothing for the poor’ mission to greater heights. Over the last decade or so, he has succeeded in this mission, although with great personal hardship.

Sam Goldman, the young CEO of D’Lite Design, like an Apple or Intel, is using strategies that combine great product design, high-volume manufacturing, global sales & distribution to create scale. His mission is to replace the ubiquitous kerosene lantern by clean, safe and bright lighting for the poor, in millions of rural homes. Like Sam, Amir is using a steeped-in-capitalism, though low-cost model, to take consumer products and services to rural markets, through a technology-based supply chain. Amir’s United Villages is currently operating in villages of Orissa and Rajasthan by creating rural ‘E-shops’ that sell everything from soaps to mobile phones.

Both Sam and Amir believe that scale-based businesses that provide affordable, good-quality products & services are the real answer to underdevelopment.

Varun’s Acumen Fund is of a similar view. It has raised USD 80 mn of ‘patient capital’ so far, and has already invested about Rs 100 cr in 12 businesses. The most striking example is the ‘Lifespring‘ chain of maternity hospitals across South India. These 20 to 30-bed hospitals have been set up at a low investment of Rs 40 lacs, and offer low-priced services( e.g. delivery at Rs 2000/-). A new hospital is being added every 35 days. Other Acumen-invested ventures include emergency medical services(Zikitsa, Mumbai); drip irrigation for marginal farmers;  and clean drinking water systems.

While Goonj and the others disagree strongly on the means, i.e. for-profit or not-for-profit, however what’s common to them all is their belief that real impact can be made by finding innovative answers to age-old problems that the government has been slow to solve. Roti, kapda, makaan, bijli, paani, dawai, and many others.

In the coming months, TiE, Delhi will get increasingly involved with this entire ecosystem, and that’s worth looking forward to.

Getting youth to work is not just about offering skills-development programs

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Inclusive growth!

There has been considerable public discussion and media coverage in recent times about how ’skills development’  is the magic wand that will create millions of jobs for unemployed youth. The underlying assumption is that as the Indian economy makes a transition from rural to urban, farm to non-farm, and from other traditional to non-traditional methods, our youth are hampered by lack of skills to cope with this changing world. Very true. However skills development, while a necessary condition, is by no means a sufficient one to ensure that our teeming millions live happily ever after.

Based on our own experience at Growth-For-All, and validated by a study we commisioned earlier this year, it is clear that the issue is indeed very intriguing and complex.
The first community that we got involved with - Savda Ghevra, N.W Delhi-  has several thousand unemployed youth. Looking at this, we went in with am ambitious skills-development( & job placement) offering free of cost. However, only a few hundred of them signed up and completed the courses. It’s been a struggle to make headway beyind these numbers. To understand this better, we commissioned a study which validated what we had suspected for a while:
a) that skills development was NOT an answer by itself. Low motivation & aspiration levels ( even in a city like Delhi) were the fundamental softer issues that needed to be addressed. Programs that build motivation & aspiration need to go hand-in-hand with ‘hard’ skills-development courses.
b) while focusing on skills development for youth is important from a short-term standpoint of providing livelihoods, the longer-term approach requires that we ‘work on them’ when they are much younger, say between 12-18 years. By the time they are 18, its too late to build motivation & aspiration. We have used music for girls( & are contemplating sports for boys) to build this connect with them so that other messages like education & careers find a receptive audience.
c) in a city like Delhi, with its distances, the youth - even after they have been trained for skills - have an aversion to commute for 1-2 hours by bus to get to their place of work. They are willing to settle for less if its closer to home( a Jhuggi-Jhopri colony or resettlement colony in most cases).
d) finally, the whole discourse on skills development seems to want to move youngsters into ‘jobs’, while ignoring self-employment as a route, which is both an opportunity and a necessity. For the self-employment route to success, it needs to get tied to related aspects like mentoring, microfinance, etc. In private conversations, I have been very surprised to find policy advisors summarily dismiss self-employment as a something not worth pursuing.

All this suggests that the government, in all the euphoria and optimism surrounding skills-development should not ignore related, and softer issues like motivation/aspiration, urban distances, as well as possibilities of self-employment.
If you’d like a copy of the detailed report, drop me a mail at

Growth-For-All helps CII anchor a hugely-successful CSR ‘Best Practices’ Meet

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Corporate Social Responsibility!

When Growth-For-All was invited by CII Northern Region to be the Knowledge Partner for the CSR ‘Best Practices’ Meet, one of our key recommendations was focus! Focus on the specific needs of the ‘home’ states of a majority of the delegates, viz. Punjab, Haryana and HP. And, more important, focus on some real action, instead of just listening and discussions.

We were delighted when other CII members agreed to go down this path.

That brought us to the real question: do these ostensibly-prosperous states have any real challenges at all?  After all, Punjab, HP & Haryana are ranked 1,3 and 6 respectively in India Today’s 2008 ‘Ranking of States’. We spent time talking to NGOs and government officers to debate this. Simultaneously, we also commissioned a researcher to scan through all available published information.

Growth-For-All at CII’s CSR ‘Best Practices’ Meet

A closer look revealed that Punjab itself had real problems. Its economic development is now the second-slowest, while its human-development indices for health and education are comparable to backward states. Livelihoods is a real challenge: while Punjab and Haryana face unemployment and underemployment on account of crisis in agriculture, HP’s problem is to meet the aspirations of its educated youth. The gender challenge is serious in all three states.

We now had our direction. And set about creating three highly-focused Panel Discussions: on livelihoods, gender and CSR. These, we knew, would provide delegates with ample food-for-thought on the real challenges facing their states. At the same time, we wanted to ensure that delegates ended the day with a clear, actionable CSR plan. So, we invited Mumbai-based Green Kettle Consulting to do a workshop-format session which would provide delegates with a framework within which to plan their own CSR.

I am delighted to announce that everything went as per plan, and we had a very-successful CSR ‘Best Practices’ Meet.

Growth-For-All’s ‘Knowledge Paper’ released by Union Minister Meira Kumar; gets great reviews

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Inclusive Growth!

As many as 113 books, papers and articles were reviewed in order to take stock of the entire body of knowledge available in the public domain. The result is a comprehensive ‘Knowledge Paper’ focused on the challenges faced by Punjab, Haryana and HP. Union Minister, Ms Meira Kumar, released the Paper at CII’s ‘CSR Best Practices’ Meet recently.

Knowledge Paper being released by Union Minister

Having been through a common, lived history, the three states have somewhat common trajectories of growth as well as challenges faced.

Meira Kumar addressing the audience

An important focus of the Knowledge Paper is on Livelihoods. It would come as a surprise to many that Punjab & Haryana, considered as the grain-bowl of India, are actually faced with a serious crisis in agriculture. Consequently, both unemployment and underemployment are big issues. There is an urgent need for crop diversification and agri-business initiatives, as well as rural, non-farm options. HP has a different problem; with big success in education, the challenge is to have livelihood opportunities keep pace with the inflow of educated youth into the workforce. At the same time, balancing industry, tourism & ecology assume importance.

The ‘gender’ issue, on the other hand, is a problem that cuts across all three states. The most common manifestations being declining sex ratios, poor health, insufficient women in workforce, as well as the deserted NRI brides of Punjab. The Paper analyses failures and successes closely, looks at legislative interventions tried out, as well as other interventions and case-studies.

Beyond ‘livelihood’ and ‘gender’, the Paper looks at a host of other issues in these three states.

The Knowledge Paper got a great response, and the general view being that it would be a good ready-reckoner for any Corporate looking at CSR in these three states.

1.5 crore youth need jobs each year. Dire need for a ‘Repair & Prepare’ strategy

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Inclusive Growth!

Who would ever believe that the prosperous states of Punjab, Haryana & HP have an underlying unemployment problem?

Raghuttama Rao, Managing Director, ICRA Management Consulting Services, and his team of consultants have looked at the livelihood problem closely across the country, and especially in these states.

As Raghu put it so succinctly at the CII Meet, almost 1.5 crore youngsters need into move the workforce each year, nationally. And the important thing is that they are completely unprepared for it. While a majority of these youngsters are from rural, farm backgrounds, most of the opportunities are in urban, non-farm sectors. At the same time, the education system does not prepare them at all with the kind of skills required for available jobs or self-employment opportunities.

In Punjab and Haryana, traditionally the granaries of India, a multi-faceted agricultural crisis has created a large unemployment and underemployment problem. Crop diversification, and initiatives in agri business and rural, non-farm sector haven’t quite kept pace. HP, on the other hand, has the twin challenge of generating livelihood avenues that keep pace with the inflow of educated youth, while- at the same time - balancing industry, tourism and ecology.

So, what can corporates do - as CSR - to help ‘prepare & repair’ this massive influx of unprepared/under-prepared entrants into the workforce each year?

Expertly anchored by Pradeep Narayanan, the CII ‘Best Practices’ Meet generated a set of ideas ranging from simple, practical ones( donate old computers; take interns) to more-involved ones( active participation in skills development and vocational training), to those with strong business linkages( e.g. co-create businesses that engage and benefit rural communities; make their produce part of the supply chain).

Reshma, Pradeep and Raghu

Reshma Anand, Founder & CEO of Earthy Goods, described her experience in helping horticulture producers in HP and Uttarakhand scale-up by providing market access, in a manner similar to what successful packaged goods companies have done for years. Anish Kumar, of Pradan, narrated how rural families in Central India have grown their low family-incomes by diversifying into mushroom, poultry, and tasar. 

The important thing now is to translate these ideas into concrete actions.

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.