Social Entrepreneurship


Youth Ki Awaaz recently organized ‘CONVERGE’ – a series of talks ‘for those who give a damn’, on a diverse range of subjects from politics and society to entrepreneurship and writing.

After some enriching talks by Neha Dixit, Ira Trivedi, and Apar Gupta, we had the Co-Founder of Avanti, Akshay Saxena, who spoke about his decision to put Harvard Business School on hold and become a social entrepreneur.

Subscribe to the CONVERGE YouTube channel for more videos that we will put up regularly.

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By Anesa Kratovac:

There are many social issues in India that could be solved with a bit of exploration, innovative thinking and passion behind solving the issue at hand. Many individuals have taken it upon themselves to tackle everyday problems and have made great progress with determination to make lives of those around them better. It was precisely a few months ago that I heard of a man who revolutionized women’s gynaecological health in rural areas of India, without much formal education but with plenty of curious insight.

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

The story goes something like this: a married man was outraged to find that his wife was using unsterilized cloth as a sanitary napkin and asked her why she wasn’t buying disposable ones instead. She stated that it was the high cost and inaccessibility that deterred her, and that most women in their village had the same issue. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 68% of rural women in India cannot afford sanitary napkins.

The man is named Arunachalam Muruganantham, and he was outraged that his wife had to choose between buying family meals and affording a monthly batch of sanitary napkins. That’s when he became obsessed. He started studying the mechanics of a sanitary napkin and went so far as to even study discarded ones- to the point where his wife and family thought he was going crazy. But there was no stopping him. In order to understand if he could replicate a comfortable sanitary napkin at a low cost, Arunachalam started thinking about material he could use as a base for the product- which was wood fiber- and what he would have to do to produce sanitary napkins at a low cost for the women in the village. It took him plenty of experimentation before he perfected his product. What he did is what every successful social entrepreneur does: he made a prototype of his idea and tested it himself in order to get a sense of it and improve it. He was a very inspired innovator and he even wore his product with animal blood in order to understand how it feels. Now, that is human-centric design to the core!

What Arunachalam was able to accomplish is phenomenal. He took four years to study the mechanics in order to design a machine that would make sanitary napkins at a fraction of the cost of the machinery used in regular factories. Since then, he formalized his production into Jayaashree Industries, and his sanitary napkins have been sold all over rural India for the affordable price of 1 rupee a piece. The patent for his machinery has designed over 255 machines creating sanitary pads in 14 states in India. Here, Arunachalam explains his own story of triumph over what many would think would be improbable, given his lack of education and rural background.

Indeed, at present, there are approximately 312 million women in India who don’t have access to sanitary napkins- that is 9 out of 10 women. Arunachalam’s empathy and unrelenting desire to help his wife and other women led to a domino effect of an impact that is helping many women across India. Social Enterprises such as Akaar Innovations also currently work to produce low-cost sanitary napkins in rural India, and, at the same time, to lower the stigma of menstruation.

Similar to Arunachalam’s story, I often hear of everyday individuals thinking of simple ideas that led to revolutionary impact on their communities. India is truly a country full of innovative spirit and social entrepreneurship. Yet, it requires many more innovators to join the ranks of social entrepreneurs in order to deal with complex social problems that cannot be solved by institutions staffed by those that do not live with them or are not exposed to them on a daily basis.

Innovation in every field will bring prosperity and development to India, including its agricultural yield production (which is presently lowest in the world), as well as simple methods of fighting poverty sustainably. If India can succeed in putting a Mars rover in space on the first try- something that hasn’t been accomplished by any nation so far- it can surely produce state of the art technical, social and economic solutions for its own people. Only 50 years ago, many countries of the world were recovering from World War II, rebuilding their cities and economies. Today, the cities like Tokyo, and London have not only recovered but have grown to be one of the most prosperous and innovative cities in the world. India has had the same head-start since its independence, but its cities are crumbling under bad urban infrastructure and its rural areas are equally devastated by poverty and lack of progress. So, the question is, where does India go from here?

Let’s make India synonymous with innovation! Be part of the revolution.

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By Pranav Hebbar:

Ever thought of being the change? Ever thought of ways to contribute to the society? Ever thought of unleashing your potential to fuel your dreams, aspirations and build a successful enterprise? You have an idea but not sure how to go about in making that into a successful venture? You have creative solutions to the existing problems of the society, but don’t have the adequate support?

Indian parents want their kids to be a doctor or an engineer or get into civil services; get settled. Or is it a thing of past? If we look into the unconventional career choices that today’s youth is making, one could actually say that, ‘gone are the days when parents told kids what to do in their lives’. India is the place for legendary entrepreneurs like Mr. Ratan Tata, Mr. N R Narayana Murthy or Mr. Shiv Nadar or the recent e-commerce entrepreneurs like Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (Flipkart), Deepinder Goya (Zomato), Mukesh Bansal (Myntra) and Kunal Bahl (

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Photo Credit

With the growing economy and the boom of IT sector, more and more Indians, especially Indian youth are taking the unconventional path of entrepreneurship. And yet, reality is not at all that great. Most young entrepreneurs find it difficult to even cross the ideation stage! Why is that so? Is it because they are not creative enough or not hardworking or lack farsightedness? A lot of reasons are cited for that, and the most prominent one is the lack of education programs that teaches entrepreneurship in a systemic way. As stated earlier, budding entrepreneurs take time as they learn nuances of business through trial and error and in the process lose valuable time, money and other resources. Above all, most of them lose hope; add family pressure to that!

In India, there are roughly around 3500 B-Schools and around 5700 engineering colleges. But how many colleges are dedicated to teach entrepreneurship? One can count the number of institutes offering entrepreneurship. A course on entrepreneurship shall be the launch pad for these entrepreneurs to try their idea out, meet mentors, build a network and then get started!

One such course is Master of Social Entrepreneurship- the flagship program of Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship (DCSE). It is a two-year full time residential program designed to enhance entrepreneurial mindset among today’s youngsters thereby creating business leaders for tomorrow. The course offers unique opportunities to test your ideas without the fear of failure and at the same time enjoy student life. A course that can provide you opportunities to meet with industry leaders, learn from them and draw inspiration from them. A platform where you can see your ideas materialize into reality and find mentors eager to mentor you. A combination of academia and experiential learning where personal development is the mantra, this course is the perfect launch pad for your entrepreneurial spirit.

DCSE, through its Incubation space, is also the hub for local, national and international entrepreneurial activities. The business incubation program called Entrepreneurs-In-Residence (EIR) has successfully incubated over twenty four start-ups till date.

As Abraham Lincoln says, “The best way to predict your future is to create it”, the institute believes in empowering students to create their future. The course helps one become entrepreneurs by providing a context to think from, mentors to draw inspiration from and the required managerial expertise. Be a part of this amazing journey and see the transformation for yourself. Admissions are now open for the academic year 2014-16. Visit DCSE for more details!

For more information: Call 09686113996

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By Faith Gonsalves:

In the summer of 2013, Music Basti embarked on a project called Re-Sound that marked a decided move forward towards the realisation of its founding belief in a ‘community led approach’ to music education for social upliftment in India. Re-Sound is a music teaching program which involves the recruitment of highly proficient musicians, a training period with the help of our mentors, the development of an 8 month curriculum which is carried out in at least six different community centres for at-risk children and adolescents, and the simultaneous conceptualization of a sophisticated evaluation schema to measure the success and weaknesses of the program.

Music Basti

Music Basti was set up in 2008 to address the predicaments confronting children ‘at-risk’, particularly those affecting former street children, in the city of Delhi. The urgency of this cause became blatant as a result of the clear contradictions that existed in the city: on the one hand, Delhi, the centre of political power, was evidently characterised by increasing wealth and luxury, while on the other hand a parallel movement could be noticed which saw the dislocation of large masses of people and their families. Consequently, it was felt that there was a need to take at least a few measures to dissolve the disparity in resources available to different groups and ensure that the fulcrum of India’s democracy displayed some measure of equal rights and access. It is here that Music Basti made a decided effort to intervene through a ‘community based music approach’ which sought the active collaboration of music professionals, child welfare organizations, rehabilitation centres and of course children and youth who had been marginalised by a series of socio-economic factors but were now in different stages of upliftment. This initiative has had several benefits: it has strengthened and widened the scope of several existing institutions and structures that deal with the rehabilitation of children, it has created a large network of volunteers and concerned artist-activists who actively engage with the program, and it has disseminated crucial skills of creativity and empowerment to children and youth ‘at-risk’.

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Some of the key goals for Re-Sound include building in students musical skills and appreciation for music, social and life skills (empathy, confidence, group-work, achievement, communication, creativity), creating a sense of community, culture and diversity through music.

Watch Music Basti’s Re-Sound (2013-14) video story-report here:

APPLY if you are a Delhi based musician here. (Applications close June 30th 2014)

bachpan banao

By Ashish Shrivastava:

India is supposed to be the second largest educational sector in the world. While urban schools are facing their own challenges, it’s the rural schools and rural education that often goes unnoticed and ignored. While there is a lot of advocacy around the plight of urban schools and the education system, the scenario for rural/tribal areas is something that deserves a lot more attention and support (considering the fact that 70% of India is still rural and it’s the biggest contributor to the GDP, man power, natural resources and the cultural sensitivity)

bachpan banao

85% of rural habitations and 94% of the population in rural India has a primary school within the distance of 1 km. Additionally, more than 90% of rural schools at elementary level are being run by the government. Overall enrolment numbers are very high. Over 96% of all children in the age group 6 to 14 years are enrolled in school. However the statistics with respect to the education delivery presents a very different picture.

According to the latest ASER [Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2012] compiled and facilitated by Pratham:

– 53.2% children in Std. V cannot read a Std. II level text
– 61.3% children enrolled in Std. III cannot read a Std. I level text
– 46.5% children enrolled in Std. V cannot solve simple two-digit subtraction problems
– 3/4th children in Std. V cannot do simple division

Dantewada is one such tribal area in South Bastar region of Chhattisgarh which is affected because of Left wing extremism with literacy rate being one of the lowest in the country.

Bachpan Banao, through its fellowship program works in government schools and tackles the issues of proper academic deliverance in rural areas. They are trying to ensure quality education for children from marginalized families by strengthening local teachers and resources.

About Bachpan Banao and the fellowship they are offering:
Bachpan Banao is offering a one year fellowship with the mission to empower the community and various stakeholders towards improving the education system in rural/tribal areas. As part of the fellowship we invite young professionals and graduates to live with the community and facilitate the process of change. The idea is to help the administration and community help identify their issues in education and come up with a solution. In the meantime we are also focusing on empowering local human resources through a mentoring program. The vision of the program resonates with Mahatma Gandhi’s belief in community ownership for overall development of the society.

The aim of “Mentor fellows” will be to co-create model classrooms and eventually setup model school involving the school staff. Through this the staff of the school and community as a whole will be able to see their ideas shaping in to reality hence motivating them to take ownership of the education system within the community

The Mentor Fellow will be wearing multiple hats, however the key responsibilities are as following:
– Mentoring young community teachers and working with him/her to create a model school with the help of community, staff and other stakeholders
– In charge for one class as class teacher.
– Assisting in-charge/principal in daily classroom administration
– Helping the in charge/ principal in school/office management activities
– Remedial Teaching during evening hours
– Standard School Operation Improvements

Click here to apply.

For more details, visit here.

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By Mayank Jain:

A knock at the door and the room was filled with a delicious aroma of freshly cooked food. Our tiffin from the LB17 service had just arrived. A courteous delivery person greeted us softly and handed over the lunch for which we had been waiting all morning. LB 17 is a revolution in the fast spreading Tiffin delivery systems because of the taste and nutrition they seek to deliver. The prompt service and efficiency is more than welcome.

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LB 17 is a lunch delivery service that caters to parts of South Delhi and runs out of a community in Khirki Extension. It is managed by two social good organizations Swechha and Green the Gap. Both of these organizations work on environment and social enterprises. A conversation with Vimlendu Jha, Founder and Executive Director of Swechha revealed a lot about this venture, which is out to change the world for these women who make home cooked meals, one tiffin at a time.

“I am passionate about promoting and assisting social enterprises”, he tell us and adds “I also have a passion towards creating, promoting and assisting social enterprises and have founded Green the Gap which is one of the largest green product aggregators of the country and the largest ‘Upcycled products’ manufacturer too.”

The journey of LB 17 started with organising women chefs from Jagdamba Camp, which is one of the biggest slum clusters of Malviya Nagar, New Delhi. When we quipped about what sets LB 17 apart, he had a lot to share: “LB17 supplies hygienic, affordable and healthy ‘lunch boxes’ to your destination of choice, at home or to your place of work, within South Delhi. Besides wholesome food, the idea of LB17 is to provide an element of hope to the aspirations of the young chefs by affording them a viable livelihood option. Through their unique culinary skills, these women are learning to run a business enterprise and striving to take control of their destinies, serving as role models for their communities.”

It is the drive to provide these women and men with livelihood and self-sustainability in financially testing times that is at the heart of this social enterprise which has been gradually concreting its position as a well-known organisation from South Delhi among major offices where employees wait for their lunches as much as they wait for weekends, not excluding our own.


It is interesting to note how Swechha is working for the good of the whole community, “Women from Jagdamba camp cook the lunches with support from Swechha team. Young girls and boys from the same community are involved in delivery logistics. Also, before the enterprise is completely run by these women folks, Swechha is investing its own resources as well as possible profit from LB 17 to execute an empowerment program for the women of Jagdamba Camp,” Vimlendu explains.

With a great start at delivering lunches that has put the wheel in motion for livelihood and independence for the marginalized communities in this slum area, Vimlendu is not in hurry to expand. His focus areas remain exclusive as he shares his plans going forward, “Education, Empowerment and Employability are 3 main issues we are working on. LB17 directly looks at employability, but we engage with women and men of Jagdamba Camp on access to education and other life skills interventions.”

“The idea is to first make LB 17 self-sustainable and build a strong community ownership model around it. It’s easier said than done and is going to take at least a year for us to make it viable, financially as well as socially.”

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The enterprise is shaping up into one of a kind as it juggles the varied tasks and responsibilities of sourcing fresh vegetables early morning, cooking, delivering as per the office timings and at the same time, making sure that the main dishes aren’t repeated during the week as well as taking suggestions and feedback from the clients.

“Chicken Dish and Egg Curry are favourites for many clients while Rajma tops the vegetarian list,” he revealed.

You can find out more about LB 17 on their Facebook page here.

To know more about this story and what I think, follow me on Twitter at @mayank1029


By Harsha Samtani:

A dream came into existence three years ago, when a group of students in Pakistan decided that they will use the power of the pen to change the fate of the world. This dream was translated into a reality with the birth of Kaizen Pakistan Academy — An NGO which wants to educate every child in the world.


Education is the right of every child in the world, but some of them are unable to fulfil this need because of certain circumstances and are forced to work under the scorching heat. So instead of sitting down in a quite classroom, they are working hard towards earning a reasonable amount so that the family can survive in this capitalistic environment, and thus, they have their innocence ripped away.

It started-off with teaching a group of students using multiple school premises in their after school hours, but the NGO has gradually grown in size with a number of students on board, and to accommodate these students, Kaizen has finally decided to rent a proper place. The costs are high and the time is short and so they are trying to come up with ways through which they can help turn the place into a proper academy.


With a number of problems coming their way, including the increasing cost of providing free education, instilling the idea of education in the minds of the parents who previously thought that this necessity was way beyond their reach, and to improve upon the infrastructure of their facility- this NGO is battling the waves in the sea of hardships and constant struggle.

From sources in Pakistan, I got to know that they recently launched a digital campaign over the last weekend titled “Can You Help?” which is focused around asking people to play their part in developing the future of the world and to raise the amount required. Their spirits are high and their plans are phenomenal, and with a little support, these individuals are determined towards changing the world.


You can follow them on their Facebook page to find out what’s new and contact them directly if you would like to help them in any way possible.


By CGNet Swara:

Can you imagine a village in India without a bus service in 2013?

Of course you can. The harsh truth about “developing” India is that there are still thousands of villages that have proper tar roads and highway connectivity but still do not have a state operated Bus service(or other basic transport facilities generally and mandatorily available to the rest of the country).


One such village is Pedamidisileru in Khammam District of Andhra Pradesh. The village was connected to the nearest town of Bhadrachalam via tar road but did not have a bus connectivity. People from the village depended on auto-rickshaws for commuting to and fro. One day, a young graduate from this sleepy village – Sagar, posted on his Facebook wall, seeking assistance in getting bus connectivity to the village

What followed next is unbelievable.
After almost 5-6 months of this status being updated on Facebook, the village finally inaugrated a bus service on 20th January 2014, all thanks to the selfless volunteers who approached the concerned officials in APSRTC, escalated the issue to appropriate authorities and followed up till the officials addressed the concerns.

Sounds like a typical fairy tale; doesn’t it?

Well, this story is almost 90% accurate except for the fact that there is no Facebook status update involved. Instead, it was all thanks to a unique platform called “CgNetSwara” that has given a voice to hundreds of voiceless adivasis and tribals – people generally ignored by the state due to other “pressing” matters of “urban urgency”.

CGNet Swara is a voice-based portal, freely accessible via mobile phone, that allows anyone to report and listen to stories of local interest. Reported stories which are then moderated by journalists; become available for playback online as well as over the phone (+91 8050068000). So, In February 2013, Sagar, reported this issue of “no bus service” in his village using the CgNet Swara platform. Subsequently, Suresh Ediga, an NRI residing in New Jersey, followed up on the story.

He called Sagar to first confirm the details and then called Mr Venkateswara Babu, the APSRTC Depot Manager in Badhrachalam. After a multitude of follow-ups with the officials, an inquiry was made to look into the issue. And so, Sagar submitted a written request to the depot manager highlighting the plight faced by his fellow villagers.

Given the time zone differences, the follow-ups and conversations happened very intermittently. The depot manager forgot about the request and villagers still continued to use auto-rickshaws for commuting. After almost 10 months, in December 2013, Suresh updated his Facebook status seeking aid from volunteers to help follow-up on this issue. That’s when Ali Hussaini, a Social activist from Hyderabad got involved and took over the case by storm.

Given his experience in dealing with Civic Issues faced in Hyderabad City, he provided the proper escalation procedures that needed to be followed. Subsequently, emails were sent to the Depot Manager of the Bhadrachalam RTC Depot, followed by the Public Relations Officer (Mr Kiran) of RTC and the then – Regional Manager (Mr. Ajay),of Khammam region’s RTC. Once the mails were sent, the next stage of following-up involved making phone calls to the concerned officials and seeking updates of actions initiated on emails. After a multitude of follow-up calls and numerous e-mail exchanges, the Regional manager finally ordered the Depot Manager to conduct a survey of the area to check the viability.

Once the survey report was submitted, the regional manager gave a green signal to start a bus Service to the village. It was decided by the Regional Manager that the bus service will be evaluated for at least a month to make sure it’s economically viable. So, finally, on 20th January 2014, Pedamidisileru got its first bus. This incident is a classic example of a citizen’s involvement with the system and it’s subsequent action by the officials.

CgNetSwara has many such success stories where issues like mid-day meal programs, hospital services, schools etc were reported onCgNet, followed up by CgNetSwara’s team of volunteers and subsequently resolved. This is a remarkable achievement because the demographic that generally reports on CgNet Swara comprises the poorest of the poor from the remotest villages of Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh etc. They finally have a voice in this technologically advanced age that they have been (unintentionally) witheld from.

If an NRI (Suresh Ediga), and a Hyderabadi techie(Ali Hussaini); using a platform as simple as the CgNet Swara can come together to help start a bus service in the remote village of Badhrachalam , both of whom had nothing to do with Sagar or the village; then imagine what will happen if thousands of people join the CgNet Swara platform and follow up on various issues/problems reported; think of the amazing transformation that can happen. The incident mentioned above is just one of many hundreds that are called in for every day. Each just a step but definitely a milestone on the road to the nation’s progress.

CgNet Swara is truly a powerful weapon in participatory democracy which can truly enable citizens and make them problem solvers, not just problem reporters. The “Mango Men” finally have another salvo- the voice of the “Other Half of Shining India” and a rallying call for socially aware and active citizens in the never-ending war against bureaucratic red tape and societal complacency that hinder the progress of a “Developing Nation” to becoming a truly “Developed Superpower

If you would like to volunteer to become a part of this silent, but not unheard-of revolution; please visit here. Find us here on Facebook and Twitter.


In early 2013 the director of Voices of Women (VOW) Media, Pooja Pant was in India to connect with like-minded feminist groups and organizations in order to begin working in South Asia. She connected with Gayatri Buragohain, the founder and director of Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT).


FAT has worked for many years within various slums of South Delhi understanding, discussing, training and empowering young girls to address and tackle their issues and concerns as well as enhancing their interest, awareness and participation in technology. VOW Media’s experience lies in working to train young girls and women in media skills so they can implement their own ideas and raise their own issues through forms of media not usually accessible to them, such as radio, photography and video.


Their first meeting and connection led them to what is now a solid partnership and collaboration between the two young organizations. In their first project together Apna Haq, VOW Media is training girls to utilize photography, radio and video that they will create in a three month long workshop in order to raise awareness, and disseminate information about the situation they face every day.


They have currently completed the photography and radio section of their workshop and are now working hard on their video.


The photography workshop has culminated in a collection of work; each girl (or a group of two) creating a photo-story on a topic/issue they chose. For example; one girl has made a story on street cleaners in Delhi, another on her mother who has been taking care of the family since the father died, a group of girls worked together to document eve-teasing and another girl took photos of beggars in a temple. Their photo-stories will be made into a book that will be published very soon.


For the radio show the girls chose to speak of violence. This simple act of speaking anonymously is cathartic. In the radio show, “Meri Kahani Meri Zubaani: My story in my words” we are listening to girls confide in clear voices about the violence they endure at home by their own family members, at the hands of their father, brother, and their own mothers.


For the final part of the workshop, the girls are making a video on the issue of toilets. Most of the girls live in appalling conditions where about 700 homes have to utilize 20 toilets amongst them. They will creatively show how not having a toilet can have a major effect on people’s lives, specifically young women’s.


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Auto drivers in Bangalore are collectively known for their unacceptable attitude towards passengers. This is a one sided argument which portrays all auto drivers of Bangalore as “bad boys“. There is a huge gap between auto drivers and passengers. There is no trust among each other. This is dangerous as auto rickshaws in Bangalore are one of the major modes of transportation. In the past, many organizations tried to solve this problem by taking the side of passengers by establishing a complaint mechanism but it did not work as the auto drivers’ community became angrier and started seeing passengers as their enemies. There is no peace between them any more. Then came a 26-year-old author and an evangelist of peace, Anil Shetty with the support of Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala, founder of The World Peacekeepers Movement. He decided to make peace between auto drivers and passengers in Bangalore city.


Starting from June 2012 to June 2013 Anil used auto rickshaw for his local travel. Every day he interacted with 3-4 auto drivers while taking ride in their auto. After interacting with more than 500 auto drivers of the city for one long year Anil understood the root cause of the problem. To solve the problem with a larger impact he came up with the idea of “Peace Auto“. This unique initiative was launched on October 2nd, 2013 on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi.

peace autos

The auto drivers who participate in this project are termed as “Peace Auto Driver” They are given a crash course on how to spread the peace message. They greet passengers with smiles and respectful words. They don’t charge extra and don’t refuse to give a  ride to your destination. They believe in the idea of “passenger is God“.

The passengers while travelling can also pick up a few books and magazines to read through their journey from a specially designed mini library. The Peace Auto will also ensure that they do not violate any traffic and utmost care will be taken to ensure the safety of passengers especially women. In addition to that, the peace auto drivers are also trained to inspire people to resolve conflicts in a non violent manner. They also request the passengers to give feedback in order to furthur improve quality.

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Anil believes this initiative will also help to shed the negative connotations associated with auto drivers. Launched with 7 peace autos for now, he is expected to have more than 100 in the next 6 months and 1000 in next 18 months. Currently, the peacekeepers team is working on installing women safety “panic button” and tracking devices in the peace autos. Anil is also planning to host an annual award show for the “best auto driver of the year” to inspire them to do more good. This is first of its kind award for the whole auto drivers’ community. The passengers who take rides in the peace auto can vote via SMS to select the best auto drivers of the year.

Peace Auto has a unique peaceful environment which can bring hope of peace to those passengers who are disturbed and make them feel good. This promotes the idea of community living and importance of human relationships. Every Peace Auto driver carries a quote which reads “I am the hero in my own movie. You are the hero of your own movie. Let us not judge each other”.

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Anil wants to bring dignity to the auto drivers’ community who were earlier victims of some negative forces in the society.

He says “you can’t change anybody by complaining or by hating. It’s possible only through friendship and love “.

About The World Peacekeepers Movement

The World Peacekeepers Movement signifies the world’s mass grass roots movement of peace through the creation of the world’s largest army — The World Peace Army. It is a movement based on the enlightening concept of The World Peace Triangle, -Peace With Self, Peace with People and Peace with Nations. September 21st, 2011, it started as an online movement and built a momentum in the real world, gathered more than 7.5 lakh peacekeepers online and several thousands in the real world. In just two years The World Peacekeepers Movement launched several projects from peace clubs in colleges to peace walks and peace funds. It successfully conducted peace workshops for more than 2,000 students in Bangalore and touched several thousand via peace gifts. In Bangalore, the World Peacekeepers Movement hosted “Peace Candle Evening“, which had 1000 plus students participating along with prominent people of Bangalore. It had also conducted a 21 days campaign for “Bengaluru Peace” which ended with Bengaluru Peace Walk which had more than 1000 peacekeepers joined for celebration. It celebrated “International Day of Peace” on September 21st in association with United Nations in Mumbai.

Founded by Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala (CEO and Trustee – Wockhardt Foundation) and Anil Shetty (Bangalore based young Author, Social Entrepreneur and Peace Evangelist)

Creating the moulds for the Stove

By Deepa Kumar:

In 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that, ‘We enjoy the advantage of the largest youth population in the world. We must invest in their education and employability’. What we are asking is, why can’t the same employability be generated via entrepreneurship?

GrassRoute India’s #ChangeinIndia campaign asked citizens the one thing they wanted to change in India, and as a result of the same, there is a demand for spurring Rural Entrepreneurship.

In 2022, when the world will have a shortfall of 47 million youth force, we in India, with 430 million people as part of our youth force, will have a surplus of 56 million youth. Therefore, it is essential that the power of this youth force be harnessed to its fullest potential. As initiatives for Rural Development, NABARD’s Rural Entrepreneurship Development Programme (REDP) has helped initiate youth in rural areas up to a certain extent; however, the same is not sufficient.

Firstly, neither is REDP demand driven, nor is it resource driven. This restricts the scope of the Programme as it attempts to generate entrepreneurship in India’s rural areas without a clear understanding of people’s demands or resources available at hand. With no prior assessment or survey factored in the programme, it does not consider the choice of rural youth and weakens opportunities.

Another impediment of the REDP is that it prefers providing training facilities to literate youth only. Therefore, the exclusive nature of the Programme limits the assistance it promises to provide. Also, it requires an organisation to be on-field for at least 3 years to qualify for the Programme. How then, are start-up entrepreneurs receiving assistance from the same?

Creating the moulds for the Stove

It is also noted that only 22% of the Self Help Groups in rural areas had access to funding for entrepreneurial activity. In such a low investment and weak mentoring atmosphere, it is extremely difficult for entrepreneurs in rural India to firstly, take the plunge, and initiate a business, and secondly, try and sustain the business.

Besides, they also face issues such as lack of business skills and proper training, unavailability and lack of access to fixed capital, poor creditworthiness due to which receiving funding and/or loans is extremely difficult, lack of soft skills & avenues to market their product. An insufficiently developed rural market only furthers this problem.

Without adequate accountability of Government programmes that include REDP, National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), the opportunities provided to budding entrepreneurs in rural areas are minimal. As a result of this, the innovative capacity of these entrepreneurs, and of our whole nation, by extension, is getting stunted.

Therefore, in association with Enactus (I.I.T. Delhi) & with the support of Ashwin Mushran, we want to achieve the following:

A District Level Business Incubator exclusively assigned for the initiation and development of entrepreneurs in rural India. The same will have the sole responsibility of supporting businesses in rural areas.

Enactus - Promo 1

Given that successful completion of a business incubation program increases the likelihood that a start-up company will stay in business for the long term, the aforementioned body will prove to be an asset to the many entrepreneurs in rural areas who require assistance to transform their ideas into realities.

As Ashwin Mushran said, ‘Trying to start your own business in a city is tough enough. Try thinking about what it must be like for people in rural areas wanting to start their own businesses. We have a wealth of entrepreneurial talent waiting to be given a chance in villages and small towns across the country. Every step of the process should be made easy for them to encourage starting their own businesses. A modern country only takes shape by modernising all aspects, including the interiors which many of us brush aside

It is precisely this reason why I am supporting the campaign for Rural Empowerment for Entrepreneurs. Enactus and GrassRoute India are coming together to make a positive change in how businesses can be set up in interior India. It is something we should all support.

It may be a small change for 1 person but when you multiply that, it becomes a huge change for the country.

If you want to help rural India, sign our petition and share it with your friends

To further be a part of this discussion, attend our Tweet-up across Mumbai, Delhi, Srinagar & Nagpur on Sunday, 13th October, click here. 

Simply tweet to GrassRoute using #EngageinDialogue or leave a message on our Facebook page.

Compassionate Delhi Final

By Prakhar Mishra:

One small experience is enough to transform an entire life. The mere sight of old-age, sickness and death led Buddha to question the essence of life. It is important for us to be conscious of our surroundings and lead a meaningful life.

“Compassionate Delhi” is based on the idea of a mutual exchange of handmade gifts and letters between the students of two different schools that traverse the barriers of class, caste, creed, socio-economic status. Kids will also prepare a Manifesto about “How they would like Delhi to be?” and we will release the final combined manifesto on 14th November, Children’s Day, which will represent the voices of 10,000 kids.

Jennifer Cruise has said that, “Values are not buses. They are not supposed to get you anywhere. They are supposed to define who you are.” Values are an integral part of our life and what better way to learn them by doing. CD gives them the opportunity to inculcate a strong value system and learn by experiential exposure. The idea is to make kids respect both the differences and the privileges that we have got in our society. If we can make our kids sensitive and nurture them to be empathetic individuals we can solve many big problems that are currently plaguing the society.

You can go through our website to read more

The program is divided into three phases:

Phase I: Prepare handmade gifts; write a letter and a Manifesto for the city
Phase II: Representative kids from each classroom visit the buddy school for Gift Exchange and a reflection session
Phase III: Post Exchange Reflection and Final Manifesto Presentation on 14th November

Compassionate Delhi Final

project aanch

In the narrow by lanes of Vikas Puri, resides 37-year-old Nwe Nwe, busy cooking authentic Burmese food for her small business. She is one of the 10,000 Burmese refugees who reside in Delhi. In spite of having lived here for so many years, she does not have a legal status of domicile in her country. The Burmese refugees have this liminal and ambivalent political status because India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. Due to this, it is the responsibility of the UNHCR, and not of Indian government, to provide for their sustenance. As a result, the Indian community is almost apathetic to the cause of these refugees.

Taking note of their dire living conditions and lack of any semblance of security, a group of 26 IIT-Delhi students set out to transform their lives by banking on the universality of food under the Project Food for Life, an Enactus (earlier SIFE) initiative. Under this project, the students have selected a few cooks from the community with the help of the local leaders who would sell their authentic Burmese cuisine at different places in order to become self-reliant. The aforementioned Aunty Nwe Nwe (usually called just “Aunty” by the students) was the first cook with whom the students set up business.

Project Food for Life

Nwe’s husband had passed away and she sought to start a small catering business within the community in order to earn her daily living. One of the core team members, Ishana Shekhawat, said that initially she was wary of them and the lingual barrier just cemented her distrust. But, with the help of translators and the educated leaders of the community (many of whom are themselves students at various Indian universities including University of Delhi), the IITians convinced Nwe to set up a stall for their fest. For a lady who was initially extremely apprehensive about working with Indians, today, she does not mind if any of the students give her food orders with just one day notice.

All the profits that cooks like Nwe earn go in their pocket. In the nascent stages, the students set up different stalls at various college festivals like IIT’s Rendezvous and LSR’s Tarang to sell the cuisine and get an idea of which Burmese dishes sell in the Indian market. They also set up stalls at Pravah and Ultratech Cements to understand the requirements of a more mature palate. In order to make these businesses sustainable, the students do not finance anything apart from the rent for the more expensive stalls which, the volunteers hope would be something that they will be able to do for themselves in near future.

The final aim of the project is to allow integration of the Burmese community within the larger Indian populace by establishing mutual trust and respect between them. Assimilation of Burmese cuisine into the ‘mainstream’ Indian palate is seen as one of most basic steps that can be taken to that effect. In order to do so, the students look for new opportunities where this cuisine could be tried. They help out the cooks with caterers and as of now, they have signed a MoU with the popular Delhi Food Walk so that they can showcase Burmese cuisine.

Apart from this project, the team Enactus of IIT Delhi is also involved with another project — Project Aanch. This project aims to combat the under reported problem of indoor air pollution (IAP), starting with the 22,000 member strong community in Bhatti mines, near Chattarpur, New Delhi. The project was conceived in September 2012 in order ‘to create and empower entrepreneurs at the grassroots so that they can solve their existing problems themselves’, as per Divish Gupta, Team Leaders of Enactus IIT Delhi.

project aanch

The issue of IAP is extremely prevalent in India because of the widespread use of traditional chulhas that are fuelled by coal and wood which produce noxious smoke. Apart from respiratory disorders, the back-breaking task of collecting firewood is detrimental to the spinal and gestational health of women, the primary users of chulhas.

Project Aanch is essentially a business model that is in the process of empowering five women from the Bhatti community. To alleviate the problem of IAP, the Enactus IIT-Delhi team purchased a mould of INDEX award winning smokeless cook stove designed by Philips with the help of a fellowship received from Swechha (an NGO engaged in environmental and social development issues). Due to lack of trainers in North India who could train the women to use this mould, the students learnt the working of the mould themselves and then held a 3-day training programme to train the five selected women.

Keeping in mind the fact that the targeting consumer base consisted primarily of daily wage labourers, the students set out to improve the design of the chulha so that the manufacturing cost would decrease without compromising on the quality and the efficiency. They had to spend about three months on improving the design of the chimney of the chulha so that it could be easily procured in North India.

It takes two women to manufacture one stove in a day from one mould. The group of students also received the Walmart Women’s Economic Empowerment Fellowship to further finance their project.

Recently, they ran a publicity campaign in the village to increase awareness about the benefits of using such chulhas which include greater profit for women involved, reduction in cooking time, feasibility of cooking indoors due to lower particulate and carbon monoxide emissions and thus, protection of women from forces of nature, lower consumption of firewood to name a few.

The manufacturing cost of one stove is INR 750-800 while the market price is INR 1100. The first 25 chulhas will be sold at a subsidized rate of INR 800 in order to collect feedback from the users and thus, improve the design further and get an estimate of the demand for them. The expenses related to profits made by the women for the first 25 chulhas will be incurred by Project Aanch. The villagers have also been provided with the option of paying for the chulha in five instalments of INR 100 with a down payment of INR 400.

They have partnered with Wishberry in order to raise funds via crowd-funding for the project in order to procure more moulds for a more efficient manufacturing process. The team has raised Rs 34450 from over 33 contributors.

The students hope to be able to pull out of this community in about 15 months and leave a self-sufficient business in place. This will not only empower women by making entrepreneurs out of them but also battle IAP.

They have also received a requests from a village in Uttarakhand to implement this project there as well and after ensuring that the project is running smoothly in Bhatti mines, they want to expand the project to other villages as well. Unlike government schemes where chulhas were doled out due to which they failed, Project Aanch makes the villagers realise the benefits of owning fuel-efficient chulhas while simultaneously empowering women entrepreneurs.

These two initiatives undertaken by the students of IIT Delhi primarily aim to transform the lives of people who in spite of their large number, still exist on the periphery of the society. Instead of adopting the more conventional but slightly futile method of giving charity, these projects empower the beneficiaries by bringing about economically viable changes within the existing structures that pave the way to their self-sufficiency.

half the sky

By Lata Jha:

It would be fun for you to get to know Radhika. She lives in a beautiful village by the riverside, works for women’s empowerment and often reasons with her husband to get him to agree with her. All her children go to school. But sadly, she exists only in a game called Half the Sky on Facebook, which aims to create a better world for women.

Games like Half the Sky seek to encourage donations by making people aware of important social causes. Internationally, social cause games like Darfur is Dying and Food Force have brought people together on various issues. Similarly, Brides, Laadli, Bus Karo have contributed to generating awareness in India. While the donation bit is often conveniently evaded, the aim of spreading awareness is certainly achieved.

half the sky

Bell Bajao, an NGO fighting for violence against women, for instance, has launched a game called Bus Karo. Integrated with Facebook, the game has people making a bus move throughout the country by having to coin catchy slogans against domestic violence. The slogan would take the bus move forward and the bus would help ring a bell to stop violence in homes. The founders believe that while games cannot replace the traditional methods of generating awareness or making a change, especially because of limited Internet access, they can definitely get the user interested in a certain story.

ZMQ Software Systems has even created games for mobile phones to reach out to people in rural areas. It also has new projects lined up. From women-friendly technology for maternal care during pregnancy and childbirth to HIV awareness, these people certainly seem to be doing the right things the fun way.

LTC Leap of Faith

By Prakhar Mishra:

Youth Alliance is back with its initiative called Lead The Change- Igniting Hearts (LTC). Youth Alliance is an organization working with a vision to Connect EACH Youth With a Cause. We aim to build a movement of young leaders equipped to meet India’s problems by designing processes to identify young individuals with a spark to think innovatively for the larger social good. We do this by conducting programs where they get experiential exposure in both urban and rural space to identify their passion.

In the last three versions of LTC, we saw around 6 new initiatives coming up and 10 other youngsters joined development space full time. Initiatives vary from rural learning space “Kilkaari” to a livelihood centre “Swaraj”. Witnessing huge success in the past we have come up with a more rigorous program this time. Now, Lead the Change is a 8 week program (6 days residential) which takes 40 passionate individuals on a rigorous journey to explore themselves inside-out, to internalise the challenges (under issues like women empowerment & human trafficking, education, policy, environment, rural development etc.) of the country through hands-on exposure. They hone their leadership skills by learning from role models and experts in the social development domain and employ design thinking to undertake a time bound social action. There is a strong focus on deep self-awareness and starting the process from within. Beyond the program, we help participants build their social enterprise by connecting them with mentors and helping them build a team. Read more here.

LTC Leap of Faith

The program will take place in Delhi from August 23rd to October 20th (8 weeks) and has been designed keeping in mind the time commitments of college going students and young corporate professionals. There are two hour sessions on Mondays & Thursdays, while a full-day engagement on Saturdays; three residential weekends; changeagents have to put in extra time commitment for enterprise engagements. Find detailed structure here.

Leaders like Anshu Gupta (Goonj), Nikhil Dey (MKSS, NAC), Ravi Gulati (Manzil), Pramath Raj Sinha (Founding Dean, ISB ; Founder YIF) Vivek Sharma(Gandhi Fellowship), Shaheen Mistry(Teach For India), Neeraj Agarwal (NIIT Yuva Jyoti), Rishikant (Shakti Vahini), Deep Joshi (PRADAN, NAC), Parth J. Shah (CCS) and few more have mentored the young changeagents in the three versions of Lead The Change programs that have so far taken place.

You can also find in detail about the application procedure here
The deadline to apply for program is August 11.
Apply Now, increase your chances of getting selected.

For any interactions and inquiries contact Shashank +91-9873427669 / Seema +91-9654526886.


By Lata Jha: 

Initiative and enterprise know no barriers. And neither does the brilliance to recognise and acknowledge such initiative. This couldn’t hold truer for anyone than the twenty Indian social enterprises that received grants by the India Development Marketplace (DM) of the World Bank Group last month. These grantees belonging to the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand received $100,000 to extend and develop the scale of their enterprises and employ more innovative methods of working. These organisations were awarded mainly for their ability to expand access to basic services like livelihood, employment, women and child care, health and financial services.

Of the 20 enterprises selected for this honour, about 40% employ innovative business models to empower females in low income states. Several others are making efforts to improve health care, social and education services to underprivileged sections. Yet others aim to provide employment opportunities in different regions while helping to improve the local environment.


This felicitation is part of the WBG’s efforts to reach out to disenfranchised communities, end poverty and spread prosperity. In order to accelerate the impact of these organisations, WBG will provide them further training and support services over the next 18 months. They will be required to undergo business mentoring, and receive technical assistance in areas such as business development, financial management and strategy planning. The WBG will also closely evaluate their success, impacts and challenges, in reaching out to the marginalized.

In the past, DM has granted funds to organization such as Selco Solar, which provides sustainable and affordable energy to obscure households and livelihoods; Educate Girls, which is working in the Pali and Jalore districts towards expanding access to education for young girls; Bihar Development Trust, which is providing market access to rural women artisan groups; and Babajobs that is using technology to provide better job opportunities in the informal job sector. In fact, one of the DM 2011 grantees, Operation ASHA, which works towards TB eradication, has taken their program to newer heights and is now working in four countries of the world.

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A group of young girls, chatting amongst each other, boarded a local train from Mumbra (a suburb of Thane, north of Mumbai). Their chatting took a momentary pause as they realized that they were subject to unfriendly stares from fellow passengers. In subsequent travel outside Mumbra, the girls were even confronted with unabashed vocalization of this hostility. ‘ Here they come, the Mumbra people’, ‘ these Mumbra people don’t know how to behave’ and ‘this train will fill up to be mini-Pakistan ( Mumbra)’ were just some of the unpleasant comments that the girls had to hear. The girls, while initially discomfited, felt the best possible course of action would be to ignore these vile comments.

girls from MumbraAnd then PUKAR’s Youth Fellowship Programme happened. The girls were associated with Rehnuma Library Centre, a reading room, study area and resource centre in their neighbourhood. They participated in all the workshops and were thus introduced to PUKAR through the Library centre. The Youth Fellowship Programme is a unique initiative that conceives in group research as a tool of intervention and the group research process as empowering in itself. In this one-year programme, the Youth Fellowship team provides community youth with the knowledge, skills and attitude requisite for social science research. There is no need for any educational requirement or prior knowledge of research.

Significantly, the youth choose their own research topics that are usually connected to the problems that concern them. The process of choosing a topic is a long and arduous one, spanning more than a couple of months. It was while choosing their topic that the girls of Mumbra realized that they all shared the experience of social discrimination solely based on their area of residence. A little digging into Mumbra’s history, they found that Mumbra has emerged as a safe- haven for Muslims after the 1991 Mumbai riots. Moreover, the area was considered affordable for lower socio-economic strata of society. The demographic composition of the area was, therefore, predominantly poor Muslim.

research9 girls from Mumbra called themselves the Blue Angels. All of them Muslim, they were keenly aware of the low education levels of Muslim women from Mumbra. It was commonplace for women to leave school so as to get married. They, however, wanted to strike a different path. It wasn’t easy as the girls hailed from conservative Muslim families. Would they be allowed to conduct research that involved going around, meeting strangers and talking to them?

The research journey began in August 2012 and the Blue Angels have successfully finished and written out their report. They will also present their findings in the Youth Fellowship Programme’s Annual Graduation Event, scheduled to take place on 8th June, 2013, 4.00 PM- 8.00 PM, at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Library Hall. Along with them, there will be 12 other research project presentations that have been completed and ready for public scrutiny. We would appreciate your presence to share this unique and interesting experience with us.

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By Tadrash Shah:

The government is to be ideally held responsible for the legal and constitutional matters. Now whether the Indian government can be held responsible for the same is a question. Who, then, should take care of the concerns that arise out of compassion and social responsibilities? Compassion triggers actions which, usually, are beyond constitutional matters but the good news is that the constitution does pay due respect to them and aids them within its own vista.


Our country is flooded with a number of NGOs and identifying the credible ones is really a tough task. There are reports of NGOs that are just set up to take over the government’s treasury in the veil of social service. I have tried to curate a list of the NGOs which are time, ethics and effort tested, by and large.

This list is not a ranking, the NGOs have been listed in no particular order.

1) PRS Legislative Research: PRS aims to deepen and broaden the legislative process by providing MPs with the necessary data and analysis for debates in parliament and for deliberations in committee meetings. This is done by synthesising feedback from a range of stakeholders to provide MPs with comprehensive information on an issue. The aim is to complement the knowledge base and expertise that already exists in the government, citizen’s groups, businesses, and other research institutions.

2) Save Life Foundation: Focused on enabling bystander care or community-driven emergency medical response for road accident victims, they have been training more than 3000 police personnel in the states of Delhi, UP and Maharashtra for the casualty and trauma care for road accidents. They have also been working on a supportive legal framework for bystanders to help the victims of road accidents. Usually people do not indulge in these cases fearing the formalities and police issues. Hence such an organization is much needed to nurture the kindness which is killed by our legal and formal procedures.

3) CGNet Swara: A voice portal that enables ordinary citizens to report and discuss issues of local interest. To use it, they call a phone number using any mobile (or fixed line) phone. Callers are prompted to press ‘1’ to record a new message, and ‘2’ to listen to messages that have already been recorded. Once a message has been recorded from the field, professional, trained journalists, who access the system using a web-based interface, review and verify the report. Approved reports are then made available for playback over the phone. The reports also can be accessed on the CGNet Swara website. This kindles the local intervention in dissemination of information of local interest and prompts them to use the technology which they, otherwise, would be reluctant to use.

4) Video Volunteers: An international community media organization equips women and men in underdeveloped areas with critical thinking, creative, activist and video journalism skills, enabling entire communities to expose underreported stories from their communities and take action to right the wrongs of poverty, injustice and inequality. Thus, it encourages community producers to have a voice and be recognized. And it would be redundant to mention that videos are the best source of being virally known over the media.

5) Chetna: Childhood Enhancement through Training and Action. CHETNA is an NGO working towards the empowerment of street and working children in a participatory approach. They are given a chance to develop some understanding of their situation, their rights and opportunities. CHETNA provides education, counselling, recreational activities, and a framework to get organized.

6) Breakthrough: This is an initiative that has primary focus on human rights activities. They devise innovative strategies, customized for each issue this country witnesses, to engage youth participation rather than just documentation and conventional rallies. They engage in partnerships, develop grassroots actions, audit the impact and share lessons with all the stakeholders to direct further actions, train leaders and use media, art, culture and technology to reach mass audiences. The innovative strategies they have come up with seems promising.

7) Jagori: Jagori undertakes training, documentation, grassroots action research, advocacy and campaigning in partnership with stakeholders including individual women and their partners, community members, civil society representatives, and other state/ institutional actors. It works on awareness building on violence, health, education, development, and other issues critical for women´s individual and collective empowerment. It also works on production and distribution of creative material on feminist issues, dissemination of information and knowledge on feminist concerns to meet the needs of women´s groups, NGOs, and development organizations and advocacy on women´s rights and gender equality.

8) Arth India: Academy for Applied Research and Training in Healthcare in India is a non-government initiative striving for the attainment of better health of the community supplementing, and not substituting, the existing and future government systems and networks in healthcare in India. It believes that the non-availability, sub-optimal quality and relative lack of credibility of healthcare personnel, of the health-related data and information are the two major impediments against optimum healthcare delivery in the country. It works to bridge these gaps.

9) SAMA: Sama addresses the need to develop the broader understanding of women’s health through physical, social and political environments and to initiate interventions that enable and empower them to control these factors. They conduct awareness drives, working with adolescent girls to enhance their self-confidence, sensitize women to address their unequal and exploitative arrangements and relationships, research and document issues critical to women’s health and build a consensus to get to the police.

10) Centre for Health and Social Justice: CHSJ works in four thematic areas to strengthen the claim of citizens pertaining to many health related rights viz – Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, Social Exclusion and Health Rights, Community Action for Health Rights and Gender Equality. Through all these, CHSJ largely focuses on evidence-based capacity building.

11) TARSHI: TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues) works towards expanding sexual and reproductive choices in people’s lives in an effort to enable them to enjoy lives of dignity, freedom from fear, infection and reproductive and sexual health problems. It runs an infoline, conducts trainings, develops publications, participates in public awareness and education initiatives, and provides technical support for advocacy initiatives.

12) North East Network: The organization has been raising women’s rights issues, particularly within the developmental and political context of the North East region of India. NEN responds to specific needs of women in north east India such as gender budgetary allocations, strengthening support services for women affected by violence, and security of women in conflict areas through fact finding processes and advocacy with the government through workshops, training and publications.

13) MARG: Multiple Actions Research Group. MARG works for the legal empowerment of the vulnerable and the marginalized, women, children, persons with disabilities, dalits, the poor, etc. MARG works towards its mottos through legal awareness drives, necessary legal assistance and advocacy, capacity building and policy development.

14) Centre for Social Research: It has been around for more than three decades and CSR works towards empowerment of women and girls in India, guarantee their fundamental rights, and increase understanding of social issues from a gender perspective. They operate on local, national and regional levels in an effort to enhance the capacities of individuals, communities and institutions for creating a humane, equitable and gender-just society.

15) CREA: CREA works towards a theory of change through building the self-confidence, leadership, and knowledge of women and girls about their sexuality and human rights, and creating feminist platforms to challenge oppressive norms and power structures. It also provides technical assistance to the fellow NGOs, donor agencies and other institutions through strategic planning, legal and other trainings, design, planning and implementation.

16) Pravah: Pravah is one such organization that works closely with the youth through the youth. It aims at moulding change-makers and leaders out of young people. It promotes youth citizenship action and issues of social justice. They have recently expanded to the dimensions of training teachers, incubating new initiatives and facilitative work with other organizations working on youth development.

17) Digital Empowerment Foundation: DEF works towards empowering people with the power of ICT. It works on various agendas like citizen journalism, digital panchayat, eNGO, gyanpedia- a digital repository with content created by children and teachers of rural schools, community radio, internet rights and many more. For DEF the means does not matter unless it is something from the ICT domain, what matters is the result and mass upliftment. They work towards development in the current scenario and it welfares the beneficiaries long with the viral spread of ICT.

18) Aarzoo: Arzoo is an education and activity centre created with an aim to provide a secure knowledge and livelihood base to the underprivileged children though moral, social and material support. It undertakes activities like education at nominal fees for 10 INR, supports their livelihood by selling handicrafts made by these kids, plays, shows, medical camps, etc. Personally, this is one of those NGOs that does wonderful work in educating underprivileged children and saving them from child labour and also giving them a livelihood to incentivize their parents.

19) Honey Bee Network : HoneyBee Network, established by IIM-A professor Anil Gupta, has a wonderful logo that communicates its motto — A nameless, faceless person comes in the contact of Honey Bee network and gets a face. It works towards identifying the grassroots innovators from across the villages of the country by organizing learning walks — Shodhyatras and then try to document, research and fabricate a commercially viable solution. It has established a sister organization called SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technology and Institutions) which works in four domains of innovation: Educational, Cultural, Technological and Institutional innovations.

20) Smile Foundation: Since 2002, Smile Foundation has been working on ensuring education for children, livelihood for the youth, healthcare in rural villages and urban slums, women empowerment and sensitization of the privileged masses.
It is an NGO which applies successful business strategies to social ventures. Its popularity is unparalleled.



By Nimisha Jain:

Rural India has been in a gloomy state for long and its stagnant condition is highly attributed to its ignorant as well as ignored population. But now it’s time for a change; change for the better. Now, the rural people no longer have to be isolated from the outer, developed world. Instead, they would be able to have an access to information, opportunities, hopes etc. In a nutshell, they would have access to the possibility of a better life. And this would be achieved by a new initiative- India’s first rural newspaper- Gaon Connection.

gaon connectionThe major factor which holds back the rural world from advancing is the lack of connection in every sphere from the external world. It’s the lack of connection between the unemployed and the jobs, between the poor farming conditions and new farming techniques, between the social backwardness and social reforms; basically between the needy and the opportunities. Once the two poles are bridged, wonders can happen. And Gaon Connection, based majorly out of Uttar Pradesh, aims to accomplish the same task of bridging.

This first rural newspaper, an initiative by Neelesh Misra, isn’t exceptional just because it would reach the innermost village homes and impart the news from every little area of the world. But because it is so rural-orientated that the focus of the innovation would be to address village related issues and corresponding solutions to the problems. Even today, village societies are mainly agriculture-based. Their high dependence on this sector of occupation demands deep knowledge and associated skills that would enhance their productivity and hence the prosperity. But it’s a misfortune for our country that despite such a large labour supply in agriculture, the supply conditions of improved skills, techniques and innovations from urban to rural areas is far less than adequate. Many government initiatives towards the furtherance of enhanced agricultural methods remain hidden from the village population. Despite the improvements in seeds’ quality, new fertilizers and manures, credit criterion for rural households etc. villagers remain in an environment of poverty and hopelessness because they stay unaware.

Often out of desperation, these poor, helpless people wish to switch their occupations. But the bleak path of unawareness either takes them nowhere or to a riskier, lowly condition. There are many who migrate to cities in search for better jobs or who take up more uncertain offers in hope of a fruitful life ahead. But as witnessed most of the times, these new attempts welcome new problems, which majorly are irredeemable. These problems can be those of high indebtedness, intense poverty, separation from families etc. Fearing from such consequences there are others who remain committed to the low producing agricultural means of survival. These problems then aggregate and result in macro level teething troubles of poverty, unemployment, criminal activities and many other social issues.

Gaon Connection seems to better the picture. The 12-page all-colour broadsheet is priced at Rs 5. Its focus on betterment of villages brings in the solution. It would impart, along with general knowledge, specific information about the new schemes of government regarding agricultural reforms. In this way new source of information could beget a better agricultural environment in rural India with better tools, machinery and other methodologies. Also, as people would wish to migrate in search for new jobs, Gaon Connection could be a guiding light. As a rural newspaper, it would try to connect the corresponding demand and supply of new jobs by letting the village people know about the vacancies waiting for them in the outer world. This would not just clear the uncertainty but also offer an access to white-collar jobs, preventing the village people from getting indulged in illegal and criminal activities to combat the problems of poverty and dearth.

Also, knowledge about the importance of education and related information about its access at cheaper costs through various government schemes can improve the enrolment rates and attendance rates of rural India and thus enrich the educational status of India as a whole. The attainment of this objective could then proceed in combating one of the major problems of the country- child labour.

Not only in terms of stabilizing and improving the economic and educational condition of villages, Gaon Connection possesses the greater ability to bring about the social and political reforms which the country needs the most at the moment. This newspaper aims to change the lenses of rural India and help the villagers modify their outlook to various social issues- inequality, gender discrimination, untouchability, women empowerment, dowry etc. Better understanding of the national political scenario can help the local governing bodies of villages to bring about a desired change in their functioning. And this newspaper can also make rural India much healthier by imparting the information about hygiene, vaccinations, diseases and cures.

Thus, we believe that Gaon Connection can make the rural India well informed. Its impact on every sphere of rural life can be so effective that various glitches that are present, like unemployment, social backwardness, poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy can vanish. This would finally result in a better India.


lead the change

Youth Alliance’s initiative “Lead The Change- Igniting Hearts” is accepting application for its February 2013 program. Youth Alliance is an organization working with a vision to “Connect EACH Youth With a Cause”. YA believes in the philosophy of sensitizing young people towards the society by showing them the real picture and connecting them to ground reality.YA also has a range of programmes like “Gramya Manthan“, “Come Alive” meant to create awareness as well as bring a change in the society.

Now, Lead The Change is in a new flavour, with 4 days of residential program and focus toward ENTREPRENEURSHIP! Past two, LTC Programs have so far nurtured 5 enterprises.

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Lead The Change (LTC) is dedicated to developing social leaders; well-rounded youngsters who are equipped with leadership skills to solve the challenges faced by their communities. Its core aim is to ignite young hearts with holistic concern for their society and nation.

LTC Program will involve up to 40 youngsters in a six week program. The program will expose them to pressing issues of our societies such as women empowerment, human dignity, education, environment, policy making and rural immersion. They will study solutions offered by role models, personalities and get a short experience in leadership education. They will be expected to apply this experience to come up with solution for a small local issue and in the process, understand how to set up an enterprise. They will emerge with the wealth of a rich network and a sound understanding of systemic social change.

Leaders like Anshu Gupta (Goonj), Ravi Gulati (Manzil), Vivek Sharma(Gandhi Fellowship), Shaheen Mistry (Teach For India), Neeraj Agarwal (NIIT Yuva Jyoti), Rishikant (Shakti Vahini), Deep Joshi (PRADAN, NAC), Parth J. Shah (CCS) and few more have been part of Lead The Change programs which took place in March-April and September- October 2012.

You can also find in detail about the application procedure here

Check out the presentation to get an idea about it

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By Neeraj Ramchandran:

NGOs in India have always been accorded a status much lower than they actually deserve. Given the surprising number of NGO-related scams which are unearthed on an everyday basis, it is quite justifiable for the public to be cynical. But it would be really unfortunate if we fail to acknowledge the hard work put in by these agencies at the grassroot level to fill those gaps which the Government couldn’t. Although most NGOs are doing a great service to this nation, a few of them stand out from the crowd. Here’s the list of the top ten NGOs of our country.

1.Helpage India: Established way back in 1978, HelpAge India has been working nationwide for the cause and care of the elderly for quite some time now. HelpAge India has played a pioneering role in influencing policy change favouring the grey population. With India’s poor track record of treating old people, this organization has done a commendable job in providing the emotional and material support to the elderly when they need it the most.

2. Barefoot college: This NGO with a one-of-a-kind name founded by Bunker Roy is open only to individuals without formal education. Barefoot College makes use of the concept of peer-to-peer learning to train ‘barefoot professionals’ like teachers, doctors, mechanics etc. and has achieved participant coverage of an astounding 3 million people till date.

3.Aravind Eyecare System: With the aim of eradicating preventable blindness, Aravind Eyecare has developed a unique ‘assembly-line’ method to ensure high productivity and an innovative non-profit model that subsidizes treatment for the poor by utilizing the higher fees paid by its wealthier clientele .

4. Smile foundation: It was formed in 2002 to promote the cause of education amongst underprivileged children and has popularized the Social return on Investment (SROI) model by enabling civic driven change.

5. Goonj: Founded with the vision of making clothing a matter of concern, Goonj initiatives have made optimum use of waste materials and turned them into resource. It has also been listed by Forbes as India’s most powerful rural entrepreneur organization.

6. Planet read: With an innovative method of using Bollywood to promote literacy, Planet Read introduced the method of ‘Same Language Subtitling’ (SLS) — a practice of subtitling television programs in the same language as the audio track and applied it to the popular Bollywood music videos to reach millions of people.

7. Give India: This unique venture acts as an online and offline donation platform for more than 200 Indian NGOs which have been scrutinized for their transparency and credibility.

8. Gram Vikas: Setup with the aim of using sanitation as a tool to empower communities, its famous MANTRA approach has eliminated 85 percent of water-borne diseases in the participating villages and boosted attendance in schools considerably.

9. Pratham: Founded in 1994 with the aim of providing education to the children of the slums of Mumbai, Pratham has grown considerably in geographic coverage and size to become the largest NGO to be providing education to the underprivileged.

10. Udaan: This welfare organization took flight in March 2008 and has been working to empower the lives of destitute children, women and senior citizens. What started off as an informal educational setup is now a full-fledged school running in accordance with SSC curriculum.


By Chandan Wadhwa:

India is a country which has enormous potential to grow and so in the recent times it has emerged as one of the most sought after countries in the purview of the opportunities left open to be grabbed. As entrepreneurs queue up to invest, their sole motive is to multiply the capital invested. But this shinier side tends to blind most of us as we overlook the social welfare of the poor which are as much part of India’s population as others are.

The times have changed and the youth of India is rearing to fill this lacuna with their innovative ideas which will foster change and serve the motive of social inclusion with the profit added as garnishing over the top. I would like to share with you the success stories of eight Indian entrepreneurs who had a dream and have dedicated their hearts and their minds to the poor, the hungry, the homeless and the hopeless and serve a perfect example to the youngsters because they weigh the moment of compassion more than the negligence. Thus with this canvas these people started their expedition as entrepreneurs with a sole idea of ‘doing good’ and not mere charity.

I. The Girl in the Mirror
Shaheen Mistri founder of Akanksha

From the age young age of 12, Shaheen was doing volunteer work at the Happy Home School for the Blind. She generally moved from one country to another as her father was Citibanker. When she was 18, in her second year at Tuft’s, she was in India and was literally shell-shocked with the visual of poverty in the corners of the streets and decided to stay in India and so she took admission in Xavier’s college in Bombay. Then she interned with The Times of India and got an opportunity to visit courts, jails, police stations and was completely fascinated. At the same time she discovered the Social Service League at St Xavier’s. One day they were going on a trip to slums and Shaheen joined them. She made a friend Sandhya in that trip and started making frequent visits to her place. So the children nearby requested her to teach English and then an idea struck her to start a formal school teaching atmosphere to have a significant impact on the future of children. She also convinced her classmates to be the part of her vision and facilitate change by providing basic education to the children and for this they borrowed a classroom starting with meagre 15 children. This is how the seed of Akanksha was planted, in a tiny flower pot, watered with love and sincerity. Akanksha was like a lifeline to those eager children who wanted to come out of the slums and life a fruitful life and they actually did manage to achieve this. Shaheen also started ‘Teach for India’ campaign which was pivotal in driving change. All the members associated with her campaign are paid salaries.

That small initiative with 15 children in a single borrowed classroom now covers over 3500 children in 58 centres and 6 schools. And it continues to inspire the youth to do their bit, for a better India.

Website- and

II. Prodigal Son
Harish Hande founder of SELCO

Harish Hande is a young scientist. After completing his PhD he stepped out of the laboratory to solve the energy problems of the people in the real world. He realised that equations are meaningless and the real challenge was to taking technology to the poor people- the ones who need the most. But before you create a solution, you need to study the problem. And so Harish as a PhD student spent two years actually living in a village in rural Sri Lanka. At the end of it he knew one thing for sure that poor people can and will pay -for solar energy. But, there are no one-size-fits-all technologies. You have to customise, create products people need. Thus, in 1995 a company called SELCO came into being. With its mix of practical insights and financial acumen, SELCO has achieved what others have talked about at seminars and conferences. Solar Energy systems on mass scale.

Systems bought by peanut farmers, Pani Puri vendors, midwives and even daily wage labourers because it makes sound economic sense. ‘‘Link energy with income generation and the poorest of the poor can afford solar lighting’’, shrugs Harish. SELCO has installed 120,000 systems in Karnataka, and plans to take the mission national, in the near future. Thus a road so different from the one most have taken. But illuminated and so bright.


III. Teach a Man to Fish
Dinabandhu Sahoo, Project Chilika

Flipping through his childhood memories Sahoo was always fascinated to see the scientists who conducted research in the laboratory as he grew between them he wondered why they did it. Over the years, he realised the importance of fundamental research when he became a Marine biologist who spent most of his time in laboratory himself. Dinabandhu Sahoo has devoted his life to the esoteric area of seaweed. He could have spent his life like any other academic. Quietly working away in the lab, making the occasional splash in the international journal.

But Sahoo wanted his technology to impact people, improve their lives. And that is exactly what he is doing through the ‘Chilika project’. Teaching villagers how to farm the ocean and make sustainable livelihood through the cultivation of seaweed. Sahoo never thought himself as a Social entrepreneur, but he is now one and being an inspiration for the by watchers to work for the people of the society.

Website- not available

IV. The Hungry Tide
Anand Kumar, Super 30

Lack of Resources and circumstances are no barriers and Super 30 run by Anand Kumar is an apt example for this. Bihar has very little opportunity for the budding youth and there a seat in IIT is a matter of life and death. Study hard, join IIT and your life is made. Into this scenario stepped in Anand Kumar. A mathematics lover who ran coaching classes-like many others. Until one fine day, he started an experiment. He took a batch of poor but talented students and decided to train them free of cost to crack JEE. This experiment came to be known as Super 30. If reservation has lowered the bar, Super 30 has raised it. The phenomenal success of Super 30 is testimony to the fact that talent is important and the hunger to achieve is even more important. A good teacher can unleash the force in the willing student and this is what he did so smoothly. Thousands of such students will create hunger tide, carrying a new generation of Indians in New Delhi. Its success can be judged from the fact that it has almost 100% success rate since its commencement.


V. The Sound of Silence
Dhruv Lakra founder of Mirakle Couriers

Mirakle Couriers was founded in January 2009. Started by Dhruv Lakra who combined his education and experience in both the business and social sectors to come up with a for-profit social enterprise. The idea to help the deaf was triggered by one particular incident he experienced while travelling on a bus in Mumbai. The investment banker with a very offbeat idea has brought smile on the faces of his special employees of a special courier company. This is special because it employs only deaf people in the courier company which literally required no verbal communication. It was started with a capital of 200 pounds and 10 shipments. In just 18 months, it has grown to handle 60,000 deliveries a month. But the real story is not on the excel sheet. It is the light in the eyes of the employees. The pride in their stride and hope in their hearts. This start-up venture ensures that every person have a special place in this world.


VI. The Naked Truth
Anshu Gupta, Goonj

Trained as mass communication professional, Anshu Gupta decided to communicate an entirely unusual message to the masses. Through systematic collection, sorting and delivery Goonj reaches every scrap of waste clothing from urban India to someone out there needing it the most. To use with dignity and wear with pride. Goonj does not measure success in numbers. Anshu has realised that clothes are a serious issue in country like India. The Madanpur Khadir is the village where he and his team give old clothes new life and make the distribution of clothing a matter of dignity; an art and a science. The next time you give away old clothes for earthquake relief pause a moment and realise that you feel relieved as well.


VII. Country Roads
Saloni Malhotra founder of DesiCrew

The old saying ‘try and try again until you succeed ’ is profoundly apt in the case of Saloni’s crazy but opportunistic venture with a social objective in her mind. She failed in her first two attempts but got in right in the third attempt and hence evolved DesiCrew. This 23 year old engineering graduate had three dots in her head-‘rural’, ‘technology’ and ‘business’- which she connected to form DesiCrew. It is India’s first rural BPO. The project has also become a feather in the cap of IIT Madras, which incubated the idea. Today the company is a sustainable, profitable ‘rural BPO’. In the process it has brought income, empowerment and exposure to young people in mofussil towns and villages. Giving them a reason to stay rooted, and yet stay relevant.

And it all began in the head of a young woman who has never visited a village. A dream took Saloni from Delhi to the dusty roads of Tamil Nadu. As it is said- a dream can take you anywhere.

VIII. Beyond Profit
Vineet Rai founder of Aavishkaar Social Venture Fund

Quite by accident, 25 year-old Vineet Rai became CEO of GIAN- a network to support grassroots innovation. From there came the idea of setting up a micro-venture fund for rural entrepreneurs. His ideology is what makes him stand out in the crowd. His idea of social venture fund wasn’t supported by the people around, as it is generally the case when you experiment with something which is not heard off. But 7 years and 23 companies later he has proved them wrong. This fund invests in companies which have social objectives but also aim to make profits, and give investors a reasonable return. Aanishkaar also proves that you cannot and should not draw a line between ‘social’ and ‘commercial’. Commerce can drive ad deliver socially relevant goods and services.

He has shown the world with his gritty attitude that you can become a leader of men; inspirer of hearts; creator of wealth, in the material world and in the kingdom of conscience.


There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who think, and those who feel. The thinkers see the child begging on the street and say- ‘this is not my problem’.

Those who feel, however, will give that child a moment of compassion. All these above mentioned people come in the latter category and have stepped out of their comfort zones to help the country prosper and make them free from these maladies and that itself sets the bar for the youth who get inspired by such stories and strive to bring the change.

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