Tag Archives: Ideas

Jyoti Singh was India’s daughter. But is that all? She was also India’s student, India’s citizen, India’s future… a young girl with a sharp mind, fierce will, working hard towards a better tomorrow. India has many such daughters, and not everyone’s gruesome story makes headline news. Jyoti, her parents, you who are reading this piece, and I – we are most likely exceptions to the rule, the minority. We hope for a safer, progressive and equal country. But while we champion India Shining – how do we shape a society that remains shrouded in gender inequality and a culture of patriarchy?

India claims that its well on its way to being a global super power by 2025, but does our everyday reality reflect this narrative? The real India is a country where 93 women are raped every day, 3.8 every hour; where 500,000 girls are lost every year to female foeticide; where 1 in 3 girls are sold in child marriage before the age of 15. A country where a young girl is raped and brutally killed by 6 men on a bus in our capital city. Where we think twice about wearing shorts and a tank top when we leave home. Where each of us can share several stories of being groped, harassed or molested by uncouth men in public places. The next super power? I don’t think so.

I’ve been a victim several times
, and I’m sure you have too – from having a filthy man feel me up in a dark room while getting my photograph clicked as an 11 year old, to being hit out at and groped by passing motorcyclists on the road while waiting to be picked up from my tennis lesson. The memory still makes me cringe, I feel ANGRY that I was emotionally and physically VIOLATED, and I let them get away. That’s why I feel the need to speak out. Not because of a filmy documentary, and not to tell people what they already know about the many violations against women in our country.

Some say that the horrific trauma that Jyoti and her family went through was worth it, and are enraged that the documentary telling her story was banned – seriously? Will 1 documentary, and 1 horrific story open our eyes and drive change? We have seen million such stories go by with silence. I disagree – it was NOT worth it. And India will NOT change because of the rape and death of one girl. I hear you SCREAM, and I feel the anguish. Believe me. I would have each and every rapist tortured and killed. But that won’t change the dangerous course our country is on, either.

Maybe then, we need to find Who is to blame…Blame it on the girls – why must they wear provocative clothes and roam the streets? Maybe its the fault of the parents – they should know better than letting their daughters go out after sunset. Blame it on the police or the corrupt Government for taking a feeble stance on women’s safety. Blame it on the monstrous men who believe it is their right to violate women.

The blame game begins, and we realize that while one finger is pointing at someone else, 4 are pointing inwards. The blame is ours to take. We, generations of men and women, parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts have shaped a society that creates India’s Sons – smart, ambitious, intelligent, lovable, protective, respectful, dutiful. And the sociopaths, perverts, monsters, villains. Men are not born rapists – not anywhere in the world, and definitely not in India. So many Indian men have grown up hearing that sons are more valuable than daughters, watching their fathers beat their mothers, seeing the girls in the family go hungry while the men eat… until they BEHAVE in similar ways, because its NORMAL. And so many of India’s Daughters experience and propagate this inferiority their whole life, that they start ACCEPTING it as normal. It seems like India’s Children are to blame.

The path to a more equal society is long and complicated. After giving it much thought, I believe that the way forward for India is Change by Generations. The most effective method of changing the way an organization thinks and performs, is to infuse it with a new generation of people who are molded with the right attitude and skills to shape the future. Replace the old with the new, and keep going until the new becomes normal. I’ve seen it work before. While India is way more complicated than an organization; its younger generation has the numbers, vision and attitude to make this possible. Men and women, together, shape a new generation of Indians who believe in equality, freedom and respect. Poverty alleviation, globalization, vocational training, education and employment are all part of this movement; but so is a mother treating her son and daughter as equal; so is the documentary, India’s Daughter; so is a manager who promotes a woman over a man based purely on merit; so is Javed Akhtar screaming in the Rajya Sabha; so is a wife when she reports her husband for physical abuse; and so is this article.

India’s Children, shaping a future in which our sons and daughters enjoy mutual respect, freedom and equality. 

Part II with more thoughts on executing Change by Generation coming soon. 

‘I’m convinced that Pinterest can teach me to build my dream house with nothing but foam wreaths, ladders, wine bottles and a glue gun.’

For some years now I have harbored a secret interest for decorating and designing homes in creative ways, without burning a big hole in the pocket. In fact, at one point I was thinking of starting a small business as an amateur interior designer catering to young people looking for spunky ideas within limited budgets. Although I never really got around to starting a business, I did manage to experiment with small projects at home, in Rotterdam, Hyderabad and Bombay. The last few months have completely changed my outlook towards DIY or Do-it-yourself decorating projects – all thanks to Ben Silbermann, who decided to found Pinterest! Pinterest has given me the inspiration and confidence to be ambitious with my experiments and implement cool design ideas. I might even think of using Pinterest as the basis for an off-beat interior design consultancy at some point.

After quitting work last month, I decided to make use of my free time and take up a few DIY projects for the new house we were moving into. Here are some of the results – 

Wine Corks in Glass Jars and Frames


Upcycled Ladder Bookshelf


Wine Bottle Lights – Yellow


Wine Bottle Lights – Pink

Painted Wine Bottles

Crates Upcycled as a Bar

From Beyond Profit

A few decades ago when Joe Madiath started Gram Vikas, he was labeled a “social activist,” a type of rebel. Today, he and other entrepreneurs have become lynchpins in the social enterprise sector. In the ’80s, social entrepreneurship was a concept in the making; now it’s at a pivotal point. Many entrepreneurs presented their visions of the sector’s future at the Villgro Unconvention 2010.

Social enterprise in its current avatar presents a business opportunity—a lucrative chance to marry commerce and change. Two decades ago when Shrashtant Patara, Vice-President at Development Alternatives Group, was looking for an opportunity to apply his technical skills in a business that has positive social impact, Development Alternatives seemed to be the only option available. Today, there are thousands of such opportunities in the market. The response that Yashveer Singh has received to the National Social Entrepreneurship Forum, or the growing number of applications that the Tata Jagriti Yatra receives only go to prove that.

Although the buzz is around market-based commercially viable solutions for change, Ashish Karamchandani, Partner at Monitor Group, believes that we are still in the relatively early stages. We have only a handful of successful models, such as microfinance. Further, it took microfinance 30 years to scale. Creating new scalable models is not easy, but it is what the social enterprise sector needs. Another question to ask is whether markets are the solution for everything? There are millions of Indians in the interiors of the country who are still in the pre-market stage—bartering for goods and services without currency involved. Investing in these millions and preparing them for the market stage, will be key in the success of scalable and sustainable social enterprises.

One of the important elements that has evolved in the space has been that of talent attraction. Yesterday, a fistful of individuals with passion in their hearts entered the space cautiously; today it is fashionable to work for a social enterprise. According to Bindu Ananth, IFMR Trust, the diversity of young talent that the sector is attracting is a fantastic sign. At the same time, as a sector we need to recognize the importance of bringing in professionals with the experience of building businesses, focusing and scaling.

Experts’ take: the future of social entrepreneurship

The future is about shifting from fail safe models to safe fail models—to be successful, we need to throw up as many balls in the air as possible.
—Shrashtant Patara, Vice-President, Development Alternatives Group

Taking on harder problems battled by more people will separate the high quality enterprises that scale from the mediocre ones.
—Bindu Ananth, President, IFMR Trust

The sector will see some sort of consolidation, as more enterprises compete for limited resources. Mergers and acquisitions and stress on transparency and better managerial practices will be upcoming trends.
—Yashveer Singh, National Social Entrepreneurship Network

There aren’t real failures in social enterprise, there are temporary setbacks. We need to build a support system for entrepreneurs who initially face hurdles, which will give them staying power and the ability to follow through.
—Joe Madiath, Founder & ED, Gram Vikas

Seth Godin, marketing guru, entrepreneur, author and change agent is in our neck of the woods this week. Word on the street is that he’s in India to make a film on marketing to low-income communities. On Wednesday, Godin spoke to a captivated audience at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad about the transformation of marketing and the art of leading a tribe to create change.

A decade ago, the image of an Indian farmer standing in the middle of a chaotic village market holding a shiny mobile phone was unimaginable; today, this is reality. These shifts and juxtapositions in our world are demanding a change in our role as doers and entrepreneurs and the nature of marketing. The marketing model of branding a cute mascot to death, interrupting people to push average products, and “spam-a-lot” is dying. It’s fast being replaced by marketers who give communities value, something to believe in, respect, and the dignity of choice. This transformation is the start of a second Industrial revolution.

“Tribal” leadership lies at the center of this revolution. Connecting a community or tribe of like-minded people and working with them to create change—like Jacqeline Novogratz has done with Acumen Fund or Anant Kumar has done at Life Spring Hospitals—is the new marketing. Trust, value and choice are the foundation of this movement.

Do you need to be a genius to invent a tribe or to find a tribe and lead it? Not really; not a genius like Einstein anyway! In fact, it all comes down to “Art.” Art is about doing work that matters, the act of creating human activity that changes people for the better. The factory model of interchangeable parts and replaceable people is being swapped for a focus on design, service and people. The opportunity is huge – the laptop is now the means of production and the internet has brought down the wall between products and the market. Replacing the fear of failure with curiosity and the courage to take on “emotional labor” (potentially tough challenges) are the two skills an agent of change needs today.

It is this tribal leadership and transformation of marketing, which will catalyze the movement of market inclusion at the base of the pyramid (BoP) in countries such as India. The end of poverty through market integration will come by supporting choice, not charity, and embracing dignity, not dependence.

Beyond Profit had the chance to sit down with Godin and find out more about his thoughts about marketing at the base of the pyramid (BoP):

Beyond Profit: What has the world overlooked when marketing to communities at the base of the pyramid, considering not a lot of multi-national companies (MNCs) have succeeded up until now?
Godin: So far we have treated people at the BoP the same as regular customers. It is only now that we are beginning to understand the different mindset and buying approach of customers at the BoP. The distinction between a need and a want is very clear to them. They will not just buy a product because it is INR5 (US$.09), they need to be extremely sure of the value it brings to their lifestyle. More than anything, they need to be given a choice to decide what product to buy.

Beyond Profit: Do you see conflicts with marketing products to the BoP that they don’t need or shouldn’t be spending their money on?
Godin: It is easy for marketers to trick people into buying a product, especially at the BoP where customers have maybe a year of buying experience whereas an urban middle income customer who has a lifetime of buying experience. In this age, marketers who give communities value, something to believe in, respect and the dignity of choice are the ones who will build successful organizations.

Beyond Profit: How is the role of technology evolving when marketing to the BoP?
Godin: The important factor is how technology is being used. The farmer with a mobile phone is a good example – he uses the mobile phone purely to connect for business and make a living, not to spend endless hours chatting with friends. Customers at the BoP will use technology to grow and attain success as long as it is affordable and available to them.

By Deepti Chadda for Beyond Profit

November 24 2009

It was another day of “firsts” for the team. Instead of waking up to Jumper’s usual “Team Inspire, wakey wakey wakey”, we woke up to winds howling at speeds of 50 knots, 14 knots less than hurricane winds! After an eventful night camping on ice, we struggled to repack and load all our gear on the inflatable zodiacs to get back to the comfort of the Clipper Adventurer. A warm bed and breakfast has never been as special as it was this morning. A night on the Antarctic ice makes us realize the absolute beauty and power of nature, inspiring respect and humility.

In the late 1800’s Emile Danco, a member of the Belgica expedition, died of a heart condition induced by the severe conditions in the Antarctic, some miles south of where our ship is anchored. This afternoon, we landed at Danco Island, the zodiacs navigating through floating icebergs of deep blue and crystal white. Flashes of red, green, orange, blue and yellow dotted the snow as everyone brought out their national flags. It was a moment of history as we all got the opportunity to take photographs with Robert Swan holding up our flags, proud of representing our countries and the cause of a sustainable future. We then hiked up to the top of the island to take in the breathtaking 360 degree view.

Rob constantly tells us to focus on “doing”. Climate change is a fact; we need to focus on solutions and actions to using energy more wisely. Adam from NativeEnergy introduced us to carbon offsetting and opened up a whole new space on how we can reduce our carbon footprint by helping to build new renewable energy projects across the globe. All of us are working with Adam to calculate our individual carbon footprint and build an action plan to offset it once we get back home.

It’s been an intense day of exploring the innocent beauty of Antarctica and our ideas for a sustainable future. We pledge to lead convenient solutions to the inconvenient truth of climate change, starting now.

64 S 62 W

Photographs courtesy Jack Robert Tissot

Antarctica expedition 1

Please tell us why you would like to participate in this expedition?

The powerful stories of previous 2041 participants have inspired many young people around the world including me, to work towards a sustainable present and future. As a young Indian, I consider myself extremely lucky to have the education and opportunity to be able to understand my role in a green future and do something about it individually and collectively.

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” Robert Swan OBE.

This describes a large number of Indians. There are other people working to mitigate climate change, and anyway it doesn’t affect anything major in my lifetime so why really bother? I used to be one of these people. It’s been a while since I realized that there can’t be no “someone else” saving the planet. It’s either all of us in it together or nothing.

Everyday India’s role in climate change becomes more urgent. As a global citizen and a patriotic Indian I want to play a role in ensuring that the present and future generations understand the behavioral and lifestyle shifts needed save planet Earth from the threat of climate change. One objective of applying to participate in IATE 2009 was to be able to give these ideas a tangible form.

My ambition is to start up in the near future. At present I’m exploring different business ideas all of which have some common features – Social impact, sustainable, international, creative and young. This expedition gives me the perfect opportunity to explore business ideas in the energy space and build a network of peers and mentors to support me in executing the business plan.

Through my previous experiences in AIESEC I have been able to develop a network of young people around the world who want to play a leading role in social issues, climate change being foremost. The most effective way to mobilize an individual or network to action is through a powerful story. I hope to make my IATE 2009 story a powerful one that reaches young people around the world building awareness and change towards a sustainable future. expedition-3

Pledge to Credit Suisse:

“I would like to thank Credit Suisse for gifting me this once in a lifetime opportunity. I truly believe that the solution to global warming lies in a change of attitude and human behavior. One of the most effective ways of modifying human behavior is through powerful story telling. Stories that are impossible but true, stories that inspire action. I promise to make my Credit Suisse Antarctica story a powerful one that reaches many young people in India and around the world. I have been looking for an opportunity to understand my role in a sustainable future, including the development of a business idea and youth network in India on this topic. Thank you and I will definitely make the most of this opportunity.”

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