In pressroom

Have you done your bit?

All it needs is a few hours of your time every week. And our society will be a much improved one. If you are curious enough, read on says JAYALAKSHMI K.

Wanted urgently! Consultants and trainers to assist social entrepreneurs and others who work for the poor.
If you care, here is where your knowledge and skills and your conscience can make a big difference; If you don’t need money, work for free; If you do need money ask for the minimum you need. But work as though you are paid a crore. We guarantee you the greatest satisfaction in your life and you will create a better society. It’s about time, don’t you think?

This is not your average ad placed in the Appointments section of the paper. This is an impassioned plea for help from someone who is “grateful to society that was poor and oppressed but still gave him something”. It is payback time for Dr G K Jayaram, the first director of Infosys, and now director of Institute of Leadership and Institutional Development (ILID).

ILID provides training and consultancy to individuals and organisations working in the development sector. At present, it has over 28 organisations under its umbrella.

Why is there a need for ILID? The obvious answer is not so clear till Jayaram comes out with some interesting statistics.

Today in the country, 90 percent of the workforce owe their livelihood to the informal sector run by the “small” people. Around 6.3 million people are working full-time or part-time for NGOs. They constitute 60 percent of the net domestic product. Quoting the recent John Hopkins report, there are around 1.2 million such organisations in the country which is approximately one for every thousand of the populace.

Terming this the “citizen sector” Jayaram notes how it has enormous power to create change when motivated. Around Rs 19,000 crore passes through this sector, a bulk of which is self-generated. “Despite all these numbers, why is there no social paradise? Why is there no discernible impact,” he asks, and proceeds to explain why the government “cannot, will not and should not” be looking into the development aspects of society beyond providing infrastructure.

“With 90 percent of its budget going into salaries it only has 10 percent left for everything else. This is because income from tax revenue is small thanks to corruption. Centralised remote controlled systems managed by the government will only create problems. It should at best provide leadership. The government has inherent limitations and when you indulge in government bashing, why not look at what you are doing?” Jayaram suggests. A corrupt citizen provides for a corrupt legislature. An inefficient citizen provides for an inefficient legislature.

Letting go the government, it is best that the development sector is run by ordinary citizens, he concludes. If despite having so many NGOs in the country, we still have miles to go, it is due to one single point, as Jayaram sees it. A lack of professionalism in the sector. “Unlike the private sector which has been flourishing since the early nineties, the development sector does not have an institutionalised structure in place. There is also need to constantly evaluate oneself,” he points out. “NGOs must publish results and the public must demand to see it.”

With the aim of “marrying idealism with absolute corporate pragmatism” Jayaram started the ILID. It simply borrows from the business model practiced in the private sector and draws it strengths from people who have the expertise. And does it for free!

In the last 16 months since inception ILID has consulted with 28 organisations working with just three full-time staff! From drafting project plan, to implementing it, to providing auditing skills, help find funds, network with other organisations doing similar work, ILID does it all. But as more and more organisations seek help, the need for volunteers is on the rise.

At ILID the lookout is for people with intensity, integrity and intelligence. It needs professionals — consultants and project managers — to dedicate a few hours every week. It could be housewives who have the knowledge, or it could be college kids who are computer savvy to develop content for rural kids, it could be anyone with a professional skill, notes Jayaram.

The returns can be the greatest joy a human can have next to “being in love or having a baby” he assures.


Nandan Nilekani: Cofounder, eGovernments Foundation & CEO, Infosys

“I have been struck by the need to radically improve the leadership, managerial and execution capability in the public space… ILID fills a very important space in this situation.”

Swati and Ramesh Ramanathan: Cofounders, Janagraha

“Combining world-class expertise, and wide-ranging experience, Dr Jayaram has this uncanny ability to “see” the issues, which otherwise needs exhaustive elaboration. This, combined with his transparent integrity and enormous bag of experiences, has meant that we feel a sense of immense reassurance that we are in safe hands.”

Pramod Kulkarni: Founder, “Prerana” and “Sathi”

There is lot of synergy that happens if two good people come together. Getting the two to work together needs great abilities. That can be done by intermediary with substantial experience, having a large vision and patience. The ILID has this kind of team.

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