Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Converstaion plus Flat Rate Follow Up

There was a long chat on google with a student on THU evening 9:30-10:30 p.m. who was asking for N.S.S. support to some proposed activity in the campus. Besides the short notice period, the activity did not fit into N.S.S. mandate. The next evening, the student came to my office at about 7:00 p.m. and we had an interesting discussion with a ground rule that could not be anything better. We are entitled to have our own opinions while we respect each others'. We share what we learnt from our reading of life but no bulldozing of thoughts, giving time and space to each other to learn from one's own experience. Some of the points I raised were:

1. No blame game. A blames B, B blames C, .... the cycle goes on. Let us do what we can do and lead by examples. The more we do, the more is the increase in our capacity.

2. No policy, no welfare scheme, no manifesto is bad. All speak of upliftment of people. What is needed is proper execution. The execution is again done by people.

3. "Make men first. Everything else will be ready ..... we need man-making character building education", said Vivekananda. The more we empower people (through higher education etc.), the more is our responsibility to see that they come up as a better human being with love for fellow being (this power is to be used for the good of all).

4. The inverse of 2nd part of point 3 is also true. The more we feel ourselves responsible for the community, the more we should give effort to elevate ourselves to a position which helps us to deliver greater good. If I am a student, I should not be satisfied with a lower percentage of marks or a poor career.

5. If we address the symptoms and not the disease, then the problem will resurface in another form in another place. It is more like taking the dust from my door to my neighbour's door.

6. Means and end both should be noble. A noble end cannot be achieved by tricks or by means which is uncorrelated from the end. All prophets talked about imbibing spirit of service, sacrifice, following the path of truth and love.

7. All of us have the potential of becoming Buddha, Christ. Vivekananda says, "If you cannot become Buddha, Christ then they never existed."

8. We were and are never short of ideals in any era. There are always example before us - good people doing good deeds. We need to read those lives and draw inspiration, develop a positive attitude.

9. Again Vivekananda who says, "Purity, patience, perseverance are three essentials to success, and above all, love."

Today Economic Times (ET) ran a front page story on micro finance companies who started as NGO (not for profit), then converted to NBFC (for profit) where underprivileged were included through MBT (Mutual Benefit Trust) and finally elbowed out from the company which is now completely owned by promoters. This article is aptly titled 'Uplifting promoters in the name of downtrodden'.

It says, "An ET investigation shows 45,000 women who were shareholders in the country’s top three microfinance companies have missed out on the benefits of wealth creation—some due to transactions engineered by promoters, some due to the structure used to house shares owned by the poor. "

ET followed it up with a detailed report inside on three companies which is titled "The Poor as Puppets".

Excerpts from it goes like this.  "IN THE 2004-05 ANNUAL REPORT of Share Microfin, promoter and managing director M Udaia Kumar proudly declared: “Most of the shares are held by poor women who are part of the microfinance programme implemented by the company for poverty reduction and livelihood promotion, except the initial promoters and their relatives holding 0.97%. The company is striving to remain a community-based, mutual-benefit financial company.”
    Within two years of that proud declaration, there was little “community-based” or “mutual benefit” about Share Microfin. As on March 31, 2007, promoters, associates and employees, led by Kumar, owned 98%, having bought all the shares held by the poor women, which were housed in mutual benefit trusts, or MBTs (The story on Page 1 explains their working.)

   About the time the promoters finished taking control of the company also marked a breakout point for the business. Between 2006-07 and 2009-10, revenues of Share Microfin increased from Rs 62.9 crore to Rs 475.3 crore—a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 96%. Net profit increased from Rs 1 crore to 108.7 crore—a CAGR of 372%. In other words, the poor women bore the risk during the building phase of the business. But it was the promoters who reaped the rewards from the business taking off. "

An IIM-Ahmedabad faculty member helped in the research.

We had a discussion on this before at

One can find a correlation between first conversation and the flat rate story. It is time that we address the root cause and not play around the bushes.


Aditya said...

Its true everywhere. The educated ( so called) has the knowledge to reap the maximum benefit from the society and accumulate wealth. And that is the benefit of education. In fact that is law of "Selfish Gene" and the norm of the universe.
And other people remain silent as long as they are not get affected. Its the failure of civil society.
But what is the way to get out of it. Spreading education may be the best answer.
Now the basic question is how this vast population to be enlighten with modern education? I don't have answer. Till then large population will be fooled by a countable people. And those countable people may reside distant country , remote city and he may be neighbor.

Pradyut said...

The so called education system will not be suffice to eradicate the system. The quotes of Swami Vivekananda as mentioned " we need man-making character building education", if implemented properly, will help to build a good society.
I would like to add another similar quote by a great Seer -
"Education in its real from
is to unfold the characteristic faculties
that are latent within
by attachment to an Ideal embodied
and through the glimpses
of expressions—
those which come forth
as impulses
from his experiences
during periods of exposition,—
to follow with services,
to learn with attention,
to do in accordance therewith,—
in a word to take those impulses in,
with sense,—
to unfold and adjust !"