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Reaching out to the unreached


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Reaching out to the unreached

  1. 1. Reaching Out to the Unreached Sanjay Sahay Introduction In a world with over 6 billion mobiles in a population of 7 billion, 4 billion people across the globe remain unreached. Communication at best can be an enabler and cannot be a provider. Unreached has traditionally been treated outside the government and the business domains and specialized non-state organizations treat this sector as their core domain and also their competency. Beyond the realm of varieties of NGO’s, we have organizations which are considered as charitable and religious institutions. The sum total of all these, is to provide succor to teeming billions below the human existential levels. My Experience I have a deep understanding of this sector based on my interaction with the national and international NGOs when I was working for the United Nation in Kosovo as part of the Peacekeeping operations in 2000-01. In the years 2005-06, I had the opportunity to work as a Deputy/Acting Sector Commander at Wau in Southern Sudan, which is the newest country today. As it was a part of a unified command I worked in collaboration with the International NGO fraternity. In my earlier years of years of service I have worked as the Supervisory officer of the family counseling center located on the campus of Bangalore Police Commissioner’s Office. Recently, I have been the Vice – President of the NGO what runs the very successful women and child helplines in the city. Structure This article will take us through the identification of the unreached, their types, what all is to be reached and by which agencies. The role of Indian welfare state, which happens to the biggest social service organization, though it has not been famed in that manner. Who fills the void beyond this? The NGOs and the charitable organizations and the omnipresent United Nations, which also provides for the documentation and 1
  2. 2. accreditation in this field. In the in final part, I will be dealing with the well known Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, and a new concept Beyond CSR, its business with the BoP sector, business opportunities which remain untapped for lack of creativity and innovation and a mindset that traditional areas of business are the only viable ones. The Unreached Unreached though has been understood as an economic concept, it is comprehensive in nature, directly related to the lack of fulfillment of nationally/globally accepted parameters of human existence. The unreached can be divided on various parameters, most critical of which being economic and social, political and geographic and based on health and education. There is also a sector which remains unreached because of gender and age, as in the case of women and children. And above and beyond all unreached because of attitude, can be of any number of varieties but the best exemplified would be apartheid and the Indian caste system, which continues to play havoc to the modern Indian society as well. Why Reach? The paramount question is why we need to reach them today, they have been on the periphery of human existence since ages. The concept of a Welfare State is totally different from all other political and administrative mechanisms which have existed in the history of mankind. Welfare State aims at social, economic and political equity. The NGOs got created to fill the void in the governmental depth of functioning and effectiveness in this sector and have tended to specialize during their process of gaining maturity. As the concept of business went beyond business, there emerged the concept and necessity of Corporate Social Responsibility, which slowly has got legally mandated. Seeing this trend, large number of organizations, religious and otherwise are jumping on to the social bandwagon in a big way. 2
  3. 3. Welfare State A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. The general term may cover a variety of forms of economic and social organizations. The Social Service Sector The govt. is the biggest social service organisation in this country, which is permanent in nature and is guided by the constitution. As per Economic Survey 2010-11, the total funding to social services between the centre and the states was about 25% of all our budgetary allocation, on education, health and other related sectors. That figure is Rs 5,22,492 crore for 2010-11. To express it internationally, this translates to $115 billion or $100 per person per year. Education accounts for 45% of this allocation and the share of the health sector is 19%. This huge funding can be utilized more efficiently with a much better impact on the target group, if all stakeholders opine for structural and procedural changes. This is a critical issue as not only the quantum of funding is very huge, so is its growth rate. The figures quoted have doubled in the four years preceding that financial year referred to! Government Poverty Alleviation Programs From IRDP in 1978 to Mahatma Gandhi NAREGA, all revolutionary poverty alleviation programs have become household names throughout rural India. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. There cannot be a more revolutionary social service program around the globe. Though PDS works as a government department, it is certainly a transformational poverty alleviation program even with most of its limitations. 3
  4. 4. Towards Empowerment All facets of social and economic well being of the unreached are catered to by the government programs and services. Beyond programs, the government aims at empowerment of all unreached classes, women, SCs, STs, backward classes and whole of the rural country side itself. Political empowered through Panchayati Raj has been changing the face of the nation itself. The representation of women and the other underprivileged classes like the SCs, STs and OBCs have added a new dimension to large scale empowerment and is in the process of making Indian democracy both robust and inclusive. Do the Unreached Remain So… The reality glares on the faces of the planners of this country. Large groups remain below the benchmarked level of goods and services. On the Human Development Indices we are still amongst the worst in the world. Though all the programs have been grandiose and effective at the planning stage, the final delivery of lots of these programs can be debated upon, host of such programs are a complete spectrum in itself from PDS to Electronic Direct Cash Transfer Scheme based on Aadhar. Non Governmental Organizations Professor Akira Iriye defines NGO as "a voluntary non-state, non-profit, non-religious, and non-military association.” One of the earliest mentions of the acronym "NGO" was in 1945, when the UN was created. These activities might include human rights, environmental or development work. The number of NGOs operating in the United States is estimated at 40,000, Russia has 2,77,000 NGOs, India is estimated to have around 3.3 million NGOs in the year 2009, which is just over one NGO per 400 Indians. The best represented sub-sectors overall were Development, followed by Health, Education, Children & Youth, Environment and Peace-building. In the multilateral context alone, the number of UN-accredited NGOs had risen from 40 in 1945 to 3,536 by the end of 2011. Governmental funding for NGOs from my point of view is a debatable issue, the basic differentiation between and State and Non-State sectors gets completely lost, this differentiation has been at the genesis of these 4
  5. 5. organizations. Recent years are replete with instances of outright misuse of government funds, audit reports to prove the same and efforts to keep out large portion of this funding outside the audit process. I have also contended that Audit should be a monopoly State function, wherever public money is put to use, in an article recently written on that subject. Charitable Organization A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on non-profit and philanthropic goals as well as social well-being e.g. charitable, educational, religious, or other activities serving the public interest or common good. Social Service actually emanated out of these organizations. NGOs, I presume is a later addition to this social responsibility for which these charitable institutions have been working for ages. UNO Though UNO is not a NGO and plays multifarious roles in world’s polity, society and economy and also set standards for lot many world issues and documents and monitors world major issues in every sphere of life. Nonetheless, it has been playing a major role in reaching to the unreached across the globe very effectively and help build capacity in such areas and sectors for sustainable growth and poverty alleviation and empowerment of such sector through its agencies, UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, WFO, FAO, worldwide. Its global peacekeeping operations provides for the security in war torn areas before, even the work can be initiated in the social sector. It sets the stage to reach the unreached in a meaningful manner. Corporate Social Responsibility “Corporate Social Responsibility” refers to all activities undertaken by the corporate entity to sub serve common good, to serve the society which is its customer or provides for the ecosystem which sustains it or both. Legality has crept in CSR over the years. CSR, the acronym by which it is 5 CSR - Virtue Matrix
  6. 6. generally known, came into vogue in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards and international norms. The concept of stakeholder has slowly been growing and today this all comprehensive concept has become a part of the business model and a stage further the DNA of the Corporations – Indians or MNCs. It encourages a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities and stakeholders. A more common approach to CSR is corporate philanthropy. Beyond CSR, It’s Business Nearly 65% of the world’s population earns less than $2000 per year, that aggregates to around 4 billion people. As per the traditional economic thinking they have very little to spend on both goods and services and corruption, substandard infrastructure and red tape bottlenecks have been eating into any proposed effort to treat them as a potential market. Of late many multinationals have made inroads into this new type of markets, political reforms, congenial investment climate and low cost wireless communication paving the way. The road map is clear, the market divide has to be bridged in an innovative manner. Its no gainsaying the individual incomes are low, as aggregation creates a major market. Bangladesh Grameen Telecom is a great example of generating $90 to $1000 from one single village. Micro-credit of Mohd Yunus has changed the life of millions of underprivileged and also added a new dimension of our business thought process, that a customer necessarily need not be a moneyed person. The Real Story Dharavi example has proved olden concepts wrong. The poor often buy luxury items. Dharavi slum’s 85% households own TVs, 75% use pressure cookers and 56% have gas stoves. Common experience shows that the bottom of pyramid pays more than the middle class. For a necessity as water they have to pay 100 times more. Food is 20% costlier and rate of daily interest is pegged at 10% to 15%, the annual rate reaching an astronomical 2000% times. The rates of microfinance is way ahead of the rates as which the moneyed class gets its loans, at the rate of 40% to 70% per year. It is surprisingly cheap to market and deliver products/services to the world’s poor, which lives in areas of the big cities which are most densely 6
  7. 7. populated. Collectively, 1300 largest cities would account for 1.5 billion to 2 billion population. As it stands, roughly half of the BoP consumers are now served by informal economies. The poor in Rio de Janeiro have a total purchasing power of $1.2 billion. Few very reliable estimates about the value of business transactions indicate a very thriving business activity. Dhaaravi generates estimated $450 million in manufacturing revenues or about $1 million one acre of land. Business beyond CSR, the Rural Poor! Around 60% of India’s GDP is generated in rural areas. The critical barrier is not the purchasing power but the distribution access. New information technology and communications are breaking the barriers in a manner our generation had not imagined. Clearly, the poor communities are ready to adopt new technologies and in return the technologies should improve their economic opportunities and their quality of life. This is the trade off they are looking for. The choice is between Microfinance and Moneylender. The issue revolves around the thriving informal economies and MNCs working on acceptable return on investment for goods and services. This model outbeats the goods and services in quality and is an excellent sustainable business model. The experience of NGOs, entrepreneurial start ups and few MNCs are a proof of concept for this model. Business can gain three advantages by serving the poor namely: • A new source of revenue growth • Greater efficiency • Access to Innovation Consortia is being suggested to leverage the inadequacies of the purchasing power and the market mechanism. Imagine sharing the cost of a building for a rural network with the communications company that would operate it, a consumer goods company seeking channels to expand its sales and a bank that would be financing the construction and wants to give loans to and collect deposits from rural customers. Some Live Examples Citibank’s ATM based banking experiment in India, called Suvidha, which requires a minimum deposit of just $25, enlisted 150,000 customers in one year in the city of Bangalore alone. Hindustan Lever operates a $2.6 7
  8. 8. billion business portfolio in this sector with zero business capital. ITC’s agribusiness division has deployed a total of 970 kiosks serving 600,000 farmers, supplying soy, coffee, shrimps and wheat from 5000 villages across India. eCommerce systems over phone and internet have a demonstrated capability of completely eliminating intermediaries. It’s a welcome relief to the Indian countryside. The Main Issue Unless CEO’s and other business leaders confront their own perceptions, companies are likely to master the challenges of the BoP market. Innovation would remain a hollow word for all those who are in real need of it, whereas it would be lapped on the wealthy for relatively cheaper and better products and services, making their world a even better place to live in, leaving the Bo P to their own fate. A mass scale education in the MNCs to change the mindset of the decision makers is the need of the hour. Conclusion The tall claims of organizations of every type, its leaders and of nations of bringing in a world order, based on equity is still miles and miles away from reality. Milestones have been achieved undeniably but what is disturbing is the nature and cost of the progress towards this goal. The cost benefit analysis portrays a very bleak picture as well. It’s never too late, for all stakeholders: Governments, NGOs, Charitable Organizations to rewrite and execute their strategies to bring transformational change for the positive, in the lives of the unreached. 8