Embracing the Society & Environment


Empowering women through pappad


Shri Mahila Griha Udyog lijath pappad famously known to the masses as  Lijath, It is one of the oldest women cooperative formed in the year 1959 in Mumbai. The success of this cooperative founded by women continuous to have its dream run ever since its inception. The lijath was formed with an intital capital of Rs 80 now this brand has grown leaps and bounds with an annual turn over of 6.50 billion and export of Rs 290 million .  The very success of this initiative has been the  ever growing women folks joining their  hands  ,  currently, member’s strength is around  43000 women  employed in 81 branches and 27 divisions across India.

The idea was born in the year 1959, in  the brain of seven Gujarthi women settled in Mumbai, The only skill they know was to cook, But no one had ever expected that a  small initiative would become such classical epitome of social enterprenuership. In the initial years of its operations,  they were restricted on the terrace of a building and started producing daily 4 packets of pappads.Today they own their registered office premise in Bandra.

Empowerment of  Women

The success of this organization  led “ Lijath” to undertake various initiatives to promote literacy and computer education to its workers & their  family members , later they have started scholarships for female children of the workers . Lijath also teamed up with UNESCO to conduct seminars on child care and mother welfare.

Collective ownership of all stakeholders

In Lijath they promotes and believes in collective ownership philosophy called “Sarvodhya” . All the working members  are treated as equal  owners in sharing the profit as well as loss. The members are famously referred as “sisters” , Decisions are taken based on consensus. The day to day running of the organization is entrusted with  21 member committee, every three year new members get elected through consensus.

The success of this cooperative organization stems its strength from collective ownership , Each and every member   is responsible for its successful functioning &  decision making , which  is purely based on collective thinking & approach. profit and loss get shared equally among  the members, across the branches the same philosophy has been followed without any failure.  The success lies in delivering satisfaction to its members and their families. The care extended by the organsiation in supporting the member’s family to get the education through scholarships and  also has  taken various initiatives in supporting the society for a common cause. I think the success of Lajath points towards a very successful win win relation among all its stakeholder. As the company grown from its infant stage to its current size and form , But the organization has  ensured that all its members are equally rewarded .

In today’s world of hard core profiteering , rewarding the shareholder ‘s with wealth has been prime motive behind the existence of any organization, But Lijath journey  so far has been an outstanding tribute to the success of social entreprnuership business model.

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Training those who have lost their hopes …

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi’s the founder Over came many hardships and challenges , But her vision in 1991 helped her to put in place “ Afghanistan institute of learning” the organization kept a brave foot forward in to the refugee camps in Pakistan by starting learning centers and provided healthcare to the people in Afghanistan , who are forced to flee from their places due to Taliban instigated conflict .AIL operated 80 secret schools which was catering to 3000 girls , trained 80 teachers. In 2001 AIL increased their reach significantly by opening learning centers , established clinics , Training centers in various subjects . They are also actively involved in disaster relief management and have adequate human resource, Funds & plans in place to support the relief activity.

Afghan institute of learning

The objective is to foster self-reliance, critical thinking ability and community participation among the affected people who became vulnerable due to the conflict. Through this Learning center they believes that key objective can only be achieved through education especially for girls & women where learning is centered around their health and its related aspects. The holistic approach of training & educating the people to understand the importance of democracy, identify their rights for better healthcare and creating economic opportunities for them to live a better life.

This is another outstanding illustration of social entrepreneurship model with great vision, forward thinking to improve the life of the people who have lost their hopes due to war and conflict. The initiative is a great step in the right direction which has the potential to bring light and hope to the affected people, by focused approach through empowering them with the help of learning & Training given ability on their hands to think, learn& earn.

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Janta@Rs 20

janta meal founders

Meals @ 20 is a wonderful idea, Janta meals Pvt Ltd provides meals to 15lakhs people belongs to the lower income bracket. The effort to start such an entity is nothing but social entrepreneurship at its best .Here they lends credibility to idea of to serve the society by offering foods at affordable rates with clean hygienic one with great nutritious content , Kudos to the two individuals   Ms Apeksha Pothwal & Jesse van De zand who identified the opportunity to serve healthy food at affordable rates, larger cities in India is seeing a swathe of migration from hamlets and rural areas to search for a living , most of them stays in cramped spaces and eating less healthy food in an unhygienic conditions. For them thali priced at Rs 30 consists off dal, a sabsi , one panner dish, five rotis , pickle & salad is healthy & Nutritious , cheaper thali of Rs 20 is also their to offer.

People from all walks of life has found savior in this, Working class couples have less time to prepare their food in today’s hectic work schedule ,so they find solace in this offering. If anyone browse through their website you could find their beneficiaries as slum dwellers, urban poor which itself is very heartening to see. In order to expand their footprint in other parts they have decided to promote micro entrepreneurs to set up premises with chairs, tables& utensils as prescribed by the Junta, at present they are operating with 22 outlets across Gurgaon and planning to set up shops in Delhi as well as many other parts in Indian cities. Initially, it was started as philanthropic project, but it turns to be a profit model with more funds to expand this project to much larger horizon.

Certainly in this world of profiteering these two individual has shown that, opportunities to serve the society is still possible if we have the heart and desire to do it. When you see success naturally the tendency would to be strategize the existing model in such a way to generate more profit by either increasing the price of offerings or spending more money to advertise for building a brand of its own . This business model is different and yet progressive in thinking. Here they bring together the flavor of serving food to the society at an affordable rate, keeping in view of the requirement of poor and needy. So Janta is a quintessential Illustration of leading by example. When all companies think of spending only a minuscule percentage of their profit as Corporate social responsibility, this initiative leads by example by focusing on the lower strata of the society through serving and catering to the basic right of eating healthy cum hygienic food.

Business practices and social responsibility must coexist

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India is  the only country worldwide to formulate  a policy for a mandatory spending of 2% of the net profit towards Corporate social responsibility, But if one tries to analyze  the progress achieved so far the true picture shows a very minimal progress on the lives of the  marginalized , poorer section of the population. The status of the poor , marginalized are still very vulnerable because their income has not seen  any significant improvement   in last 60 years after independence ,   This cross-section of the population are still reeling under  lack of  resources to  better their lives. The basic necessities for a  dignified living are still eluding them and would continue to elude them in the coming years as well. So the onus entirely not lies in the hands of the govt alone, moreover, govt is facing serious resource crunch in  funding  such a vast problem  which is systemic and social in nature . So the role of the private sector is very critical to tide over the problem which our nation is going through the last sixty years since independence  . The issues of gender inequality, caste-based discrimination are  concerns  which are  very much a legacy based issues which still left unaddressed , or given inadequate focus . So as country  traversing  a long journey for last sixty years , we should be  proud   of our achievements  of becoming  a trillion dollar economy ,  GDP growth which is comparatively better when compared to our peers globally , But  flip side of the coin indeed shows us in a very bad  light , which is very serious  and detrimental  to achieve the  target of inclusive growth which  our policy  makers  are  being rabble-rousing for  few years .As a nation, we kept a blind eye or given less importance ,which acted as  a stumbling block in bringing qualitative improvement in the  lives of those lesser privileged & vulnerable  section of the population.

Global Context : Richest 1% versus the combined population worldwide.

The recent Panama expose is only the tip of the iceberg , The staggering  7.6 trillion money hidden in the tax heavens by the extremely rich shows how rich and powerful slashes money abroad by avoiding taxes.  As per the recently published Oxfam report shows the facts which are really  shocking and revealing , How the rich and poor gap keep widening as years pass by.

1)    The bottom half of the humanity ie is roughly 3.6 billion people wealth equals the wealth 62  individuals worldwide .

2)    The richest 62 people wealth has increased to 45% in five years since 2010. Ie is  an increase of 1.76 trillion from their 2010 figure.

3)    Contrary to that, wealth of the bottom half of the world population witnessed a drop of 38% in the same period

4)    Since turn of the century poorest half of the world, population received  1% increase in their total wealth while half of the increase in wealth went to richest 1%

5)     The poorest 10% of the global population’s average income has risen by less than $ 3 each year in an almost quarter of a century. So it means less than a cent increase in every year.


The above chart clearly shows the income disparity and how wealth increasingly gets to the top and remaining bottom of the population’s  increase  in income is insignificant compared to the top 1%. This is the real picture of the income distribution worldwide where select few are calling the shots by influencing the policies in their favor, getting the benefit of huge tax cuts at the cost of rest of the  population who severely fights  day in and day out to survive  without basic support systems for dignified life.  The economics of trickle down is not happening , but everything is getting sucked up at the top of the pyramid.figure-2

As per the IMF report which recently found that countries with highest economic inequality are like adding insult to the injury in a way creates further inequalities which are in the form of widening the gap between men and women in terms of health, education, labor market participation & representation in the elections.

Effect Of inequality on environment&Wages.

As per the Oxfam report , poorest people live in the part of the globe where  climate change is going extreme, the poorest half of the population  only contributes to 10% of the total global emissions. But richest one percentage contributes 175 times of the poorest. So, in the end, the rest of the 50% are left with no choice but to bear the outcome of the actions made by the richest 1%.

In developed & developing countries , the share of the national income going to the workers has been falling ever since 1985 means countries are growing and their GDP has proportionally grown, but the end of the day workers share of the earning has come down drastically.But owners or the capital investors income has swollen continuously through (interest payments, dividends& retained earnings) ,State support to tax avoidance for the capital investors, owners and policies by the govt for continuous and liberal tax regime for the corporate. The CEO’s of the top Indian  IT companies earns 416 times the salary of the ordinary employee.

Economist  ThomasPiketty’s view on India

As per the book  “Capital in the 21st century, a serious work on the comparative analysis and his basic conclusion is that capitalism is hugely in favor of capitalists. In his book, he clearly touches the aspects of the distribution of income and wealth which is hugely in favor of rich who inherit huge wealth which normally  should have been redistributed , but certainly worked another way round . Thomas Piketty was of the view that Indian elite class needs to pay more taxes on their wealth& income . Our country’s tax to GDP ratio is less than 11% which is very low to meet the challenges faced Indian society. So as a nation, our responsibility to  eliminate the poverty  to  zero levels  is very significant because 50% of the global population lives in subcontinent ie is , India & China.

How private sector can play a proactive role in promoting sustainable development

Income and wealth concentration of  India today is probably high by international and historical standards ie is top 10 % of the income share is equal to 50 to 60 % of the total income.

1)    The private sector should come forward and take the initiative to pay taxes diligently instead of collectively bargaining for lower tax regime, In fact, India has a comparatively lower corporate tax regime globally.

2)     The private sector should voluntarily come forward to take up social & welfare issues.

3)    It can create more jobs and build roads

4)     Creation of innovative products and services

5)    Working closely with Govt as a partner in sustainable development

6)    Practice more ecology friendlier  business practices

7)    Contribute to conflict and disaster management.

8)    Leveraging their capabilities in creating positive outcome  through CSR , NVG guidelines

9)    The need to move away from shareholders interest  to a  much more inclusive stakeholders concept.

10)    Learn to pay their fair share of the income and wealth

11)    Encourage business and practices which are more pro-poor.

12)    Become a true example for an equal opportunity employer.

CSR spending In India

The recent reports suggests that in the last  fiscal year 2015 contribution towards CSR was 4000 Crs  , which is well below the expected target of 9000crs which was year marked in the first year  target  and this year Govt targets to achieve 9000 Crs , But the way corporate from various sectors responded to this mandatory spending of 2% of their net profit seems to be inadequate to solve the social issues our country is undergoing in the last two decades.

Meeting the bare minimum target of 2% is significantly lower for top most companies , the Present situation demands more from the top 75%  companies , It is imperative and need of the hour to spend more by becoming responsible leaders in showing the way forward for others to follow .So that lesser and smaller companies can emulate what top companies performs.

It is widely believed  just mere spending on CSR would not serve the purpose of meeting the goals of social development , Certain companies contributed to PM relief funds, instead of that to make the mission successful we need the corporate to take up the responsibility in full extent possible and use their resources at their disposal to create a positive outcomes by involving directly in social , environmental & health  care activities with the same seriousness as they do their business. The private sectors should be exemplars of change leaders  than  observing the activities from the sidelines.

It is very hard to monitor the progress of CSR and NVG  guidelines by the corporate , so seriously a  framework needs to be evolved to bring in more  accountability and it would be better if a  separate index on social responsibility could be  coined in the immediate future, a rating mechanism can also be considered which can bring more companies into the public domain through the ranking  system in the public domain ,So when there is reputational risk , which could  force them to include social responsibility as one important parameter while taking corporate strategic decisions.

So the conclusion is very clear corporate in the last two decades has seen their business growing , balance sheet soaring, company stocks created wealth for many. But in this 21st century,  it is the time  that private corporations cannot shy away from taking up the responsibility .The need  to adopt sound business practices which are collaborative and participatory  in nature . The sound business practices should be based on shared value both economically & socially. In order to scale up the efforts   to solve social issues a concrete voluntary commitment  from private sector  is required.






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Manual Scavenging : A Real measure of progress as a society

imagesIn spite in last 65 years since independence , we as a society still lives and breathes the old practices of treating , discriminating people on the basis of caste and creed, The old practice of Dalits as a marginalised community being who are being heckled and brutally treated still continued without any change . We all are living in a highly technocratic environment with more advances in technology happening everywhere across the world , we as  a nation is largely following the trend of a free flow of information, access and use of technology to improve one’s life for better. But I feel  so ashamed that we as a society still feels the same in the way we treat marginalised communities like Dalits.  They are still being allowed to all those menial and risky jobs like manual scavenging , I heard no politicians   expressing  in strong words against this decade-old practice , we call ourselves as an empowered society who knows how to fight for their rights . But so far society has not stood to fight against the practice of manual scavenging.


Bezwada Wilson and his movement Safai karmachari Andolan

Bezwada Wilson from Karnataka a Dalit by himself  stands apart , he   has started  Safai karmachari andolan which fights against the manual scavenging , the removal of human excreta using their hands  and disposing the waste to disposal sites by  carrying  it on their heads, sometimes their predicament is so bad they have to get themselves immersed in sewage canals for long hours to drain the waste from it, they often  involve in this activity  in bad light with lesser oxygen to breathe , by putting their own lives at huge risk . But we care very less about the plight n of such people who daily fights for their lives  by scavenging the human waste to earn their living. Don’t we have a  better system still  in this country to dispose of human waste ?

Swach Bharath Abhiyan & Cess

Our  Govt takes pride in the Swatch Bharath Abhiyan  and celebrities from all walks of life openly promote the need  for having a toilet in every household , To build toilets  across the length bad breadth of this country we as a society is in fact paying an indirect cess to the govt  .  But we as a society never felt the importance of highlighting the issue of manual scavenging , No celebrities or the media has shown interest in stopping this practice and empower those people who are involved this activities generations after generation.  So-called sophisticated, elite or upper class treat those people with contempt , insanity.  When are we going to get way from the shackles of this oppressive system  of caste and creed create,  divide within the human beings?

Govt is the biggest culprit

The  2016 Magsasay award winner MR Bezwada Wilson is fighting for the cause of around 180,000 thousand households cleaning 79,0000 dry toilets in which mostly are women folks who deliberately pushed to this profession as hereditary , see the biggest violator is the successive govt  in spite of having constitutional rules and laws prohibiting this practice , but govt failed miserably to enforce the rights of this people.  The biggest irony is that this problem is faced not  by majority community , but a lesser cross section of the population who are very many minorities , who are sidelined . So their rights for a better living  don’t have much value for the society as a whole.  I think as a progressive society we should have collectively fight this practice , stopped by all means if anybody saw promoting this. It is shame collective as a society that we are still allowing this to continue even after having suitable protection under the constitution for a decent living with dignity and respect. As per the 2011 census shows , UP tops the chart with more no of dry toilets.