Follow On

Some years ago, one of India’s best writers and thinkers Gurcharan Das wrote his epic on the Mahabharata epic titled “The difficulty of being good.” Delving deep into the dilemmas of Yuddhisthtar, the book which is a must-read for all social and corporate thinkers brought out in many ways how doing and being good is no easy task in a world where opportunism and expediency lead most people to devious thinking and action. However, today it does appear that the impetus and the opportunities for doing good have become stronger in our country and as a society, we have the possibilities of making significant and enduring changes happen!

Three events in the last few weeks have given me this conviction that there is a true coalition for good happening in various parts of the country which can be tapped. The first was in my own karma bhoomi of Pune where the Social Venture Partners group has now crossed over fifty well-meaning individuals ranging from well-known industrialists to young social workers and college lecturers. The enthusiasm this group possesses is truly contagious and our structure embraces true venture philanthropy principles in a professional yet friendly manner. An active grants search and review committee, a partner nominations and engagement committee and engaged lead partners for each NGO we support with time, money and mentorship ensures that the good intentions all of us have is translated to a sense of purpose and action on the ground. The national board of SVP which is championing the Million Jobs Mission in the country and the global board of SDVP which is making social change happen in multiple countries area all vindications of the theme of spreading goodwill and good societal actions. The second epiphany for me was the popularity that the work of Pune City Connect now enjoys and the eagerness of well-meaning citizens within and outside the city to share in its activities and success. The Young Indians group of CII Pune had invited the Pune Municipal Commissioner and I to share our thoughts on what could be a worthwhile social agenda and have readily agreed to spearhead the engagement processes with various segments of society to ensure wide spread participation in the exciting programs of Skills Lighthouses, Municipal School Transformation, hundred percent digital literacy for Pune and City Transformation support. We can and will make it a city-wide movement.

The third exciting development has been the warm welcome extended to me and the CEO of Pune City Connect Ruchi Mathur in the lovely city of Aurangabad when we visited to explain the progress in the PCC collaboration with PMC in Pune. The Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Standing Committee Chairman, Commissioner, industry leaders and mentors, members of the academic community and civil society listened to our experiences with rapt attention and have committed to make a similar initiative successful in their city. Add to this their interest in projecting the tourism opportunities in that city and we can see an environment of good initiatives leading to great outcomes in that. city this year.

So, what really is happening here? The opportunities for spreading good work are getting created everywhere and there are many causes we can attribute this to. First and foremost is the confidence in strong political leadership that is emerging in all our minds which will provide the space and the freedom to build the inclusive India that is there in all our aspirations. GST, a better enforced tax regime and the accelerating growth of the economy will all provide the “feel good” factor that loosens the purse strings of the rich members of the corporate community and enables more money to flow through to the masses. The social consciousness that campaigns like NDTV’s Behtar India and many others are bringing to all segment of society, particularly young students in our schools and colleges will also ensure that the youth of the country is willing to step out and do good and also raise their voices in support of good movements. And this spirit of collective endeavor can quickly spread and pervade all corners of our vast country.

I still recall my early school days in the dusty villages of Tatisilwai and Namkum in Bihar (now Jharkhand) where my father, Late Shri Ganapati Natarajan ran a company called Waxpol Industries and spent most of his spare time running a “Seva Kendra” for the underprivileged. My sister and I had the privilege of participating in this initiative throughout our school years and this instilled in us the natural aspiration to do what we could to serve the people and bring every citizen to an active participation level in the village and state. In later years, this encouraged me to start our family foundation the Natarajan Education Society to serve the same objective. Today, with NASSCOM Foundation, Social Venture Partners, Pune City Connect and NES, my social cup of joy is overflowing. Thereby stems the belief that every citizen of the country can and should have the opportunity to participate and make this country the best place for all its citizens.

Photo credits : Joe.