Monday, September 29, 2008

"Catch them Young!" - develop future philanthropists

You might have heard of the catch phrase 'catch them young' that marketing gurus use especially for consumer products. How about applying the same to the charity and good values. When i was in school in late 80s, I remember that a major disaster happened in India. In those days, natural disasters in India where almost like once a decade. Our School decided to participate in helping and decided that they should engage children will social phenomena and activities. Those days Re. 1 and so was a big amount. Everyone in school was given these pre-printed receipts by school of Rs. 1, 2, 5, 10 and in school assembly students were asked to go around their neighbourhood and raise funds using these. There was also an exciting part put in it saying that for each class, top 3 fund raisers will be recognised. I can see how this exercise benefited me. To name a few things:
- engaged me with society early on
- taught me the principles of generosity and giving
- helped me open up and be able to talk to complete strangers (people don't bite if you say hello to them)
- there is competition in everything
- hard work and sincerity
- Trust begins by myself putting trust in others, first (school trusted us that we will not pocket the money and that unconsciously forced us not to steal)
- even small amounts help those in dire need
- marketing and sales
- life has things beyond education, games, sports and co-curricular activities
- importance of giving and encouraging others to give
- charity begins at home (I remember selling 1st of my tickets to my parents and next few ones to my next door neighbours who actually family since we shared food on daily basis and practically lived in each others' homes)

With so many natural and man-made disasters happening in India every year now, one can very well use this idea. If this concept is introduced in schools across India, we can help develop future philanthropists. Catch them Young!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why does Govt give sops to industries that do not matter?

Everyone has heard about the software boom, BPO boom and Outsourcing boom and how it is helping India. The software companies, BPO, KPO, LPO, Outsourcing advocates, Nasscom Foundation, CII shout from the rooftops that we should continue income tax benefits for this industry as it is good for India's poor. The same CII and FICCI said the same slogans for Exporters in last decade trying to fool us all and continue the income tax benefits to few privileged Exporters saying that export is what is helping India alleviate poverty. Good thing is govt did not listen and poor people won and now exporters have to pay taxes. Its time Govt does not listen to these lobbyists who this time are advocating for software and outsourcing companies. All these companies need to be treated the same way as the rest and no incentives are required for them. Look at some of the facts below:

- For Mar 2007, Software and Outsourcing companies put together exported $32 billion worth of services while the manufacturing and agriculture sector together exported $160 billion worth of goods
- Today, IT (Information technology) and ITES (Information technology enabled services) companies together employ a total of 25,00,000 persons all across India while just the security guard industry in India employees 63,00,000 persons. By 2010, entire IT & ITES industry will employ 29,50,000 persons.
- Entire ITES industry employs, 5,00,000 persons while Reliance Retail alone will employ 5,00,000 persons in next 2 years

India needs to create 60,00,000 jobs a year to be able to keep unemployment below 10%. After 25 year of software and outourcing industry growth, they have only employed 15,00,000, a miniscule 60,000 new jobs every year while we need 100 times more jobs than that to employ our growing adult population.

Software and outsourcing industry is creating jobs for middle and higher middle class while we actually need lots of new jobs for lower middle class and poor people. Security guard industry, retail industry, petrol pumps, food processing, restaurant are the industries which are creating jobs for these people and also in quantities that we need. Should govt not be giving incentives to these industries?

Instead of blocking foreign investors to come into retail sector, if we allow them, we can create millions of new jobs for really poor people. Imagine Walmart, Tesco, Metro if are allowed to setup stores in India, they will employ at least 1,00,00,000 in less than 3 years in their stores and on the manufacturing floors of their suppliers.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Have Govts & Civil Society really failed at reducing poverty in India?

We keep blaming Govt after Govt, NGO after NGO about not alleviating poverty. Can poverty be really eliminated? Has any country achieved this utopia, even our favourite comparison - USA? If eliminating poverty is an ideal which we should all aim for but we all know is not practical, than reduction of poverty year-on-year is something we should aim for and evaluate our Govt and Civil Society on this parameter - reduction of poverty, rather than poverty alleviation.

A simple direct comparison between INDIA and USA on poverty shows us that after all, we haven't done so badly. We are only 9.61% behind USA in terms of poverty. They have had 233 years to work on it as against 61 years we have had since Independence. A lot remains to be done. We definitely need to bring down poverty to single digit percentage and looks like we should be able to achieve this by 2025, if not 2015. So we should take a moment and pat our Govts and Civil Society for their contribution in making this happen. It is really critical to take real stock of the situation and then move forward.

Comparison criteria INDIA USA
Years since Independence 61 233
Total population 1,129,866,154 301,139,947
Poverty line INR 1,500 $ 5,250
%age poor 22.00% 12.39%
Poor population 248,570,554 37,300,000