Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year Musings

The beginning of a new year is, technically, just a new date on the calendar – yet it is usually the time we tend to reflect, or celebrate, often both. However, given the way 2012 has ended, celebration seems to be the last thing on the mind. So let’s just stick to the reflections…

2012 was in many ways a defining year for Edulever. For a business start-up, the 1000-day mark is a significant psychological milestone to be crossed. We not just crossed this milestone, but also took confident strides towards many more such milestones. With the successful execution of two large projects – Barclays and CAF India – we consolidated our portfolio of work and strengthened our confidence for more such achievements. A notable accomplishment was the work we did – and are continuing to do – for Tech Mahindra Foundation. The VT Resource Center is not just a huge feather in our cap, but one that can make a meaningful contribution to the entire VT sector. The fact that TMF has also entrusted us with a project in Education is a strong affirmation of the quality of our work.

But if we were to pick out our Achievement of the year, it has to be the launch of our employability project in Gurgaon – the Agrasar-Tech Mahindra SMART center. When the year had begun, Agrasar had just taken a few baby steps in Saharanpur, though we knew we were off to a good start there. Thanks to the dedication shown by the ACE team in Saharanpur, we have managed to create a name for ourselves in the small town. And now that we are off to a flying start in Gurgaon as well, I’m confident that we will be able to walk the talk. The fact that Agrasar – in less than two years of its existence – has the backing of three major corporate houses (Tatas, ITC, Mahindra & Mahindra) is a huge achievement. However, this also raises the responsibility on our young shoulders.

Now that we have a direct outreach in the community through Agrasar, we can leverage this outreach for trying out ideas and outputs (such as draft lesson plans).

The other imperative for all of us – especially those who’ve now been around for a while – is to become more efficient in managing our work. This implies being able to accomplish a task in lesser time than what we took earlier, for which we have to leverage the work done in any of our earlier projects. To restate a cliché, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. But yes, the wheel can always be fine-tuned to turn more smoothly and swiftly!

Though Edulever and Agrasar are siblings, there will come a point in the future where they are both operating completely distinct from each other. However, this is still a few years away. In the short run, I see a lot of overlap in their work, which implies that all of us have to be prepared to wear twin hats as per the requirements of the work on hand.

And finally, the events that have unfolded – first in Delhi and then across the nation – have brought to the fore some significant questions for civil society organizations such as ourselves. To me, two things are clear from the widespread protests we have seen as well as from what I’ve gleaned from the rants in the social media: one, the urge for change on “our side” of the society is real enough – this was no flash-in-the-pan that we saw on the streets of Delhi and elsewhere. At least some of this urge should translate into a more active involvement in social causes in the times to come. Here, it is up to the civil society to offer a meaningful option for the channelization of this involvement. Second, most of the noises that have followed the ghastly incident have revolved around the need for speedier justice and better enforcement of the legal system. It can be expected that the government will respond to these demands. However, there is a more long term angle to this as well – ultimately, the root cause of what has happened can somewhere be traced to the growing social and economic disconnects in the society. It is here that we as an organization can come up with a measured and meaningful response to surmount the challenges we face at a societal level. So let us get working on this response soon – we owe it to ourselves!

Here’s wishing that 2013 brings Joy, Fulfillment, Prosperity, Good Health, and Peace to all of you and for those you care!

Jan 1, 2013

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