Ground realities ! Cheating the poor.

I was in a place called Shringeri this weekend to visit a very old friend of mine. He happens to run a small printing press in this small town which is just two streets in width. He is the local reporter, a deal-maker and person who helps people file RTI. So this person took me three NGOs in here are the true stories.

  1. I travelled to another town to meet a person from a cooperative society that makes products collected from the forest, like honey,dalchini,soap nut and others. This was a very well run society, it was more like a business, totally self sustainable. The manager here was very professional.They had very clean honey processing unit. (Honey tasted great and right now I have a bottle in my room and almost finished it now :),more on this latter....). They had a transport department. They asked me to help them with a website and I'm working on it now.
  2. After this I we went to meet a lady who runs an NGO. They train poor women for self employment and so on..... She is a very popular "Social worker" in the town. Seemed perfect, until we started talking in detail about the financials of the trust. All this woman wanted was money ! Get some grants, put them in her pocket and buy a car (She was jealous of another NGO chief who had bought a car from the grants she got from some organization in Delhi). Well so this is very common thing in Indian NGOs isn't it? OK read my next story.....
  3. In one of my previous post, I told you about the rural market survey and what exactly the people in these region need. Myself and Ashwin were still confused about how so many people would talk about selling expensive things to the rural poor and here is the secret. First promote yourself as a social entrepreneur, find some investment, get praised for doing something out of the box to help the poor. Then go to one of these regions, find a greedy NGO and some cooperative bank that provides loan at a very high interest rate (Yes poorer you are higher the interest rates). Find a family in need of money,tell them they would get a loan if they buy this product and the Greedy NGO gets some commission from the poor and the Social entrepreneur sold the product, the bank manager gets a bribe. The poor family would get the loan to buy this product and some extra money for a business. The only reason they would buy this product is because of the extra loan they get....... Phew ! I thought corporate managers were evil.
For people here these things are "fine" , because they have faced worst things in the past. Before the naxals came in, corruption was unstoppable. Naxal seem to bring a fearfactor among the corrupt , they somehow are responsible for stopping the illegal mining, they seemed to have helped the tribes understand the democracy. Now I'm confused more than ever, whom do we trust????


Ashwin said...

'Trust'. Sure that makes my head spin too.