Are we humble enough?

I hope many of you did not miss this excellent op-ed by Rohini Nilekani on this Sunday’s edition of The Hindu. A philanthropist herself, Rohini talks about the changing face of philanthropy in India. Rohini has an interesting take on this new movement to create change:

But as I look around now, a lot of us, especially in the newer foundations, are in a big hurry to achieve social change. We want to reduce inequity and we want it now! We want measurable outcomes, we want replicability and we want scale. Some of this impatience to improve things quickly comes from the corporate ethos, where performance measurement is embedded in the  culture. Much of the new talent in the foundations and in the new citizen sector organisations comes from business.

For the answer to emerge, we will need patience, compassion and reflection. We will have to stop looking at issues in silos and constantly, and with humility look to support the elements of integration that build community; that recreate human values rather than just ‘things.’

Its a good time to point you to an earlier op-ed written by Vinay on this blog. He was highlighting the debate about the need for humility among social entrepreneurs. My guess is that there will be even more discussion on the topic in the coming years, as we start seeing bigger foundations emerge with even more money to spend. I only hope we are constantly reminded of the need for ‘patience, compassion and
reflection’.

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4 Responses

  1. Rohini’s article indeed is thought provoking ! A large part of it draws from inagural address that she delivered with utmost passion at Arghyam’s annual conference at Bangalore in June 08.

    In times when the debate about market driven initiaitves & PPPs rule the world, Rohini has rightly pointed out the role of Philanthrophy & what it can deliver. I guess this idea of giving back to the society hints to creating a positive environment which is a sort of internal motivation to do good for all ! In a sense it breaks through all barriers of caste, religion & class.

    I completely agree with her when she says

    “Philanthrophy can bear the upfront risk of new ideas and projects that neither the market nor the state can afford to invest in; it can support creativity and experimentation and allow generously for failure without rolling back; it can invest in the capacity building and strengthening of social sector players and it can deepen democracy by providing a platform for the coming together of different sectors in society”.

    We definitely need the humility & patience to bring in the desired change that is good for all sections of society.

  2. Chandan, Thanks for pulling out that additional quote. She seems to be setting a bold agenda for the world of philanthropy – especially the openness to experiment and allowing for failure. I’m also pleasantly surprised by her emphasis on good governance and strengthening the public sector – something that is usually off the radars of philanthropists in India.

  3. […] miss this Groundbreaking TV Show Posted on July 22, 2008 by Santhosh Last week, we wrote about Rohini Nilekani’s excellent op-ed in The Hindu, on the changing face of philanthropy in […]

  4. […] by Aman on August 10, 2008 Great quote from the “Think Change India” blog, go over there to see the full post. We need urgency, but in the right places by the right people. We also need to remember things take […]

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