Quiz: India’s most Innovative company?

Here is the quiz:  Which of the following Indian organizations made it to the Fast Company’s list of 50 most Innovative companies in the world?

1. Infosys
2. Wipro
3. Dr. Reddys Labs
4. Aravind Eye Care System

The answer is 4. Aravind Eye Care System! Its remarkable. Aravind is the only Indian organization in the Fast Company 50 list and shares the honors with many other with others like Google, Cisco, Intel, Apple and the Obama Campaign (Yes, you heard me right!)

Below is the excerpt from Fast Company:

The network of not-for-profit hospitals and vision centers performs 300,000 eye surgeries each year — 70% for free — using broadband connections to on-call doctors in city hospitals for instant diagnosis. Camps in rural areas screen thousands of patients weekly. “We are going from village to village to provide eye care to the unreached,” says Aravind’s chairman, Dr. P. Namperumalsamy. Aravind won the 2008 Gates Award for Global Health.

Well, the folks in the Indian media need to take note. We have never seen Aravind in the list of India’s Most Innovative Companies in the past (where it rightfully belongs)

Click here to see our previous coverage on Aravind.

Update: Envirofit is taking it up a notch

Not long ago, we had written about Envirofit, a company that manufactures and sells clean burining high-efficiency cookstoves to consumers in India.

Nextbillion reports that they have already sold 10,000 stoves and are ramping up production quickly. Of course, its a drop in the ocean, but definitely a great start. Congrats!

[TC-I Call to Action]: Grassroutes Fellowship Program

Maybe it’s time to unleash the Che Guevara in you! 

The Grassroutes Fellowship Program encourages youth to embark on road-trips, interact with change-makers at the grassroots and understand first-hand the problems that plague our nation.The Program sponsors 6 teams of adventurous, passionate young people every year on such 10 day road-trips. Applications are due November 15, 2008 for the winter edition of the fellowship.

During the Program, the Fellows will have to:

  • Research and understand the on-ground reality – the problem at hand, the non-profits, the change-makers and their actions, the role of the community and the local government.
  • Play the role of social journalists and capture the stories of all the people involved in community development
  • Lend a helping hand to the change-makers during the 10 days in their own little ways.
  • On their return, Grasssroutes will help the fellows produce quality videos of their travelogues and bring to fore the amazing work being carried out by change-makers at the grassroots. Such media will be hosted on the Grassroutes portal and the fellows will work towards inspiring the larger Indian society to contribute to the work of these non-profits and similar activities in other places

Grassroutes is run by non-profit society  called Yofa (for Youth Factor) that provides a banner for people to run novel projects to engage youth into social action. Yofa and Grassroutes were founded by a team of BITS Pilani alumni in early 20’s.

To hell with the markets

It sounds like a mandatory social responsibility order on profit making public sector enterprises (PSEs) in Gujarat. Below is the brief from Times of India:

In a controversial order, the Gujarat government has asked all profit-making public sector enterprises (PSEs) in the state to contribute up to 30% of their annual profit before tax to Gujarat Socio-Economic Development Society (GSEDS), set up to support weaker sections of society.

What adds a twist to the story is that many of the companies are listed in the country’s leading stock exchanges. How would the investors react? Well, the PSEs have lost hundreds of millions in market valuation:

‘‘It’s a retrograde step from the capital market point of view. A better way to implement CSR is to ask PSEs to increase the dividend payouts so that the Gujarat government receives higher sum to donate to any society of its choice,’’ said V K Sharma, the head of Anagram Securities.

To hell with the markets? Maybe not. It’s a little bit of an irony that Gujarat is arguably one of the most market-friendly states in the country with strong captialist idealogies. In fact, Mr. Modi recently won the state elections running on a platform of economic growth and prosperity!

Rs. 1000 Crore Social Responsibility Engine

Rs. 800 to a 1000 crore, that’s how much the Tata Group, one of the oldest and largest business houses in India spends annually on Corporate Social Responsibility [Via Economic Times]

The Tata Trusts control 65.8 per cent of the shares of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Group. The combined development-related expenditure of the Trusts and the companies amount to around four per cent of the Group’s net profit, its website said.

These philanthropic trusts have created national institutions in science & technology, medical research, social studies and the performing arts.

Previous coverage on the Tata’s CSR Efforts:

  1. Discover your inner Social Entrepreneur on the Train
  2. India’s CSR Leaders: How much can they really change?
  3. A New Software that Keeps Politicians As Honest as Possible
  4. Tata – Heart of Gold or Steel?

Loans that can save Lives

Indians have a much higher pre-disposition for heart disease, and are genetically three times more vulnerable to a heart attack as compared to people living in many Western nations. While cardiovascular medicine has made great strides in the last few decades, heart surgery continues to be a costly affair for most of the poor in India.

On the other hand, the Bangalore based Narayana Hrudayalaya has been in the forefront of providing quality cardiovascular care for the poor – adopting a Aravind like model of charging the rich and subsidizing the poor. Now the hospital is experimenting with a new idea – collaborating with State Bank of India to offer loan product on a pilot basis for poor heart patients undergiong cardiac treatment [via Economic Times].

“The SBI Hrudaya Suraksha scheme is being launched as a pilot project to evaluate the concept of offering loan on easy interest terms for those below poverty line – earning less than $2 a day – who need urgent cardiac intervention,” SBI chairman and managing director OP Bhat said on the occasion.

Narayana Hrudayalaya founder Devi Shetty said the loan amount (Rs.50,000) would meet about 80 per cent of the total cost (Rs.65,000) for a heart surgery of poor cardiac patients to be identified and subsidised by the hospital. The average cost of a heart surgery at Shetty’s health cities is about Rs.100,000

Interestingly, the loan product was launched by Nobel Laureate Mohammad Yunus during his recent visit to Bangalore.

Who let the Dogs out?

The folks at LiveMint have a radical idea to address the stray dog problem in the Indian cities – Privatize them! [Via India Uncut]

The fundamental problem is that stray dogs are “public property”, which creates what economists call “negative externality”. Those who feed and pamper the dogs while benefiting from wagging tails and warm cuddles are not held responsible for the nuisance dogs inflict on other citizens.

What is the way ahead? Privatize stray dogs. The municipalities of India’s metropolises should put stray dogs on sale. Animal rights activists and dog lovers are free to buy and own the canines as pets. They shall be held legally liable for damages their pets inflict on others

Very intriguing and compelling argument. I’m just worried about enforceability of such an idea. But, I’m sure its worth a try.