The New York Times carried a Saturday profile of Ela Bhatt and the remarkable organization she founded thirty-five years ago, SEWA. Here is an excerpt:
Mrs. Bhatt’s Gandhian approach is most evident in the way she lives. Her two-bedroom bungalow is small and spare. The one bit of whimsy is a white swing that hangs from the ceiling in the center of the living room. She uses her bed as a desk chair. Her grandson has painted a child’s pastoral mural on the bedroom wall. She is known for having no indulgences.
If you have enjoyed what TC-I has done since Feb ’08, please nominate us for The Indibloggies 2008 competition. Here is how:
5. Repeat for IndiBlog of the Year (if you want).
Thank you for your support!
The ThinkChange India team is proud to introduce Shivam as one of our new part-time bloggers. A quick introduction of Shivam:
Shivam Srivastava is currently a WiMAX systems engineer at Motorola, Inc, where he designs and deploys wireless networks for rural parts of South and Central America. Shivam hopes to combine his passions of engineering and learning to achieve his long term goal of making the quality of education available in India independent from the student’s economic background. He is the co-founder of EPR India, an organization that aims to empower and educate Indian citizens about appropriate responses to emergency situations. Shivam is also actively involved in a start-up social venture to empower Indian women with IT skills and a number of other non-profit organizations. He has received a number of distinctions including being named a StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation Fellow and receiving the Clinton Stryker Distinguished Leadership Award. Shivam graduated in 2007 with a degree in Computer Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago where he was also an Ed Kaplan Enterpreurship Scholar, and plans to join a JD/MBA program in the near future.
Welcome to the team, Shivam!
Hello TC-I Community. It was exactly one year ago when the first post on ThinkChange India was published. Today, the four founding editors wanted to share with all of you what this experience has meant to us, and we encourage all of you to do the same in the comments section.
Here they are, in no particular order:
There is so much more to ThinkChange India than our posts. True, this is the bulk of what we, the editors, do, but the true spirit of what we (hope to) do resides in you, our readers. Over the course of the past year, you have inspired us to want to do more, to find avenues to catalyze community involvement and knowledge sharing, and effect meaningful change in India. You have incited provocative discussions on our comment boards, emailed us with your nascent dreams, and most importantly, given us an opportunity to serve your needs.
But this is only the beginning. We want to hear more of your voices. We want to build a thriving community of critical thinkers and doers. We want an informed readership that isn’t afraid to engage with each other, and ask difficult questions. We want to put the power to effect social change in your hands.
The next question, then, is where we go from here. The options, as my colleagues have mentioned, are vast, but the most important question of all is this – how willing are we to engage critically with each other and with India? This is the challenge we pose to you, the readers, as well as ourselves, as we forge ahead into a new, exciting year at TC-I. We are confident that we have both the capacity and the commitment to both meet and surpass this challenge, so long as we endeavour on this journey together, and continue to believe in the limitless potential of India.
What happens when you put together four very different personalities, all passionate about the idea of social entrepreneurship? Strategy, brainstorms, reading, writing, discussion, and, most of all, a lot of excitement. The past year has been exhilarating, both for social entrepreneurship and for me personally. As a team, we’ve been striving to follow the pulse of the field in India and offer updates and resources for those who want to get involved. This field is full of amazing breakthroughs: from simple, but new, business models to creative technological inventions to unlikely local entrepreneurs revolutionizing the way we approach issues.
For me, a moment of affirmation for TCI’s efforts came only a few weeks ago. We received an email from a reader who said he had been thinking about an idea for a while, randomly came across our site, and, after following the content, was now ready to move into action. He went from “thinking” to “changing.” I would love to see this multiplied across our readership: let’s share ideas, collaborate, and use each other’s knowledge, skills, and networks to leverage impact.
There is still so much more we hope to do with ThinkChange India. We have yet to build a real online community. The readers who come to this site have amazing backgrounds and are driven by fresh ideas. We aren’t the experts; YOU are. What you’ll see in the coming year is a more accessible site, new forums and discussion boards, voices from the field, and (by popular demand) a job board. Those are just a few additions we have coming – so stay tuned as we continue to think change, in more ways than one.
I can’t really believe it’s been a year. It seems like yesterday that Vinay, Shital, Prerna and I were at the basement of ThinkCoffee listening to Anand Shah speak on Social Entrepreneurship in India. I remember this slightly over-enthusiastic dude coming up to me after the event and suggesting that we should start a blog on social entrepreneurship in India. That weekend I put together a basic wordpress.com blog – making the header design on PowerPoint (with the colors of the Indian flag, slightly misplaced that is). My initial expectation is that we would do 3-4 posts a week, in total. Within two weeks, this over-enthusiastic guy I hardly knew had churned out 30+ posts – all of them superbly well written and insightful.
Two weeks later, all four of us were sitting on a corner table at Think Coffee. Prerna was seriously angry. Shital was a little less angry (I have a hunch that she was getting a kick out of this whole thing). Me and Vinay were accused of stealing the name [ThinkChange] India (from Prerna and Shital). Of course, we safely avoided further conflict (I was honestly a little scared of Prerna ) by inviting both of them to write for the blog. I can confidently say if it weren’t for that little misunderstanding TC-I would not be what it is today. If Vinay was the spark behind TC-I, then Prerna and Shital are the fuel that keeps us burning (I know this is very cliché, but this proves beyond doubt that I’m the worst writer in the team).
One year on, TC-I is still around (670 posts, 700+ comments 140,000+ page-views – you can call that ‘still around’ right?). Over the past year, we have inspired hundreds of people to think about social entrepreneurship and hooked many of them with meaningful jobs. We were the media-sponsor for the International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship held in Chennai in December, 2008. We were privileged to have two talented and wonderful writers – Aishwarya and Badhri join us in contributing for the blog.
I usually refer to us as the most-improbable team. To me, TC-I is the true story of people coming together and create(ing) something remarkable, driven simply by passion to create change in this world (and having a little fun in the process).
I will have to admit that I am cheating as I write this. Being the one who compiled our thoughts has given me the luxury of reading the other three before writing my own. The bad news is that all of the profound, insightful observations have already been made, but the good news, is that I get to fully appreciate the energy, raw passion and creativity that courses through all of our veins first.
When Santhosh, Prerna, Shital and I first started writing and thinking about social change in India, we had no clear idea of where we wanted to go, and admittedly now I do not believe we do still. However, that in itself has proven a wonderful experience, meandering through this forest of social entrepreneurship — free to write and express ourselves on whatever topics we each feel are relevant. Many ideas have populated our heads, and we hope that in writing for all of you the same has occurred in your own brains.
Like the others who have written above me, I want to state that this is only the beginning for us — us being all of us including the most important people, you the readers — and that we hope to have much more in store for you. We are nearing the launch of a new website soon that will only increase opportunities to build this vibrant socially minded community that is just yearning for a home online. We are constantly looking for new ways to expand what we offer the readers, whether through new writers, live blogging at events or providing other features over time.
So I encourage all of you to strap yourself in and enjoy Year 2, because I promise you that this time the ride will be even more exhilarating.