Random thoughts from Bapu’s Sabarmati…

As a child, Gandhiji was ‘Bapu’, ‘Father of Nation’, leader of India’s freedom struggle, and the Mahatma who gave us ‘the path of non-violence’, apart from his images on postal stamps to currency notes. It was during my B-school days, I got an opportunity to study Gandhi’s life from a leadership perspective. Thanks to that assignment, I read his autobiography/books by others/articles/quotes by others. Louis Fischer’s book was a favourite then.

“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”

– Albert Einstein

It came as a pleasant surprise when one of my new friends, a participant at our workshops, gifted me Bapu’s autobiography, in January, 2016. I was looking forward to my trip to Ahmedabad, to spend five days on the banks of Sabarmati..

Gandhiji’s humble abode in Sabarmati Ashram, ‘Hriday Kunj’. It was pure bliss to be at the Asram.. To see the photographs, a testimony to his life. How he connected with & inspired millions to fight for their freedom. His life was his message. His teachings are more relevant now.


GAP (global action on poverty) is a unique initiative. What I like about it is that it is a ‘global’ initiative. For poverty is a global problem… Wy should we settle for anything lesser? The bias for action is another key element. What I like more is we have not tried to define ‘poverty’. It is what we feel about poverty. Poverty is not just financial! (‘The world has enough for its needs, not greed’ – Gandhiji)

 – Loved the tag, which had no plastic. The bag was of jute. A best practice, worth emulating..We got to de-plastify our lives!

Got a chance to hear some veterans in this space, who have dedicated their lives for sake of others, the most needy. Also, got to interact with young social entrepreneurs (Change Makers), who are not going after personal career for themselves, but dream of making a difference….

Author of “i, the citizen: unraveling the power of citizen engagement” R. Balasubramaniam, made a case for engaging with the state.


The State is the prime mover of development. The State may be part of the problem. But got to be part of the solution too, in the Indian context. Even if you want to remove state, who will you replace it with?

If you do good in isolation, it is not good enough. NGOs need to collaborate, big time! And as in all collaborations, ‘start with the trust’.
Robert Chambers work on poverty is worth exploring…

Heard some beautiful stories… when one volunteer from ‘opposite’ community said, ‘it was his right to care for others’! #Authentic Forgiveness

Conscious Capitalism:

One of the mentors gave us a new perspective on capitalism, which is increasingly less ‘conscious’, these days!
I resonated a lot when he said, ‘we got to free capitalism from joint stock companies (JSC)’. Sadly JSCs have become synonymous with crony-capitalism, globally.
He suggested a solution, Cooperatives! ‘30% of Germany with cooperatives, Rabo bank, Credit Agricole and hold your breath, over 6 Mn of 7 Mn part of a cooperative in Quebec’.
How did we miss this?! For example, our cooperative banks are examples of everything that they should not be… !
RBI Guv has a powerful book to his credit, ‘Saving Capitalism from Capitalists’! One more book added to my wish-list !
Trust is key
There are no mere ‘monoliths’. For ‘there are people within those monoliths too’. Great reminder!
Partnership is key. There are 6 R’s to any partnership: Resources, Roles, Responsibilities, Rewards, Risks, etc.

True Development is

– constant expansion of human and social capital

– Also, intellectual, emotional and spiritual capital

One interesting question that came up was what will a change maker tell his/her in-laws as to what they do ?!

– There were several interesting presentation on System Thinking, gap Learn, gap Fund. And, ‘The Inner Journey’ were the highlight of the workshop.

– We don’t subsidise the poor…. the poor subsidizes us!

– The Poor are not a market (segment). But make them creators… to create assets.

‘Both Ram & Ravan are within me… not outside’ was a powerful reminder.

More books to read:

1. Portfolio of the Poor – Stuart Rutherford

2. Poor economics – Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo

3. Pedagogy of the oppressed – Paul Fredd

4. Putting the Last First – Robert Chambers

5. Small is Beautiful – E Schumacher

I have one e-book ‘Circle of Life For Business‘ which may also be a good further read for you!

Check out http://globalactiononpoverty.org/ for more on this..

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