ISR = Individual Social Responsibility
I first heard this acronym when I met V. Ravichandar (“Ravi”) 6 months ago. Considering how self-explanatory the term is, it’s surprising how we never hear the term. Hmm… perhaps that’s due to the fact that there aren’t many ISR practitioners in India? Which, not surprisingly, is the point of this post
Let me first tell you about Ravi’s profile because he’s an enthusiastic and prolific practitioner of individual social responsibility. An alumnus of IIM-A, Ravi has been running his own firm (Feedback Consulting) for well over 14 years. Not content with starting a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program for his 170+ employees, he has either started or is actively involved with numerous (and I don’t use that word loosely) ISR initiatives:
- Chief evangelizer for CityConnect.in, getting industry involved in issues of urban governance. Currently operational in Bangalore, Chennai and Pune, efforts are underway to take this to 30 cities under CII’s India@75 initiative.
- Involved (along with 3 others) in evangelizing the setting up of the US$ 12 billion Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JN-NURM) fund in 2005 by the Union Government for improving 63 cities in India.
- Member of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), a State government initiative between 2000-04, where he made significant pro-bono contributions on urban infrastructure, governance, and ‘quality of life enhancement’ issues. Also authored Self Assessment of Property tax, a citizen friendly initiative that increased tax revenues tenfold within a decade.
- Setup an HR Trust (along with his wife Hema) which currently funds 4 initiatives
- ExpertEase: To enable retired executives to connect with commercial/NGOs/government agencies in their areas of expertise.
- ideasforgov.org, a portal that crowd-sources actionable ideas for city governance by city managers.
- Unnati (Bangalore): Enable vocational training NGO meet their donor targets.
- VidyaPoshak.org: Fund the education of meritorious students from impoverished backgrounds.
- Advisory board member of Samhita Academy, an innovative social enterprise school – covered here.
Whew! So maybe the extent to which Ravi practices ISR can only be emulated by a very small percentage of Indians. But surely the rest of us can start somewhere? Whichever cause appeals to you… whatever contribution maximizes the impact of your unique skills… please let us take the first step. Just a few ideas for now…
- Volunteer for a few hours at a friend/acquaintance’s NGO once
- If you are a business professional with decades of experience, perhaps you could consider a 5-day teaching gig with the TREE Society (No frills MBA program for rural entrepreneurs)
- If you are passionate about participatory democracy, you might consider following the activities of PRS Legislative Services – working for informed and participatory democracy
- If you are an undergraduate or MBA student, seriously consider taking a course on social entrepreneurship. If you are lucky, your institute might offer a program like this – Acara Institute Challenge
- Take ownership of a 20 meter spot on your neighborhood street – Five amazing things about The Ugly Indian
Lest we lose sight about the gravity of India’s predicament, consider just one number – 368 million! That’s the number of seriously impoverished people (aka “Bottom of Pyramid”) in our country and, mind you, that’s a conservative number. Ravichandar, may your tribe increase!