In one of my earlier blogs, I had talked about how expecting the govt. to fix everything can cause unwanted delays. It is true that running a country like India or managing a state as big as Karnataka can be a really complicated task. It is also true that citizens around the country are now forming small-scale collectives to solve the various issues that they face on their own. These collectives along with reputed organisations like Rotary International and Lions Club etc. are solving everything from drinking water issues to poverty to more long-term problems like global warming.
This energy and human capital that is ready to ring in social change can be harnessed by our government (State as well as Central) by playing a more constructive role in facilitating such groups and organisations. In the recent past, when I had to interact with multiple stakeholders for creating a Peace Tower near the Attari border, I felt that maybe government bodies and officials should really think of playing a more constructive role in helping non-governmental organisations (NGO) and citizens.
True, that everything related to philanthropy needs to be done under a legal framework, and every government stakeholder needs to be made aware of their role in any project. But, it is also true that if government organisations play a more positive role in the process, many such philanthropic projects could become a reality in a much shorter time frame. This is particularly true for rural projects which are carried out by organisations or groups that do not necessarily have the financial or political resources to get things done quickly.
A few months ago, when we began work on the RBO Happy Schools project, initially it was tough to identify schools, get the necessary government approvals and finally start the work, which was ironically aimed at making Government schools better. But as we worked more and interacted more with the government officials, they became aware of what the objective of the project was and how big an impact it would create. As we were cruising towards completing the work on 125 schools, we started receiving inbound enquiries to start work on other schools in various rural areas. The impact was so great that government officials themselves showed interest in contributing a part of the total expenses from government funds to speed up the entire process. This has encouraged us to go beyond 125 schools and we intend to continue to renovate and build government schools for as long as we can.
Instances of government departments and officials creating roadblocks are plenty in my experience, but so are of officials going out of their way to help me and my team carry out our projects. In hindsight, I believe that mostly such issues can be avoided by creating greater awareness. From the NGO’s point of view, I think it would be worthwhile to sensitise government organisations and officials about the impact such projects can eventually create. Collaboration from both ends and streamlining of processes by government departments can surely help NGOs create change that can be scaled up with ease.