Maintaining healthy hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of diseases by illness-causing germs. A simple act of handwashing with soap can significantly reduce the instances of children catching gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. Despite this, only 35.8% of households practice handwashing with soap before meals, while 60% rely solely on water in India. These...
In a mission to create active citizens and empower them to participate in government programs and access their welfare rights, Indus Action is making a significant impact nationwide. The organization has been collaborating with state governments to simplify access to government benefits, with a primary focus on education, livelihood, and maternity benefits.
The outcomes of Indus Action's efforts to empower active citizens within communities are tangible and transformative. One such achievement is ensuring free education for children from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Over the past decade, Indus Action has worked with various state governments to implement the Right to Education (RTE) 12(1)(c) policy, enabling 488,223 children across the country to secure admissions to private schools. This milestone has provided social mobility opportunities for these vulnerable children, opening doors to a brighter future.
Another area of impact is the improvement of livelihood sustainability and healthcare benefits. Indus Action has collaborated with the governments of Delhi and Chhattisgarh to streamline access to welfare schemes for construction workers under the Building and Other Construction Workers Act (BoCW). Through its technical expertise and relentless advocacy, It has facilitated 50,850 construction workers in gaining access to various welfare schemes, including insurance coverage, interest-free loans, and scholarships for their children.
Additionally, their support in implementing the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) has benefited approximately 172,446 pregnant women across the country, providing them with essential health and nutritional benefits. By equipping citizens with knowledge about government schemes and simplifying the enrollment process through digital intermediaries, Indus Action has played a crucial role in improving healthcare and livelihood sustainability for countless individuals.
Capacity Building Within Local Communities
The organisation's impact extends beyond direct interventions. Through their Samaaj 3.5% program, they are actively building capacity and advocacy skills within local communities. They have identified and equipped over 30 community champions from diverse backgrounds across the country, empowering them to engage with the government and advocate for their rights effectively.
When asked about the potential impact of replicating this process across India, Indus Action highlights their ongoing testing of the PoWER (Portfolio of Welfare Entitlement & Rights) hypothesis. This initiative aims to help vulnerable families secure a social protection net through a portfolio of welfare entitlements amounting to at least ₹ 12,000 per annum. India already has an extensive array of anti-poverty schemes, and unlocking these benefits could significantly improve people's lives. Indus Action bridges the accessibility gap through technological intermediaries, ensuring sustainable access to welfare rights for vulnerable citizens. Accelerating their efforts would multiply the benefits for targeted individuals across the nation.
Further, the co-founder & CEO of Indus Action, Tarun Cherukuri, told The Logical Indian, "The process of empowering citizens with knowledge about schemes and facilitating access depends on the program and the priority given by state governments. For example, reaching the "Maturity" stage of the RTE 12(1)(c) implementation, where the total number of applications filed exceeds the available seats, typically takes a minimum of five years for a state. However, simplifying the registration process and establishing an effective grievance mechanism could expedite the number of beneficiaries availing of the schemes."
In Delhi, Indus Action has already made significant progress by working with the BoCW board, resulting in 26,143 beneficiaries gaining access to welfare entitlements in just two years. As per the founder of Indus Action, the collaboration between citizens, civic communities, like-minded NGOs, and government bodies is crucial for their work to be implemented for welfare.
Facilitating Desired Changes Within System
Indus Action emphasizes the importance of working at various levels within the ecosystem to drive systemic change. They have encountered challenges stemming from inadequate technology utilization, lack of transparency in the grievance redressal workflow, and the need to stimulate demand and enhance capacity to effectively address that demand. By leveraging these four levers, Indus Action aims to facilitate the assimilation of desired changes within the system.
Looking ahead to the next ten years, Indus Action envisions consolidating India's 500+ low-impact welfare schemes into 5-10 high-impact and accessible schemes under the Portfolio of Welfare & Entitlement Rights (PoWER). Their goal is to extend welfare benefits to 200,000 families, bringing positive transformation to countless lives.
"We are working in a very complex eco-system that changes based on the context we are serving, but we definitely can claim about a couple of things that we have identified could be key levers to secure last-mile delivery; technology, demand from the ground, transparent grievance redressal system and finally building the capacity of different stakeholders of the system. Our work in RTE 12(1)(c) has multiple successful examples across the geographies", the co-founder & CEO Tarun Cherukuri, shared in a conversation with The Logical Indian.
When asked about the biggest problems citizens face in accessing government schemes, Indus Action highlights several key issues. Lack of awareness about eligible programs, cumbersome registration processes, difficulty in obtaining necessary documents for eligibility verification, redundancy in document requirements across multiple programs, and inefficient grievance redressal mechanisms emerge as major hurdles. Indus Action recognizes the need to address these challenges to ensure that citizens can access their entitled benefits seamlessly.
Indus Action acknowledges the complexity of the ecosystem they operate in and the context-dependent nature of their work. However, they have identified technology, grassroots demand, transparent grievance redressal systems, and capacity building among stakeholders as crucial levers for securing last-mile delivery. Their successful examples in implementing the RTE 12(1)(c) policy across various regions showcase the effectiveness of their approach.
Their efforts are not only transforming the lives of individuals but also shaping a future where government schemes are accessible to all. By empowering citizens, streamlining processes, and building collaborations, Indus Action is revolutionizing welfare access in India and paving the way for a more inclusive society.
Raj, an optimistic 24-year-old from Kolkata, has weathered the trials of Retinitis Pigmentosa, a relentless disease, causing gradual vision loss, since he was 5 years old. Despite numerous consultations with doctors throughout India, the heartbreaking verdict was always the same - no cure! Today, he retains just 5-10% of his vision, enough to perceive light and shapes, a small mercy which Raj regards with pure gratitude. A conversation with Raj will quickly reveal that he is the type of person who always sees the glass as half- full.
Education for Raj began in a reputed school in Kolkata, but his world was upended when the school discovered his condition. The administration threatened to complicate matters for his older brother if Raj wasn't withdrawn. With heavy hearts, his parents complied, beginning a hunt for an accepting school. They explored blind schools in Delhi and Bangalore, but the subpar conditions that prevailed during that time discouraged them. The landscape of special schools has since improved, Raj acknowledged. By chance, they stumbled upon a mainstream school run by a principal with a disability. The acceptance and support Raj received there, from teachers and students alike, etched a lasting impression of joy and gratitude in his heart.
The school's decision to deny him a writer for his 10th standard exams, however, posed a new challenge. An unfair offer to have another student take his exams was outrightly rejected by Raj and his parents, opting for integrity over ease. To everyone's surprise and initial disbelief, Raj excelled, impressing his teachers, and making them look at him in a different light. This determination culminated in him topping his school in the 12th grade.
Parallel to academics, Raj's love for music was kindled at age nine. Post-school, this passion matured into a serious career aspiration. His pursuit was initially thwarted by a musician friend's assertion that his blindness would hinder his ability to work as a music programmer.
Undeterred, Raj sought help from an NGO recommended by a hospital in Hyderabad, where he learned to operate a computer and a smartphone equipped with a talk-back feature. This technical literacy was a significant achievement for Raj and opened up a whole new world for his career to take flight.
Upon college graduation, during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Raj embarked on sharing his musical talent on YouTube, using just his father's iPhone. His spirits were lifted upon hearing about a blind music programmer flourishing in the Tollywood industry, prompting him to question, "if he can, why can't I?" Research revealed numerous blind individuals thriving in similar roles, encouraging Raj further.
Nurturing his dream of owning a music studio, he sought guidance from Pradeep, another Kolkata-based musician. Within six months, he established a recording studio, sharing his songs on YouTube. His efforts caught the attention of Atypical Advantage, a platform that granted him various shows and opportunities. Today, Raj works as the official grand pianist at a five-star hotel, playing the oldest grand piano in Asia, a source of immense pride.
Raj's life is a testament to resilience. His gratitude for the support he received from friends, family, and teachers is profound, acknowledging their role as his luxury. His ambition soars as he dreams of gaining fame as a brand, like his idol, Adele.
Raj embodies the idea that disability does not define a person's ability or spirit. Throughout the conversation, Raj barely speaks of his disability but only about the things he wishes to achieve in life. I suppose he is one such individual, who has somehow blurred the lines between what society terms as normal and disabled!
Working towards betterment of communities in remote villages is one of the many ways through which grass root impact can be made. Although, there are very few organizations and foundations that align with this vision, and a lot still needs to be done in the country in this direction.
Aahwahan foundation is one of such not-for-profit foundation working relentlessly towards this and changing the face of remote Indian villages. Bengaluru-based Aahwahan Foundation works Pan-India towards the upliftment of villages and focuses on development across key areas such as education, healthcare, financial knowledge, etc.
The key development areas on which it works includes empowering local village women through SHGs, developing medical and educational infrastructure, as well environment and community development.
So far, the foundation has adopted 100+ villages in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha. Further, it aims to adopt 5 new villages every year.
With regards to women empowerment, they are helping rural women get skill-based training and entrepreneurial training to take to rural crafts or help them hone their special skill by helping them with necessary infrastructure, enabling them with digital knowledge via 'Digital Sakhi' programme to make them financially independent.
In the field of education, the organisation is adopting government schools, colleges and Anganwadi and developing its necessary infrastructure, which includes classroom construction, laboratories, sanitation and drinking water facility. These efforts have seen remarkable results in the dropout rates of students reducing marginally.
Empowering Marginalised Communities
In a conversation with The Logical Indian, Braja Kishore Pradhan, founder, Aahwahan Foundation, said, “The organization is committed to bringing about a paradigm shift to the NGO space through their selfless and sustained service to restore the socially backward community’s dignity. At Aahwahan Foundation, we are increasingly committed to delivering real, sustainable solutions to the requirements of marginalized communities, transitioning from a traditional philanthropy model to one of the genuine partnerships in which we use the talents and resources acquired through collaboration to optimize our impact. One of the ways we use the skills is through good governance.”
The foundation is associated with more than 300 corporations throughout the country that believe in its causes and support its different programmes. It is also collaborating with various charity organisations aiming towards the betterment of society.
Pradhan further told The Logical Indian, “Aahwahan Foundation believes for our country to grow development at the grassroots is a must. It is every individual’s right to get equal opportunity to live a good life.The foundation is working on five domains - Education, Health, women empowerment, Environment and Community Development. Among all its factors, lakhs of people are getting benefitted through its various initiatives and ongoing programmes targeted for their development."
Talking about his journey, Pradhan, mentioned I that it wasn’t easy, but the foundation was able to positively influence the lives of people over a period.
The foundation’s recent initiative, ‘Education on Wheels,’ uses the newest technologies in education to help the children get first hand experience of virtual learning. These vans are equipped with material in a way to help children choose STEM learnings, robotics and science learning for which most of them cannot afford expensive books, material and tuitions.
The idea is to help the students also prepare for necessary exams like NEET. All of this is arranged in a bus which is made to travel through rural areas in order to make education available and accessible for everyone.
Amid communal violence and hatred between different religious groups, here is a heartwarming story of a shop being run by a Hindu and a Muslim.
A woman named Debotri Ghosh shared on Twitter a photo of a quaint old shop called “Two Brothers.” The shop is located in Kolkata’s Kudghat and repairs shoes and leather bags. The photo shows two men sitting inside the shop engaged in a conversation, with many shoes being lined up on the shelves.
The tweet was posted on June 4, 2023, and has received more than 4,500 likes and 170,000 views. The netizens expressed their appreciation for Ghosh’s tweet as reported by The Indian Express.
A heartwarming story of a man who fulfilled his mother's dream by helping her quit her job is going viral on social media.
Ayush Goyal, from Punjab, who describes himself as a 9-5 accountant turned four-figure copywriter on Twitter, shared on the microblogging platform how his mother achieved her dream of quitting her job to become a full-time mother and wife. He revealed that his mother was earning $70 per month (approximately Rs 5,500).
According to Goyal, this was her dream, and he recalled how they both had cried once in the bathroom because they had no money for his college. He also shared that Twitter not only changed his life but also that of his mother. He expressed gratitude to his 764 friends and posted the tweet along with two pictures of his mother in which she is seen posing for the camera.
Goyal shared the heartwarming story on Tuesday, May 30; since then, his post has gone viral. The tweet has accumulated over 5,000 likes and more than 420,000 views.