Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Cause is the Business


Social Enterprises are mushrooming across the world.
There are several attempts to define what a Social Enterprise is and there are many interpretations.
How can we build a business that creates social value and makes a profit ethically?
Some of us have grown up believing that ‘profit’ is a dirty word. Profits from social causes is just not done for us. How can we sustain a social enterprise that does not ask for charity or donations and provides ourselves a fair income?

Social Enterprises come in many models. There are some Robin Hood kind of business models that attempt to rob the rich and pay the poor. There are some CSR kind of initiatives that also gain brand equity from their CSR activities.There are some enterprises that work on green technologies and products and gather carbon credits besides an income from their products and services. There are some great social enterprise models that enable community enterprises.

At Methodlabs India I am striving to create a reasonable business model that I can call a social enterprise.
I believe that it is better to earn a profit from working and adding social value than live off charity.
I also believe that the social value my business adds is worth much more than the income that accrues to my enterprise.
I do not want to run a donor funded non-profit organization.
I also do not want to exploit my employees and profit off their labor unfairly.
I prefer to build a trans-organization that has a collaborative, ethical and sharing culture.
To me the cause is the business.


Non Existent Superior Anti-corruption draft law


There is a draft anti-corruption bill proposed by Anna Hazare and his team of activists called the Jan Lokpal Bill.
There is a Government draft of the Lokpal Bill.
We have heard about a mysterious third alternative draft bill that people talk about as a superior alternative drafted by Ms Aruna Roy the Government supported Civil society Activist through her organization/group NCPRI.

As a citizen who is keen on Anti-corruption measures, I went around searching for this superior alternative and could only find a few pages of approach/concept notes and slide presentations.I could not find the real draft of the third superior bill.

I attempted to ask people who were saying that the NCPRI draft is better than both the Government and Jan Lokpal drafts, if they have seen the complete bill draft as proposed by NCPRI.

Nobody could give me the copy of any such draft except a bunch of approach/concept notes and presentations that news articles have reproduced faithfully.

Apparently the NCPRI has not proposed any such draft beyond what i read in the articles and concept notes.

I was avoiding comment till I see how the NCPRI proposes to bring these together as a draft for bill(s).It is only when they try to draft a bill, they will realize if their suggestions can really be implemented.

If they do have such a draft it will make sense to then react to these suggestions and I would love to see the draft and then share my comments or support such a draft.

If they do not have a draft, I urge them to try putting all their suggestions into a draft and it will not surprise me if they come out with a revised summary of suggestions than what their media friends have touted as the superior third alternative.

Without the draft bill(s) I am not able to test use cases. Only by testing use cases can we be certain if their approach will work.
Several issues are likely with their approach:
There are very few corruption cases that needs be handled by less than 2 lokpals according to the NCPRI approach.
Many grievances upon investigation can end up as a corruption case and the files have to move between lokpals causing unnecessary red tape.
How will they separate the territorial/jurisdiction issues between these 5 lopkal?
The 5th measure (they call that a lokpal too) of whistleblower protection is common to other 4 lokpals. How will it work?
If the CVC while investigating a corruption charge against a middle level bureaucrat, finds that a Central or State minister is also involved, will the case be simultaneously be judged by two or more lokpals? Or will it be transferred to a higher lokpal?
There are many such issues and the exercise of forming 5 lokpals seems pointless and complicating.
To me personally it seems an interpersonal ego issue between the civil society activists and it seems a bad idea.
Perhaps if they really work on it and come with a clear draft bill and working procedures, we can then judge these half-baked ideas better.