As I sat this morning wondering what today's post would be in the light of what one is going through, my mind wandered back to an old post I knew I had written some years back when I was desperately trying to pitch and defend my erstwhile and forgotten one-rupee-a-day programme. Today I find myself coming full circle as I try to make a case for our new sponsorship programme. I fished it out of the wood work! It was simply entitled:
One rupee a day and planet India revisited
one-rupee-a-day was an intuitive thought that had come to my mind way back in 1998 when project why was a tiny embryo... it seemed to be such a perfect solution.. was not India rich in mumbers.. and a rupee was something easily spared..
like all intuitive thoughts it got pushed back in the face of raised eyebrows, puzzled looks and amused smiles.. copious advise about the ways of goodBiz was proffered: donations, funding organisations, fund raising extravaganza, charity sales and much else.. and the greenhorn that iI was had no option than to take the well trodden path.. somewhat ill at ease I must admit.. to my mind this did not gel with what I had stood for and certainly not with India..
the one-rupee-day kept coming back with obsessive regularity... but I paid all the dues to the goodBiz world, and did the rounds of all that was suggested, and to be honest many options worked and pushed project why into a comfort zone bringing success, kudos, praise and even recognition..
but the goodBiz had its own hidden rules, one of them being its fleeting nature.. come on ms.B no one does this forever, you must change with times and adapt to the flavour of the day.. now that was not acceptable.. education is life long and not transitory and one does not leave people midway, one empowers them to carry on... and the solutions offered did not work..
reality hit us as we were pushed out of our comfort zone, more than once and each time the one rupee leit motiv sprung back to life. It seemed to have all the answers to problems. If education was perennial then the funding option we sought had to be one that any Indian could participate in and any Indian could steer..
So if we stand by what we set out to do: establish a model that can reach every child and be steered by its own, then all resources have to come from within. Five years of goodBizMessing had finally taught us that we needed to go all out and make the one-rupee-option a success, beating all odds..
But nothing would have prepared us for what was to ensue: a new discovery of India which no one could have imagined.
We launched a multi-pronged appeal to a wide audience: netizens, people from all walks of life through brochures, personal meetings, telephone calls.. and with the replies and reactions a new map of India came alive.
Indians living away from their mother land, be it students or professionals, reacted with overwhelming spontaneity and unadulterated love for their motherland. Individual responses and collective efforts saw the light and bore fruit at breathtaking speed.. needless to say most of them had never seen project why... There was profuse support from unknwon people across India, more so from the southern and western states... the community and weaker sections of society did come forward with suggestions and contributions..
We started feeling elated... come on India numbered one billion hearts, now finding 4000 should be easy..
But it was not so as we were to realise once again.. the cynics appeared with their unbelievable tales.. India's capital once again took the lead of this tragic Act of the play.. what amazed us the most was the fact that people who had seen project why did not find it in them to write a cheque for 360 rs.. let alone get us contributions from friends.. everything possible was said to deter us, the trophy going to an upmarket restaurant owner who felt that adding one rupee to a bill may lead him to a litigation ten years hence..
Does one give up... the answer is No.. the cynicism is so deep that it has to be set right... if the goodBiz is in such a mess then why should a child in need of help pay the price... it is for us to reinvent ourselves and wipe out misconceptions..
As I look at this new map of India, where the common denominator is its heart and ability to feel compassion for the other, I see boundaries extending way beyond its geographical entity... and if the little hearts are few within its own land then somewhere someone has gone wrong..
The one-rupee-a-day has to work... to set matters right and the last shred of doubt I had was wiped away this morning as I flipped through a magazine which had an article on the children dying of malnutrition in Maharashtra with a photograph of a baby whose ribs you could count but whose eyes still help hope..
No you do not give up on planet India..
Yes we have come full circle today as we seek 100 sponsors from the world over.