Top 10 Most Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs of India
What crosses your mind when you see a poor child in tattered clothes sleeping on the footpath? Perhaps a moment of compassion or perhaps a thought that suggests that this is not “my problem”. Almost all of us have deadened our hearts and our minds to the poor, the hungry, the hopeless and the destitute. For long, we have been demarcating our worlds with unambiguous boundaries which isolate us from the harsh realities of the world and give us courage to lead our lives within a false picture where the world seems to be a neat place. We fail to see the entire world as one. We fail to connect with humanity externally as well as internally. Because that problem is really not ‘ours’! However, there exist some extraordinarily passionate individuals who believe that the principles of management can and must be used to achieve a greater common good. Their beliefs and commitment say one thing loud and clear- “Change starts with one person.” They did it, it is your turn!
10. Madhu Pandit Dasa
Madhu Pandit Dasa is the President of ISCKON Bangalore and a trustee of the Akshaya Patra Foundation- the world’s largest mid day meal program, feeding more than a million school children. Every day! His love for science and his unparalleled intellect fetched him a seat in IIT Bombay, one of the most coveted engineering institutes in India. The pursuit of physics acquired a philosophical dimension when Madhu spent hours on end in the IIT Library trying to discover the original cause of everything, the “cause behind the cause.” Amid this existential frustration, he came close to suicide before discovering Krishna and embraced the spiritual path. Madhu then found his rhythm and since then there was no looking back. Akshaya Patra has not just changed the lives of a million children but also the character of the temple. It has given ISCKON Bangalore an identity, a heart which contains smiles of millions of children altogether.
9. Bhushan Punani
When I see a blind person, my eyes refuse to look away as I can see people around me, young and old, living everyday as if it were the darkest night with a smile on their faces, with a sense of purpose, with an aim to bring dignity to their lives, with an aim to contribute to the nation’s glory in their best of their abilities, with an aim to surpass the disability that they are born with. Bhushan Punani, a graduate of IIM Ahmedabad made the unconventional choice of joining Blind Person’s Association to learn for himself whether management principles can be applied to the development sector. He has created a wealth of knowledge, of network and of empowerment today touching hearts of thousands. Satisfied with a salary less than what an IIM fresh graduate gets every year Bhushan believes that he has found everything that money cannot buy. Love and gratitude, a sense of true accomplishment and sound sleep at night; things which those with fat bonuses are still seeking!
8. Harish Hande
Harish Hande is the founder of Selco, a company which makes solar lighting suitable and affordable for villagers. Selco has installed 120,000 systems in Karnataka and plans to go national in the near future. Long ago as a PhD student, he stepped out of the laboratory to take on the energy problems of the real world. Not knowing where to start, Harish first decided to know the minutest details of solar business instead of beginning with a fancy business plan and designing a system based on excel sheet economics. He donned the hat of a technician first, an innovator next and a social entrepreneur later.
7. Sumita Ghose
Sumita Ghose attributes Rangasutra’s success today to the social capital she built from years spent in Rajasthan. Rangasutra is a for-profit venture which sources craft and textiles from villages and retails through Fabindia. She has been weaving lives together with the help of her market oriented social business that poignantly sweeps into the lives of the rural poor who are extremely talented and hardworking. She describes what she gets from the people as ‘priceless’. Rangasutra has broken the NGO mold and has charted a new language for the social sector in India.
6. Anand Kumar
“Lack of circumstances and resources are not barriers. Passion, commitment and drive matters”, says Anand Kumar who is a mathematics teacher and runs coaching classes in Patna. His passion for his work and his drive to do something for the needy made him kick start an experiment, now recognised by the name “Super 30”. He took in a batch of 30 poor but talented students and decided to train them free of cost to crack the JEE. A whole new class of aspirants and an equally inspiring teacher who was hungry to unleash that force in a willing student made super 30 phenomenally successful. The program still continues opening the doors of the hallowed IIT to students who are gutsy enough to dream big without fear.
5. Trilochan Sastry
An IIT-IIM graduate, Trilochan Sastry moved mountains with his simple, yet courageous act of filing a PIL, which later culminated into a landmark judgment asking politicians to declare their assets and criminal records. Because of his efforts, we have the Association for Democratic Reform (ADR) keeping a close watch on the elections every five years. Politicians are gradually becoming more accountable to the public and the public is gradually realizing the value of the correct usage of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
4. Dhruv Lakra
Most of us are socially inclined but have strong perceptions like the sector does not pay well, it’s not professional, and it’s for people who do not want to make it big in life. For these kinds of people, Dhruv Lakra is an inspiration, an embodiment of the dream that they nurture but prefer to keep it till there because of lack of resources and profit. “Find out what your true calling is, then go follow that path”, says Lakra the owner of Mirakle Couriers- a robust business competing with the best. You might be wondering what the miracle is? Mirakle is a company which exclusively employs the deaf. The light in the eyes of the employees and the unparalleled growth of the company in a short span of two years, says it all.
3. Saloni Malhotra
Saloni Malhotra, a young engineering graduate from IIT Madras formed India’s first rural BPO in the name of ‘DesiCrew’. She countered the challenge of setting up a business, with a social objective with flying colors. Little had she imagined that her dream would take her from Delhi to the dusty roads of Tamil Nadu. However, this is the beauty of a dream it can take you anywhere. DesiCrew has brought income, empowerment and exposure to young people staying in towns and villages.
2. Arvind Kejriwal
The whole world is familiar with the Arvind Kejriwal of today, one man who has stacked all odds against the ‘system’, ‘corruption’ and the ‘corrupt’. However, not many know that he has been banging his head for years now to change the way things go about in the world’s largest democracy. As an IRS Officer, Kejriwal waged a secret war against his own department. ‘Parivartan’- the campaign pioneered the use of RTI to empower citizens and made them cognizant of the fact that a big change just requires a small step to be taken in the right direction.
1. Bindeshwar Pathak
Caste stratification is a social evil prevalent in our society in its most vicious form. We do not feel the need to address it until and unless we are directly affected by it. However, a Brahmin boy decided to lead a movement known as ‘Sulabh’ and brought a revolution in toilets and a rightful place in society for those who once cleaned them. His movement aims at restoring the human rights and dignity of untouchables and to achieve that he has already done commendable work.