How dare you call us intolerant?

November 29, 2015 8 comments

Everyone around us today are making us believe that we are intolerant while the truth indicates otherwise.  In reality, we are a very tolerant nation.  How else would one be able to explain the fact that we have been tolerating mediocrity in public life for so long?  Haven’t we tolerated corruption and stinking scams the last many decades?  What about our tolerance of the media’s obsession with a celebrity murder or the fact that we have been tolerating being home to 1/3rd the world’s poor?

How can anyone call us intolerant when we tolerate the road rules being broken with impunity or the collapse of our civic agencies?  Aren’t we tolerating our women being disrespected and sometimes publicly disrobed even?  What about the fact that we tolerate the increasing number of rapes in our country?

We not only have been tolerating the increasing banality of public life but also the fact that our Government has been gifting away an average of Rs 400,000 crores each year for the last ten years to India’s rich and the mighty. And people call us intolerant while we have been tolerating the dis-respect that our honorable soldiers have been shown the last many years, all for asking their rightful due.

How can anyone label us intolerant when we have been silently tolerating the budget cuts in the social sector?  Are we not tolerating the fact that millions of our children continue to be mal-nourished and many more millions of our country men are rotting in our jails as under trials?  How dare people call us intolerant when we have tolerated the elite capture of our Nation’s public policies and the increasing number of crony capitalists?  Are we not tolerating the last mile delivery problems of our public services or the fact that our higher education is in a mess or that the youth of today are getting increasingly restless about their future?  Have we not tolerated the growing social and economic inequalities despite being told that the good effects of globalization, privatization and de-regulation will trickle down?

Our tolerance stands vindicated by the fact that we have hardly raised a whisper to the promised black money not being brought back; the fact that even today 65% of Indians in rural areas do not have access to a toilet and nearly 50% of India still struggle to access clean drinking water.  Are we also not tolerating our pseudo-intellectuals and writers returning their awards with a new found sense of intolerance while they hardly noticed how tolerant we have been to all these issues over so many years? How can we be intolerant when we seem to tolerate celebrating the past deeds of an intolerant King while we are continuing to tolerate the fact that we have stopped worrying about the future of India and its countrymen?

I could go on and on for I know that you readers will tolerate me and my writing too…for after all we are a very tolerant nation.  Right now, we will only have to tolerate those who continue to call us ‘intolerant’.

– Balu

Categories: General, Musings

Partnerships and how they can change the world

November 8, 2015 2 comments

Human progress and development affects people from all walks of life and success in any field now demands a multidimensional and comprehensive perspective.  Governments, Universities and other Social Institutions are now increasingly faced with preparing Leaders to operate in the social sector.  As they acquire competencies and knowledge about different subjects, many find themselves inadequately prepared for taking on leadership positions in this sector.  They are challenged by the complexity and diversity that a rapidly changing world presents them with.

Today’s problems such as education, health, global warming, health care, human rights  & Gender issues are complex and demand newer skills in tackling them.  No single Institution, be it a governmental one, a Corporation or a non-profit one can solve these in isolation.  A new kind of leadership, a more collaborative and self-aware model is needed.   More than ever, leaders must integrate knowledge and talent from individuals, units, and organizations in the business, non-profit and government sectors to advance the common good.  This can happen only when young students have a learning experience that exposes them to both the challenges and the possible interventions that can solve them.  Such experiences may not emerge only from the academic environments that universities provide.  It needs a more hands one approach and this can happen when Universities and grass root organizations partner together.  More about how successful partnerships can emerge can be heard from me on this talk based on the successful partnership of SVYM with the ILR School of Cornell University, USA.


Categories: General, Musings

Partnering for Impact – Role of Civil Society and Business in Social Impact

November 4, 2015 Comments off

‘’ has brought out a series titled ‘Partnering for Impact: Role of Civil Society and Business in Social Impact’.  Dr Vivek Mansingh, former VP of CISCO India and myself had participated in the interview facilitated by Mr Krishna of Sattva. Find the same below


Categories: General, Musings

My talk on ‘A Development Vision for India’ at IIT, Roorkee

October 18, 2015 1 comment

This is the video recording of my talk ‘A Development Vision for India’ given as part of the Institute Lecture Series at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee on 1st October 2015. I forcefully argue how focusing on building human and social capital is more important than mere economic growth for the India of today and the future. This talk was well-attended and well-received by the students, giving us all hope that the future of our country is safe in the hands of well-meaning youth who are inspired to make this Nation great. My book i, the citizen was released at the end of the talk by Dr Pradipta Bannerjee, the Director of the Institute. This event was organized by Vision India Foundation, the co-publisher of the book.


Categories: General, Musings

An article that appeared in City Today, Mysuru

October 4, 2015 3 comments
Categories: Articles in Press

Article on ‘i, the citizen’ on the GPSA blogsite of the World Bank

October 2, 2015 Comments off

This is the article that appeared on the blog of the Global Partnership for Social Accountability Initiative of World Bank about my book ‘i, the citizen’.

– Balu

Categories: General

The book launch at Bengaluru and New Delhi

October 1, 2015 1 comment

The book launch of ‘i, the citizen’ was indeed memorable for more reasons than one. It was organized with clinical efficiency by the GRAAM team and every small detail was thoughtfully planned and executed. The venue of the event could not be more appropriate and was held at Gandhi Bhavan at Bengaluru. This not only reflected the tenor of the book but was a timely message to all of us of the relevance and significance of Gandhian thought and values. Chandrika was at her charming best as the MC of the event. The guests on the stage were not only distinguished people but represented a key aspect of citizen engagement in their own ways.  Justice M N Venkatachalliah, the former Chief Justice of India (who has also written the foreword to this book) was at his witty best.  He has done more to preserving the spirit of the Indian constitution than anyone else i know.  Apart from being my mentor and guide, he is one of the most humane people who has always put the citizens first in everything that he does. Mohandas Pai, one of the co-founders of the software giant, Infosys is now known for his social activism and television commentaries apart from his corporate and VC lives. He espoused the cause of citizen activism and engaging with the state passionately and with clarity. Ramakrishna Upadhyaya, who was formerly a senior editor at Deccan Herald, ended his insights on the book with strong reasons on why it should not only be read but on the need to practice the message that the book brought out.  S V Ranganath, the former chief secretary of the Govt of Karnataka and a accomplished bureaucrat spelt out how the book brought out a different paradigm of development and was filled with possible solutions to the many complex problems that one faces today. I shared on why and how i wrote the book and how I was hoping that this would lead to more discourse and dialogue on citizencentric development.  The icing on the cake was the fact that many of the indigenous people who were written about in the book attended the event and Mudalimadiah, the chieftain written about as an exemplar in the book was felicitated on the occasion. What was remarkable was the fact that hall was overflowing and everyone who came did so to share in the joy and happiness that was around. Most people who sent me their feedback about the event mentioned the fact that it was one of the most fulfilling evenings that they had spent in a long time. Several remarked that the speeches were outstanding and that the event truly reflected the spirit of citizen engagement that the book espouses.

The book release

A view of the audience

The book launch at Bengaluru was followed by the launch that we had yesterday on the 30th Sept at the Prime Minister’s office at New Delhi.  Dr Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office was kind enough to spare more than an hour for us.  He not only released the book but shared his views on why it was important for the voices of the people at the grassroots to be heard and acted upon. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to citizen centric development and to engaging citizens constantly in governance and public policy issues. This event was organized and coordinated by the co-publisher’s of the book, Vision India Foundation.  The entire senior team of VIF, Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, a well known policy analyst and the head of the Public Policy Research Center and Dr M R Seetharam, my colleague and fellow traveler at SVYM were there.

Delhi launch at the PMO

Press release on the book launch by Press Information Bureau, Government of India.


Categories: General