|TOI Social Impact Awards 2015: In red corridor, a green revolution|
The Times of India- March 09, 2015Across categories, the NGO section presented some of the toughest challenges to the jury. Livelihood was no different. All three entries in this section were rated highly by experts, and while the jury narrowed the choice to two, picking a winner meant digging deeper into their collective reservoir of expertise.
Both NGOs were highly respected. Pradan is one of the largest in the country and has impacted lakhs of families in the poorest regions by helping them grow more, market their agricultural produce, and set up micro-enterprises and self-help groups.
On the other hand, the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) has helped thousands of farmers and fisherfolk with technologies developed through their participation. The third entry was the Development Support Centre, which promotes sustainable and equitable use of water in Gujarat and MP, Sunita Narain recused herself because M S Swaminathan is chairperson of the Centre for Science and Environment's executive board where she is director general.
The panel finally settled on Pradan. The clincher was the location of its work. "Pradan is active in the most difficult areas of central India, which has a lot of Maoist presence. Its workers are committed, produce results and interlink various efforts of the government. MSSRF's work too is impressive, but if we were to choose one, I would go with Pradan," said Aruna Roy. Arvind Panagariya pointed to Pradan's scale of work. "It has the most impressive numbers."
In the Government category, the choice was between the Central Board for Workers Education (CBWE), which organizes women's self-help groups in Maharashtra; Jharcraft, an organization that's improved livelihoods of lakhs of tribals by helping them produce and sell handicraft and the National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development.
While CBWE had a slightly higher expert rating — and the intent behind its work was lauded by none other than K V Kamath —the jury decided to give the award to Jharcraft. What went in its favour were the much larger scale of operations—it has trained 3.6 lakh people— and that its beneficiaries were mainly tribals from a backward region.
The jury did not give an award in the Corporate section. The finalists were Babajob Services, an online job portal for the informal sector; IL&FS Skills Development Corporation, which trains youth for 72 skills across manufacturing and service sectors, and Greenlight Planet, a company that makes solar energy products for the poor. The panel appreciated these projects, Babajob coming in for special praise for innovation. However, they felt the finalists fell a tad short on one parameter or the other.