Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Have a Dream

Author:        Rashmi Bansal
Published:  2011
Publisher:   Westland Ltd.
Paperback: 350 Pages

Having posted 100 odd book reviews/summaries in this blog, I get to write  my first commissioned book review !  Blogadda sent this book to me under their Books Review Program.  It offered a carrot (I get to keep this book for free!) and also wielded a stick (a 500+ words review should be posted within 7 days of receipt of the book in order to continue being considered for the future reviews program!).

So I put aside  the other two books  which I was in midst of reading  and confined my  reading to this book alone. Anything to get a good book free! I was sure that it will be a good book to possess since I had bought and read Rashmi Bansal's earlier book "Stay Hungry Stay Foolish" where she has narrated the stories of 25 IIM Graduates who took the hard road of entrepreneurship rather than take up  high-paying jobs which they could have easily got..
In this book she introduces us to 20 social entrepreneurs. 
According to Wikipedia "A social entrepreneur recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change (a social venture)."The stories of the social entrepreneurs featured in this book are classified under 3 sections - Rainmakers, Change Makers, Spiritual Capitalist

Rainmakers set up social enterprises which generate revenues. However profit generation is not their primary motive.
Featured in this section are:
  • Bindeshwar Phatak , the  founder of  Sulabh International which brought a revolution in toilets and a rightful place in society for  those who once cleaned them.
  • Anita Ahuja whose program Conserve India  employs ragpickers to collect plastic waste, which is then recycled to create export quality handbags.
  • Vineet Rai who has set up a micro-venture fund called Aavishkaar for rural entrepreneurs.
  • Sumita Ghose who runs Rangasutra, a for-profit venture which sources crafts and textiles from villages and retails through Fabindia.
  • Saloni Malhotra who brought technology and business to rural India in form of DesiCrew our country's first rural BPO.
  • Ishita Khanna who through Spiti Ecosphere promotes eco-tourism and berry processing in Spiti.
  • Harish Hande whose company Selco makes appropriate and affordable solar lighting system for villages.
  • Santosh Parulekar who runs a unique social enterprise Pipal Tree, which transforms poorly educated rural youth to highly skilled construction workers.
  • Dinabandhu Sahoo who through Project Chilika has trained villagers in Orissa in a profitable sea weed farming technique.
  • Anand Kumar of Super 30 who tutors poor but meritorious students for IIT JEEE.
  • Dhruv Lakra who invested in a courier service Mirakle Couriers which employs deaf people.

Changemakers are. the ones who instead of complaining about a bad social situation take a small step towards making it good.
Featured in this section are:
  • Madhav Chavan who has made 'education' his life's mission by setting up Pratham,  which works for better education of millions of children across India.
  • Anshu Gupta whose organization Goonj ensures that donated old clothes are systematically collected, sorted and mended  to ensure that the clothes distributed are the most approriate ones for the persons in need.
  • Trilochan Shastry of Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) whose courageous act of filing a PIL led to a landmark judgement from Supreme Court which requires from the politicians standing in elections to declare their assets and criminal records.
  • Shaheen Mistri whose project Akansha is doing a yeoman service in educating 3500 slum children through 58 centers and 6 schools.
  • Arvind Kejriwal whose campaign Parivartan pioneered the use of RTI (Right to Information Act) to empower citizens of our country. Now very much known as the right-hand man of social crusader Anna Hazare.
  • Bhusan Punani who has tirelessly worked for Blind Person's Association (BPA) to transform it from a single, small school and vocational center for the blind to a multi-campus, multi-purpose movement to bring dignity to the life of the disabled.

Spiritual Capitalists are the individuals who choose to live by the ideal of service because they believe purity of purpose and selflessness of spirit can transcend every limitation
This section features:
  • Madhu Pandit Dasa who as head of ISKCON Bangalore initiated the Akshaya Patra movement which combines missionary zeal and modern management to feed 1 million hungry children every day.
  • Vinayak Lohani who has established and runs Parivaar Ashram a residential facility for orphans, tribals and daughters of prostitutes.
  • Shreesh Jadhav who chose the path of renunciation to become a monk at Belur Math where he works as a registrar of Vivekananda University and also teaches .
Each and every story is an inspiration written in a very simple language which all of us can connect to. It is very touching to note that these entrepreneurs  are highly educated and could have earned lots of money in the corporate world either as an employee or as business entrepreneurs. Yet they choose social entrepreneurship because they strongly believed in serving others. After each story there is a section called "Advice to the Young Entrepreneurs" which summarizes the philosophy and message of the featured entrepreneur.  

Another useful section is  "Start up Resources" at the end of the book. This provides us the email ids of each entrepreneur and the links to the website of their respective organization (except those of  Dhruv Lakra & Madhav Chavan). This will enable the readers who are inspired by their stories to contact them easily for any advice or to contribute to their cause.

This book does have certain limitations though...
  • Story of Shreesh Jadhav somehow does not fit in this book. While it is a very remarkable and courageous decision of  an IIT graduate to lead a life of a monk, and work as a registrar and faculty member in an institution run by Belur Math, the entrepreneurial aspect of this venture is not evident.
  • While it is the author's prerogative to decide whom to feature in this book, I can't help observing that only two entrepreneurs featured in this book are from South India. This lead me  to question - Does  South India lacks such social entrepreneurs worth featuring in this book or whether the author is not aware of their initiatives. A balanced selection of social entrepreneurs drawn from all over India would have avoided such question.
  • Liberal doses of  Hindi sentences are sprinkled in this book without translations. As far as I am concerned, since I know Hindi well, I could enjoy the punch ,humor and authenticity generated by these sentences. However such a writing style alienates readers who don't understand Hindi. Author should not presume that the readers know Hindi well and provide translated text wherever long sentences in Hindi are employed.
  • The URL of the book's website is wrongly mentioned on the back cover as The correct URL  is 
Apart from the above mentioned limitations which will be hopefully get corrected in forthcoming editions, the stories of the people featured in this book are a very inspiring read for anyone (and not just  for the aspiring entrepreneurs.!)  who at times gets overwhelmed by difficult circumstances.

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[This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!]

1 comment:

Mirza Ghalib said...

Well its 3rd book of Rashmi Bansal, its a continuation for the last 2 i believe she is covering entrepreneurs from all the levels, the people those who believe in business they should read it once....

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