The world of non-profits has been rapidly evolving. Apart from many other things, the nomenclature has also been changing. When SVYM began, we were known as a Voluntary organization (VO); a few years later people called us a ‘Non-government Organization’ (NGO); some preferred to call us a ‘Non-profit Organization’ (NPO); later we were christened as a ‘Civil Society Organization’ (CSO) and recently, we decided to call ourselves what we think we truly are – a Development Organization. Beyond the semantics, one also finds that the eco-system in which organizations exist and operate has also been changing rapidly. The skillsets that one needs, to initiate, expand and operate in this dynamic environment is also multiple and complex. The general perception is that this sector does not really demand any specialized skill and the only thing one needs is the passion and commitment to work in the social sector space. While there is no doubt that these are critical ingredients, we cannot be dismissive of the fact that beyond the aptitude, one needs to possess the knowledge, skills and the relevant tools to function efficiently and effectively in this sector.
We at SVYM were also painfully aware that we had to acquire the knowledge and the skills over many years and this was mostly experiential. We were also aware that the talent pool that was available for working in our many projects was limited and scarce. This was not just a problem for SVYM but for all the different organizations working in this field. It was then, more than 10 years ago that we decided to do something about it. The intent was to help enhance the competence of the people working in the development sector – whether they were doing this in the non-profit world or in the Government or through the many Corporate CSR initiatives. We encapsulated the knowledge, competences and skills that people require for working in the social/development sectors and began to manualise it. This then evolved into a curriculum that could be transacted both by experienced practitioners and academicians in a classroom atmosphere over two years. What has emerged is a 4-semester master’s level program affiliated with the University of Mysore and run by the Vivekananda Institute for Leadership Development in Hebbal, Mysore. This program is the first of its kind, university degree awarding initiative in India and offers innovative admission options for freshers and people already in the sector. The students who have graduated over the last 10 years have been successfully employed in the NGO, Co-operative, Corporate and Government sectors. Cornell Institute of Public Affairs (CIPA), Cornell University, USA has recognized these courses and students from there can now do a externship semester here at VLEAD. (http://www.cipa.cornell.edu/academics/offcampus/CIPA-SVYM-Mysore-India-Externship-Semester.cfm)
VLEAD also offers many merit cum means for deserving students apart from assuring assistance in placements after graduation. More info about the course is in this flyer below:
SVYM has not only shaped a new contextually relevant and culturally appropriate development paradigm through its many activities but has also been shaping the development discourse by building a new breed of committed and competent leaders for the sector.