Yesterday was a very special day. We had the Annual General Body meeting of SVYM at our VLEAD campus in Mysore. It was a day when more than 25 members of the organization came together for a day of fun, fellowship, formal & informal discussions and reaffirmed our collective commitment to make the world a better place. For me personally, it was also a day to feel energized and further deepen my conviction in the power of a ‘collective’. It was also wonderful to see some of our members bring their families along and share in the joy of service that prevailed all round. Apart from the routine business that gets conducted in such meetings, it was also a day to explore how we could all stay connected – physically & emotionally and be update with all pertinent information regarding the organization and is growing activities.
When SVYM was born thirty-one years ago, things were more linear and less complicated. All that we wanted to do at that point of time was to take rational, ethical and cost effective health care to rural India. It all seemed so straightforward and we set about this task in right earnest. The passing of years has seen us mature and evolve – from a small service provider to becoming one of India’s leading development organizations. Our work is now recognized and we have secured not just the affirmation and goodwill of the communities that we worked with, but also that of the Government and our many donors and well wishers. We now appreciate how creating human and social capital amongst the people we work with, has led to noticeable economic consequences.
As we enter our 31st year, we are also cognizant of the changes in the eco-system that we operate in and the consequences thereof. The FCRA laws have changed and add to the already overburdened administrative requirements. Other statutory and regulatory laws dealing with Income tax, Service tax, Professional tax, ESI, Gratuity, Commercial taxes, Pollution control, Drug Control etc makes one wonder whether the eco-system is deliberately designed to stifle the growth and work of legitimate non-profits. Added to this is the altered financial environment wherein the Central Government has transferred 42% of its revenues to the State Governments. While this is indeed a good step in taking forward the spirit of co-operative federalism, one is worried whether the State Governments have the capacity, the intent, the competence and the fiscal discipline to spend the additional money wisely and on the social sector. This decision is also expected to alter the support that the Central government has been giving to Institutions like SVYM. While one is encouraged by the changes to the corporate laws regarding CSRs, one is yet to see the full benefits flow to the sector. The recent national budget is another indication of the challenges ahead. The allocations to the social sector have been alarmingly cut and this further validates and makes our work that much more needed and relevant.
It is amidst all these challenges that a new SVYM needs to emerge – a SVYM that will not only be able to re-discover itself and its relevance to the communities that we partner with, but also emerge as a leader in the development sector. We need to continue our search to balance professionalism with our passion to make the world a better place; to bring in the intellectual talent that can find solutions to the complex problems that a dynamically evolving environment creates; to mobilize the resources to sustain and grow our existing activities, and to ensure that our standards of delivery are of the highest level and we continue to operate with a high degree of efficiency and effectiveness. Doing this and more will not only change the way we think and operate but also bring in newer paradigms and processes. The next thirty years will see SVYM version 2.0 emerge. It will see a more agile, inter-connected, responsive, citizen centric, socially accountable SVYM with robust partnerships with Governments, responsible corporates and communities. In the coming years, we will be consolidating our activities; dropping some of the less relevant ones; exploring alternate models of revenue generation; strengthening our documentation, reporting and M & E systems; use technology optimally and expand our support base amongst individuals and socially responsible corporates. This phase of consolidation will not be without its share of pains and aches, but I am confident that with the support of well meaning individuals and organizations, we will be able to emerge refreshed and ready to continue our endeavour of serving humanity.