“A huge gap between 'India' and 'Bharat' could be seen in this village’s (Dhamania, Madhya Pradesh) scenario. There is 'India' where students start preparing for JEE to secure their future, while on the other hand, there is 'Bharat' which is treated like a step brother, where children think that the world of education ends after eight standard and are never given the opportunity to enter 'India',” Rachit Garg, a 2nd year Electrical Engineering student, IIT Delhi writes in a blog post on ignitedv.com, sharing his experiences on a trip to the National Livelihood Resources Institute organised by IgnitedV.IgnitedV is a social enterprise that is just 3months old (officially registered in May 2012) as an organization but the driving thought behind it is one that was born with independence in India and has grown younger and more relevant with age. Why do social issues exist without solutions? Why do people talk and live a life of inaction? After hours and nights of endless discussions in their hostel rooms on problems without solutions, one night in December 2011, a bunch of IITians – Archit Rathi, Dheeraj Anand, Aayush Garg and Aman Garg, decided to stop the empty talk and do something.
Started as a platform to connect volunteers to NGOs and other social enterprises seeking volunteers, IgnitedV provides people with opportunities of their interest in order to enable social contribution. Volunteers could contribute by doing something that interests them creating create a win-win situation for both volunteers and social enterprises/NGOs.
“Usually, volunteering organizations give volunteers with an opportunity where they are asked to do something that doesn’t interest them and so people get bored over time and move on without sustained interest. If we were to connect volunteers to opportunities of their interest then even volunteering would become more fun,” says Aman Garg, final year Textile technology student at IIT Delhi and Co-founder, IgnitedV.
With time and travel being a huge concern to volunteer, IgnitedV also offers opportunities to volunteer from home (thanks to the Gen Y work from home culture) apart from field based volunteering. Programming, video editing, social media management and research are some of the areas that IgnitedV offers under home based volunteer. Interestingly, IgnitedV has also incorporated the idea of loyalty milestones in their system by offering a reward to the volunteers based on the points they accumulate for the work they have done over time.
With large corporate only contributing money or a certain amount of time to teach children while the real potential of their resources lie in better capabilities, IgnitedV also intends to start corporate volunteering. They are in talks with Pricewaterhouse Coopers to collaborate with them CSR projects based on employee capabilities in order to execute better projects within the limited time that they take out for service.
Currently working with a team of 24 students, IgnitedV generates revenue through ties up with ecommerce sites for the sales traffic from their website and markets itself through public co-ordinators in different colleges, blogging, their association with NSS in colleges and of course needless to mention, social media – facebook and twitter.
“IgnitedV is trying to make volunteering as a brand. In India it is missing. Volunteering is not looked as a brand. There is no respect for it. People think volunteers must be mad or wasting time to being doing this instead of making money. Social progress has to be shown as progress. If people see others around are doing something then they would want to do it as well to be a part of the circle. We want to cash on this herd mentality,“ says Aman talking about the road ahead for IgnitedV with the hope to realize their real potential with scale on funding.
A few others like Troopp have also been exploring different means to find similar support and with more players foraying into this space, the NGOs are likely to get more support from different spheres.
I’m writing this story about this group of IITians at work to address social issues on a Sunday morning. Ironically today’s Open Page on (July 14, 2012) The Hindu carries the lament of an IITian. “If the IITs cannot produce great engineers, the purpose is defeated. We are unable to get the students interested in engineering. Yet, we are increasing the number of the IITs. We are probably producing good thinkers at the IITs, which is why other fields are picking up the students. So should we rename it the Indian Institute of Thinkers?” asks Ravi Kumar Tadepalli. Here’s a thought I leave you with. While trying to solve other social issues, are the students of one of the cream educational institutes in the country adding to another problem by not pursuing a career in engineering? Leave your comments below.
For more information on IgnitedV, take a look at their website.