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   Rippling: How social entrepreneurs spread innovation
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
31 Dec 2012
has shown that fatigue of the mundane always takes fancy to creative ideas, howsoever small. Many such innovative ventures, be it an experimental school or a community bank, are conveniently put into 'game changing' category, with the hope that the world would be a better place should these get scaled up. It is another matter that the world is fast sinking into social, economic and political abyss, lacking moral and ethical courage to pull itself out of it. Will ripples caused by small initiatives turn the wave of destruction away? Moving from the corporate sector into the world of social entrepreneurs, Beverly Schwartz could only have been overwhelmed by it after meeting eighteen diverse social entrepreneurs from across the globe.

Combined with the depth of observations and analysis, Schwartz makes a compelling case for the need to build a supportive ecosystem for the system-changing ideas to bring about 'big picture' change. It means that the reach of small-scale innovation can only be expanded provided political and institutional capacities are conducive. Given the complex world we all live in, rarely does ecosystem allow fresh ideas to flourish. The odds are always stacked against 'change maker'.

At times, social entrepreneurs have been criticized for not acknowledging people as the drivers of change but for insisting upon ‘change’ to drive communities instead. The latter approach undermines local wisdom and traditional institutions at the cost of external intervention. Unless communities absorb the change, the change is unlikely to last long. It is here that social entrepreneurs have often got it wrong: far from being the catalysts of change they insist on themselves being the 'change'.

Despite being part of the Ashoka's global marketing team, Schwartz has tried to remain objective in her analysis. Predictably, she picked up successful social entrepreneurs whose ideas could withstand the test of success in the market. That successful social innovation must fit within the prevailing market structure is somewhat contentious. Far from being cure-all, markets have remained at the root of most ills affecting the society today. Unless social entrepreneurs succeed in creating ‘another world’, the ripples are quite unlikely to turn the tide.

by Beverly Schwartz
Jossey-Bass, John Wiley Imprint, USA
269 pages, US $ 27.95

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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