This is a post by Chaitanya, Rang De’s President, who completed a year as a Rang De team member this month. Here he reflects on his experience so far.
I complete 1 year, 2 weeks and 3 days at Rang De today!
A journey I started with little experience but with lots of hope. Many thanks to each and every one of the 6400+ social investors on Rang De for making this battle against poverty a worthwhile exercise. If you are one of them, here’s a hi-five to you. If you are not yet a social investor, it is never too late to start but don’t procrastinate.
The journey into the lives and livelihoods of India’s poor has been an eye opener for me. Here is a really really short list of the most important things I have seen and learnt.
– It is expensive to live a life in poverty. While we pay 10–15% interest on loans worth lakhs, the poor pay 30–60% (and more) for loans as small as 5–10,000. That is what Rang De is changing — with your help!
– The well-to-do typically have 2–3 sources of income (salary, dividends, etc.). The poor have anywhere from 5–10 based on what work is available, and when. One cannot develop skills when one is constantly changing jobs. There is no security either.
– The gap between policy and implementation is as big as the Pacific ocean. Whether it is “free markets”, or public institutions or good policies poorly implemented — we keep letting the poor down.
– Today’s newspaper carries a UN report that 30% of the worlds extreme poor live in India. That is several hundred million people actually — strangely invisible to many of us. I have been to homes of a few. It is shameful and unacceptable that we have left so many people behind.
– The poor may have little or no money, but they have dignity and self respect. They tend to be more warm than most of us city dwellers. Their homes and environments (in rural India) are much cleaner than those in cities. They don’t need charity as much as they need opportunity.
Finally, poverty persists because of exploitation and indifference. Individual action as well as societal action is needed to change this.
Thank you for being with me so far. Thanks to the Rang De team for letting me in.
And yes, if you have the inclination, we can give you the opportunity to be part of this fight. Even a year of your life working at Rang De is bound to change you forever.