[Rohit Parakh is the president of Rang De UK Chapter and an active Rang De volunteer. In this post he talks about his experience as a Rang De volunteer and dwells upon the pivotal role played by Rang De volunteer chapters in creating an impact ]
With Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi at the End Child Slavery Week in London[/caption]
Why join/lead a Rang De chapter?
Before answering the above-mentioned question, a round of introductions are in order. My name is Rohit Parakh and separate to my day-job at Deutsche Bank,I lead the Rang De UK Chapter on a voluntary basis.
Before my engagement with Rang De, I have always had my heart in the right place (I would like to think so atleast!) on issues of larger social relevance, but never actually got involved in any activities in this space. I had only been an armchair critic at best and had on numerous occasions shied away from getting involved in volunteer-driven activities ; I was pretty pleased with myself doing my own thing and keeping myself occupied with numerous other interests.
However after a long journey (which I will elaborate in another blog) where I actively started planning and thinking about a career in the social development sector I came across Rang De through a post on The Better India and my immediate reaction was SCAM, FRAUD! After all, what seems too good to be true is more often than not, just that — too-good-to-be-true. After what seemed like a lifetime of hearing about such initiatives that went wrong, I had low trust to start off with. However after a few hours of digging into the model, motivations of the founders to start Rang De, and reading about how stalwarts such as Waheeda Rehman ji, Nagesh Kukunoor, Raghu Dixit who were believers in Rang De, I was convinced enough to make a £20 (approx Rs 2000) social investment. I wanted to share my excitement with others so I mass-bcc-emailed 400 Indian citizens with whom I had been in recent touch with appealing to their social conscience and got a grand total of 1 positive response on making a social investment.
That 1 positive response got me thinking that a) it is a model that not only me, others can/will believe in as well if the communication came in a form other than a mass email b) awareness about Rang De needs to (and can) be increased much more ; no-one from my friend group knew about Rang De.
This line of thought got me to get in touch with Rang De team via email and then we discussed on meeting up in Bangalore a few months later. During the meetup, I learnt more about Rang De and decided to take the plunge to lead the UK chapter which had been lying dormant for a few years.
I will go through some of the specifics (logistics, activities, challenges) etc in terms of leading the chapter in my follow up post ; but on the whole this short experience has provided me with a number of learnings already, some of the key ones being-
- Networking: The groups that I have interacted with as part of UK Chapter President — media folks, parliamentarians, trade industry bodies, academicians, community leaders, social entrepreneurs and the borrowers is something that has enabled me to not only learn to develop a lot more personal connections but also get a greater clarity on what I would like to do on a professional front going forwards.
- Getting actively involved in a social cause: — in a model that is sustainable and delivers impact to the people at the bottom of the pyramid.
- Stepping out of my comfort zone: — Even today because of my involvement with Rang De UK, I am doing activities on a nearly daily basis which are outside of my comfort zone (from chasing people for updates to pestering stakeholders on media, parliamentarians side to request for a meeting, etc) — hence giving me an opportunity to broaden my horizons.
- Leadership Experience: on working with people within UK chapter (both active and passive) and outside UK chapter (including supporting other chapters globally) ; giving me a pseudo-experience of running an organization itself
If you too would like to be a part of a chapter or start one for your city/ academic institution/ alumni network do reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org