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Connecting The Development Sector

The Corporate Sector Must Learn the 3 E’s from the Development Sector – Srikanth Vishwanathan, CEO, Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy

GoBarefoot, a professional networking platform exclusively catering to the Development sector, by facilitating connections and exchange of ideas and information, has collaborated with Katalyst India and Third Sector Partners to present “Leadership Conversations in the Development Sector”, a series of insightful interviews conducted by Shital Kakkar Mehra, India’s leading executive presence coach and Founder at GoBarefoot. Featuring seasoned and reputed leaders from various verticals of the social sector, the series offers a peek behind the scenes and helps viewers find answers to the most pressing questions facing the sector.

While discussing the various learnings that the corporate and development sectors can imbibe from each other, Srikanth Vishwanathan, CEO, Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy said that the development sector can learn to improve internal processes and systems on efficiency and effectiveness of operations. “The corporate sector can learn a lot from the development sector, with a focus on the 3 E’s, which includes equitable access to opportunities for all stakeholders, environmental sustainability and democratic engagement. The approach needs to be linear instead of systemic as the development sector is about societal leadership while the corporate sector is still focused on managerial efficiencies.” Separately, the development sector should learn how to manage repeatable models and grow them to scale, Vishwanathan said. 

Government learnings from the development sector

The government should learn to take a long term approach to human development instead of getting overtaken by short-term efforts. Focus should be on persistence, acknowledging the need for long-term efforts and then working on it. There has been a shift, over the last decade, wherein the development sector has partnered with the government to build capacities, instead of just holding the government accountable. There is a greater willingness on the government’s part to collaborate with the development sector and we need to work at intersections as the development sector puts communities at the heart of development. 

Janaagraha initiatives

We have brought in two major initiatives, wherein the Our City Our Challenge campaign promotes civic learning in school children by enabling them to identify problems, interact with people and come up with innovative approaches to solve the issue. This program fosters active and youth citizenship in children while teaching them 21st century skills. The second program, My City My Budget, involves forming community groups in partnership with the municipality and gathering information on how communities want the municipal budget to be spent in their neighbourhoods. It is a collaborative effort which has created strong impact over the last 7 years and we want to scale it on a country-wide basis.

Leadership evolution

There is a great deal of openness, maturity, and pragmatism today, without a dilution of the underlying purpose. Leaders are now partnering with the government and opening themselves to hybrid and market models for human development. They are keen on leveraging technology but we need progress in terms of developing leadership in organisations, building institutions and forging alliances while accessing patient capital.

Advice to rising stars

We must all learn to think holistically about the society and systems while practicing urgent patience, which involves urgency in efforts but patience with results. Engage constructively with the government and communities and don’t forget the significance of institution building. Always remember to practice active citizenship and civic leadership.

Read our previous conversation with Rumana Hamied, Managing Trustee, Cipla Foundation here.

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