Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Monday, Jun 07, 2004

About Us
Contact Us
Metro Plus
Published on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education Plus | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Entertainment | Young World | Property Plus | Quest | Folio |

Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Coimbatore    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Madurai    Thiruvananthapuram    Vijayawada    Visakhapatnam   

Printer Friendly Page Send this Article to a Friend

Man of the moment

Reaching out has been Devarajan's way of life


ONLY RARELY does one give up his self-centred existence and take to an altruistic way of life. P.N. Devarajan has gone one step further. The septuagenarian who is a committed social worker now travels the countryside rallying those who want to serve society and helps them set up NGOs.

An engineer by training and an industrialist and banker by profession, Devarajan started the Centre for Social Initiative and Management (CSIM) an organisation committed to healing society's ills and help people with initiative start NGOs of their own. With a motto that reads: `come change the world' CSIM also offers a P.G. diploma in social initiative and management for potential social entrepreneurs and trains them in the nuances of fund raising, IT skills, communication, leadership roles, human rights, how to present a project and defend it with conviction. CSIM has branches in Chennai and Hyderabad and will be opening one in Mumbai soon.

Travelling back in time to what really sparked it off Devarajan says, "Even while working I had a natural flair for social work. My focus was on neighbourhood development. Alibaug in Maharashtra had my attention. A coastal belt with plenty of rainfall yet there was water scarcity. We worked on a back-ended project - no visible help but in the long run it makes people independent. My first project was Kaakum Karangal, a home for the abandoned in Chennai and this was followed by the Dal-Oil-Sugar club that helped collect rations for the needy." Having served as group president of Reliance Industries, director, Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India and chairman, National Chemical Laboratory, his retirement in 1996 left him time and opportunity to use his skills for what he loved doing best. "1996 was a year of great learning," he says. "The principle of management of divide is to release productivity and not charity. And across the social divide more people must intervene to bring about equanimity."

But how do you tackle the image of a social worker as one who lives on the edge of poverty and works for a Utopian goal? "It is a pity that we lack social work professionals and that social work is not considered a serious profession. The burnout rate is faster in professions with a market wage while social workers are entitled to a living wage, which more than meets their demands at the same time bringing tremendous job satisfaction. But most of the time even a living wage is not there. These people are driven by a desire to give back to society but it helps if they also possess skills. The youth and women should be involved. When you a motivate a woman, you motivate the whole family." To encourage women who excel in social work, the CSIM has instituted the Swami Gnanananda National Award. "It is an honour for us when they come forward to receive the awards. Their work triggers collective consciousness among the audience."

Customised to local requirements, CSIM works across NGOs promoting leadership. In Hyderabad the students of Loyola Academy act as consultants and volunteer on call. This is to promote the Confederation of Indian Organisations in Service and Advocacy (CIOSA) through students, individuals and corporates and addresses the generic issues of NGOs.

In a world where sons follow fathers in their profession, social work seems to have no takers. "I am confident that CSIM will start a revolution. There is not a moment to waste or feel burdened. Challenges have to be met head on." For the moment though, Devarajan waits in the wings gently encouraging those who want to better the lives of others as he has done. Didn't John Milton say, "they also serve who only stand and wait."

DEEPA ALEXANDER

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail

Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Coimbatore    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Madurai    Thiruvananthapuram    Vijayawada    Visakhapatnam   

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education Plus | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Entertainment | Young World | Property Plus | Quest | Folio |


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | Home |

Comments to : thehindu@vsnl.com   Copyright 2004, The Hindu
Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu