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At the re­cently held C&A Foun­da­tion event in Bhopal, it was re­ally fas­ci­nat­ing to see how the farm­ers were in­te­grated into the event – right from wel­com­ing the guests from the brands and Govern­ment agen­cies, to participating in dis­cus­sions, to ac­tu­ally rais­ing ques­tions dur­ing the var­i­ous ses­sions.

Hats-off to the ef­forts and ded­i­ca­tion of the peo­ple be­hind the show and the var­i­ous com­pa­nies/or­gan­i­sa­tions that made the event so unique.

But does this sense of pur­pose to in­volve and en­gage work­ers at the grass­root re­ally per­pet­u­ate across the in­dus­try, or is this a stand­alone ex­pe­ri­ence that got the claps, but no long-term lessons…

At ev­ery con­fer­ence, re­lated to sus­tain­able and eth­i­cal growth, we find many do­main ex­perts pas­sion­ately dis­cussing prob­lems and shar­ing case stud­ies…; but where are the so­lu­tions?

We need real so­lu­tions, so­lu­tions that are prac­ti­cal and achiev­able, not those that look good on pa­per, but never find the light of day!

And even if cer­tain events do put forth probable so­lu­tions…, we never get to know how many of them were ac­tu­ally im­ple­mented…; there is sim­ply no fol­low-up or ac­tion plan with dead­lines!

Per­haps that is why on a larger plat­form, or­gan­i­sa­tions/NGOs work­ing with grass­root peo­ple are seen as CSR fa­cil­i­ta­tors and not as busi­ness part­ners, who while en­hanc­ing work­ers’ life, are also cre­at­ing a vi­able busi­ness model that will make them in­de­pen­dent of ‘fund­ing’ and help them move up the so­cial lad­der.

Even for busi­nesses that sup­port th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions, the at­ti­tude in most cases is of CSR, with lit­tle or no ex­pec­ta­tion of any tan­gi­ble gains, ex­cept of course the sat­is­fac­tion of ‘giv­ing back to so­ci­ety’.

Is mak­ing peo­ple de­pen­dent on funds, or char­ity the real so­lu­tion to the work­ers’ suf­fer­ing…? I would think not!

We need to make them self-suf­fi­cient to un­der­take the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of life. We need pro­grammes that teach life skills, sup­port ed­u­ca­tion and en­hance the op­por­tu­ni­ties for a bet­ter fu­ture.

Just be­ing pas­sion­ate about work­ers and their is­sues is not enough, mo­bil­is­ing peo­ple and en­sur­ing that an eco­sphere is cre­ated of col­lab­o­ra­tion, is equally im­por­tant.

I re­alise that it is eas­ier said than done, and most or­gan­i­sa­tions/NGOs work­ing in the field will ar­gue that we are do­ing the same… But then some­thing is miss­ing some­where, oth­er­wise the re­sults would have been there for every­one to see!

It is time to put our heads to­gether and make th­ese work­ers ‘part­ners in the ef­fort’. They should be part of the ‘think tank’, and so­lu­tions built around their real and not per­ceived prob­lems.

After all, if the goal is to en­hance their life and give bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties of growth…, they have to be stake­hold­ers in the en­deav­our!

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