Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bhumi In Detail

Bhumi was started by our current Vice President and when we were raising funds for OGH drive, a prospective donor made us realized that it is necessary to register Bhumi as NGO to effectively raise funds. The donor has said that he would consider to donate around Rs 4000, if we register Bhumi as NGO and when we did it, he donated as promised. This donation was used for Aug 15th event. Our Current President introduced present development model with 4 domains (Health Care, Education, Water & Sanitation and Livelihoods) and also to have sustainable and holistic transformation, which he learned and adapted from ByRaju Foundation Modules.

Executive Committee(EC) speaks of holistic and sustainable transformation as if it is well understood, but even after repeated probing till date neither it has been defined clearly or explained properly to my satisfaction or any bhumi volunteers, who i know. It appears that we are shying away from defining anything that sets parameters for ourselves and we give emphasis in using rhetoric to explain our objectives, which leaves ambiguity and cannot measure our success or failure. Even after having Rasoolpura as our first test bed and restricting all our activities to it, The fact that we don't even know handful of people, who would voluntarily come forward to help us in medical camps or events speaks volumes about our failure and in addition to this, our nominated Vice President and Secretary can't even navigate lanes of rasoolpura reflects our ground reality. We don't cease to use out dated figures which we inherited from MVF Foundation like having 700 students in rasoolpura government zilla parishad high school and 20,000 child laborers to galvanize people, when we know ourselves that this is exaggerated at best and dishonesty & manipulation at worst. We talk of perfecting art of transformation in rasoolpura and then implementing it in other slums but we don't even have inclination to conduct census on revised 25,000 target, as opposed to entire rasoolpura as planned initially, this lack of desire undermines our understanding of basic needs of the people, whose lives who we claim to impact.

August 15th event can be considered as a successful event in terms of recruiting new members and amount of media exposure that we received for bhumi, but we failed to attain our actual goals of building compound wall & securing land for the school and also it was discouraging for not finding much local participation for the event. As you may know, that we couldn't build the compound wall due to dispute over ownership of the school land, instead we built 3 rooms in the school. I believe this could have been avoided, if we haven't acted as private organization and allowed following things:
  • We should had a proper discussion regarding this project and its feasibility. We should had tried to understand mentality of the people in that area and how they planned to use this land.
  • We should had learned from the failures of an NGO, which tried to build same thing a decade back.
  • We should had heeded to school principal advice, who said all the time, that this land belongs to cantonment and not to the state government. If we had listened to him, then we wouldn't be in a fix when people complained about us to the authority and those couple of EC members need not go on fast for a brief period.
Just depending on one person, Mr R V Chandravadan didn't help us to build compound wall. I personally feel, that EC should let everyone know about how people in the area wish to use this land after a compound wall is built and also how much land does EC like to concede to the mosque and on what mandate?.

Anyways, EC members effectively used volunteers for publicizing and raising funds for the event, but volunteers were not considered for execution of the project, even after some people showed their interest. It was organized in such a way that other than EC members no one else had idea about revised schedule for Aug 14th night, many people just came to know about painting of walls just before it happened. In my personal opinion, i feel if we had worked as a team instead of maintaining rigid hierarchy and holding on to information, then we could had accomplished a lot and saved Rs 25,000 to 30,000 unnecessary expenses. It really shows our incompetence that we constructed 3 rooms for (approx) 1.8 lakhs in such a long time and most saddening fact is, that to know our expenses for construction, we need to check our bank balance rather than checking our accounts. It is no surprise that for this reason we can't provide breakdown of cost on item wise in our accounts, for example we don't know how many bricks we used or paid for!. Our way of maintaining accounts is to indicate how much money is left and not giving emphasis on how money has been spent!.

But anyways, our EC doesn't exhibit same amount of enthusiasm once the photo op is over. No follow up on OGH drive and this event is used as a trophy, when boasting once achievements. It is same with the compound wall issue and no status report is release till date. Recently we had DnE event and it too happened in pattern of August 15th event, once the DnE event was finished, EC went into hibernation over DnE until, one angry mentor cum bumi volunteer questioned EC and very next day, mails were sent to inform about a trip that has been planned for the children and also posted about the funds, that were collected through DnE event.

We have this grandeur idea of gathering funds for the organization by doing some business, this thinking is very typical of our president. We don't concentrate on raising funds on normal days for the organization, as all other organizations do, but we remember it and when we are in desperate need of funds. We plan to sell used clothes to rasoolpura people, but we forget the fact that these people are much more fashionable & conscious of their clothes than some of us are. Yes, when deliberations on the idea's implementation has started, it was dropped as speedily as it was proposed, for obvious reasons. We support our concept of doing business by stating, that in the process we provide livelihood to the people but forget about consequence of doing business and its effects on the organization, also not to forget about using bhumi's goodwill to bask the projects. We speak big of providing employment to the people of rasoolpura and concentrating all our efforts at one place, i.e rasoolpura but when we got lucrative cantonment project all our restrictions were diminished!.

When we do service to people, our intent should be to help as opposed to gaining popularity. We failed to understand this and distributed cheap quality spectacles to children, which may break in few days. In the past when we used to conduct medical camps, we distributed generic drugs without checking their bioequivalence & other parameters and there by endangering patients health. Our president once proposed to construct temporary toilets, to which some EC members opposed because already such plans were existed with the authorities and even then our president did not relent and EC had no way but to support him and finally he was hampered by greater situation.

When i think more about this it reminds me, that some of our EC members have desire to enter politics in the near future and they make no secret of it. The way they hold on to information makes me wonder whether we are here for service or something else?!!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My apologies for not posting

I'm extremely sorry due to certain commitments i could not post any entry. I'll try to post at least in the coming week.

Thanks for your understanding!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Bhumi Unplugged

Volunteer based NGOs should be inclusive, open to ideas and not just when it needs to collect funds but sadly today's Bhumi has become a private institution and adorns role of NGO only when it needs funds or at the time of publicity or it only remembers about the volunteers, when they require to stick posters on streets and informing about medical camps in rasoolpura, and on all other days it adorns role of private institution. Executive Committee which assumes office today doesn't even have mandate inside Bhumi because past elections through which current Committee holds office was held under By Laws of BM Hyderabad chapter, therefore Executive Committee doesn't have any constitutional bearing or relevance. It is not that no effort was made to form new guidelines & structure for Bhumi, so that the new By-Laws can be drafted, In fact Ex Joint Secretary Bony De Kumar has just did that long time ago. We need to wonder over lack of desire to accept or amend newly proposed guidelines & structure and thereby calling for fresh elections but this has not happened for such a long time. Anyways i don't want to emphasize on these technical details as it is not my point which i would like to make, but this speaks volumes about morality of the Executive Committee to function in the office and how the committee works on its self made rules as if Bhumi is their private property and having no proper accountability on dispersed funds, this aspect will be covered in the future post!.

In most cases, Everything is conceived by President Mr. Mujeeb and followed & implemented by rest of the Executive Committee Members(Rakesh Kumar Dubbudu, Divyashri Cherala, Rahul Pasumarthy and Tejeswi Pratima) without a healthy debate and lack of meticulous understanding of all aspects of the idea. This same idea is presented in the general body meeting without doing required ground work but presented with eloquence, and since others are exposed to on need to know basis, they wont be in a position to comprehend thoroughly and they take it on good faith, but among most other volunteers this created and creates lot of disinterest and due to this and other reasons many left the organization. Later on at time of execution of the project pitfalls and loopholes in the idea emerge. It forces said project to be either discarded (like in the case of construction of compound wall in rasoolpura and wasting lot of money in Aug 15th event by being exclusive and remaining incompetent in executing work efficiently) or put on back burner (like in the case of secunderabad cantonment project) and many others which i will explore in future posts. For outsiders Bhumi seems to be managed by 5 people and ironically for insiders, Bhumi is managed authoritatively by Mr. Mujeeb alone, so much so that recently a executive committee member had to leave Bhumi altogether, this i'll explore in my future post.

Well, this doesn't amounts much harm to the society but what if these people have political aspirations and want to use social service as a tool to garner & manipulate support for themselves?. I'll write about this with detailed information in my future posts.

My next post will be in the middle of next week.

Sunday, February 4, 2007


I'm a member of BHUMI since its inception and before that i was a member of BM Hyderabad, until we all took the decision to go separate ways. In the course of time i was sadden by the state of affairs in the organization, specially after Mr. Mujeeb Khan took the reins of executive board. In series of posts every week, i will explain why do i think so. Initially, i thought of silently quitting bhumi like many other members and keeping displeasure to myself but i felt the obligation towards the society and my conscious to reply, therefore i'm recording my views here. I request every blog reader, who is interested in BHUMI, that don't just form your opinions based on my personal views but rather, I request you to attend gatherings at mujeeb's office, review accounts yourselves and attend general body meetings for a considerable period and THEN judge yourself.

I also desire this blog to be a platform for others to raise their concerns or opinions about BHUMI and our BHUMI's activities, if you wish to remain anonymous and want to say something about BHUMI here, then please email it to me.