Reframing Stakeholder Engagement as Trust Building

The job of the stakeholder engagement and social license to operate communities is to foster trust and transparency in subaltern groups which are on the receiving end of the power grid of ‘development’ , technology and progress of transnational capital so as to ensure a decent conversation. Outcomes comes much later. History shapes culture and politics is downstream of culture as the saying goes. As far as infrastructure is concerned, the myth of technical best practices embedded in a defined set of values is a smokescreen at best. Each intervention context is deliciously varied, and the so called non democratic Gulf as active societies such as Kuwait. Nothing really is a monolith.

Stakeholder engagement has to be seen from a perspective of forging commonalities in a divisive era of Brexit, US Elections and Tech troubles.

Non Profits as Innovation Incubators

Fund Raising is the common concern of start ups and nonprofits. I guess Innovation should be another core strand in that aesthetic. Any venture which is innovative, is not in alignment with the existing structures of commerce and social constructs. Aggregators have clicked because of the convenience it renders to the consumer. They are connectors, and when they started, they were innovative, now they are the status quo, an important characteristic of the status quo is when even the established business class, the traditional mercantile groups globally whether it is the baniya or the east coast jew, or the west coast VC jump in not to solve issues via disruption, as no one does disruption or innovation out of the blue. The vexed matters such as urban homelessness have been around for decades, no one has seen money being made easily. The aggregators have a proof of concept. Lets make sanitation sexy as Jack Sim says. Or let’s make the difficult classy. Innovation works on many hierarchies. Innovation, does not pay upfront, as there is no market. That market has to be curated.

Non Profits are true incubators of disruptive ideas, start ups have a valuation imperative. Non Profit start ups, have funding issues, but they can be a grant magnet very easily once they have built the correct platform. Prasoon Kumar whom i am working with has a great innovative product for the urban homeless, is right up the alley for creating a ripple.


Reclaiming the Narrative Against Hyperbole

In my conversations with the tech wrapped class in Urban India, have a blind spot regarding the members of the informal economy. The informal economy is something to be not considered at all. If Autowallah and Taxi Wallah’s have a union, which is irrelevant in the era of Uber, that tech is a silver bullet against predatory, discretionary pricing, but surge pricing is market economics.

The bank employee who has a stable job is lazy versus a start up employee who is entrepreneurial. We, have something very imprecise in our aesthetics, which seeks to celebrate jobless growth, no medical coverage and one pay check away from homelessness. We have some how allowed Economic Times to frame our discourse. Read some EPW, or even OPEN for a change. The language of activism needs to reclaimed or reframed in this digital era. The food that we eat is still grown by a farmer in the hinterland.

New Work Rules for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Economy

Start ups are serious engines of economic progress. They hire in a recession and lend neighborhoods a good vibe. There are people investing their lives, and especially their youth on an idea. They are not places to get your pre MBA work ex. These are not places for folks with no risk appetite. The era of the public sector job in India is a relic of my Father’s generation. In this fourth industrial revolution era, one needs to re-skill and re-imagine the future as a perennial negotiation, and not an annual review activity. Stay healthy and save for a rainy day are good old school values to follow although investing in reskilling is to add value. Your job is to be replaced two financial years away if you are in consulting. Creative destruction at its neoliberal best.

Consulting Skills Decoded

A consultant (strategy or technical) is a strange creation of late capitalism. The person has to be a dynamic sales guru who at the same time, is a versatile thought leader gaming the market trends, while staying true to cold data, in narrative and quantitative variants. Schizophrenic at best, as he has to define the problem, while simultaneously solving it.

Media Response and Labor action in a deregulated economy?

I am aware that labor strikes are contrary to middle class sensibilities in India, and take them as relics of a pre 1991 India which everyone in the media is keen to relegate to the confines of history as if Reliance Jio launch is the stuff of history rather than an archaic national strike. Welfare protection in a deregulated economy where credit card is cool rather than a non existent medical insurance.

In an era where labor bargaining and protection is akin to foul language in our media and every day discourse, we have something a miss. In the papers and on the TV, the strike was dismissed as a failure in which unions that are a relic of the past were defeated. If we do not get paid for three months, like Kingfisher, or if a TV channel shuts down, where will these corporate EMI slaves run to for redressal ? Understand the politics behind the discourse, do not buy it at face value.

Scale or Intellectual Independence: the funding holy grail for non profits

It is a well known fact that non profits and policy thinks alike generate funding from corporate sources to influence the discourse on ideas rather than the normative objective of independent research, which is often spewed about with zero conviction. Nothing is independent if the staffer bills are not paid and the rentals are due. Both the stakeholders are cannot claim to hold the moral ground than consultants and lobbyists.

The reputational capital is compromised; so why maintain the charade?

Fund raising always has strings attached. ‘Please read the T&C carefully’ one does not have to read The New York Times reportage  to be aware of this funder- grantee conflict of interest tangle. Just read out a grant call aloud to understand the politics of development. Oh yes, a grant needs to be filed to study it right?

The only way to retain independence is to self generate revenue or be self funded. The scale is then impacted. Impact should be an outcome and not an indicator. The moral entrepreneurs are no better than the real estate agent around your block.