Barefoot College: Solar Training Workshop (VIDEO)

Give2Asia’s Director of Grantmaking Services, Kalsang Tashi loves TED Talks. In particular, she loves this TED Talk by Barefoot College founder, Bunker Roy:

In early 2012, Give2Asia helped fund the Barefoot College with a donation from  the Sanctuary Fund. The grant went to rural communities living in remote, hilly, desert and tribal parts of the country that lack access to both grid connectivity and readily available kerosene for very basic lighting. Barefoot College approach provided villages a community based solution of solar energy. It created an affordable and clean energy source to be installed, maintained, and repaired by trained Barefoot Solar Engineers. Barefoot College has since provided solar lighting to 15,000 rural families, 483 night schools in 648 villages in 16 states.

Check out the video here :

To make a donation to the Barefoot College please click here

Vote for Give2Asia Partners in Google Impact Challenge India RESULTS UPDATE

AgastyaAgastya International Foundation was named Winner in the Google Impact Challenge, India 2013. The foundation’s innovative ”TechLaBike” Project won in the Judges choice Award for use of Technology to positively impact India and the world.

With the $500,000 Award, Agastya will launch a network of fully-staffed motorbike science labs that are  equipped with modern technology. In addition, Agastya will also train local teachers on how to incorporate hands-on science into their classrooms.

Over the next three years, Agastya will teach the power of science education to children and teachers at 1,620 rural schools.

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Gender Gap Index Rankings 2013 – India

225px-Flag_of_IndiaPart three of a multi-part series done on the ranking of Asian countries in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index Report 2013.

India Overall Rank: 101

About one third of Give2Asia’s work focuses on India.

In terms of projects, G2A’s efforts range from helping to provide sustainable sources of clean water, access to quality healthcare, to helping to improve literacy rates and accessibility for the disabled. The diversity of efforts going into India in these areas speaks the complexities facing India’s development, but does not paint an entire picture.

With the backdrop to deeply rooted social and political problems, India has managed to position itself in a way that allows it to benefit from globalization better than most. A little more than a month ago, India launched the first-ever space mission to Mars – for only $73 million (NASA spent $671 million). India’s healthcare is not just on par with healthcare in the United States, it is available at 5%-10% of the cost. Very recently, a report released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) estimated that number of India’s internet users would surpass the United States by the end of 2013. From October-December, India’s internet population is poised to grow by 4 million people.

Almost simultaneously one can see reports out of India depicting a place that the country is growing at a ‘significant’ pace while seeing reports on how largely undeveloped the country is – by even the most basic standards. At times, conditions in parts of India are actually considered a violation of human rights by the UN.

When juxtaposed, the challenges to India’s economic development become obvious. Of the challenges being faced, one that stands out is India’s gender gap, according to Onno Ruhl of the World Bank. In fact, the WEF Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex found that India’s economic participation amongst women ranked the worst of the BRIC economies.

This is consistent with India’s female secondary (111th) and tertiary (107th) education enrollment, as well as literacy rate (123rd).  See also: “India’s top 10 states with highest women literacy rate

Interestingly enough, women’s political empowerment in India was ranked 9th and the report showed that was even “some evidence from India to suggest that women in local government roles make decisions with better outcomes for communities than men when charged with budget decisions”

As encouraging as those findings may be, “they should not be considered victories,” explains Give2Asia’s representative in India, Surya Loonker. Rather “it is natural progression or organic growth,” citing the increased presence of women in high-level positions at private organizations.

However, the biggest issue facing women in India goes deeper than economic or political conditions and manifests itself in a much darker way.

One of the most horrifying stories last year came from Delhi where a young female student was gang raped by six men, later dying from the injuries she sustained. While the story sparked international outrage, India’s “rape culture” is only the product of traditional Indian conceptions of gender.

Even in the most basic facets of society such as in some public schools, notes Surya, there can be a “lack of toilets or separate toilets for girls.”

While there are strides both politically and economically being made towards women’s empowerment in India, the cultural aspect continues to dampen these prom prospects.

Until India can reconcile these challenges in a substantial and meaningful way, India will continue to stagger in its economic development – putting its entire 1.2 billion-strong population at risk.

India and China Lead International Corporate Giving

Giving in Numbers: 2013, released last week by The Conference Board and the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), found that India and China received charitable gifts from more US-based companies than any other non-North American country in 2012, with 72 percent of corporations giving to India, and 66 percent to China. However the report also found that in 2012, only two percent of total giving went to India, and four percent to China.

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Mandatory CSR in India: Companies Bill approved by the Rajya Sabha

On August 8 2013, the Rajya Sabha – the upper house of Indian parliament – passed the much-awaited new Companies Bill which will replace the nearly 60-year-old Indian Companies Act of 1956. Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot termed the passage of the legislation a “historic feat”. The Lok Sabha (lower house) approved the bill in December.

The new law, which must be approved by President Pranab Mukherjee before it becomes law, will make the following changes to Indian businesses:

  • Companies that meet a certain set of criteria will be required to spend at least two percent of its average profits over the last three years on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • One-third of corporate board members must be independent directors to ensure transparency.
  • Corporate boards must include at least one woman.
  • Companies unable to comply with the CSR requirement would be required to provide an explanation or face penalties.

Read more about India’s Companies Bill.