We need people who are not afraid to call a spade a spade
Shilpi Sachdeva, 17 Jan 2015


Jeroninio “Jerry” Almeida, founding trustee of Indian Confederation of NGOs (iCONGO), speaks to 


Shilp Sachdeva on the need for accountability in Corporate Social Responsibility.



Q. What has been iCONGO’s biggest contribution to the development sector?

A. iCongo has made a huge impact, right from our campaigns like Joy of Giving, Right Every Wrong, Karma Veer and Karma Yoga. We have been instrumental in educating the donors not to just give money but to ask for accountability and I think that has been the bigger impact of our work where we have sensitized the educated people that don’t just give the money, get involved with the cause.


Q. What kind of people do we need in this sector?

A. Work for money by all means, but we require people who are committed, who understand Individual Social Responsibility, people who practise human values and fulfil the Individual Social Responsibility. If you are not fulfilling the fundamental duties of the nation you don’t have the right to enjoy fundamental rights also. It is that simple. So every citizen has to be responsible and accountable. With a little commitment I cannot do everything, but I can do something. So please do that. Whether it is cleaning the street or by saving the water, by water harvesting, whatever little you can do, please do it.

JerryRight now we are a tribe of few people but if more people join us this country will change and that change doesn’t happen because of one Mahatma or one Anna because everyone is a Mahatma. There is no other Mahatma coming to save us. So we have to save ourselves

Q. To work in the social sector, what is important?

A. Education is important to understand and have social consciousness about what is happening in the world about bad issues, and what is happening across the world, the issues which are related to illiteracy, terrorism, and hunger. So intelligence is not enough. Wisdom, social consciousness is very important. I always say that B-Schools and colleges only make you intelligent but they don’t make you wise or socially conscious. So parents have to get their children involved and send them not only on holidays abroad but to rural India to understand people, the crying needs of people who are living in abject poverty and dying of hunger. So it’s overall educating we require.


Q. What are the career prospects in the development sector?

A. I would not put it as a career. I would take it as a vocation. There is surely growth in the development sector if you really show impact while working with the community. It is not like corporate sector, it is not about money. It is about your gratification, yes, you get decent money. Come here because there is commitment, there is dedication of doing something good. I advise students basically to understand that we all have a role in development and change, not because it is selfless because it is selfish. Today’s students will be a father or mother tomorrow. So if you create a better world it will be beneficial to your children also. To quote a very old adage, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” So today’s students will be tomorrow’s parents, so let them understand the consequence.


Q. Do we need more initiatives like iCONGO?

A. There are several initiatives coming up but unfortunately they end up becoming commercial initiatives. We need initiatives, which are really active, which are strong, people who are not afraid to call a spade a spade because this country needs more crusaders, more whistle blowers. People who can stand up and speak out.   


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