Dolly Mirchandani writes about World Vision India which has a systematic approach to bettering the lives of poor children
Internationally, World Vision was born out of an episode in the life of Robert Price, a US war correspondent, who, in 1947, was moved by the sight of a Korean orphan girl who was beaten and bleeding. He responded by giving the $5 he had to a mission house warden and promised to raise money to support the little girl. That promise grew into World Vision, a Christian organisation that works in 97 countries for the development of the poor.
World Vision India (WVI) started in Kolkata in 1962; it now works with 1,700 people, nine project offices and touches the lives of over 225,000 poor children, their families and communities. It is an independent entity and makes it a point to mention that its work is not tied to religious conversion. It believes in adhering to the highest standards of transparency in transactions and accountability to stakeholders.
WVI calls its approach to poverty alleviation through transformational development the ‘area development programme’ (ADP). Each ADP covers a population of 20,000-100,000 socio-economically vulnerable people. It is a long-term (12-15 years) involvement in partnership with civil society, NGOs and the government. ADPs focus on the needs of children—tackling child mortality, health and education—and aim to empower people to manage their own development process. It works through community-based organisations, such as self-help groups and yuvak mandals, who help select the needy children for sponsorship.
Talking about the challenges faced by the organisation, Anand Joshua, head–marketing, WVI, says, “More children need a helping hand. Bridging the gap between the rich and the poor and breaking the apathy of Indian people to poverty is one of the biggest challenges faced by us. We also have a challenge to bring discussions on poverty into the living-rooms of the rich and the middle class.”
WVI has also responded to major disasters in India, starting with Bhopal gas tragedy, Latur earthquake, super cyclone in Orissa, Gujarat earthquake, tsunami, Kashmir earthquake, Bihar floods and many other disasters. WVI’s programmes include emergency assistance, community rehabilitation, psycho-social care, economic recovery and infrastructure building.
WVI is also part of the Planning Commission’s working group on women’s empowerment and child development, as well as the NGO steering committee of the National Disaster Management Authority. It has a special initiative that focuses on HIV prevention, care and advocacy interventions in districts that have high HIV prevalence in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Manipur and Nagaland.
When asked about future initiatives, Mr Joshua elaborates, “WVI’s work across India will focus on areas where child vulnerability is high. This will involve working in areas with high incidence of infant mortality, malnutrition, child labour, child trafficking and other serious issues affecting children. WVI will also work on development of the youth by providing training for skills and empowerment.”
Donations made to WVI are eligible for tax benefit under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act. Most of the funds and donations come from individual sponsors of children. Over 50,000 Indians contribute to help impact the lives of over 2.5 lakh children in WVI projects across the country. Donors are encouraged to meet the children they sponsor. You can share in WVI’s activities by sponsoring a child, giving a financial gift or volunteering and spending time with children and families that it supports. When you sponsor a child through WVI, it is usually a 10-year commitment. You are sent a photo and personal details of the child that you have sponsored, his/her family, and information about its community. Sponsors receive an annual report on the child’s progress for the entire period of the programme.
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How often has it happened that you are furious about the quality of a product or service, want redressal but don’t know where to complain or even look up the procedure to do so? Moneylife worked on a list posted on karmayog.com to put together websites where one can register complaints or look up complaint-filing procedures.
This is the first of a three-part series that will tell you about where to complain, how to get information on the complaint-filing procedure as well as a list of NGOs who guide consumers in the redressal process. We have checked out these links for accessibility and responsiveness, but are looking for feedback from readers about their own experience in using these websites.
• http://www.consumercomplaints.in/ : This is the most accessible of all websites that deal with consumer complaints. One does not have to go through various links in order to access the complaints section; the homepage allows readers to view complaints posted by other consumers providing additional consumer feedback. Also, there is an easy option on the front page to register a complaint. It also has a sort of blog where consumers can discuss issues that concern them and there is a ratings section that allows you to rate various stores and services.
• http://www.consumerhelpline.in : This is the website of the National Consumer Helpline set up by the Delhi University with support from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. It provides a toll-free hotline for consumers which answers their queries and provides solutions to their problems (1800-11-4000). There is a feedback section titled ‘Valued Comments’; most of the feedback that has been posted seems positive. It is extremely difficult to locate the email address for posting complaints, probably because the helpline functions through the hotline number. Complaints can be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• http://www.consumeronline.org/ : This is the website of Consumer Online. This organisation tries to interlink and integrate a comprehensive database, which focuses on information that may be of interest to consumers. It provides an online grievance registration form for consumers. Some of these complaints are then published in the Product Watch section of the website.
• http://www.cai-india.org/ : This is the website for Consumer Association of India (CAI). Its aim is to educate consumers about various laws and the Right to Information Act. It is very well organised and has a volunteer section that allows consumers to volunteer in the CAI cause and help the organisation in its functioning. It has listed a national telephone number which helps consumers report their grievances promptly; it also lists email addresses of officers like the Editor, Administrator and Webmaster for general queries, in addition to the regular mailing address. This website does not have a consumer feedback section.
• http://www.pgportal.gov.in : The Public Grievance Lodging and Monitoring System is the place where you can complain about shoddy service by public or government-owned companies. It endeavours to bring excellence in public service delivery by government agencies. It provides a flowchart which shows a consumer the authorities through which his complaints are routed. It has a consumer feedback forum; however, the messages are not posted on the website.
• http://investor.sebi.gov.in/ : This is the website of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). It tries to protect the interests of investors in the capital market and also has a developmental role. The SEBI website has a generic email address to which consumers can send their grievances. Investors get an electronic tracking number which allows them to follow up on their complaints. However, there is no indicator of how many of these complaints are successfully resolved and over what time frame. However, we do know that complaints are, indeed, read and acted upon. SEBI’s redressal mechanism is in addition to that of the stock exchanges – the first-level regulators for trading-related issues.
• http://www.cccindia.net/ : This is the website of Consumer Coordination Council of India. It claims that its vision is to help achieve consumer sovereignty and it is actively involved in redressal of grievances. Its activities are funded by several international NGOs. The website is not fully developed; a lot of sub-links are still under construction. It offers an easy way to file consumer complaints, mainly through an online form on its homepage. The feedback link is under construction and there is also an email address to send complaints. The presence of the online complaint form makes it easy for consumers to report their concerns and complaints.
• https://secweb.rbi.org.in/BO/compltindex.htm : This is the website of the Reserve Bank of India. On this site, you can register your complaint to the Banking Ombudsman electronically. However, it does not have a feedback forum on the site and, hence, the effectiveness of the grievance resolution mechanism is unclear. It is a big boon to consumers that the Banking Ombudsman, which is a fairly powerful office, accepts and acts on electronic complaints and does not demand physical documents at the time of filing the complaint.
• http://www.investorhelpline.in/ : The Investor Helpline has been funded by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and is run by a SEBI-registered investor association called Midas Touch Investors Association. Its aim is to redress investor grievances free of charge on a best-effort basis. A registered user can also track the status and progress of the complaint. Apart from a step-by-step guide to register complaints, it provides feedback on complaints that have been resolved. It is very interactive and user-friendly and tries its level best to resolve as many problems as possible.
• http://www.cvc.nic.in/ecomplain.htm : The Central Vigilance Commission’s (CVC) website provides information on how to plan, execute, review and reform the vigilance function at various government organisations. However, we found that complaints lodged by email are not redressed easily. The CVC is much more accessible on telephone and quick to note down complaints. The website is slightly confusing and one has to go through various sub-links to access information.
• http://www.ascionline.org/ : This is the website of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). This is a voluntary and self-regulatory agency of the Indian advertising industry. Consumers who find an advertisement offensive or that the claims made by advertisers (about being the biggest or the best, or about the efficacy of its products or primary ingredients) are incorrect can register a complaint through the website. However, the advertising industry’s voluntary body is not so web-savvy; it insists that a hard copy of the complaint be sent to the ASCI’s office.