TED Conversations

V K Madhavan

Operations Director , A4e India Pvt Ltd


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Mere transfer of approaches and processes from successful enterprises to poverty eradication will not work, and could set back efforts too

Increasingly, with entrepreneurs turning their attention to poverty eradication - rarely to address the root causes of injustice or inequality- approaches and processes used successfully in enterprises are being used for social development and poverty eradication. There is a belief that (a) profit - the greatest incentive - is the crucial differentiator to solve problems that have hitherto remained and (b) that a simple solution or product exists or can be created, for every problem - a solution or product that can be made available on a large scale with the accompanying economies.
The process of finding simple solutions is leading to an over-simplification of why poverty exists and persists. The belief that 'a product' exists for every need - it only needs to be invented if it doesn't exist - doesn't recognise the inherent complexity of human life and motivations.
The emphasis on 'products' rather than in 'processes' and 'people' is leading to the root causes for poor governance and the persistence of poverty being swept aside.
We need to pause and apply tools that make for successful enterprises selectively without losing sight of the fact that the reasons for poverty are not just complex but intrinsically linked to human emotions - fear, love, hatred, desire, ambition, shame, insecurity, joy ....
The need for the hour is for a hybrid approach to social development - in other words a new path and not a blind belief that the 'market' offers solution to all our problems.


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  • Feb 17 2011: WOW! really complex theme! a my approach is:
    a) let us try and evaluate and try and evaluate and so on, until we succeed!
    b) most probably can exist diversal ways to eradicate poverty or, say, get social and individual wealth. then, let us try diversal ways to get that wealth, let us do an array of experiments, and let us evaluate with an open and free mind.
    c) when a neibour progresses, i think that i too can progress, why not? we prefer imitate than create.
    d) poverty is not only lack of money, it is overall a style of social relationships and individual manners and skills. poverty is in the mind of the poor, overall in their mind.
    e) very simple healthy customs can make a big difference (health is the number one priority).
    f) confidence in oneself and confidence in the others, that is a mine of wealth.
    g) money is the poorest kind of wealth, of course, and while a population is developing, we cannot forget the wealth they already have, as a gift from life and tradition.

    well, good luck to this wonderful world :)

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