As the ever-optimistic title invites me towards a light read on a tiring Wednesday afternoon, I open up the book to expect exactly what it cover claims the book to be – 20 stories, 20 social entrepreneurs, their journeys, struggles and the principles that guided them towards making their dream a living breathing reality.
Divided into 3 sections – Rainmakers, Changemakers and The Spiritual Capitalist, I’d suggest you to not the read the book in one go but take your time from busy schedule to devour it. Rainmakers consists of the journey of 11 social visionaries who found a commercial angle to old problems. Unsatisfied with the good old charity, these social entrepreneurs erected various enterprises that do generate profit, but that is not their hobby horse. Veering off the from the typical profit based monomaniacal business model, these enterprises are a ‘new breed’ of entrepreneurship, bent on doing good. From Bindeshwar Pathak, the soul Sulabh International which revolutionized not only private and public hygiene and sanitation but also the social upliftment of the scavengers, to Dhurv Lakra, who founded Mirakle Couriers – a service employing only deaf people, each story slowly and gradually transforms from a typical middle-upper class life into a groundbreaking journey that steadily yet surely, ripples through the lives of thousands if not lakhs of those who now lead the good life.
Stories of enterprising women are even more inspirational as they face oddest of the odds in their way, only to show that the harsher the fire the stronger the iron.
Whether it be Sumita Ghose, widowed in 1998 when her husband was killed by the ULFA, who went on to found Rangsutra – a for-profit venture which sourced craft and textiles from villages and retails through Fabindia, or Ishita Khanna who has saved one of the rare untouched hill stations from onslaught of uninhibited tourism, every single story is a feather in the cap of exemplary female vision in our nation.
Changemakers consists of 6 stories of movements that snowballed into mass improvement, all thanks to one dare-dreamer who focused on the ‘aught’ than the ‘is’. Each voyage towards making this world a better place is as inspirational as the other. Trilochan Sastry’s endeavor to revolutionize the election process through ADR also persuades one to go all out on unchartered territory.
Even for Changemakers, stories of ingenious women who went ahead and did the impossible are a delight for the feminist reader. The echoes made in the field of recycled clothing by Goonj, founded by Anshu Gupta, along with the teachings of Akanksha, making strides in education all thanks to the vision of Shaheen Mistri, are stories that will move even the most passive of readers to ponder on the status quo.
Finally, with some 3 stories, the last section- The Spiritual Capitalist, focusses on the people who abide by the good old fashion of service. With the purity of intentions and a selfless compass, these stories prove that scope for change does exist. The ever famous (in fact so famous that it was covered by NatGeo Superkitchens) Akshaya Patra is a story as vividly inspirational as the other. Based off of the never ending meal unleashed by Krishna in Mahabharata, the mission aims to and succeeds in feeding millions of hungry little bellies every day.
Equally outstanding is the story of Parivaar, a housing-and-educational facility started by Vinayak Lohani that houses many otherwise neglected children and develops for them a future they never could have dreamed of. Finally, we close the book after finishing up with a story of renunciation, a perfect end to a book that surrounds the essence of defying the mainstream.
Apart from the contents, the structure of presentation is worth noting. While the non-reader may enjoy the short, even one-liner long paragraphs, the frequent para breaks break the flow of reading for someone seasoned in living through the pages. The reader may develop a love-hate relationship with the frequent use of Hindi phrases like “so ho gaya”, “ab toh karna hee hai”. Although they make the stories feel like more earthen and close to the Indian ethos, these phrases too, break the flow of reading.
While the non-reader may enjoy the short, even one-liner long paragraphs, the frequent para breaks break the flow of reading for someone seasoned in living through the pages.
Furthermore, the presentation of the book could’ve been more appealing. The feeling here was the same I had while reading Gulliver’s Travels- the most outstanding of endeavors narrated in a manner that isn’t completely just to them. If the narrative structure could’ve been tweaked a little, the book would’ve made for a much more enwrapping experience.
All in all, the book is a fairly stimulating experience, that will make one look around themselves and this world a little and I guess as long as a book inspires one, even a little bit, to change the world for the better, it has done its part.