Log on to Karmayog.org (Published in One India One People Magazine, Oct 2006 issue)

Karmayog.org- lending a hand to society

Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life's deepest joy: true fulfillment. Neha Mishra takes you through the journey of an organization, which follows the same principles.

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." -- Robert F. Kennedy.

Karmayog is a combination of “Karma”- the deed and “Yog”- the composed mind. If the reference doesn’t seem an exaggeration, Karmayog means selfless service.

Moving with a smooth and comfortable life, dedicating his time to FindStone.com– a commercial B2B (business-to-business) portal, Vinay Somani felt that he was just another face in the crowd trying to make an identity. His dreams were different and he wanted to follow his heart, which felt a link with the problems of society. After all, footprints on the sands of time are not made by sitting down. However, trying to shape his dream and giving it a concrete form was not that easy for Vinay Somani, as choosing a different path required extra effort. Finally, in 2004, he came up with Karmayog.org- a new vision towards society.

The www.karmayog.org is a free platform for the Indian non-profit sector. An entirely free Web site, being funded by the R. O. Somani Charitable trust, Karmayog.org is a dais for FindStone. It helps several Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Non-profit organizations (NPOs), volunteers and service providers to get them listed for free on the site. With their help, Karmayog works on distributing information, mobilizing resources, generating funds and co-coordinating events that help society. It provides a common forum for donors as well as the needy.

Karmayog, with its office at Fort, Mumbai, is the e-meeting ground for over 1000 NGOs in Mumbai and 3000 across India. It also has a more than 5500 member discussion group and a 28000+ strong e-mail group. It is the Convening NGO of the NGO Council, that has entered into an MoU with the MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai), to collaborate on civic issues. As Convener, Vinay Somani has the responsibility of organizing meetings of the council members, with the purpose of making each other’s goal transparent. The recent NGO council meeting of August 4, at Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), witnessed the rising need of working together for all the NGOs. After all, the purpose of all the organizations is the same - up gradation of society.

Since January 2005, Karmayog also carefully selects a "Nonprofit of the Month". The idea is to facilitate people to make small donations to good NGOs identified by a credible, neutral, third-party. This also helps small NGOs in finding new supporters.

Karmayog has also begun a sector-mapping exercise. It is to map the capacity and capability of each sector in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai with a brief note on their capacity, activities and services. It will also put together a Resource list for each sector. This would help beneficiaries and their families, volunteers, funding agencies, policy makers, and NGOs themselves to use Karmayog as a starting base for their various initiatives. Under this, Karmayog began with the hearing-challenged sector. People visited most of the deaf schools and connected NGOs to profile them and put their data on the website for free access by parents, beneficiaries and donors. Lists of material providers as hearing aid suppliers, and of service providers as ENT hospitals, surgeons & doctors, were also compiled and posted on the website. Implementation stands as the prior agenda of Karmayog.

However, when you ask Vinay Somani about Karmayog, he replies in a very original and inventive way- just like a typical Aquarian, “NGOs are doing fantastic work, and even a little support can multiply their effectiveness. They need to find those who can help – and people need to know how to support them. However, because of lack of information and co-ordination between NGOs, there is often duplication of work and inadequate and fragmented knowledge. It is here that, as a readily accessible online resource, Karmayog.org acts as a facilitator.”

When you think of the issues on which Karmayog can help you get all the necessary information, you see the 360 degree angle of the website. It not only covers the daily-to-daily matters like bad roads, water loggings or cleanliness- but also comprises of a wide range of information on disaster management.

Who doesn’t remember the Mumbai flood disaster of July 26, last year! It was that incident which gave a new dimension to Karmayog. It came up with a flood resource section on the website, in a day raising services, volunteers, funds and material. The flooding crisis in Mumbai showed that there is no established way for the Government authorities (or for anyone else, including NGOs themselves,) to interact easily with a group through which information to and from NGOs could be conveyed. Karmayog took the lead in forming an NGO-coordination committee duly recognized by and working with the BMC. And the website became the nodal point for flood reports and feedback from and to the NGOs. The achievements in terms of work led Karmayog to the height where it got noticed not only by the people of society, but also by its leaders.

Today, when ‘globalization’ stands as the hot topic of discussion among every section of society, Karmayog.org believes in catching the trend. After all, it is said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity. Karmayog has its reach much beyond India and the thread of FindStone being so widely spread, Karmayog gets an additional benefit. Vinay Somani believes in the theory ‘1+1=101’ and so, according to him, the versatile group of members will let in new ideas and the new methods of their implementation. ‘We all want a better society, a better country and of course- a better world. The idea is to work as a team because ‘Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.’

Several new volunteers come up with their interest in helping Karmayog achieve its goals. Bharat Shetty, a BMS student working at a call center, showed his interest in working as the volunteer to improve the conditions of his area. Why Karmayog? - When you ask this to the Kandivali based Shetty, he says, “You are doing a great job and I really appreciate that, but I think we need to create more awareness about the site.”

Such comments make us feel how the young India is ready to bring a change- a revolution. What they need is – a right platform. Francis Lobo, another young volunteer, who wants to work in the area of creating awareness on HIV and AIDS, says that “ What we do for others is more important than what we do for ourselves. Karmayog can help me achieve the goals that I have set to help society.”

Everyday news of murder, rape, theft and kidnapping make us feel that the country is moving towards an era of crime. But amidst these negative vibes, we have some good souls surviving to retain the goodness. How these souls can help the society is a question! But if you think deeply, you will see that today this question carries its answer in itself. If you want to help the society, remove the word ‘how’ from your mind by creating a way for yourself. We all know that continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential. You may get the helping hands, but in any case, it is your potential and your determination that can help you survive with your good thoughts.

It is said that we all are made up of ‘Panch-tatva’- Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space. These five elements make us do good or bad things. The ultimate wish is to gain satisfaction. One can be satisfied following the daily chores of life and living each day the same as the other. But is that all one is capable of doing? Does the energy of ‘Panch-tatva’ end here? No. It is far more powerful and potent. Life is not all about performing the personal responsibilities. There are some such errands that we need to take up for helping others, who are not as better positioned as we are. If you work for them, if you are able to bring a smile on their face- that is your genuine accomplishment.

Karmayog.org works as a guide to the ultimate goal of attaining the satisfaction in its real sense. It will take your hand and bring you close to the real India, by assisting you to get involved with non-profits by offering your time, resources, expertise and help in their activities. You can also learn about how to start an NGO, or participate as an individual in the different focus groups that have been formed for different sectors. You can also share your experiences with others, as well as benefit from the insights of those experienced in the field, by asking for advice and help with projects that you are involved in.

Karmayog.org is an attempt, and as more and more hands join this effort of improving the conditions of society, we all will be able to see a better tomorrow- down the lane.

Neha Mishra

URL- http://www.karmayog.com/images/pressreleases/karmayog.pdf


ankurindia said…
very useful site .. nice work done

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