‘Before 2050, move every poor family in India irreversibly out of their traps by organising POWER (portfolio of welfare entitlements/rights) worth at least ₹12,000+ per annum’

18th August 2020 | Tarun Cherukuri

‘Before 2050, move every poor family in India irreversibly out of their traps by organising POWER (portfolio of welfare entitlements/rights) worth at least ₹12,000+ per annum’

Indus Action has evolved into new ways of working. Our CEO Tarun Cherukuri attempts to explain this evolution and what lies ahead for Indus Action in the coming decade.

1.When I last checked, Indus Action was working on RTE 12(1)(c), so what is this portfolio now?

Since 2015, as we expanded our RTE work beyond Delhi, we have been very intentional about our end game. Our end game has always been to organise an efficient Portfolio of Welfare Entitlements or Rights (we are calling this POWER in short) around the same family. 

Education was the first entitlement/right, as it has the largest social returns and is the best investment we could make early for a family’s social mobility. Since 2018, as we were growing to 20 States via our RTE model, we also went through a search process to add the next right to our portfolio. After a year long research process, we zeroed in on RTF 4(b) that guarantees maternity benefits worth ₹6,000 for 12 million+ pregnant and lactating mothers every year. 

Since Covid hit us in March, we have been trying to secure social protection to our existing database of 6.5 lakh vulnerable families. In this search process, we are organising 1-2 high-value welfare entitlements/rights in livelihood on top of existing ones of education and maternal health. Collectively, our aim is to organise a POWER (Portfolio of Welfare Entitlements or Rights) that is worth at least ₹12,000 per annum for the targeted poor family.


2.What is Indus Action’s end game?

Our end game is to organise a Portfolio of Welfare Entitlements/Rights (POWER) to ensure delivery of ₹12000 per annum (₹1000 per month) to every poor family in India. Global experience of social protection portfolios in countries like Mexico, China, Brazil, Indonesia all show that countries evolve from a fragmented portfolio of ~500 schemes to ~10 consolidated schemes. In organising this consolidated portfolio of 4-5 high-value entitlements in India, we use existing legislative mandates and current state capacity levels to deliver a big push out of poverty for all 1 billion+ vulnerable citizens. 

For 2030, our goal is to achieve this at a scale of 1 million+ vulnerable families to test and validate our POWER hypothesis. Once validated at this sample scale, we intend to work with multiple States to scale this program to all vulnerable families across those States and reach our end game before 2050. The entitlements worth ₹12000 per annum per family will be indexed to inflation in the next three decades and therefore will change depending on the prevailing economic conditions.


3.What constitutes this POWER (Portfolio of Welfare Entitlements and Rights)?

Our ideal portfolio will cover Right to Education (Child), Right to Food Security (Mother), Right to Pension (Elderly Grandparent), Right to Livelihood (Migrant Parent), and Right to Health (Family). As part of our livelihoods extension within the portfolio, we are testing BoCW 1996 for urban construction workers, Street Vendors Act 2014 and MNREGA 2005.


4.Out of many existing welfare entitlements and rights, how does Indus Action select the entitlements or rights to work on?

In selecting a new welfare entitlement or right, we go through a rigorous research and selection process, so that we compound on the benefits of the previous ones and do not mirror the implementation challenges States face in execution. Our selection principles include high SROI(Social Return on Investment), delta of vulnerable citizens covered, adjacency to our current portfolio, administrative feasibility and political supportability.


5.What happens to Indus Action’s RTE intervention across 20 states now?

We continue to support States like Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat that are following through on their RTE admissions right now. As other States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha etc open up and gain clarity on their RTE admissions, we are committed to quickly organise support for the remaining States as well. Our RTE mission goal of ‘ensuring 1 million+ RTE 12(1)(c) admissions’ happen every year sustainably across all major States still remains. Due to Covid, the timeline for achievement of this goal might get extended to 2022.


6.In which states/cities Indus Action is currently working?

We have minimised our operational risk to Covid exposure by reorganising into 4 Project Management Units (PMUs) in 4 major cities across India. All the Actioners are part of one of the 4 PMUs. The four PMUs are: Delhi+, Lucknow, Raipur and Bengaluru+. Chandigarh team is part of Delhi+ PMU and Hyderabad team is part of Bengaluru+ PMU for now. All the PMUs are empowered to take end-to-end ownership of their POWER in their respective cities.


7.On your social media, there is a lot of coverage about Rapid Response Campaign. What is that about?

As lockdowns placed a binding constraint on our mobility and supply chains, the distance between the first and last mile increased for the most vulnerable.We therefore decided to do something about it and the Rapid Response Campaign started.

The people hit the hardest by the pandemic are India’s poor and socially disadvantaged. And our social protection policies are unable to reach them on time, in full or at the quality that protects their dignity. Millions of families (120 million+) are slipping through the safety nets back into poverty, up and above the current 2x poverty line of 890 million Indians who earn less than 10,000 per month. 



In Picture: Income projection for Indians; 2016 to 2050.


8.Is there a way I can contribute to Indus Action’s mission? Are there any openings currently?

Talent: Please check this space for openings. You can also reach out to neha@indusaction.org to explore more. You can also volunteer with us by dropping a note at info@indusaction.org.

Impact organisations: If your mission is aligned to ours and we could go further together, please write in to mayurdhar@indusaction.org with your proposal or queries. 

Provide a safety net to a family: If you cannot give your talents or time to partner with us on our mission, you can contribute to 1 family’s irreversible pathway out of poverty here. We will update you on the progress through our newsletters. 


If you have any other questions related to Indus Action’s new ways of working or if you want us to deep-dive on any other issue or process, please write to us at info@indusaction.org

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