Skip to main content

Bypassing funds crunch: Top Ahmedabad NGO to go all-India with its new business model for social cause

Gagan Sethi, Madhava Menon and Rajendra Joshi
By Our Representative
In an apparent move to bypass foreign funding dilemma, a top Ahmedabad-based NGO, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), working in the arena of social justice lawyering, has decided to go all-India with its Nyayika experiment, operating as a non-profit company under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956. The Act allows setting up private limited companies to “promote” commerce, art, science, charity or any other “useful” activities on a no-profit-no-loss basis. Currently, Nyayika operates from eight centres in Gujarat -- Ahwa, Modasa, Mandvi, Bharuch, Palanpur, Amreli, Vadodara and Ahmedabad – providing affordable legal services to vulnerable sections.
A high-level seminar at Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, Chanakyapuri, Delhi, sponsored by CSJ, was told, over the next five years, Nyayika envisages setting up new centres in Gujarat but also expanding to Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab. In all 30 centres will be opened, it was pointed out at the seminar, adding, they will work within the framework of combining the business model of a law firm and the NGO model of empowering vulnerable sections through outreach programmes.
Critical of “voluntary organization-run free legal aid centres” which Nyayika said face issues of “poor accountability towards clients and lack of continued funding, making them unsustainable over a long period of time”, a book showcasing Nayika insisted, “As a result of this, people seeking legal services are left with no option but to face exploitation in the hands of mainstream lawyers who often charge fees arbitrarily and offer mediocre services.”
While the decision to take the Nyayika experiment all-India comes amidst shrinking scope for foreign funding to NGOs in the recent past, first during the UPA regime and now under the NDA, a demonstration at the seminar was made before senior lawyers, social activists and experts suggested how the model of providing legal services at affordable fees from clients to sustain its operations could actually become viable.
The Nyayika book titled “Setting up Social Justice Law Firms: Experiences of Nyayika” released on November 9 at the seminar said the Nyayika experiment in Gujarat was based on a “business model with its own revenue generation and expenditure plans and which is dependent on collection of fees for services provided for its sustainability and growth.” It added, Nyayika provides “quality professional legal services charging affordable fee in order to subsidize those who cannot pay”.
Called “National Meet of Social Justice Lawyers”, the Nyayika seminar saw release of the book by top legal luminary Prof Madhava Menon, currently chancellor, Guru Ghasidas Central University, Chhattisgarh. Participants included Nyayika founders Rajendra Joshi of the SAATH Charitable Trust, Ahmedabad; Gagan Sethi, chairman of Janvikas, Ahmedabad; Nupur Sinha, executive director of Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad; and Satyajeet Majumdar, CEO, Nyayika.
The book, which points towards how Nyayika has functioned ever since it was founded in October 2013, says the organization is based on a revenue sharing model where 70 per cent of the earnings are used to meet recurring expenditure of those who enter into agreement with Nyayika as associates to provide legal services, and 30 per cent are taken by the company to meet its expenses. At the same time, Nyayika promotes a franchise model, under which overall operations are planned, coordinated and monitored by a central team, and the local operators are responsibility of the franchisee. The company invests in fixed costs while the recurring costs are borne by the franchisee.
The total number of cases handled so far by Nyayika is 1,217, the book informs, adding, Nyayika centres “provided legal advice, assisted entitlement holders to apply for benefits under government schemes, and carried out conciliation and filed court cases on behalf of the clients, all of which is included in this figure. The cases handled mostly comprised of cases of violence against women (193 cases), cases of workmen’s rights (59 cases) and land rights (301 cases).” It also took up “consumer disputes, cases of fraud, dishonor of cheques and property disputes.”

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.

Union Budget: 24 crore people live in the dark, Sitharaman talks of prepaid smart meters

Counterview Desk
The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), a Delhi-based advocacy group, commenting on the Union budget 2020-21, has has called it a case of missing wood for the trees, pointing out, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "missed an opportunity to fix the economy, which is reeling under an unprecedented slowdown, with all indices pointing towards a recession."