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

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.