Our Vision is an India, where people have an opportunity to live with dignity, free from hunger, deprivation and marginalisation.
Our Guiding Principles
The principles below reflect Kamla Foundation’s beliefs about the role of philanthropy and the impact it wants this Foundation to have. The principles guide what we do, why we do it and how we do it.
While many of them are fundamental to the way we operate, we will remain open to amending them as we grow and learn more about our work.
- We listen attentively to the people with whom we work and to each other. This kind of listening deepens intercultural understanding and allows lasting relationships to develop.
- We demand ethical behaviour of ourselves.
- We treat our grantees as valued partners, and we treat the ultimate beneficiaries of our work with respect.
- We treat each other as valued colleagues.
- We respect the spiritual and cultural roots of individuals and communities we serve.
- Our focus is clear and limited and prioritises some of the most neglected issues.
- We seek long-term solutions that will support economic independence while remaining committed to methods that are environmentally sound.
- Delivering tangible results with the resources we have been given is paramount and we will share information about those results.
- We promote solutions that come from within individuals and communities. This principle is inherent in Kamla Foundation’s concept of self-reliance.
- We will measure the risks, but sometimes take them anyway as we are dedicated to long-term and lasting change. Short-term failures can be great teachers.
Our Mission is to tackle the roots of poverty in India through:
- Understanding problems and challenges faced by communities and cultures,
- Promoting inclusive, harmonious sustainable development,
- Creating and sharing knowledge.
Our Methods are to:
- Identify and work in partnership with existing likeminded organisations on the ground,
- Provide or facilitate resources for development including health, welfare, training and equipment,
- Initiate efficient and financially sustainable models that have a lasting impact on the people we aim to help.
What we do
Kamla Foundation works in India to expand opportunities for poor or vulnerable people and to help ensure that the benefits of global advancement are distributed a little more widely.
We organise our operations by both specific time-bound initiatives and by general programme areas. Initiatives take many forms and use many methods, but nearly all draw on our long-held beliefs in creating opportunities by spurring entrepreneurship, promoting innovation, building human and institutional capital and expanding access to and distribution of resources.
We avoid the temptation to engage in areas where others are more appropriately involved – for example, specific public services – or where our resources alone cannot make a lasting impact. We are always seeking and welcoming opportunities for new partnerships and new networks.
We relentlessly press the advantages of our firm belief and commitment. Among these: a capacity for the calculated risk that underlies most innovation, for venturing where others remain reluctant to go; an ability, while ultimately insisting on measurable results, to be patient in developing sustainable solutions rather than illusory quick-fixes; and our ability to provide both inspiration and standing and also the potential to move not just money but minds and policies.
It is not the investments that determine how any great organisation is judged, but the outcomes of those investments.
For us, those outcomes are guided by our ability to innovate, influence, and, in the end, to generate impact.
By innovate, we mean the ability to identify more than just what is new. It means being both creative and expansive in how we identify and understand deep contextual challenges and flexible and agile in how we devise and deploy potential solutions.
Influence is a critical currency in today’s rapidly changing world, where the complexities of market systems, governmental structures and cultures interact and compete for limited resources and advantage. The capacity to gain, retain and leverage influence in order to catalyse opportunities is essential to our efforts.
Impact is tangible, identifiable and in many cases, measurable. We focus our attention on issues and places not only where we know that change is needed, but where we have a real ability to affect change.
So, Why India?
Many people believe Indians today are growing rich under globalisation and the Information Technology revolution, but these new opportunities have only benefitted a minority of the country. This new wealth has also tended to go down caste lines with the higher caste members getting the lion’s share of the profits.
Although Indian law bans caste discrimination, the cultural habits of millennia cannot easily disappear, especially in areas where there is little education and awareness, as in many rural communities. There is a huge amount of prejudice against and segregation of the lowest classes, particularly those known as the ‘Untouchables’. They are considered by many to be outside the caste hierarchy and consequently, ‘sub-human’. They have historically been made to do the most menial and dirtiest tasks and treated far worse than animals.
Because of their historical standing, the Untouchables – or ‘Dalits’ (meaning ‘downtrodden’) as many of them prefer to be called politically – are, as a group, the most economically deprived. The majority live in remote villages, seeking manual labour work within agriculture or on the peripheries of large towns. Unemployment is rife, schools are virtually non-existent and living conditions are very poor, often lacking in basic amenities such as clean water.
Changing Minds. Changing Lives
…is the root philosophy of Kamla Foundation. To achieve this, we aim to understand the needs of the people and embrace their visions of a sustainable future. Working with them all to ensure dreams do become a reality for future generations.
All of our projects have been focussed on giving individuals, families and communities the power and the basic tools to take ownership and change their own lives and destinies.
Kamla Foundation maintains too, that to change one life can also dramatically change your own. There has never been a time in history when there has been such a stark diversity in the world between the rich and poor. So there has never been such a perfect time in history, for so few to change the lives of so many.
In the developed world today, the richest 10% hold 85% of global household wealth. The top 1% own 40% of global assets and the richest 2% more than half of all the global assets. Meanwhile, the remainder of the world’s population own barely 1% of the wealth.
It is timely to focus on sharing our good fortunes of where we were born, with the poorest in the world, who are geographically disadvantaged because of where they were born.