Need for 'Change Agents' to Change India

Author: Rajendra K Misra
Author is the founder of Change India
When I was 11 years old, my parents had to shift between two small towns in Uttar Pradesh and I had to change my school, mid-session. So I was sent to my paternal village, in Sitapur district, and was put in the local village school till my admission in the town school got finalized, which did not happen for the next 15 months. Two teachers would teach for about 3-4 hrs before they returned to their agriculture or cattle chores. We wrote on ‘Takhtis’, wooden writing pads that were made to shine with a mixture of soot chalk solution. This may sound like a nostalgic story from early 20th century, but this was 1975. After my schooling I joined IIT Kanpur and, following the trends of IITians those days, upon graduation went abroad for my higher studies and settled down with a well-paid job. Later I started my own entrepreneurial ventures and worked in both Japan and the U.S.A. I moved to India in 1995 and founded 2 Internet and telecom ventures with successful exits.

Over the years, I had provided monetary support for the development of my village and one day while visiting the village school I was struck by what I saw. Though there was a brick building, notebooks, pens, and pencils and kids looked happy as in the good old days, the number of hours spent on teaching remained the same; quality and means of education had not changed at all. This bothered me a lot. How can we think of competing with the best in the world when most of India is still primitive in imparting basic education?

The realization dawned upon me that if I wanted change, I had to be a part of it. Hence, in 2005, at the age of 40 I gave my corporate life a rest and moved on to do something that would bring a socio-economic change in India. The result is the Change India Movement.

Today I work with several state governments and central government as a public policy advisor towards the development of both rural and urban India. The industrial policies and liberalization have drawn much investment in the urban areas, making them the growth centers while increasing infrastructural chaos. In these urban centers, which are the wealth creators and employment generators, the essential need of the populace is not finding a job but rather reaching the place of the job. The need of the hour for sustainable urban growth is the infrastructure and forward-looking industrial policies.

India’s GDP is growing at close to nine percent and is expected to reach ten percent. India overtook Japan this year in the number of billionaires, with 36 billionaires worth a total of $191 billion, while Japan's 24 billionaires were worth $64 billion. This is a good news! But it is also important to note that the majority of our population lives at less than Rs. 20 per day, mostly in rural India. Benefits of growth and prosperity are not reaching rural India and it is spiraling towards increased poverty. The question we need to ask is ‘why is rural India poor?’ Majority of our rural population is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. While the contribution of agriculture to India’s GDP has declined from 59 percent in 1950-51 to a mere 18 percent in 2005-2006, number of people in rural areas dependent on agriculture has grown three fold in the same period to more than 700 million now. Agriculture can no longer provide sustainable livelihood for our rural population. The result is that the villagers are migrating to the cities (urban areas) in large numbers in search of a better living. Once in the cities they may start earning a steadier income, ensuring they do not go hungry but are unable to afford the basic requirements like shelter, safe drinking water and sanitation. The result? Formation of slums that add more chaos to the already choked urban areas.

The government has failed to see this vicious circle. They still focus on agriculture subsidies and farm loan waivers, which is a futile exercise. It needs to provide non-agricultural jobs and self-employment opportunities in rural areas. Local skills based self-employment in industries such as dairy, poultry, food-processing, handicraft and related cottage industries should be encouraged through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to ensure forward integration where farmer gets ready markets and fair price for his produce. Micro-finance is very effective in promoting and sustaining such initiatives.
Even with the high economic growth and proliferation of service industries—telecom, retail, finance, security, and other support services—our cities are starved of trained manpower in skilled and semiskilled categories, while our rural youth is unemployed and frustrated. The solution is to fill this demand-supply gap.

Vocational training to the educated and semi-educated rural youth in collaboration with industry with reasonable assurance of job opportunities will bridge this gap. Such an initiative has already been embarked upon in Rajasthan under ‘Rajasthan Mission on Livelihood’ using the PPP model and involving local industries.

In one such PPP project, the villagers have been provided with a loom at a subsidized cost. Yarn (input) is provided by the company, which also takes the finished product, the carpet. It is akin to local outsourcing where a farmer does not need to leave his village and supplements his income by working on the carpet weaving during his spare time. Today every family easily earns an extra income of Rs. 2,000-3,000 a month. This initiative has shown a good promise and needs to be replicated.

A similar project is in progress in Sitapur (UP) where farmers are provided with micro-finance to buy cows and participate in a community dairy project. Since farmers had no skills (such as weaving in the above example), dairy business was found suitable for this village. Community dairy also helps as collective insurance, medical care and modern dairy technique are beyond the reach of individual farmers. Plan is to integrate primary health, hygiene, primary education and family welfare aspects of village life in the same project to ensure integrated development of the village.

One can see from the above example that my only role in bringing this change is being a ‘catalyst’. If you want to bring a change all you have to do is becoming a ‘change agent’.

Politics and Policy Formulation
I know most of us, especially the younger generation, dislike politics and politicians. But being the largest democracy in the world, we cannot choose to ignore them. Over the years we have witnessed the repeated failure of governance mechanisms and inefficient delivery systems under successive governments both in the states and at the center. Something is fundamentally wrong. No government or political party can be so naive to knowingly plan and work towards its removal at the end of its five-year term. So it may be argued that despite good intentions and best efforts (exceptions notwithstanding), governments in India repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises. Could there be systemic problems and inefficiencies which are so entrenched that a complete new thinking and approach is needed to bring efficiency, transparency, and accountability in our governance and delivery systems? I believe so, and the reason behind this is the so-called ‘middle class’, which has the means and wisdom to bring about the change but has chosen to sit on the sidelines. This middle class consists of the majority of population with people like us that earn well, have time to vacation abroad, have about two-three properties as assets, but do not have the time to go out and vote once in five years. Why?

My discussions with the top leadership of our national parties have also confirmed this view. During our dialogues we discussed about the need for a ‘new thinking’ and ‘approach’. We also agreed that our youth, educated working professionals, and the middle class are disillusioned with the political establishment and extremely frustrated with the repeated failure of governance and delivery mechanisms. They have lost faith and as a mark of protest they have disassociated themselves from the political process and have even stopped exercising their franchise. This number is now around 20 crores and growing. Of the total 67 crore registered voters, only 38 crore voted in the general elections in 2004.

As the nation produces more and more educated, affluent, and working professionals, the voting population reduces. Political parties are concerned about this fact as their vote bank is shrinking and they cannot afford to let this growing population move away from the democratic process. Since they do not know as to how to engage and motivate this section of the population, they tend to ignore, also because it is more vocal and has opinions on the issues and asks uncomfortable questions.

Our nation is at an inflection point of long-term growth and prosperity. We need to put appropriate policies, delivery systems, and monitoring processes in place to make sure that we reform our political and governance systems and do everything right to achieve this long term growth resulting in prosperity for all.

The question is how to reach this large populace of students, working professionals, and middle class families who have a longing but no means to collectively voice their views, opinions, and concerns and take-up what we call ‘Social Entrepreneurship and Political Change Initiatives’. They are groping with ‘How to make a difference?’ and ‘Where to start?’ kind of questions.

One can simply start by becoming a ‘change agent’. I do not say that to become a ‘change agent’ one must leave his or her job and plunge into politics. If each one of us understands and follows our responsibilities, a lot can be done for the country’s development. One can simply start with a community service and engage with local authorities and elected representatives. This will bring together the ‘doers’ that will later lead to the creation of a self-sustaining eco-system. Once they realize that their views and opinions have a logical destination and are reaching policy makers, they will be encouraged to register as voters and potentially exercise their franchise.

As they say ‘charity begins at home’, the most important aspect of being a change agent is every citizen pledging to bring changes within oneself and be accountable for his or her actions as an individual, a society, and as a nation.
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Reader's comments(23)
1: Dear Mr Rajendra Mishra,
It was indeed nice to read about the views you have expressed here of how to be a change agent.I am doing it at and let me know how we can work (associate) together. Voicing our rightful views | then following it up with effective action BRINGING TOGETHER THE DOERS (as you have yourself put it) is the key.
Denson Joseph
Posted by: Denson Joseph - Thursday 04th, July 2013
2: From: Mrs. Mary David

This mail may be a surprise to you because you did not give me the permission to do so and neither do you know me but before I tell you about myself I want you to please forgive me for sending this mail without your permission. I am writing this letter in confidence believing that if it is the will of God for you to help me and my family, God almighty will bless and reward you abundantly. I need an honest and trust worthy person like you to entrust this huge transfer project unto.

My name is Mrs. Mary David, The Branch Manager of a Financial Institution. I am a Ghanaian married with 3 kids. I am writing to solicit your assistance in the transfer of US$7,500,000.00 Dollars. This fund is the excess of what my branch in which I am the manager made as profit last year (i.e. 2010 financial year). I have already submitted an annual report for that year to my head office in Accra-Ghana as I have watched with keen interest as they will never know of this excess. I have since, placed this amount of US$7,500,000.00 Dollars on an Escrow Coded account without a beneficiary (Anonymous) to avoid trace.

As an officer of the bank, I cannot be directly connected to this money thus I am impelled to request for your assistance to receive this money into your bank account on my behalf. I agree that 40% of this money will be for you as a foreign partner, in respect to the provision of a foreign account, and 60% would be for me. I do need to stress that there are practically no risk involved in this. It's going to be a bank-to-bank transfer. All I need from you is to stand as the original depositor of this fund so that the fund can be transferred to your account.

If you accept this offer, I will appreciate your timely response to me. This is why and only reason why I contacted you, I am willing to go into partnership investment with you owing to your wealth of experience, So please if you are interested to assist on this venture kindly contact me back for a brief discussion on how to proceed.

All correspondence must be via my private E-mail ( for obvious security reasons.

Best regards,
Mrs. Mary David.
Posted by: mary lovely david - Monday 26th, September 2011
3: Appreciate your views, visions and journey in life, as we too recollect our own lives within parts of your descriptions.
Posted by: Mohd Shafiq Mohiuddin - Friday 28th, January 2011
My Name is Tata I was impressed when i saw your profile at and will like you to email me back to my inbox so that i can send you my picture for you to know who i am.i belive we can establishe a long lasting relation ship with you.In addition,i will like you to reply me through my private e mail box (
This is because i dont know the possibilities of
remainning in forum for a long time.
Thanks,waiting to hear from you soonest.
Posted by: tata tatababy os - Friday 30th, October 2009
5: Excellent article.In the storm of life we struggle through myriads of stimuli of pressure, stress, and muti-problems that seek for a solution and answer. We are so suppressed by the routine of this every life style that most of us seem helpless. However, if we look closely to ancient techniques we shall discover the magnificent way to understand and realize the ones around us and mostly ourselves. If only we could stop for a moment and allow this to happen…

Posted by: mulavana parameswaran bhattathiri - Thursday 14th, May 2009
6: Dear Mishra,
Accept my sincere congratulations for starting an Organisation for Change and you yourselves becoming an agent of Change. No doubt there is no dearth of talent or money in this country but the need of the hour is "How accountable are our politicians? Blogs like this come during the emotional of elections where the real issues are sidelined and forgotten. You rightly concluded that as Citizens how accountable are we in our daily actions.
wish to be a partner in your effort to Change India.Let us Vote first and elect a sensible govern us.Why not we fix a qualifiaction for a politician and a limited fixed term where he can contest and get elected. No reservation of seats for his family memebers.A new type of reservation policy which has been surreptiously practised by all parties in India. Let us vote to End family rule in India by voting and be an agent of Change. "Change is the only permanent thing that can Happen every where or Any where"

Hari Prasad,
Posted by: Hari Prasad - Tuesday 14th, April 2009
7: Dear Mishara Sir,
heartiest congratulation for asking for CHANGEAGENTS TO CHANGE INDIA. Personaaly i feel and as u have experinced in your childhood that Indians have zest for life. They know how to survive in a cruelest of the crulest situation. India is shining but still Bharat is crying.
I think if we only provide connectivity to rural indians they will grow and himself pull out from this crony situation. We have to ensure that we should be able to provide both physical connectivity and digital connectivity. And i am happy that despite slow pace our necessary EVIL government is also working towards this goal. We are a nation of enterpreuers and enterprenuership flows in blood of Indians. They can seel tea or they can sell softwares but entreprenuership skills are display at every corner of our cities. so please sir we should join hands and work towards thsis. If i can be of any use feel free to conatct me.
Posted by: devesh charan - Wednesday 25th, March 2009
8: Hi,

Sorry for the earlier try...I was just testing.

I do not understand why we need to discuss it in the classroom, I think this the time to come out( Please do not ask me, because I do not want to die for a reason which so many guys tried and could not do ...but let me put down few words below

Change can come through a revolution in attitude... Revolution in mind.

My believe is that society is a collection of attitudes and if this is positive then society could be vibrant (may be RAMA RAJYA).

Well how can we do it? May be by the following means

1. Cartoons.
Cartoons on the squares of the cities and villages showing the some of the officials are dogs and waiting for the left over of others.
Cartoons on the gonads( followers of the politicians).
Cartoons on beggars ..etc
2. A professional organization targeting the poor India (Religion no Bar). Please do not compare these organizations to the NGOs.


Sukumar Mishra
Posted by: Sukumar Mishra - Thursday 19th, March 2009
9: I think the change will come only once the so called rich people are able to stop their greediness to earn more | more for themselves.One has to identify how they have become rich and Govt should penalise them for what all extra they have generated by crook methods or by defeating the system.The rich people don't want others to become rich.
Secondly,make elections compulsory for all and have the clause that out of all the fielded canditate,no one is fit to become MP/MLA.The one who doesn't vote should be punished.
Posted by: Gurparkar Singh - Wednesday 18th, March 2009
10: Sir, reformation will not happen by sitting in Air conditioned room and writing/speaking about change. Though everyone has interest to contribute to society their personal/individual commitments never allowed them to do so or they don't know where to start. If you refer our past leaders like Gandhji or Subash Chandra Bose most of them converted their dreams into reality by uniting both urban | rural communities. If we need change we need to work together. Without which I don't think it is possible. Both think, and act very different way. All we need is a platform to bridge this gap. How we are going to? and when? is a question we need to ask ourself. If we need to clean the drainage we should be ready to get our hands dirty... I don't think not many people in this forum or digital world can be added. Most learn to crib, write | speak only.

Sir, as you do, being leader you can become role model to everyone by guiding them towards this change

Posted by: Karthikeyan Ganesan - Wednesday 18th, March 2009
11: Dear Sir,

As far as Indias matter is concern there is no 'Change' before and after the independence except our mentality and thinking process as there is a broader gap between rich and poor like Majority of our indian unable to survive without aid and food or even for water they have to Wait.

Dispite many Rural Development plans have been declared and approved by parliament but the ultimate result seems to be the whole money goes to pocket of our Politicians as there is no change which we found till date.

Remedies to maintain balance between Rich and poor in india would be possible to start from grassroute level like basic education to poor people, finacial assistance in terms of job to workers in rural areas to povide them basic pay for survive their life.

Govt. should take strict necssary actin towards immediate implementation of Rural Education and Development to increase literacy level to set up schools institutes and colleges with proper direction and control over them.

We know everyone thinking about to redesign India a Developed country with balanced between poor and rich but hardly we can make it possible by our wn contribution to that because we know our politicians never do or think about it.

We have to set up our own strengths and community like what Times of India have started a Change policy a Tech India plans and Clean area plans under all Indian have contributed their valuable time and efforts to teach poor people and also different society people have come together to clean their society by their ownway which spreaded over each and every societies.

So like we need to Change India by ownself with mutual cooperation and fair commitement towards development of rural areas and as much as possible to decline gap between poor and rich and also allow Poor people to survive frequently, provide them fair assistance and monetory benefits by employing them in Infrastructure projects and other agricultures segment where they can easily earn 80-100 Rs er day to pass a valuable one day of their life peacefully.

Youth should stand in politics to cahnge the current scenario of this third class politics to make the India super power by 2020 as the Vision of our former president Abdul Kalam.

Thank you sir this is an intersting articles which inspires youth to think over the India's current condition as where we are living like we think about abroad but in our country its totally different and allow us to take initiative to do something better for Country

Thanks | Regards

Jagrut Shah
Posted by: Jagrut Shah - Friday 20th, February 2009
12: Problem with India is that we have very good speakers and leaders who can write articles and deliver long speeches but hardly any doer. Since independence India has produced billioners but gap between poor and rich has widened. One spends 50rs for a Coffee and other earns 50rs a day to feed his entire family ..Still lot to do ..
Posted by: Bhanu Singh - Tuesday 06th, January 2009
13: See i would like to change india as a rich country my first steps to change india is to stop people from begging only because of people publics approaches these things happen
ther must be no begger in the world in India there must be some home or trust for poor childrens beggers
we need to do some thing
many peoples who cant walk see or speaks in food product company but y cant the beggers Hum.
Posted by: gayathri careeosys - Monday 05th, January 2009
14: Dear Sir
to see ur ideas and effort, it will make great changes if built honestly. Its very impressive. I always looking this type of thinking and respect people who like to change india by grossroot.

Now a days espesially for Northern India immegrants those work in another side of india like Maharashtra are facing some diffuiculties from their communal leadres. It is the eople who contributes their talant, efforts and sacrifies their motherland and family for some money.

the big question is that after 50+yr we are fail to develop our states and growth. Apart from other things and opinians, I feel it is the time to gear up ourselves and thing broadly.
1. We should serious play to creat multy oppurtunities.
2. Make our states as a BRAND.
3. Use our local talant and stabl Valti Industries.
4. Step by step changes for development and Education.
5 Be unite and positive for the movmnet "Cahnge India"
It will my pleasure to join u and ur team for contribution in ths movmnet........
Posted by: pankaj tripathi - Thursday 27th, November 2008
15: Dear Mr. Misra,Almost every thing which you have realised and thought is my thought. I have also come from the same background, used Takhti then did high schooling from UP board then graduated from a university.Have spent most of my time outside UP.Having almost same openion and feeling about our society, I will be obliged if you take me in to your team of Change Agent to change India. Regards
Posted by: Babar khan - Thursday 16th, October 2008
Posted by: guru cherian - Thursday 02nd, October 2008
17: Dear Mishra,

It is really wonderful opportunity for me to interact with you. You have taken extremely good initiative and also went through your article. Followed by i went through comments that have been posted towards your article. I will not completely agree on points like youth not joining politics because if you ask any youth they may say they are not interested. Truth here is probably they understood the systems or may observed that most of the politicians are not from strong backgrounds or entire family is into the same. So here if you say stand independent I think you should do some kind of revolutionary activity for the society which may get you the Votes. Again here system will not allow you to do that kind activity.

If every one recalls entire nation is opted Mr. Abdul Kalam sir for President position again when his tenure was getting over

Change is always welcome to the society but entire youth should stand and hold it right

It is possible

Manager Search Practice
PeopleSmart Consultants Ltd

Posted by: Nagaraj B - Thursday 28th, August 2008
18: Three things that can make the change happen:

1. The connectivity of thoughts via internet, mobile or any other cheapest media

2. The logistics to deliver goods and services from villages to cities

3. The adoption of a culture of Udharenatma (Development of self by self)
Posted by: Madhukar Talele - Wednesday 20th, August 2008
19:  dear Rajendra, I liked your article very much and could palpate the fire within. incidentally I am presently posted in an Reginal rural bank in Rajasthan, and can correlate your analysis to relity as i often have to visit deep pockets of interior rural areas. i firmly belive that the governments policies of increasingly directing the flow of credit to rural areas in the name of increased credt flow to increase farm productivity is misplaced, our much educated economists like dr manmohan Singh and Mr Chidambaram and the worthy montek singh are wrong in their diagnosis of the actual cause for the slow growth in rural ares , that is where technoentrepreuners can lead india and change it for better my best wishes to you in your resolve to change india.
Let us make it a mass movement where with the technology we canm transform rural india as a sone ki chhidiya that india was in yester years.
Posted by: Pankaj Srivastava - Wednesday 20th, August 2008
20: Dear Rajendra Mishra,

It’s good to see and contribute some thing in respect of your “Vision” especially for the young generations that they are really not showing their interest to participate in politics.
Even I personally feel that its time to come into it and do some thing in the interest of the nation. Indeed we are living country like India which is regarded as the one of the largest democratic country but youths of the nation is still in sleep. No body wants to go in politics but use comments that country requires us. How and When? If you ask with people what do you want to be answers are Doctor, Engineers, Professionals, but not Politicians Why? I think this is the main cause of our politics goes in hell.

I think, Dear Rajendra Jee, you should motivate the young people to participate in politics in order to save of national security, and foreign policy.

Thanking You.
Posted by: Anuj Tripathi - Monday 11th, August 2008
21: Hello Mr R.K.Mishra,

Very nice initiative taken by you. We are proud of you as an Indian. Let us apply it globally also so that we all will give in globe peacefully.
Posted by: Roja Reddy - Thursday 07th, August 2008
22: Change is ambiguous, can be positive or negative whereas Improvement is simple and clear. We need agents of improvement
All the best to you in the mission

Joseph Manuel,
Posted by: Joseph Manuel - Monday 28th, July 2008
23: Hi Rajendra,

First of feel really good about the begining of change, the reaction has started in the minds of right people. It is a modest begining on the surface, but there are tons of young minds who have the fire in them to 'Change India'. The day is not far when we undo the 200 years of exploitation and once again emerge the best place on earth!

Being an optimistic person and would like to have balanced view of the situation, your article sounds more one-sided, talking on whats wrong with India. If we look at last 15 years, we have come long way, India has changed a lot for good. Keeping positives by our side gives us strength to move forward.

I'm one of those thousands who want to be change agents! Happy to see leaders like you not just silently working but making efforts to replicate the change!
Posted by: Gajanan Londhe - Monday 28th, July 2008
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