Joe Madiath is an Indian social entrepreneur. Born in December 1950, he is the founder and current executive director of Gram Vikas, a non-governmental organisation based in Orissa, India. Gram Vikas uses common concerns for water and sanitation to unite and empower rural communities, including adivasi communities.
My Definition Of Success | Success to me, now, means changing the quality of the lives of people for the better. My perception of success has changed over the years. Initially, it was about how successful I was. As I got engaged deeper and deeper into poor people’s lives, my measurement of success changed and measurement became how the quality of lives of the people changed for the better and how they became happy.
I Am Driven By | Now that I get the most satisfaction when I see that through my work and the work of my colleagues, at least the lives of ten families or fifty people change for the better every day. I cannot ask for anything more. This means more than any monetary compensation I can get.
My Highlights | As a student in the University I did not give much attention to studies. I gave a lot of time and energy to organization of the students. I became the student union leader (president) of my college. As president, I started the Young Students’ Movement for Development (YSMD) an organization where students would go to backward rural areas to live and work with the rural poor for their development. This YSMD later became christened as Gram Vikas, which means Village Development.
The Difference Between Good And Great | People who are good at what they do, often, remain below the ceiling. Those who are great in what they are doing are people who break the ceiling and the roof and attempt to reach the clouds.
A Key Talent | I think that I have a wacky sense of humour and this has helped me in difficult situations. Now and then it also gets you into trouble. In most situations, you can almost always see, somewhere, the funny side of any situation and bringing this out into the open can be quite relaxing.
The Characteristics Of Success | I am accessible and give a patient hearing to anyone who needs my time.
Principles I Live By | Honesty and integrity
Equality and equity
Critical Skills I Develop | A thorough and painstaking field worker, who taught others by doing. I did not believe in giving mere instructions. I led from the front.
How I Use My Mind | When colleagues dismiss something as impossible, I think about it a lot and usually come out with an answer and show by doing that it can done. This increases my standing with the colleagues and they become more daring.
Lessons I Have Learnt | With a little assistance and hand holding the poor can change their destinies. The Trust of the poor has to be gained first through action. Even behavioral changes can be accomplished, if the poor see that it is in their interest to change and they have a friend in whom they have a faith to fall back on, should the need arise.
Dealing With Doubt | At times the changes in your battery comes down very low, so the self-starter may not work. Then the battery needs a bench charge. The way to bench charge my battery, I visit a few remote villages, where everything has changed, where the people would not have expected the change even in the 22nd Century. I see happiness on the faces of women who now have 24×7 piped, potable water supply. I see how the people, especially the women are happy with the toilets and shower, which now, each family has. The men are happy that they have irrigation facilities. Within a few days, my battery is fully charged and it can power myself starter.
Performing At My Peak | I am not always performing at my peak. I have dips and highs.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | Meetings with Social Entrepreneurs get me inspired. I attend meetings of Social Entrepreneurs. I read a lot about the subject.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I want to work for a future, where poor people in rural areas will live in dignity with disaster resistant houses, have access to safe sanitation and 24×7 safe piped water supply. Where all children will go to school and women will participate in the governance of the village.
The Meaning Of Life | Live my life to the hilt helping as many poor people as I can.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | “Be the change that you want to see”- Mahatma Gandhi.
On Inspiring Others | They see the work that we do and get motivated.
I Am Inspired By | The poor inspire me. With so little, they are happy and yet so generous. Mahatma Gandhi is my role model.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | A man with limitations who tried his best to do what he thought was good for the poorest of the poor.
Useful Links |
Watch Joe’s TED Talk Here: