K.Rajaraman, Venkat Natraj, R Sundaram, E.S. Ananth, Kasturi, Vijaya Sundaram, Bhaskar, Radha, Kavitha, Paripoornam, Lokesh, Srilakshmi
- Decisions and action items are in blue.
- Meeting held at E.S.Ananth’s residence.
Proposals and Approvals
The following proposals were considered and approved subject to the conditions indicated therein..
a. Personal Loan To Vanitha Computer Teacher with Glovis Sangamam Project.
The need for a vehicle for commuting by Vanitha without which productive hours were being wasted in travelling by public transport and waiting for it, was acknowledged. She would require a loan of Rs 30,000 for buying a two wheeler. She had an option to buy a new vehicle by taking bank loan/financing option offered by the concerned dealer. In this case, the second hypothecation should be to Asha/Chennai. Mr Venkat/Rajaram will stand as personal guarantors of the loan.
An interest free loan to Mrs. Vanitha of Rs 30000 was approved unanimously. The tenure of the loan was fixed at 30 Months.
b) Loan To Srinivasan Project Coordinator, Sangamam and Sangamam Kanini Projects - Rs 25,000.
Asha Chennai has an office at Thiruvallur. We have rented the first floor of our project coordinator, Srinivasan’s house. We pay a rent of Rs 3500 per month. The office is about 500 sq ft with 3 rooms. The biggest room would be about 140 sq ft. We have about 25 teachers as part of Project Sangamam and Sangamam Kanini who come to this office for the meetings. That the existing Accommodation is grossly inadequate, was recognised.. Srinivasan is a long time employee of Asha-Chennai and trusted field functionary. Srinivasan has offered to create extra accommodation by building a light roof over the balcony adjacent to the present rooms.
The need was accepted and it was decided to grant a loan of Rs 25,000 . The tenure of the loan will be one year. There shall be no increase in rent during this period. This was approved unanimously.
c) Recruitment Of A Teacher For Project Tulasi
Paripoornam, stewarding the project , proposed that solution had to be found for filling the vacancy caused by the current incumbent Parasakthi falling seriously sick with rheumatoid arthritis. She has been granted three months medical leave. Parasakthi is a good teacher and Asha will benefit by retaining her when she recovers and is fit to resume duty. The moot question was whether to find a short term replacement for her or recruit an additional teacher permanently.
The team voted on the following choices.
- Hire a replacement teacher on a permanent basis and take back Parasakthi when she returns. This would imply a budget increase of 7 month of teacher salary (about Rs 42,000) to the project.
- Hire a temporary teacher just for the period of Parasakthi’s absence. Let go the new teacher when Parasakthi returns.
- Do not hire a replacement. Just wait for Parasakthi to return.
Seven volunteers voted for option 1 and 5 volunteers voted for option 2. We will therefore go ahead with hiring a permanent teacher for the project.
d) Medical Leave with Half Pay to Parasakthi
As far helping Parasakthi to meet her living and medical expenses, the same was examined with reference to the current policy on grant of medical and maternity leave. It was decided to grant her half a month salary for three months. This was approved unanimously.
We decided to also amend the staff policy to include the automatic provision of 3 months of half pay for medical leave. This will only be applicable for teachers who have completed one year and upon recommendation by the project steward. Further the total medical leave will be limited to 3 months in a year. This was also approved unanimously.
Improving Meetings and Volunteer Participation.
Rajaram pointed out, meetings are the main channel used to exchange information about each other's ongoing projects, new proposals, budgets and expenditure and also take decisions to consider, discuss and approve all proposals having financial or HR implications including detailed item-wise voting on project proposals. Through active participation during meetings volunteers help evolve sound policies, precedents which will eventually bring the lofty vision of Asha Chennai to “improve education of children in Tamilnadu” be fulfilled on an agreed framework of stable decision making process.
The way things are currently the following problems were stated and recognized in our processes.
- Most people who regularly attend the meetings are project stewards and are likely to have a subconscious bias towards support for their own projects. Other volunteers who contribute in significant ways to Asha do not regularly participate in meetings.
- Discussions during the meeting often veer from the topic at hand or continue debating points long after people’s minds are made up and time is not spent effectively.
All volunteers agreed to the following points unanimously.
1. Make an exhortatory letter addressed to all volunteers requesting them to take part in meetings as diligently as they are rendering voluntary service in their own sphere of activity. Sundaram offered to draft such a letter for the appeal to be issued by the coordinator.
2. Smaller decisions with financial implication of less than 1 Lakh may be voted on online if the need is urgent (as determined by the project steward and coordinator). Our admin policy will be amended suitably. This, it is hoped will avoid the necessity to call meetings at short notice and also reduce to some extent the duration of monthly meetings.
3. Consider bring in participation of volunteers who cannot physically come to the meeting place by having a Skype or Google Hangout conference with the meeting. Venkat volunteered to explore these options and present a solution at the upcoming meetings.
4. Strictly moderate meetings. Each meeting to have a chair who doesn’t have any agenda items against them. The chair will restrict the discussion time to what is stated in the agenda.
Rajaram was happy to announce the completion of the development of the new website by our volunteer Lokesh. All present congratulated Lokesh and expressed their heartfelt thanks for the excellent look and feel as also the bells and whistles. We will soon be transitioned to this new website. Ananth pointed out that the First Step project is not listed under the old projects.
Freshly printed brochures and Visiting Cards were distributed to those present to be used for publicity and making contacts for fund raising activities. Venkat Nataraj is deeply involved in fund raising exhorted everyone to contact at least two companies known to them in order to help fund raising under the umbrella of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Never mind if the contacts turn cold. But try we must.
How To Make Proposals
Venkat explained how proposals have to be presented in standardised formats and headings to satisfy the requirements of those who fund Asha Chennai. Stress is laid on building a Logical Frame Analysis (LFA) which inter alia will spell out
2. Overall Objectives,
3. Measurable parameters of performance
4. Performance Monitoring
6. Assumptions and pitfalls
Links between fund requirement and specific activity should be explicit and thus it is necessary to be careful in projecting flow of fund requirements. Commitment to spend should be matched by actual expenditure over the timeline.
All stewards should work to create such a framework for their proposal. Venkat will work with all interested project stewards towards this.
All India Asha Meeting Guwahati
Rajaram announced that the All India Asha Meeting would be held for three days in January 2017 6th to 8th near Guwahati. Second class fare will be reimbursed for those who wish to attend. Local Boarding and Lodging will be taken care of by Asha India, on an expectedly modest scale. Although there is a convenient direct flight between Chennai and Guwahati it is costlier than those with one or two stops. Volunteers are encouraged to participate in this.
Kavita pointed out that it was an essential requirement for proper accounting that volunteers submit bills with a summary sheet on top showing the total and number of bills attached.
Recorded by R.Sundaram
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