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  • The anger in me against corruption

  • made me to make a big career change

  • last year, becoming a full-time practicing lawyer.

  • My experiences over the last 18 months,

  • as a lawyer, has seeded in me

  • a new entrepreneurial idea,

  • which I believe is indeed

  • worth spreading.

  • So, I share it with all of you here today,

  • though the idea itself is getting crystallized

  • and I'm still writing up the business plan.

  • Of course it helps that fear of public failure

  • diminishes as the number of ideas

  • which have failed increases.

  • I've been a huge fan of enterprise and entrepreneurship

  • since 1993.

  • I've explored, experienced,

  • and experimented enterprise

  • and capitalism to my heart's content.

  • I built, along with my two brothers,

  • the leading real estate company in my home state, Kerala,

  • and then worked professionally

  • with two of India's biggest businessmen,

  • but in their startup enterprises.

  • In 2003, when I stepped out of the pure play capitalistic sector

  • to work on so-called social sector issues,

  • I definitely did not have any grand strategy

  • or plan to pursue and find

  • for-profit solutions

  • to addressing pressing public issues.

  • When life brought about a series

  • of death and near-death experiences

  • within my close circle,

  • which highlighted the need

  • for an emergency medical response service in India,

  • similar to 911 in USA.

  • To address this, I, along with four friends,

  • founded Ambulance Access for All,

  • to promote life-support ambulance services in India.

  • For those from the developing world,

  • there is nothing, absolutely nothing new in this idea.

  • But as we envisioned it,

  • we had three key goals:

  • Providing world-class life support ambulance service

  • which is fully self-sustainable from its own revenue streams,

  • and universally accessible

  • to anyone in a medical emergency,

  • irrespective of the capability to pay.

  • The service which grew out of this,

  • Dial 1298 for Ambulance,

  • with one ambulance in 2004,

  • now has a hundred-plus ambulances in three states,

  • and has transported over 100,000 patients

  • and victims since inception.

  • The service is -- (Applause)

  • fully self-sustainable from its own revenues,

  • without accessing any public funds,

  • and the cross-subsidy model actually works,

  • where the rich pays higher, poor pays lower,

  • and the accident victim is getting the service free of charge.

  • The service responded effectively

  • and efficiently,

  • during the unfortunate

  • 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

  • And as you can see from the visuals,

  • the service was responding and rescuing

  • victims from the incident locations

  • even before the police could cordon off

  • the incident locations

  • and formally confirm it as a terror strike.

  • We ended up being the first medical response team

  • in every incident location

  • and transported 125 victims,

  • saving life.

  • (Applause)

  • In tribute and remembrance

  • of 26/11 attacks

  • over the last one year,

  • we have actually helped a Pakistani NGO,

  • Aman Foundation,

  • to set up a self-sustainable life support ambulance service

  • in Karachi, facilitated by Acumen Fund.

  • (Applause)

  • It's a small message from us,

  • in our own small way

  • to the enemies of humanity,

  • of Islam, of South Asia,

  • of India, and of Pakistan,

  • that humanity will continue to bloom,

  • irrespective of such dastardly attacks.

  • Since then I've also co-founded two other social enterprises.

  • One is Education Access for All,

  • setting up schools in small-town India.

  • And the other is Moksha-Yug Access,

  • which is integrating rural supply chain

  • on the foundations of self-help group-based microfinance.

  • I guess we seem to be doing at least a few things right.

  • Because diligent investors and venture funds

  • have committed over 7.5 million dollars in funding.

  • With the significance being these funds have come in

  • as a QT capital, not as grant or as philanthropy.

  • Now I come back to the idea of the new social enterprise

  • that I'm exploring.

  • Corruption, bribes, and lack of transparency.

  • You may be surprised to know

  • that eight speakers yesterday

  • actually mentioned these terms in their talks.

  • Bribes and corruption have both a demand and a supply side,

  • with the supply side being mostly of

  • greedy corporate unethical businesses

  • and hapless common man.

  • And the demand side being mostly politicians,

  • bureaucrats and those who have discretionary power

  • vested with them.

  • According to World Bank estimate,

  • one trillion dollars is paid in bribes

  • every year, worsening the condition

  • of the already worse off.

  • Yet, if you analyze the common man,

  • he or she does not wake up every day and say,

  • "Hmm, let me see who I can pay a bribe to today."

  • or, "Let me see who I can corrupt today."

  • Often it is the constraining or the back-to-the-wall situation

  • that the hapless common man finds himself or herself in

  • that leads him to pay a bribe.

  • In the modern day world, where time is premium

  • and battle for subsistence is unimaginably tough,

  • the hapless common man

  • simply gives in and pays the bribe just to get on with life.

  • Now, let me ask you another question.

  • Imagine you are being asked to pay a bribe

  • in your day-to-day life to get something done.

  • What do you do? Of course you can call the police.

  • But what is the use if the police department is in itself steeped in corruption?

  • Most definitely you don't want to pay the bribe.

  • But you also don't have the time, resources,

  • expertise or wherewithal to fight this.

  • Unfortunately, many of us in this room

  • are supporters of capitalist policies and market forces.

  • Yet the market forces around the world

  • have not yet thrown up a service where you can call in,

  • pay a fee, and fight the demand for a bribe.

  • Like a bribe buster service,

  • or 1-800-Fight-Bribes,

  • or www.stopbribes.org or

  • www.preventcorruption.org.

  • Such a service simply do not exist.

  • One image that has haunted me

  • from my early business days

  • is of a grandmother, 70 plus years, being harassed

  • by the bureaucrats in the town planning office.

  • All she needed was permission to build three steps

  • to her house, from ground level,

  • making it easier for her to enter and exit her house.

  • Yet the officer in charge would not simply give her the permit

  • for want of a bribe.

  • Even though it pricked my conscience then,

  • I could not, or rather I did not

  • tend to her or assist her,

  • because I was busy building my real estate company.

  • I don't want to be haunted by such images any more.

  • A group of us have been working on a pilot basis

  • to address individual instances of demands

  • for bribes for common services or entitlement.

  • And in all 42 cases where we have pushed back such demands

  • using existing and legitimate tools

  • like the Right to Information Act,

  • video, audio, or peer pressure,

  • we have successfully obtained whatever our clients

  • set out to achieve without actually paying a bribe.

  • And with the cost of these tools being substantially lower

  • than the bribe demanded.

  • I believe that these tools that worked in these 42 pilot cases

  • can be consolidated in standard processes

  • in a BPO kind of environment,

  • and made available on web, call-center

  • and franchise physical offices,

  • for a fee, to serve anyone confronted with a demand for a bribe.

  • The target market is as tempting as it can get.

  • It can be worth up to one trillion dollars,

  • being paid in bribes every year,

  • or equal to India's GDP.

  • And it is an absolutely virgin market.

  • I propose to explore this idea further,

  • to examine the potential of creating

  • a for-profit, fee-based BPO

  • kind of service to stop bribes

  • and prevent corruption.

  • I do realize that the fight for justice

  • against corruption is never easy.

  • It never has been and it never will be.

  • In my last 18 months as a lawyer,

  • battling small- and large-scale corruption,

  • including the one perpetrated by India's biggest corporate scamster.

  • Through his charities

  • I have had three police cases filed against me

  • alleging trespass, impersonation and intimidation.

  • The battle against corruption

  • exacts a toll on ourselves,

  • our families, our friends, and even our kids.

  • Yet I believe the price we pay is well worth holding on

  • to our dignity and making the world a fairer place.

  • What gives us the courage?

  • As my close friend replied, when told

  • during the seeding days of the ambulance project

  • that it is an impossible task

  • and the founders are insane to chalk up their blue-chip jobs,

  • I quote: "Of course we cannot fail in this,

  • at least in our own minds.

  • For we are insane people,

  • trying to do an impossible task.

  • And an insane person does not know what an impossible task is." Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • Chris Anderson: Shaffi, that is a really exciting business idea.

  • Shaffi Mather: I just have to get through the initial days where I don't get eliminated.

  • (Laughter)

  • CA: What's on your mind?

  • I mean, give us a sense of the numbers here --

  • a typical bribe and a typical fee. I mean, what's in your head?

  • SM: So let me ... Let me give you an example.

  • Somebody who had applied for the passport.

  • The officer was just sitting on it

  • and was demanding around 3,000 rupees in bribes.

  • And he did not want to pay.

  • So we actually used the Right to Information Act,

  • which is equal to the Freedom of Information Act in the United States,

  • and pushed back the officers in this particular case.

  • And in all these 42 cases,

  • when we kept pushing them back,

  • there was three kinds of reaction.

  • A set of people actually say,

  • "Oh, let me just grant it to them, and run away from it."

  • Some people actually come back and say,

  • "Oh, you want to screw me. Let me show you what I can do."

  • And he will push us back.

  • So you take the next step, or use the next tool available

  • in what we are putting together,

  • and then he relents.

  • By the third time, in all 42 cases, we have achieved success.

  • CA: But if it's a 3,000-rupee, 70-dollar bribe,

  • what fee would you have to charge,

  • and can you actually make the business work?

  • SM: Well, actually the cost that we incurred

  • was less than 200 rupees.

  • So, it actually works.

  • CA: That's a high gross margin business. I like it.

  • (Laughter)

  • SM: I actually did not want to answer this on the TED stage.

  • CA: OK, so these are provisional numbers, no pricing guarantee.

  • If you can pull this off, you will be a global hero.

  • I mean, this could be huge.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this idea at TED.

  • (Applause)

The anger in me against corruption

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【TED】Shaffi Mather: A new way to fight corruption (Shaffi Mather: A new way to fight corruption)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/01/18