I-MAK and InSPIRE

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
By mere virtue of the fact that I write this blog, I get to hear about really amazing programs and initiatives. Here are two that are truly inspirational--hope you will get involved:

I-MAK

Featured in this month's India Currents, I-MAK--Initiatives for Medicine, Access and Knowledge--works to provide health care and medicine to the poor, in the face of pharmaceutical monopolies and weak patent systems. The brainchild of Priti Radhakrishnan and her husband, Tahir Amin, I-MAK's focus is two-fold. On the one hand, the organization gives a voice to the poor by highlighting the fact that effective drugs are made inaccessible to whole swaths of the population; and enfranchising these segments of the population within the courts.

In a more institutional vein, I-MAK looks for high-priced, effective drugs that could be made more widely accessible by coming into the generic market, and it examines the patents companies have on such drugs with the goal of poking holes in frivolous patents and dismantling patent monopolies. I-MAK understands that innovation is important in the field of medicine--as such, while its main goal is increased accessibiltiy, I-MAK's team of attorneys and scientists work with governments, researches, procurers, and supliers to strengthen patent systems and encourage innovation while challenging non-meritorious patents that drive up costs.

I-MAK focues on developed nations and developing nations alike--there are issues to be addressed in both. One staggering statistic: According to the World Health Organization, 10 million lives could be saved each year if access to medicines and medical care were improved.

I-MAK is the sort of non-profit that everyone claims to want to find and be a part of: One with a sound structural mission that accompanies its broad idealism. Learn more at the I-MAK website.

InSPIRE
InSPIRE-- India Service Program Inspiring Reflective Exploration--offers opportunities for South Asian Americans to explore, understand, and serve India. With the core belief that travel shoud be inspiring and enriching, InSPIRE looks to strengthen ties between participants and India, while simultaneously promoting service-based tourism. The experiences that these programs afford are vast--recent groups have witnessed and taken part in a sanitation rally in a Gujarati village; the building of proper sanitation in Indian slums; outreach to residents of half-destroyed settlements on the banks of the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh; a meeting of a people’s movement that advocates for tribal rights; a heated debate on development with Delhi youth at the beautiful Lodhi Gardens. To name a few.

InSPIRE currently has three programs: One for college students, one for young professionals, and one for families. This year's trips for young professionals center around visiting NGO's in the fields of water and micro-finance. In a new move, InSPIRE is testing a "pay what it's worth" technique this year with the "young professional" program; instead of charging participants, InSpire provides a detailed break-down of what it costs to run the program, and it asks participants to decide how much to give.

So many of us talk about ways to show our children "where they came from"; so many of us wax profound about working in India "one day." Here's our chance. And, because the family program is a 2 week journey, it can be worked in around school schedules, ballet lessons, work schedules...and all sorts of other logistics that often serve as stumbling blocks to doing what we want to do.

Learn more here and here--there is still room for the trips that are planned for this summer. Applications for the young professional and family programs are due March 30.
17 comments:
reena said...

what wonderful, inspirational programs. thank you for sharing. especially in this economy it is good to remember that there are still worthwhile and humanitarian organizations that are still tying to do good.

Anonymous said...

I-MAK sounds amazing. Will learn more.

J.G.P. said...

I am really interested in these inSPIRE programs, seems like a great thing to do with my 2 young children. Can't swing it for this year--is there information for next year?

Seema said...

great orgs, i read about IMAK in india currents. is there a way to be involved besides donating money?

Ushi said...

this is crazy i was just talking last night with some friends about how it would be great to organize trips to india that dont involve 2 year commitments and the like, and that could couple vacation with community service...great minds think alike!

Anonymous said...

this is super inspiring and gives me and i am sure many other people pause as we continue to tighten our pocketbooks and worry about all the things we "need". thanks for sharing.

Kiran K. said...

what a cool idea for the payment. but how will the company pay its costs if people don't pay the full amount?? i am toying with the idea of starting a non-profit (still in the very early stages) and i would love to incorporate this model of payment but does it work???

Dr. S said...

I'm glad I-MAK is doing such a good deed without risking advancement in science. It is one thing to believe in providing medicine and health care for all but we don't want to have a freezing effect on the scientists and researchers who every day need money in order to make advances and help more people.

rahul said...

Kiran K.-- The gist of gift-economy is that your unconditional generosity gives others permission to operate from the same space. This not only sustains, but grows in ways you can't plan. Charityfocus.org is brilliant specimen and leading voice in this model, and they've been doing it for ~10 years. This particular post from their blog addresses your question well:
http://www.charityfocus.org/blog/view.php?id=1870

Ayesha said...

I am a lawyer and would love to be involved in the legal aspects of IMAK. Do you know if they need volunteers?

lola k said...

wow deepa thank you for posting, i am always blown away by the amazing things people are building. i wish i had some money to lend support but we just don't right now. are there other ways to help?

Preeti Jain said...

inSPIRE seems like a wonderful opportunity. i am wondering how they choose the ngo's etc to work with? would like to consider this for a family trip next year. are they open to suggestions of organizations to aid in india?

Sophie F. said...

Love this blog, just found it through NYTimes Motherlode. V. inspirational orgs and i read recently that "consciousness-raising experience-based travel" is on the rise, even in this recession. silver lining of all the gloominess perhaps? good luck to all!

Anonymous said...

Wow I wish I had known about this when I was in college. NOw, even at 2 weeks, it seems to be a large undertaking, especially with young kids, no?

Shital said...

J.G.P. and Preeti Jain: Great to hear of your interest in InSPIRE Family! You can keep up to date on the website for next year's program. Alternatively, email info[at]inspire-now.org and someone will be in touch with you directly.

Preeti, most of the NGOs that are selected are done so because an InSPIRE coordinator may have direct experience and can vouch for their work. They are also chosen for their secular/non-partisan nature. The selection seeks to ensure that a diverse array of approaches and issues are covered. Also, at each NGO, the InSPIRE participants are involved in a direct service activity. If you have a suggestion, please email the team at the address I mentioned above! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

What a great group of organizations. And that first photo is just striking.

Priti Radhakrishnan said...

Thanks for all the interest in I-MAK, since we are a small group the best way to support us is to help get the word out about the issue. Forwarding the India Currents article to folks you know would be a great source of support. As for volunteers, we do love to hear from patent lawyers and/or pharmaceutical scientists - reach us at http://www.i-mak.org/contact/

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