Lok Mitra: Friends of the People

What is Lok Mitra?
Lok Mitra literally translates to "friend of the people". While think-tanks exist to encourage intellectual quotient (IQ), Lok Mitra is designed as an incubator for compassion quotient (CQ).

Who are Lok Mitra?
Entrepreneurs are creative visionaries who generate new value. While the world has recently seen a rise in "social entrepreneurs", Lok Mitra will create a new genre of "generosity entrepreneurs" who manifest new value through gift-economy projects.

What is gift-economy?
In a gift economy, goods and services are given without any strings attached; here, it is the circulation of the gifts within the community that leads to increase -- increase in connections, increase in relationship strength. For instance, when you walk into a restaurant like Seva Cafe or Karma Kitchen, your bill reads zero. It is zero because someone before you paid for your meal, and you are trusted to keep the chain of generosity alive by paying-forward for those after you. Such exchanges generate a shift from consumption to contribution, transaction to trust, scarcity to abundance, and isolation to community.

Why Lok Mitra?
Lots of people want to engage in "labor of love" projects, but they may be forced to give up on their vision simply because of a few missing pieces. Lok Mitra hopes to collectively provide a backbone of support until the conditions ripen for the project to be on its own. To that end, we provide a values-driven process, a like-hearted community, and some material resources.

What are examples of Lok Mitra?
We currently have six Lok Mitra. Raju is following Gram Swaraj model in the village of his birth; Jesus-ji is an architect from Spain who is redesigning schools in the slums; Uday-bhai is a rickshaw driver who runs a gift-economy rickshaw; Raghu runs a tiffin service for the extremely underprivileged despite being paralyzed from the waist-down himself; Vandana operates projects like Saree Library and Akshaya Patra to encourage generosity in the mainstream culture; Nimesh is creating a play with 16 slum children that will tour internationally to build awareness.

Who can be a part of Lok Mitra?
Anyone who resonates with these 7 principles:

  • Manifest a project that is "Moved by Love"
  • Engage in a process that embodies "Being The Change"
  • Honor the connection from the branch tips to its roots
  • Committ to a shift from ME to WE
  • Foster diversity and avoid the echo-chamber effect
  • Spread the work via organic ripples
  • Distribute and decentralize as much as possible

  • Why should I join Lok Mitra?
    At an external level, Lok Mitra have the benefit of a physical "office" space and vibrant community that can support each other's projects. When we are collectively "moved by love", one plus one is greater than two; that synergistic value is ultimately the most valuable resource of Lok Mitra. At an internal level, each Lok Mitra also makes personal committments to their own "experiments with truth" from practicing silence to making personal sacrifices (like not watching TV for a week) to doing daily acts of kindness. Doing such experiments with others deepens personal committment and inspiration.

    What are the primarily responsibilities of a Lok Mitra?
    First and foremost, each Lok Mitra is committed to a particular project at the intersection of their personal gifts and community's needs. Secondly, each Lok Mitra is committed to a series of self-imposed norms that range from attending Awakin Circles to reading a new book every week to sharing stories with each other (and online). Thirdly, each Lok Mitra is dedicated to supporting the journeys of other Lok Mitra's.

    How do Lok Mitra support themselves?
    Most Lok Mitra find their own creative means to get by materially. In some cases, we are able to provide the basic support for "roti, kapda, makaan" (food, shelter, clothing).

    How will Lok Mitra sustain themselves, long term?
    As one gives unconditionally, he/she creates connections that blossom into "social capital"; over time, just as people water a tree that serves the community, people will support each Lok Mitra. If one's expenses are Rs. 10 thousand per month, perhaps 20 people will contribute Rs. 500 per month to support the individual. This is how service warriors survived in the times of Vinoba and Gandhi, and we hope to manifest a modern expression of the same spirit.

    How can I join the revolution?
    Become a Lok Mitra, support the project of a Lok Mitra, or provide material support for a Lok Mitra. Feel free to write us if you have any questions or would like to get involved.

    Ongoing Projects

    Awakin Circles

    Every Wednesday, many "Moved By Love" friends get together in Ahmedabad to sit in silence for an hour, share aha-moment in a circle, and have some dinner in silence. It's a unique experience everytime and we invite you to join us at 7PM on any week.

    To join, simply RSVP and we'll send you the directions by email.