Meet Piyush Raj Verma, Director of Care about People Foundation(CAP); An NGO run by RMLNLU Alumnus & Students

Piyush Raj Verma is the director of the Care About People Foundation (CAP), which promotes alternate dispute resolution in village of Uttar Pradesh and is run by alumnus and students of RMLNLU. He tells us what it’s like to manage an NGO and how “creativity is the best substitute for financial muscle”.

Interview by Ryan Wilson.

piyush raj verma 1

[In pic above: Piyush]

RW: Hi Piyush, Could you introduce us to Care about People Foundation(CAP)?

Piyush: Care about People Foundation(CAP) is a Lucknow-based registered NGO. It was founded by Sachin Upadhayay, Rishabh Kapoor and Rishi Raj- alumnus of the RMLNLU. CAP works to bring about social change in a realistic and practical way. Currently we are trying to promote alternate dispute resolution in villages to make them litigation free one at a time.

RW: What has CAP achieved in its 3 years of functioning?

Piyush: In 3 years CAP has worked towards general social welfare through a Legal Aid Camp at the Kumbh Mela, Blood Donation Drives, RTI awareness campaigns and career counselling for the underprivileged.

RW: Why target the Kumbh Mela for a Legal Aid Camp?

Piyush: CAP focusses on a “realistic” and “practical” solutions to social problems. We targeted the Prayag (Allahabad) Kumbh Mela for a Legal Aid Camp. It is the largest of all melas and is believed to be the most auspicious. On important bathing dates, millions of pilgrims bathe on the banks of the holy Sangam.

Maha Kumbh- 2013 as per the estimates attracted nearly more than 5 Crore people during the 55 days of its course. With a massive gathering like this, a large number of disputes, legal in character, were expected to arise during the Mela.

It would be in the interest of the people, to resolve their issues at the spot, instead of going too far off places and being summoned to courts for proceedings every now and then.

It was for this purpose the Mela Administration itself installed a mediation centre in the Mela vicinity, a legal aid authority  and appointed advocates to work for the cause.

A team of 12 para-legals by the name of CAP duly certified by the National Legal Services Authority, New Delhi worked day in and day out for the purpose.

rti camp 3

[CAP’s RTI Awareness Camp reach out to the illiterate]

RW: CAP works closely with students of RMLNLU. Could you elaborate upon this relationship?

Piyush: CAP’s operational model includes a temporary working staff strength of 50. Apart from the working staff, CAP works closely with 15-20 students of National Law University of Lucknow while others are always welcome to volunteer.

We had good law student involvement in our RTI camps. This is beneficial for both the attendant of the camp and the student. It puts pressure on the student to not only research the act well (Preparation Level: Moot Court), but to take it a step further and explain it to the common man in a language comfortable for him.

This brings about social change and develops socially sensitive law graduates at the same time.

rmlnlu students school students rti

[Picture: RMLNLU students working with CAP to conduct RTI awareness camps in Schools]

Piyush: In 3 years, I would like to believe that CAP has established a good name in UP when it comes to work in Socio-Legal Issues.

RW: How does CAP secure funding?

Piyush: Now that CAP has almost completed 3 years of functioning, it will soon be eligible for s “80G Certificate” under the Income Tax Act 1961. As per the Income Tax Act, 1961 only those donations to NGO’s registered with the tax authorities will be considered eligible for deduction. So far CAP has been entirely self-financed. 

However, this self-financing model is not sustainable in the long run. We would like to facilitate and encourage those willing to donate and contribute for a social cause to invest in social welfare through CAP.

RW: Unlike other NGO’s, CAP does not seem to focus on a single area of social welfare. Why so?

Piyush: Financing and a lack of experience are major difficulties an NGO in its nascent stage needs to overcome. We need to understand our strengths and weaknesses to figure out a way to serve society the best.

Our strategy involved adopting a “flexible” model whereby we tackle a variety of social issues through a number “short-term” projects, while we gain experience and develop a positive working relationship with state agencies. In the long term, we would like to narrow our focus to help the needful in the legal field through PILs/legal Aid Camps/ADR promotion.

However, after working closely with people at the grass root level, I feel we have developed a special bond with them, and we will always be ready to help them in other aspects as well.

RW: What would be your advice to law students seeking to start their own NGOs?

Piyush: My advice would be to adopt a small rural district/locality nearby and closely monitor human rights situation there. CAP has “adopted” Gondarao Gram Sabha for free legal aid and promoting settlement of disputes using Alternate Dispute Resolution methods.

We have met the District Judge of the hardoi District and discussed upon the possibilities of making a village litigation free and gathered support from the Hardoi Bar. We hope to do so by the end of this year with the help & guidance of UPSLSA & NALSA.

We also monitor the human rights situation there closely and help in involving the necessary state agencies in rectifying the same.

If each law-student run initiative “adopts” a small rural district, I am sure the overall benefit to the nation would be tremendous.

law students adopt a village

[Picture: CAP team regularly interacts with the locals of Gondrao and ensures that grievances are heard by appropriate State Agencies] 

RW: How can a law student-run NGO make a difference?

Piyush: Law student-managed NGO’s can make the biggest impact if they focus on working with the government(irrespective of who’s in power) and aid in the practical implementation of state schemes by offering “creative solutions”.

For example, Lucknow Health Care Centers had an inherent inability to reach out to the right donor during times of emergency. CAP organized people from Lucknow into different Facebook groups on the basis of their respective blood groups.

People joined the group they belong to as per their blood group and also made their friends join the groups they belong to. It has helped people much to reach out to the required donor quickly and resulted in saving a few lives as well.

There are more than 250 members(all blood groups combined) in this activity now. This initiative did not cost us anything. Yet, by pursing this diligently I am sure we will make a difference.

I would encourage all my fellow law students to set up NGOs/start social welfare initiatives even if they do not have adequate funding- creativity is the best substitute for financial muscle.

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Comments Till Now

  1. *The Insider* says:

    The Insider requests everyone reading this post not to fund this NGO in any manner whatsoever. The members of this NGO have previously[] name of running this NGO. It is not worth donating to them as there will not be proper allocation of the same.
    The sole purpose of the Insider coming into picture was to spread this knowledge; not to take revenge for petty issues like not getting shortlisted for nukkad, which did not even happen btw.
    The Insider also requests the website admin not to remove this part of the comment in moderation, as it is for the common good of all.

  2. *The Insider* says:

    *The Insider* and many people related to this organisation left the charge of the foundation after finding out that it []. (Ever wondered why these people left dear volunteer?) The state of affairs in this NGO is such that if you don’t like their ‘leaders’ and their [] decisions to decide the functioning of this NGO and you protest, you have to face the music. Dear Rishab, instead of making arguments like – ‘hum nahi pasand toh tumhi karke dikha do’ and wasting time in boasting about the so called achievements of this organisation; try and do something really worthwhile. Dear Volunteer – First years shouldn’t talk so much; you no clue about what all your founding members []

    • Anonymous says:

      Rishabh :
      Funny u are *the insider” … hope to see more comments from u… migh be there comes a golden opportunity when I am able to learn and do something “worthwile” under ur able guidance ^_^

      • The Outsider says:

        Nicely refuted. Hear some applause? No? Know why? Because your comment literally made my IQ fall by 50 points.

        And just by the by, I am not from your college before you take out your pitchforks and start your witch hunt.

        Also a side note, if ever you want to be taken seriously on a forum please refrain from using silly emoticons, because you come off as butt-hurt CAP member.

  3. a volunteer at CAP says:

    We have performed nukkads at various places in Lucknow apart from colleges and received a fair amount of appreciation from NGOs and bureaucrats of Lucknow. Even the DGP appreciated our work when we performed in collaboration with their initiative PAHAL.
    I have a hunch that this *insider* is someone who didn’t get shortlisted at the time of interviews for nukkad. The founders of this organisation are the best mentors and supporters one can get in RMLNLU.

  4. *The Insider* says:

    His NGO only performs nukkad nataks, which are not even performed at real nukkads but at silly colleges that no one knows about. and then they click pictures and get it published in newspapers and that’s supposed to be social work for them. and it’s common general knowledge in RML that this guy bought a new bike [..]. There are lots of […] I’m embarrassed to reveal on this forum.

    […]. This should be known to all.

    • rishabh says:

      CAP would be blessed if “the insider” … highly intellectual takes charge of the foundation….. People like u are really needed in the socio-legal feild.. who can criticize only and do nothing … we will be blessed to have u sir/maam .. bhaarat desh aise hi naujawaan chahta hai..

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