This came on the members list and I thought this might be of wider interest. Sowmyan has tried to engage with us on this list and it is really sad to see him go.

Pradeep Mohandas
How Pradeep uses email? - http://goo.gl/6v1I9

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sowmyan Tirumurti <tsowmyan@wikimedia.in>
Date: 12 January 2014 16:07
Subject: [WMIN-Members] Thank you
To: wmin-members@googlegroups.com

Dear Members,

I have decided to relinquish my role as the Executive Manager of the Chapter, and had communicated this to the EC some time back. I guess they did not quite like it and hence have in turn not let it out. Considering that I stand by the decision, and mails requesting grants and expectations of responses on these have been coming in from members of the community, I feel this must be made public. 

The Foundation has offered a grant of about Rs 33 lakhs for 2014 under FDC. The Chapter had made a request for an amount about 4 times of this. The grant request apparently did not inspire FDC and they have held that the Chapter may not have the capability to administer any larger amount. At 80% growth over the previous year, they seem to feel the Chapter has already been given a massive growth path and should be happy with this. Given the low grant amounts we received in the past, this 'massive' 80% growth does not mean much. It does not pay for salary for 2 people (as planned), an office, and the mandatory quarterly face to face EC meetings and associated travel.  

Regulatory norms put a cap at 40% of the grant value on these overhead expenses. At a grant value of 33 lakhs, the total over heads can only be 40% of 33 lakhs, amounting to about Rs 13 lakhs. This level means, we go back to one more year of passive funds administration without much Chapter driven events. An accountant / volunteer helping in disbursements of funds against requests generated organically would be the model we have to adopt.  We will still need an office to comply with regulatory requirements. EC travel may be some what uncertain when new elections bring people in farther parts of the country. By standing down I would be helping the Chapter in a small way to manage the expenses within the available grant. 

I feel guilty of having been a burden on the chapter for a year. We did not know our grant limited future will be so limited and my time was spent imagining grander possibilities for a brighter future and sharing them internally. The earlier EC dreamed big, and initiated my engagement though as a part timer. I was to become a full timer from April 2013. This was postponed by mutual consent with the current EC, as we expected the FDC grant to provide for it. The FDC provides for this in principle, but not yet by the value. So it is time to stop this wasteful engagement. 

I also feel guilty of not having lived up to the expectations of the members. The practical rejection of the new grant request (what else can we call it when what is approved is nearly 25% of what was sought) is also a factor for which I must take the blame. If the proposals did not appear to be impressive, were considered to have wasteful elements, was considered to have been built on inflated costs given the Indian context, and the chapter is seen as incapable of handling any thing larger, and none of the arguments in our discussions were accepted, I have to accept defeat, because I influenced the EC towards this proposal. The Chapter deserves an employee who can be more imaginative, and confidence inspiring. I am sorry I failed the Chapter. 

Many of you supported the Chapter's grant request during the appeal stage. Some of you were truly participative in making suggestions for the proposal. I think you for this. At the same time, I also wish there had been a much greater participation from members in formulating the proposals. There is a time and space for every comment. It was bit disappointing to see people who did not share any constructive suggestion in the chapter pages come and make negative remarks in the meta pages. FDC staff seemed to latch on to the later, without any further examination or clarification of the context. Things like this hurt. It is your Chapter. You have the opportunity to shape it through constructive debates for the formulation of policies. Negative sentiments cast a doubt that global community may not understand the same way as they are understood within India.  

I leave with the hope that the current grant may keep the Chapter active and in the next year it will find a better support. I thank you all for the cooperation extended to me. I am yet to complete some standard protocols. Recent membership addition related documentation is one of them. The delay has been due to my preoccupation with the FDC application. I want to assure you that none of the members for whom the membership card and receipt have not yet been physically mailed have been handicapped in their rights. The approved members were added to the opt in mail list. I will complete the dispatch of these documents, and closure of the grant report to WMF before end January 2014, when I cease to operate.  

I will be in touch with some of you as yet another social activity enthusiast. 

With warm regards,
T Sowmyan
Executive Manager,
Wikimedia Chapter,

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