Who we are ?

We are Volunteers

We are an ever growing group of people like you, who believe that real change can happen when we become the change we want in the world. We believe if we all come together with our small energies and little contributions, we can bring about the change we want in underdevelopement, poverty, injustice and environmental destruction around us. We are students, retired persons, home makers, working professionals and we are spread out all across the world. Every day, more people join our movement.

Today, it could be you!

Somewhere on this planet,someone has a solution to each of the world's needs. It might be one of us.With your help we can build a more helpful world

How we are Different!

True, we are registered as a society and are, therefore, an NGO. But we work in a way that is very different to most NGOs. For us, Bakul is not an organization; it is an idea, an idea of what can happen when we come together. It is also a movement because only a movement can bring about substantial change. Therefore, anyone present anywhere can become a part of Bakul. We are not a fixed group of people. We keep growing and evolving and we want to grow further in terms of having more of you with us. There is no Membership Fee or Mandatory Requirements.

Unlike most other NGOs, we are not just interested in doing good work. What we are interested in is how we can inspire many more people to do the good work with us. Wanting to mobilize others puts the pressure on us of doing excellent and inspirational selfless work. Moreover, if we do not do good work and are not proud of the work we are doing, we will not remain with Bakul ourselves. The easiest thing for a volunteer is to exit.

To inspire more and more people to volunteer, we try and demonstrate what is achievable entirely through volunteerism. For instance, our children’s library. For us, Bakul is a platform where people like-minded people like us can come together. Therefore, if you have an idea for how society or some section of it can benefit from your volunteerism, at Bakul, you could mobilize people around you from among us and together we could make it happen.

How we started

We started out with three of us, Sujit, Satyajit and Ayusman launching a library movement in Odisha with a campaign, DONATE BOOKS: BUILD A LIBRARY (Link to www.pledgebank.com/bakul-library) on 1st April 2006. We took the name of BAKUL after the name of a tree found in abundance in Eastern India. In Odisha where we began, it is suggestive of a legacy as well. The Founding Fathers of the state such as Gopabandhu Das had started a school in a Bakul Van (Bakul grove). Thus, the tree becomes a symbol of what can happen with minimal resources. At the same time the idea behind the school was not merely to teach students, but to create the future leaders of the state. Our mission to spread the virus of volunteerism takes inspiration from that initiative a century back and we decided to take the name from there. At the time of launching the pledge, BAKUL was not registered, nor was it in the process of being registered.

BAKUL was only an idea and it existed only on the internet. We began with a blog (that has become dysfunctional)and an on-line campaign at www.pledgebank.com/bakul-library with our own pledge to set up a Children's Library in Bhubaneswar on 1st April 2007 if 1000 individuals also pledged to contribute. Meanwhile, during the course of the campaign, BAKUL was registered as an organization from among those who had pledged for the campaign. We also organized Film Festivals at IIM Bangalore and Delhi University as an excuse to bring people together, where we could talk about our idea of BAKUL and mobilize support.

An Indian student group called UDAI at the University of Waterloo in Canada, got excited by our campaign and mobilized 3000 books for our endeavor.

Our Philosophy

Who is a Volunteer?

A volunteer for us is one, who works for social and environmental development without any material benefits or salary.

Why Bakul or why a movement for volunteerism?

The founding of Bakul in Orissa had 3 main provocations Individuals wanted change but were cynical about it and about their capability to bring about that change because they could only make small contributions. They, therefore, did little to bring about that change as well. The mistaken notion that change could happen only through big funding as if public participation was not needed. The public that wanted to participate, on the other hand, did not have a credible platform that generated trust for people to contribute. Our perception was that a major chunk of people from India and Orissa in particular wanted to give back to society. Most people did not trust NGOs and believed NGOs existed to make money. NGOs made little effort to engage volunteers as well. For instance, after the Volunteer Fair 2008 in Bhubaneswar jointly organized by VSO and Bakul, most of the NGOs apart from Bakul did not really engage the young people interested in volunteering. With Bakul, however, though more than 200 had signed up, atleast 30 actively volunteered in the last few months and have brought in more of their friends. Therefore, the mission of Bakul is bring about an attitudinal change in individuals that makes them active citizens and this can only happen through a movement.

What is the Bakul Model of Intervention?

Bakul works on a model of what we call “Volunteer Capitalism”. The Volunteers at Bakul and the spirit of volunteerism in the work of Bakul inspires and brings more people to volunteer. Like capital attracts more capital, the volunteers of Bakul attract more volunteers. In its two and a half years of existence, more than 2000 individuals have been actively involved. It started with the pledge campaign itself. The benefit of an online campaign was, as people saw that many more people like them had pledged, they felt motivated to get involved and made them also believe in the possibility of its success. We call a volunteer Bakulized not when she is extremely enthusiastic about Bakul. For us, a volunteer cannot be Bakulized unless she Bakulizes others.

What are our Limitations and Challenges?

Like all romantic things, volunteerism has its own challenges. The biggest challenge is the high volunteer turnover. Many volunteers join Bakul, work passionately and do great work, but then soon enough, they leave. That is why, there is often a challenge of consistency. Often the learning and expertise the volunteers acquire in the course of their volunteering does not stay with Bakul in the absence of many permanent volunteers. The success of volunteerism is its greatest challenge also. Seeing the work of Bakul, many people have very high expectations but Bakul may not have the human resources to fulfill those expectations since the volunteers keep moving. The platform that Bakul provides for people to come together to translate their ideas into reality is romantic. But for every idea that is taken up, many other ideas cannot be taken up because there are not enough people. Sometimes there are people ready to volunteer, but we may not have mentors to guide them.

Our Governing Body

Although we, the volunteers, are the real force of Bakul, we are guided in our activities by a Governing Body and a Board of Advisors.

Governing Body

President - Professor Jatindra Kumar Nayak

Secretary - Sujit Mahapatra

Associate Secretary - Satyajit Puhan

Treasurer - Tanuja Tripathy

Member - Debi Prasad Dhal

Member - Sandeep Kumar Mishra

Member - Ayusman Sarangi

Member - Purabi Das


Dr Sitakant Mahapatra (Padma Vibhushan)

Dr D P Pattanayak (Padma Shri)

Dr Nivedita Mohanty

Srimoy Kar

Bimal Rath

Our Friends & Partners

> SC and ST Development Department, Govt of Odisha. (Bakul has been giving technical support in conducting workshops at the State Level Children's Festival, Sargiful organized by the Dept since inception in 2010)

> School and Mass Education Department, Govt of Odisha (Bakul has been developing Model School Libraries in Govt. schools)

>Forest and Environment Department, Govt of Odisha (Bakul has been running the My Tree Campaign with support of saplings from the Dept.)

>BMC (Bakul has partnered with BMC in Raahgiri as well as tree plantation and awareness campaigns on Water)

>District Administration, Puri (Bakul sensitized people and other stakeholders in Puri on Water/Sanitation issues and Child Protection in the context of Nabakalebara)

>UNICEF (Bakul has partnered with UNICEF in organizing workshops at Sargiful and Sishu Mahotsav, Teacher's Training on Reading Promotion and the Social Mobilization for Nabakalebara. At present, UNICEF is partnering Bakul in a WASH in Schools project in Angul.)

>UNDP/ UNV (Bakul has partnered with them since 2009 in celebrating the International Volunteers Day in Bhubaneswar)

>ONE DROP (Bakul has partnered with ONE DROP and Gram Vikas in mobilizing villagers to address issues of Water and Sanitation in Ganjam and creating awareness on the issues in Odisha in general)

>Humara Bachpan Campaign (Bakul partnered with the Campaign in organizing the International Day of Service in 2014)