From the little efforts I have made or have seen people make make in the direction of social work in India, I am firmly convinced that these efforts should remain small and conentrate the specific location or area of work they have chosen. The most important reason for this is that trying to become big takes away the focus from the actual work and a lot of time, energy and resources are wastes in managing the group instead. Yeah, I am ruling out even the several groups joining hands together and coming at one platform etc.
Where are the time and resources wasted? Firstly, there are well acknowledged issues of managing a big group, not just in case of social work, but almost anywhere. If it’s a large group, there have to common norms, practices and monitoring on the use of resrouces. A big waste!
But even more important is the ideological clashes. Often people trying to get involved in these things have their own ideologies about how the world should be. Through their work they would like to push the world in that direction. Someone might be more aggressive about his/her ideaology, someone might be less so. However, in a big group, clashes are bound to happen. And most of the time there is no objective way to determine what is right and what is wrong. It is mostly the question of subjective perception. And neither can the intentions of any of the sides be questioned. All of them are trying to do some good. More important in such cases is to get some action, rather than wasting time, efforts and resources on resolving these clashes and even arriving at a compromise. Compromise is not a solution in a field where one has to depend on individual’s motivation alone. Once forced into a compromise, a large number of people tend to lose motivation. And one has te be careful in defining the scope of ideology too. At a broader level people who might appear of have similar ideologies might be poles apart in what the operation of those ideologies mean for them. And once again, for most part there won’t be a balck and while this-is-right-that-is-wrong kind of answer.
Hence, it’s always better to work with small set of people, personally involved in the work, whose ideologies incorporate minimal normative values, or whose ideologies match with each other. It is only if you decide to remain small would it be possible to identiy the people with matching ideolgies too. And yes! there is no reason to believe that large organizations are the ones which will make real impact. Small ones can do much more, even if they get unnoticed. But the assumption is that the purpose is not to get noticed.