Ela Bhat - A Beacon of Self-Reliance and Wellbeing | Gratitudeseries 12/60

In our exploration for "Data Ownership and Wellbeing of a Gig Worker," Ela Bhat's work, particularly her book "We are Poor but So Many," has been an invaluable source of inspiration and learning. Her pioneering work with SEWA (Self-Employed Women's Association) and her unique approach to women's empowerment profoundly influenced our perspectives on wellbeing.

Ela Bhat's journey is a remarkable narrative of resilience and transformative leadership. Her innovative strategies, like assessing creditworthiness through non-traditional means, have provided us with a unique perspective on the interconnectedness of economic and physical health, shaping our approach to include physiological metrics in wellbeing measurement.

Her words, reflecting wisdom and empathy, continue to guide and inspire us. Ela Bhat once emphasized the essence of peace and its integration into daily life: "Inner peace is important, but I have always felt that living a daily life with peace is the end. So in reality individual peace and global peace are not separate. They are one and the same"​​. This philosophy resonates with our understanding of the holistic nature of wellbeing.

Addressing the root causes of societal issues, Ela Bhat remarked, "Poverty and violence are not God made, they are man made. Poverty and peace cannot coexist"​​. Her perspective on poverty and peace challenges us to look deeper into the systemic issues affecting gig workers' lives.

Reflecting on the role of women in societal transformation, she stated, "Through women, what exists and is real, what is traditional, historical, modern and cultural, given the opportunity, is upgraded. That is what the challenge to bring peace is about"​​. This view has been instrumental in shaping our approach to considering the multifaceted contributions of women in the gig economy.

Ela Bhat's dedication to political action for empowering the poor is profoundly motivating: "SEWA is about political action, and that has always been at the heart of what we have done. It is about changing the balance of power in favor of the poor"​​. This reinforces our belief in the power of decentralized, community-driven initiatives.

Her commitment to self-reliance as a measure of success is particularly impactful: "What we really are looking for is self-reliance and that is how we should measure success. I don’t much like the word empowerment, but self-reliance is the foundation of SEWA’s approach"​​. This aligns with our focus on empowering individuals through data ownership and control in "The Internet of Value."

We extend our deepest gratitude to Ela Bhat for her monumental contributions to social work, women's empowerment, and our enriched understanding of wellbeing in the gig economy. Her wisdom, courage, and indomitable spirit continue to inspire and guide us. Thank you, Ela Bhat, for your enduring impact and for demonstrating the incredible power of dedication, vision, and humanity in creating a better world.

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