Let us start by the familiar wikipedia definition of what exactly is an Non Governmental Organization
A non-governmental organization or non-governmental organisation in English (NGO) is an organization that is neither a part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business. Usually set up by ordinary citizens, NGOs may be funded by governments, foundations, businesses, or private persons. Some avoid formal funding altogether and are run primarily by volunteers. NGOs are highly diverse groups of organizations engaged in a wide range of activities, and take different forms in different parts of the world. Some may have charitable status, while others may be registered for tax exemption based on recognition of social purposes.
So what is a post about an NGO doing on this blog focused towards the learning of technologies and hacking? Well basically, after finishing my graduation and before applying to universities for further studies or joining any company, as an Engineer I had so much amount of time that I was desperately trying to be busy by picking up internships and hacking websites and participating and getting my name into various Security Hall(s) Of Fame. While all this happened, I got called to come visit this NGO by a genius, geeky and a very old neighbor of mine called Sharath Ram Chandra (My thanks and gratitude to you).
Even though I value time a lot, my first visit to this place started off pretty bad with me being about 15-20 minutes late. However, once here, I was received and introduced to this place called the CIS-India by Sharath. Further on, I went on to get introduced to the Executive Director Sunil Abraham, Elonnai Hickok and Beli (Pardon me if I got any names wrong), ending up with a small project and an opportunity to conduct pro bono penetration tests on them.
I would term my finding vulnerabilities on various places of CIS as a hack, rather I'd say everything I learn here is a hack. Starting with networking with people who absolutely do not belong to your domain or understand what you do and vice versa. I must say, being a person involved with only technology and nothing more than a bunch of codes with a mind full of ethics and beliefs, working with a bunch of people making policies to help techies like us to convert our beliefs into real life practice is probably the MOST MOTIVATING FACTOR. I am a person who believes in open and free knowledge, probably would mean that I am a hardcore Wikipedia person, and here I was in CIS, an NGO that worked day and night to start and improve various communities in Wikipedia and helping out to provide an Open Media. Anything and everything I saw here would surely keep me motivated for the rest of my life.
I had previously experienced staff meeting in various internships that I had done. But none of them has been worthy of talking let alone praising. This staff meeting was held on a conference call between the New Delhi and Bangalore with everyone having a distraction box with internet connected to it in front of them. Here was the first time I felt as if I experienced a motivating leader (Sunil). Starting off the meeting with his speech about punctuality in a very different and unique way that would only make one think how much of a burden he/she was to the team in turn making them guilty conscious without really hurting any feelings. This meeting surely showed an innovative way of keeping all their persons aware even though almost everyone present had a laptop connected to the internet. Sunil surely set up himself as an idol by being I think one of the only persons in the room, listening and grasping almost everything that was being said in the room. This meeting was surely a place you could learn a lot about various fields CIS was working with, technically put I’d call this staff meeting something like the Internet Relay Chat but only with voice. But really, hats off to this charismatic leader - Sunil Abraham.
What I think
CIS is definitely a small office, but the work culture and the community feeling between everyone here surely is a wonderful place to be at (I’d actually call it more like a small home). If you have a mind for Open Internet or Free and Open Knowledge you should probably volunteer up at CIS and work with all these wonderful people. Finally, Even though you might feel a bit out of place as a person working in the core of technologies, I surely think if you are anywhere close to believing in Hacking or Openness and haven’t volunteered at any place that is working hard to bringing the world together, you are missing out on a wonderful experience and probably doing not doing the best thing.