26
Oct

Development and Equity

Dr. Sunder Raman’s talk at the AID conference held in Chennai in 1999.

SUNDER RAMAN is a physician at JIPMER in Pondicherry. He coordinates rural development, health and women’s programmes of TNSF. He also heads Center for Ecology and Rural Development (CERD), and is a founding member of the All India People’s Science Network.

WE WILL LOOK INTO the science movements and the sort of AID-TNSF interactions that will be most mutually beneficial.

We can look at the history of the science forums from the KSSP, Assam Science Society. We can go further back in to history to see what people like JD Verma, did to start the science movement way back at the time of independence. I think that it will be more convenient if we start with our own history, taking together the Tamil Nadu Science Forum and the Pondicherry Science Forum.

1980 TNSF registered. From 80-85 we made policy level interventions. W e held seminars, workshops where various people participated. This initial period is a period that we still are involved in. For example, when the nuclear explosions took place in Pokhran, TNSF was one of the first to speak out against this and build up pressure both within the scientific community and outside. We arranged more than 15 seminars within the first 2-3 months of the blasts to focus attention within the scientific community on this.

Look at patent law – National convention on patents, the working group on the patent law, made up of manufacturers, is convened by Dinesh Arul— who is the secretary of the All India People’s Science Network (AISPN). Policy interventions in Science and Technology policy is a main activity. We are people working in a variety of other movements by preparing good background materials on science policy. We never conceived of ourselves as running a movement, but more providing a back-up for others who were in movements.

From 1986-1990 we moved into an active phase of science popularization. There were two reasons for this shift. The earlier phase was not getting very far – movements have their own impetus and are not necessarily seeking our assistance or responding to our inputs.

One major movement was Silent Valley. That was an issue that put us at odds with major movements. So we were not always welcome. Science popularization, was an activity we made a central part of our agenda, inspired by Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP).

The theoretical understanding of why we made science popularization the focus of our intervention in social change – the development of a scientific temper was critical to fight various backward tendencies in contemporary Indian society.
We also viewed science as a tool for development which the elite are able to command for their interests. But dis-empowered people are not able either to direct science or to use it. So the notion of popularizing science was meant to strengthen their participation in decision making, to build the critical faculties necessary to break away from rigid stereotypes.
We started a children’s magazine, held children’s festivals. This was the time we started intervening in school science education, had children’s festivals, slide show lectures. During Halley’s comet we got telescopes, had a huge turnout. Focus on environment. This period we worked intensively in science popularization. This dimension remains current, endears us most closely to scientific community. So we have this vision of ourselves coming from science and seeing what it could do for the community.

It was at that time a certain uncritical understanding of science per se. We would talk of science as a neutral object that weaker sections could command for their benefit. Beyond this particular analysis, we had not gone in our understanding.
In the next period, in 1990 we switched our emphasis. There was major debate. There were stormy meetings, some people left, some people really jumped in. This was a time we got into the total literacy campaign. Started with Pondicherry in 1989, close on the wings of the Ernakulam campaign. Soon by 1990 in a number of districts in TN we had total literacy campaigns.
In contrast to what they are today, because we distance ourselves today – these initial programs were in partnership with the district collector. The district administration and the NGO entered into a conscious partnership. When you went to approve your proposal one representative of the NGO and the district collector made a joint presentation. Nowadays you don’t have the concept of the partnership. Now NGOs are merely staff for the program but not a partnership concept. When this happened it led to the expansion of the science movement from predominantly urban middle class population to a large rural network with outreach to the poorest sections of the population.

We were now going beyond popularization. Now we were getting into actual measurable improvements in the lives of people. In this case it was literacy. This had its own dynamic.
By 1993-95, the science movements saw a great increase in measurement 3, 5, even 10 times increase, more women entered, a lot of rural youth.
By 1994, an organisation called Samam was created to be able to take in and focus on gender issues. In 1994-95 CERD was instituted, a professional institution meant to give inputs to the rural development activities.
So there were a lot of spin-offs from the literacy movement. This was the first time we were able to make an impact at a measurable level, at the state and national level.
Starting in 1994-5 we went into the stage of our development interventions. No longer were we in the idiom of education, or science popularization or literacy (considered extension or prerequisite of science popularization). We went into a lot of internal dialogue and discussion which continues today and so what I am presenting are different positions.
It is easy to say that ‘this” is the TNSF position on these issues – it would be completely wrong. The TNSF has a delightful [tape cut].
What would be seen as someone who is largely pro establishment, who does not see any need for a transformation in relationship, especially in terms of property ownership, assets ownership, power structures..

World Bank and rest of country would see that NGOs have a role in alleviating social tensions and problems caused by bad structural policies. You have a major structural adjustment program for readjusting economy. They know that the social cost of this is an increase in poverty, which will cause an outcry. There will be a fall in indices, like infant mortality. This fall in indices will make the structural adjustment program unpalatable. You have to handle this crisis. Since the state mechanisms are inadequate to handle this crisis, we can support NGOs to handle it. To the extent that you can ameliorate the deteriorating situation, put a façade, show a development improvement, the NGO is welcome. This is the paradigm to which many people – at the literacy stage, even the World Bank promotes literacy, etc. you had this on the health program, etc.
We have our own problems with this. There are certainly areas where this sort of NGO based intervention is called for – if you look at areas like mentally handicapped children, the state has long accepted that the state cannot provide the kind of dedicated service, and NGOs have a prime role in this. To parallel the mechanisms of the state was considered inadvisable. There was a cutback in this period in social spending.
In 1993 in its document “Investing in Health” the World Bank called for improving health outcomes with reduced state expenditure, and one of the measures it was advocating was using NGOs rather than the poorly functional state structure. They said, look PHCs are not running, school teachers are not teaching properly, so look why not NGOs, they can do it better. Let’s give it to them. This was a solution that we wanted to distance ourselves from. We did not want to be accomplices in rolling back the state involvement in social sector. This is one dialogue we had to face in these development interventions.
Others who were comfortable with this type of intervention were the Gandhian groups. They articulated a position on this that was quite different. Their own way of addressing this issue of inequity and power relations was to call upon a moral force to act on the rich, e.g. bhudan movement where you ask people to part with their wealth, to develop the concept of trusteeship – the elite who hold so much wealth, we will call for a state forced change in property relationships, voluntary renunciation, for them to hold it in public interest.
And what policies the state can launch in a positive way to empower people, we will welcome it. So a lot of things like KVIC, lot of NGOs associated with it. It is the single largest funder of NGOs in the country today.
This structure, and CAPART etc could fund groups for running intervention programs, which aimed to improve livelihood of the poor without however addressing larger issues.
Gandhian medium was also distinct, called for cultural change, questioned desires etc. The movement also had an agenda of contesting with power relations through cultural change – reduce desires – what to do with MNCs – don’t buy their products, go in for khadi – force the larger structure in a nonviolent situation. The elite were comfortable with this philosophy, they could have their way. It was a truce of a particular sort.

Distinct from these positions, to us the question of equity matters – when you are talking of development interventions, improving health, provisioning of basic needs of people – food, housing, etc, the other issue is sustainability – we are also very clear in our minds such provisioning must be without depriving future generations. For example, if India were to develop on the US model, India would need an energy consumption of 25 times ours. In effect US has a population 25 times that of India if you look at it on a population model (since we are fond of it). What if we were to grow in a particular form of development that mimicked the west – there is no way the worlds’ resources could bear the strain of it. So the case for sustainability has been contested, but in an audience like this, is not open for contest.
What I want you to consider is the question of equity. How important is it to take into our development interventions the notion of equity. Is it enough to give a landless labourer bread to eat, or do we also bring in land reforms into our agenda? This has been so downplayed in our consensus building that we have to at times restate the obvious.
Equity has a historical justification, that rests on the fact that wealth was accumulated by the few, not by fair means but foul. You will have to go back 200 years, you will see that policies of force, brutality, deceit, etc were behind all the accumulations of large amounts of wealth.
Myth would have us believe that someone with lots of land is enjoying the benefits of his great great grandfather being a hardworking, acquiring sort of chap. We know however that on a given day x or y laws were passed which changed owners of lands into tenants. Land was accumulated, zamindari system was built up. Land that had been owned collectively by a village was appropriated into private hands over 20-30 years.
In the post independence period we can see this happening even with things like water. When water was in the community tank, water was shared by the community, albeit unequally. We do not for a moment have this mythical idea of a perfect ancient society. It was unequal, but it was shared.
Now in the technological situation of a bore well –that water is pumped out as private property. There is a water lot today, there is a water market today, you actually have to buy it. Those with more wealth go in for deeper tube wells, they expand their power.
Year after year as the water table declines people go in for deeper tubewells, acquire more property at the cost of others.
We can ignore this and do a watershed program. But whatever you do will go unequally to the one with the technology and we will end up giving some people a small amount, but will increase the others position vis a vis the smaller.
You have this program in e.g. IRDP schemes where a landless labourer … they would get wage labour but the assets created would not be community assets.
Equity must be part of our planning, there is a historical and economic justification for it. If the entire supply side market economies have to go assuming this unequal division of properties, then your whole production will be geared to the luxury consumption o the few.

I knew someone running a literacy program. He started an income generation program where people produced shower caps for the five star hotels. He saw no problem with this, it was an income generation program, it did lead to some resources. Five star hotels will pay much more money and the hotel would get a very good name by saying, we are encouraging women’s groups.
Are we going to look at industries? Are we going to look at who produces, who consumes? Or just say, chalo, some jobs are being created, look, people are starving, do something about it!
But if you do this you have to look at the whole notion of how you are going to structure production. It means inequity is not only assumed, it has to be reduplicated several times over.
There is also a political justification for demanding equity. You must remember that you are going to lead to so called irrational behaviour. We cannot understand a Taliban – we can’t even understand Bihar, we cannot understand the total breakdown of law and order. Well I say this as a Bihari, where I was born and brought up. We see this process happening in Bihar. The social tensions that are generated by a growing inequity – we see that no society can sustain if it is built on inequity.
Finally there is also cultural justification, it is a question of our values. Not that you need equity for some utilitarian x or y but it is like basic food, facilities, a goal in itself. Look in terms of gender and caste equity, ethnic groups, tribal groups – we must demonstrate in whatever we do that equity is also increased. It is not enough to provide facilities, have you also provided equity?
This underpinning – this way in which these three things which necessarily come together, must underpin anything we do in development. This is what we look for in the TNSF.
Don’t be surprised if you hear someone else talking in a very Gandhian sense – I am presenting only one very powerful current in the TNSF, but there are others, equally powerful. Finally we are getting down to work.
It is in this context of equity that we talk of empowering the poor. When we speak in the sense of empowering – this is also used in terms of the power relations in society – they flow from property relations but not necessarily in a 1:1 basis. A good articulate group can renegotiate its power relations, and empower dispossessed people for transient periods of time, through the election process.
Development interventions which we are looking at are largely those which in some way empower people. If we say so, the largest category are those in which you organise people to fight for people’s rights. We are looking at certain areas of work where we can contribute.
Don’t make heroes or mahatmas out of us, all of us in the TNSF are very squarely, quintessential middle class fellows, from middle class households, with middle class aspirations. Possibly our utopia is one in which everyone is middle class, with a 2 bedroom flat, this particular flooring, this access to education, etc, what a normal person has/wants. I am looking also at what TNSF with its particular composition is comfortable doing.
Many of us have come from elite sections, we are not the most dispossessed. I would like to organise agricultural labour but I rather suspect that there are agricultural labourers are better qualified to do so, they are doing so. But I look, as a scientist, what is the way I can contribute towards a social panorama where there are many different groups working for this.

When we look at this – the state also acts through educational processes. The classroom itself is a way in which — What does the school do – it teaches the child to find its place in society and sit still in it – this is the hidden curriculum of the school, well known idiom that has been used. The way the educational system and culture works, the way distribution of knowledge works –the way consent is acquired by these vast masses of oppressed people to remain within the se conditions without a semblance of protest.
We must look at the modern state not only as able to sustain inequity by force but by consent generation, hegemony. Makes people perceive its values as their own cherished value – we can see this in science and culture and technology, within the way in which we are able to find our space.
We are looking at interventions to empower, and the science movement looks at this as capability building. We look at ways in which empowerment will induce to the transfer of knowledge, skills.
So most of our development interventions are planned in such a way so that individuals, communities, constructed by us, run by others are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and organizational structures, and confidence to work.
Over a long period of time we have come to some conditions in our organisation. These are flexible, in our movement, but this is what they are at present. We look at interventions which
1) Specifically address weaker sections, which at some stage empower people
2) which network a number of villages or village level groups – rarely work with a single panchayat or village. We find these difficult to sustain. If we have a network, we can organise the weaker sections among them for solidarity rather than falling within the structure of a single village.
3) lead to an outcome where the network becomes self sufficient in resources. Of course funding may be there, from state, donations, etc. We do collect funding as one time investments which lead to creation of assets, training, etc, but after 1.5-2 years it should sustain itself. Our successes have been limited by some factors. Our own experience has been that if we are related to a funding agency – its priorities change in ways unrelated to our priorities. One day an NGO may be into agriculture, next day family planning, just because funding is available. But over time we may have a group of people, with families, depending on this wage. We can’t afford to close something down just because state priorities or funding priorities change.
4) Have self sufficiency in leadership. The group should demonstrate that it is in a position to take over.
5) Is in a process of growth, not a closed system, but open ended. Should lead to interventions in other areas in the same type of work, or the same area, other types of work. Not limited to the project period.
If you look at the programs we have tried to develop in health, credit, water, etc you will see that these are the points we have tried to follow. Now we are looking largely at

  • credit cooperatives,
  • health – largely women and child health
  • NFE, equivalency program (our experience here is limited)
  • village information service linked to the village library –Balaji Sampath has been helping us in a major way – developing a block to access a wide variety of S&T inputs able to sustain itself without depending on state funding.
  • Sahodari mayam – women’s counseling centers for women victims of violence – we are looking at making this a block level. Working better in Ramnathapuram
  • Agriculture issues: Soil fertility management, pest management, seeds, water. We have a block level center able to provide consulting, technical inputs, promote seed exchange programs, to help small manufacturers make local inputs, like compost, fertilizers, vermicultures
  • Enterprise development – we have a large program in small scale enterprises
  • Panchayat level planning – our first intervention with governance in these sort of areas.

Many of these are in the preliminary area. From 1995-1997 we have had our first field level experience in these, most of these are now projectized, some are funded as projects.
Now I will come to what you asked me to speak on, the area where TNSF and AID can work together. I think you know the way we are thinking and the wide interest we have. What is needed for such an ambitious plan?
What we are looking for from AID is a greater and greater human resource to work with us. Not only existing educational structure, but existing S&T structures also favour certain types of development. When you are looking to produce a 50 lakh microbial fertilizer plant you can find lots of technical support. But I have seen a small village group in W Bengal is producing microbial fertilizer of Rs. 50,000 or even less, and doing a very good job of it. There are very few people working in biotechnology looking at such projects. Universities are asking departments to become viable, which means they are turning to corporate sector. But we need technically equipped people able to look at the challenges.

Challenges of 21st century – much more efficient energy use, much more social interface of technology, technology adaptation. It is a myth to believe that people sitting together can plan their own development. There is a larger historical experience of 5000 years of human history they cannot do without. But people sitting in Delhi or an a/c office cannot draw up the plans either. We need to create a group of techies who can travel to the village and talk freely with the people there.
Dialogue will enable us to construct what alternatives we need to further our interests. The challenge that we face is getting people for a number of projects, ideas that we have in mind.
We also need ideas, and funds – especially where they are fed into a particular structure, so that we do not become dependent on funds.
At this point we are not very clear whether we want a funding relationship with AID, but we are open to it. We are also looking at other ways we can interact other than funds. Certain type of policy changes will be needed, but we don’t want to close that door, especially if there is a possibility of replicating something at the 50 block level. Because other mechanisms of expansion are so slow that it would be worthwhile to look at funds.
At this point the real crunch is in people. People don’t have to come and work full time, but people who are available to help us. Software engineers, for example have been able to help us. But working very far away without visiting the village is a problem.
There are areas of science policy intervention also that we can think of working together on, also science popularization. Kamal probably has a lot of ideas on things we can do for science popularization. At some point these groups must be self sufficient.

Ravi: you talked about equity – but I find that village level workers are paid a very low salary, e.g. Rs600, though they work 12 hours a day and we are told that they are the real center of the movement. This really poses a problem For example we have talked with people in villages and asked why they do not demand things like equal pay for both genders, and above poverty line pay. And they say, not even the local NGO meets this requirement, so how can you tell us. So if we ourselves pay our village workers, who we think are doing the real work the nation needs, an amount like Rs. 600 – why cant we at least pay our village level workers the minimum wage?

Sunder: good question, this is actually comes form the guidelines of the funding policies. In e.g. the Vellore program the fund will run out in Nov, but because we saved money we can keep it running longer. Because the possibility of the government to fund on different scales is not there. The choice for us is to run a project at substantial rates, knowing we will not be able to extend the funding. Whatever mechanisms we devise by which they can earn more is theirs to keep, it supplements their salaries.
One of the first project assistants that we had, we put at 3000/month. After 2 years the project closed, his employability outside at that range was limited, he had to go back into a wage of 1000/month. When you are running a large program with a number of people in many places, you have to match things like this, what other opportunity have you taken them from, what will they command when they leave.
Within the organization you cannot allow too much of a differential. If I call an IIT grad to come to Ramnathapuram, I will have to look at what salary he would get outside. It will be less, but it cannot be too much less. If we start them at 1500 or 2000 we wont get the people. We also don’t want it to be too much less, because as I said we have a middle class notion, and we would like him to keep his family comfortable.
So the people we have called in have been called in at salaries compatible with what they would get outside. This is important for the field level work. Suppose the government was funding this as an indefinite activity – then one should ask for a reasonable scale of pay.

Prasanna: At the time of submitting the proposal why don’t you write higher salaries into the project.

Sunder: – well suppose we submit for 20 lakhs and we get 10L lakhs then what do we do? I think that whatever we do, we should keep the administration costs to a minimum. Whatever costs that you spend should go for field costs. Let me explain. Certain NGOs get into lots of projects and build up fancy offices, but the project’s value addition in a particular area is very minimal. But you can make sure that most of your costs, which will be field costs, will not go into admin. Most of us operate on a very low budget.

Prasanna: salary is also part of field costs.

Sunder: True. So I am saying we should match what they would get outside.

Ravi: have you thought of reducing the scale of the project so that you can at least pay the village worker the minimum wage. Also this figure of 600 rupees we have been seeing for the past 5 years, and the economy has changed completely so that 600 rupees is not even worth the same thing. This means we are paying our village workers less and less. We have been seeing this kind of number in all the proposals. But what if we decrease the scale?

Sunder: if we decrease the scale of the project, the budget will also decrease –w e would not be able to transfer anything to salaries. There may be other reasons for changing the scale but it would not help in preparing the budget. Another reason is that at this point the people should be able to generate their own funds.

Ramani: The present projects – are they from government grant or has TNSF raised funds?

Sunder: Ramnathpuram program in its current phase is from money saved from another project. Kandhil / Nemeli is still in the project mode, but from March onwards the programs will be supported by the activities such as nutritious mix, computer center

Ramani: project mode means…

Sunder: I use that to mean it gets government funding. We do get some donations. We look at internally generated resources. Some part of the services provided should generate resources.

Suresh: but before that can you also tell me, what is the minimum-maximum salary?

Sunder: minimum is 600-800, the maximum is 8000 – that is not me – I get a high salary but not from TNSF, I am employed. 50% of this comes from a government grant which pays scientists working in socially relevant areas and their salaries come from that. But these people I don’t have to guarantee their salary, they can generate their own funds within the space we give them to work, they are free to do consultancies, etc. These are the people who are dependent on the funding that we provide. They are developing a feasibility for the program on the block level. Another is to identify industrial options for initiating enterprises for the credit groups. Enterprise generation still eludes us.

Kiran: my question is about AID TNSF involvement – I wanted to get a clear picture about what you might have in mind. What would be the significance of AID’s involvement?

Sunder: Let me reel off some suggestions.

Aravinda: maybe in coordination with that you could just enlighten us along the way about the decision making process

Sunder: I am not sure – everyone just pushes and whoever pushes hardest gets it. It is very difficult for anyone to get the organization to do anything, but it is very easy for anyone in the organization to do anything. No one will stop anyone from doing anything, in fact people will encourage you. We have a number of activities and autonomous areas, each with a subcommittee.

Aravinda: so maybe you can tell us how it will work with the group or subcommittee AID would be interacting with.

Sunder: If you are working with Jantar Mantar or Science popularization then you would be seeing Jam, if in development you would see me. We do sometimes meet and discuss. Only general policies need to be made together, but once guidelines are there you can do anything. One old maxim we have built up in the science movement – we will never ask with whose permission you are doing this, but we will ask with whose permission you are not doing anything. In the sense that if you are doing something it is fine with us.

AID TNSF – one program is to take up certain block programs as stated programs of AID and TNSF – AID is able to provide a lot of humanpower, along with, AID will get into technical and resource support as well as providing human power. We have not opened up the area of having AID funded programs, but maybe AID funding organisations that are friendly to us, which AID can claim totally and we have no problem at all e.g. someone making a film about our credit cooperatives which we can use in our programs. Also we will ask AID for technical interventions. Not collaborative programs where we are together in writing the project and implementing, but where we have a ongoing program and you can help with some specific thing we need for it. We can also use assets, like computers, slide projectors, communication equipment, etc. If you want to convert your funds into assets and contribute that is welcome.

Jam: Also things like books, and education kits. In India sometimes these are very hard to acquire even for ready money. For example we would like to set up a library of educational materials, science videos, etc. We have some stuff from NCRT etc. These can feed into many other programs. These are also areas where we need a lot of support, even books, journal subscriptions. Even people willing to write, or like Sandeep providing the cartoons. So much is possible, but we have to start doing it. Even using the internet – I was looking for something on geography, but we get 2 million hits which is completely useless – if someone could filter and catalogue this. Sudhakar was talking about information tuning – it is a beautiful word, but I want the resonance to happen at some point. We were even thinking of textbook reviews. What is needed is some leadership, follow-up – from here it is only possible to mail the books. Some people will have to spend some quality time on it. Once someone from Boston brought us a very nice book on fisheries.

Ravi: on the issue of textbook reviews, can we also try to ring out missing viewpoints, e.g. on things like dams, energy.

Jam: Forums for debate, nuclear issue is one thing, there are many more.

Sunder: This Nemeli / Kandhili program. In terms of self sufficient blocks of programs, we have that. When you talk about a self sufficient block or cluster of villages you mean you have an office there with 2-3 people in touch with all the local schools, etc. Ramnad is going well because they are using all this surplus money. In Bihar you don’t even have immunization so you can sustain a health program but here unless we have a kind of referral system, a notion of a health insurance card will not be viable, and we cannot charge for the level of services we are currently providing.

Ranjeet: This is a topic we have not touched on. We have talked about child labour, etc, there is a class within them who work in slaughterhouses – as a person who cares very much about the treatment of animals in our society also, I would like to see that children don’t have to work in this profession, and if this is a family profession they can get education so that they do not have to continue this. India’s development has gone in a direction that things like poultry farming, aquaculture, even rabbit farming is being offered as alternative occupations and income generation for the so-called poor farmers, without recognizing how dehumanizing it is, not to mention the cruelty to the animal also. I totally oppose this direction of development policy. Are you in touch with children in these sections of society?

Jam: I remember the reaction of AID a few years ago when they came across some children who work, we found that they are people from a specific community doing that job. We could list so many examples, that is why we have to go for universalization of education. The most important reason to send children to school, even if the school is bad – is to keep them out of the labour force. All over the coast of Madras a large number of boys go to sea at the age of 8. You can go to any profession, but we have to begin with universal schooling. I agree that you are reacting to a certain kind of violence that is there.

Ramani: I just want to bring in a potential conflict of viewpoint in AID TNSF work. Volunteers of AID Bangalore are working in Kandhili block, we have done things like provide bicycles – we might try out some ideas more influenced by Maryland-Mumbai-Bangalore than the next block. It may be that one block of TN may develop differently form another – is that ok?

Sunder: I don’t know. I don’t really know. Well once I read an AID newsletter and it talked of the AID program in Kandhili and I thought, “my god, thank god volunteers of TNSF don’t read the newsletter” – that was my first reaction. People have a strong sense of identity with the organisation and work with a kind of passion. So it becomes a problem if it looks like someone else is taking the credit. That sort of thing could be a problem. At some point the newspapers had written that Balaji had run the whole savings program in Kanyakumari. So we should know what is a collaborative effort, what is a TNSF effort and what is really an AID effort. Kandhili is large. Whatever my conception of it we cannot handle more than 10-20% of it. So we should be clear what is an AID program, what is a TNSF program with AID input, what is an AID program with TNSF input. For example if we are taking funds from you there is no question of taking it quietly, either we take it or not, but once we take it we will give credit wherever it is required.

Ramani: my question was not on credit or appearance, but what pattern of development would emerge.

Sunder: yes, anything is … TN is very large. Why pick Nemeli block, why not another block?

Jam: if your plan works, why does it matter?

Ramani: it is just that there may be some period in which it is uncertain whether it is a better plan.
Jam: Sure, but you have to live with uncertainty. A perceived conflict should not be a reason for not doing it at all.

Sunder: In terms of funding the kinds of things which TNSF would possibly be open now is books, software, equipment. We are also open for fellowships which AID is running – if AID says, we are sending this person on fellowship to work with you –that is welcome because the sort of payments we can offer are so meagre that any pressure off that is welcome.

Also we haven’t looked at this in depth, but development of block level assets. Another major thing, which I thought of
when Balaji mentioned the total funds that you have is that you should start a bank. I can’t tell you how much trouble we have had in getting loans. My bag is full of papers going back 30 years to support a loan application for some miserly amount. This way you would be able to help a wide variety of groups. Run it professionally, but with the compassion required for social investment.
Project investments of 1.5-2 years which lead to a sustainable mode. We could do this in collaboration with AID itself or other organisations. We may be willing to consider if we are thinking of a much larger program down the line, maybe extending across different states also.

Shrinaath: clearly this is the first time so many AID volunteers have met with so many TNSF volunteers. And tomorrow we will have more time, so people have one night to digest this and also look in light of the presentations tomorrow.


If my property of tablet and pen is taken away, what grief is it,
When I have dipped my fingers in the blood of the heart
A seal has been set on my tongue: what of it, when I have put
A tongue into every ring of my chain
Mata-e-lauh-o-qalam chhin-gai to kya gham hai,
Ke khun-e-dil men dabo-li hain ungliyan main-ne.
Zaban pe muhr lagi hai to kya, ke rakh-di hai
Harek halqa-e-zanjir men zaban main-ne.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

 

 

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