ask not for whom the bell tolls

(note written in response to discussion regarding support for peace march)

by LS Aravinda on Sat Mar 19, 2005 12:24 pm
As important if not more important than the work we do in India is the work we do in the US, raising these issues and seeking insights sincerely. We are not one of those organisations who merely says, here is a thousand dollars, go march. We aim to understand and address the tough problems of poverty and underdevelopment, the kinds that plunge us into the midst of questions that compel us to think from new perspectives. I wish that we would take up this level of discussion with reference to more of the projects that we support. Indeed, discussions such as this ARE the heart and lifeblood of AID.

wrt peace march i have no doubt that the folks marching share these concerns, and in fact are propelled by them to march. in general, we should take seriously our role as volunteers to take part in debates on the various development areas in which we intervene. such debate should not prevent us from getting involved, but should be part of our involvement. village level workers and affected people genuinely value this dimension of our contribution to the cause, as they have told us often..

it always happens after long days of inspecting rehabilitation sites and seeking documents from offices, riding back in the train or jeep we will ask ourselves, “is it worth it, what will we achieve, should we have done x or y ….” or after campaigning for every BPL family to receive their correct ration card and full supply of rations, we will also ask ourselves whether this is a system even worth fighting for. the same quandaries may apply to a school or health clinic, or any number of programs. when we look at the issues in the abstract we can easily be convinced to do nothing.

i always find it helps to share my doubts with those who are involved in the programs at the village level. never underestimate their perception of the complexities and paradoxes involved.


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