प्रजा अधीन राजा समूह | Right to Recall Group

अधिकार जैसे कि आम जन द्वारा भ्रष्ट को बदलने/सज़ा देने के अधिकार पर चर्चा करने के लिए मंच
It is currently Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:59 am

All times are UTC + 5:30 hours




Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 2 posts ] 
SR. No. Author Message
1
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:55 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:49 pm
Posts: 596
VOICES FROM THE GRASSROOTS
My name is Akkamma


http://www.indiatogether.org/2010/jul/rbs-voices.htm

How could someone not known to her at all prove and establish her identity, while at the same time no one in her own village was authorised to do so? R Balasubramaniam begins a series of Voices from the Grassroots.

30 July 2010 - Akkamma sounded agitated on the phone. She was calling up to know why she had to go through the process of being identified and declared as Akkamma by someone who did not know who she was. It took a while for my colleague Poshini to calm her down and get to understand the problem.

Akkamma is a Soliga tribal from Bavikere in Karnataka, and is a leading member of the women's self help group facilitated by Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). She and her fellow members of the group were recently trained in the basic concepts of food security, entitlements and the Public Distribution System (PDS). She now knew that her family was entitled to highly subsidized food grains and she was eligible for a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card that gave her the right to get 29 kgs of food grains each month.


These people do not interpret poverty as living with less than a dollar or two a day. Nor do they see development coming through as a Government intervention to augment their daily income alone. (Picture credit: SVYM)

She spent more than Rs.60 to go to Heggadadevanakote, the taluk headquarters. On meeting the concerned officials, she was told that she had to produce an affidavit establishing her identity as Akkamma from Bavikere village. She neither understood what this meant nor how someone in this town more than 30 kms from her village could confirm her identity. She was told that a Notary could certify and give an affidavit to this effect.

Akkamma was thoroughly confused. In her own simplistic way, she had called up Poshini wanting to know why someone from her own village or a nearby village could not do this, and how could someone not known to her at all prove and establish her identity. Akkamma's question is indeed profound. All that she wanted to know was how the government could trust an 'Affidavit' purchased for Rs.100, but not take her word that she was indeed who she claimed herself to be. She wanted to know how her identity was not based on who she was but on the word of someone who was paid to tell who she was. Was this the price of citizenship?

I was left wondering whether any of us would ever understand what 'entitlements' truly mean to people like Akkamma? How do we come to terms with some of the meaningless and convoluted procedures that the State has evolved to provide services to its citizenry? Isn't the trust that a government should have in people like Akkamma also an entitlement? Would it have been different if she were a poor illiterate (but profoundly intelligent) indigenous tribal women? Does the identity of who we are flow from our own sense of self or from what the Government through its agents and processes determine us to be?


R Balasubramaniam
30 Jul 2010

Dr R Balasubramaniam is the founder of the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement. He blogs at rbalu.wordpress.com


Top
 Profile  
 
2
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:59 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:49 pm
Posts: 596
VOICES FROM THE GRASSROOTS
Will I get my dry firewood?


http://www.indiatogether.org/2010/aug/rbs-firewood.htm

It seemed like an insignificant demand, but in fact it is filled with meaning, and the answer has remained challenging in more ways than one. R Balasubramaniam continues his series of Voices from the Grassroots.

02 August 2010 - This incident occurred many years ago. A very sensitive and humane public official, Subbaraya Kamath was worried about the consequences of the displacement that was being planned by the Forest department in Sunkadakatte forests in the Nagarahole National Park. He along with Vijay Lal Meena, the then Forest office-in-charge of the park were to meet with the tribals living in the forests and discuss the potential consequences of shifting or not shifting them out of the forests. He had requested that someone from the organization be with them when they engaged in these difficult and tense conversations with the tribal community.

My colleague Poshini, who heads the Community Development Services of SVYM was the ideal choice. She was not only conversant with the issue, but had a unique and one-to-one relationship with most of the tribals in H D Kote taluk. Moreover she was very sensitive to the aspirations and needs of the tribals and would make sure that the tribals found an empowered voice in these negotiations.

The discussions started with the usual business-like approach that the Government officials are comfortable with. Poshini had to repeatedly intervene to remind them that they were here to listen to the people rather than merely tell them what needed to be done. She was getting uncomfortable that the tenor of the discussions was getting prescriptive, and she requested Kamath to first explore what the people's feelings and fears were.


These people did not interpret poverty as living with less than a dollar or two a day. Nor did they see development coming through as a Government intervention to augment their daily income alone.

Slowly the mood and environment changed and the officials became more comfortable with trying to understand what the people were saying. They started to realize that there was a huge gap between what they had perceived and what the grass root reality was. People and their interpretation of poverty and their problems were so different from the traditional government understanding of the same. These people did not interpret poverty as living with less than a dollar or two a day. Nor did they see development coming through as a Government intervention to augment their daily income alone.

It was indeed a great lesson to be learnt for any sensitive and curious person. But then, there are indeed very few within the system that are sensitive enough to pick these signals and even lesser who are patient and humble enough to listen to these voices from the grass roots and still fewer who actually act on them.

What remains in my memory is what transpired a little later. Meena was trying to comprehend what the needs of these simple people were, and how the department could help meet them. As he went around asking people this question, an elderly lady of more than 70 years in her own simplistic way wanted to know whether she would get her daily requirement of dry firewood if she moved and settled outside the national park?

The officials were surprised at this small and insignificant (in their view) demand. Poshini also felt crestfallen that this lady had to ask for only this. As I sit back and think about this incident, this question is so filled with meaning for me. I remember the views of Amartya Sen in his book Development as Freedom, wherein he talks about people having the freedom to choose what they value. The question that this elderly tribal woman asked is so pregnant with meaning and the answer would be challenging in more ways than one.

How could a Government that only understands development in mere economic and measurable terms be able to interpret and deliver to this 'voiceless' citizen? How would development experts be able to integrate social, cultural, political, and other basic rights into their frameworks? How will anyone understand that 'development' goes beyond looking at mere utilitarian and libertarian issues? What place will 'personal freedom' and 'choice' have in the various schemes that the Government planners conceive of? Will the voice of wisdom from this inconspicuous tribal hamlet in a geographically challenged setting find any place at all in the way the government thinks of displacement and development?

How could anyone amortize and measure the value of dry firewood being available each day for this tribal woman whose life revolves around the forest and what it provides? Could we even conceive this concept so well propounded by Sen and factor it in the different development programs that socially conscious Governments and well-meaning NGOs conceive and implement?


R Balasubramaniam
02 Aug 2010

Dr R Balasubramaniam is the founder of the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement. He blogs at rbalu.wordpress.com


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 2 posts ] 

All times are UTC + 5:30 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group