Creating commonwealth : a new approach
( In a room, I am sitting a little perplexed and 2 of my bosom friends,Anurag and Irfan enter the room and ask what happened, why so woebegone?)
I: Dear friend, I have been given a great responsibility, and I donot know hoe to go about this.
Anurag: Share the problem with us, we will try to resolve this.
Irafan: yes, by talking amongst ourselves, we can certainly come up with some ideas that will help you.
I: In fact, I have been assigned a project by the UNO to bring an entire habitation out of the extreme poverty. The people in that locality have been living in extreme poverty through many generations. I have been given considerable resources also. But, I am unable to decide the starting point, point from where I should take off.
Anurag: see, you cannot solve all the problems in their lives, moreover, something has to be left to be done by them also.
Irfan: No, but at least three of their basic problems must be solve.
Anurag: which three, please?
Irfan: well, they may be toilets and drinking water, nutrition, health centre.
Myself: what, they will do without education, even if we lift them out of poverty; without education they will soon relapse again in their earlier state of extreme poverty.
Anurag: then, I think since nutrition will take care of their health centre, we can replace health centre by the co ed-school up higher secondary.
Irfan: yes, and we can also use that school campus for adult education and that campus can also double up as a little dispensary with one qualified medical practitioner.
Myself: but the problem is these problems must be regarded by them also as the main problem.
Anuraga and Irfan: yes, that is the main problem, because all the asset we will create will have to be managed by them sooner or later.
Myself: so we are back to square one. We have come back from where we have started.
Anurag: It is not so. Let us go top them and ask them as to what are thing things they need most and then we should ask them to prioritize these need also.
Irfan: yes and in case their needs donot match our assessment, we can adjust our projects accordingly.
Myself: so, let it be so. Tomorrow, we will go to them and ask them as to what should we do for them.
( next day, we three go to the people living in extreme poverty and ask the as to what do they need mot)
The crowd: why should we tell you, what do we need most. Many people earlier also came and asked the same question. We told them about our need. Then they went away. Prepared their project report and submitted them to governments/ agencies within and without and got the grants and gobbled them up.
(listening to this, I became woebegone and my pain at human frailty was visible on my face. Seeing this, an elderly woman from that community came ahead)
Old women: this child has been running a school for the other poor children since long. I think, we can trust him.
Myself: I am a man who never goes back without completing the work.
Old woman: yes, I know it. I donot know about other. But let me recount three greatest problems I face. These are the days of rainy season and I find it extremely difficult to go to field for latrines. Second, problem is that some time it so happens that I donot eat vegetables since months.So, do something for vegetables. And do something that my granddaughter may read so that she may read me out some stories of modern age in my old age.
Myself: Madam, are you still to reach your old age.
Old woman: why not, tomorrow, I will be older than today.
( Now, a young lady comes out)
Young lady: Whatever, mama has said is all true. If you do some thing for these three things, we can take care of the rest of the things and will come out of this drudgery and never relapse in that. But keep in mind that our menfolk are very irresponsible and it is very hard to get done anything by them.
Myself: Well, We will come tomorrow again.
Myself: So, sirs, we are again back, from where we had started. If their menfolk are so irresponsible, what can be done. Moreover, their keep their women also so harassed and disempowered.
Irfan: men or women, they are disempowered only till they have no cash money. If they have cash money, they can do anything or can get anything done by anyone.
Anurag: yes, and at least their children will obey the.
Myself: then let us do, one thing. Let us first divide the entire money in three for three projects and then divide the money by the number of the families there. Then let us give them that money by depositing them in the bank accounts in the name of the Woman of each family.
Myself: then after some days we will go back to them and collect the money needed for making a set of community toilets for them. When they will give money this way, they will think of the community toilets as a personal as well as the common property of themselves and look after them well.
Anurag and Irfan: aha, this is a great Idea.
(So we did the same, some fifteen day later we went to them and deposited equal amount in the name of the woman of each household. Again after fifteen days, we went to them and said that we have to construct a set of community toilet for them and we need money for that and they should contribute. To our surprise, every one vied to contribute as much as possible than the desired amount. So, the toilets were constructed and every family of that community took care of the toilets, by turn.)\
So, one by one this way, we solved all the three problems or the questions like toilets, drinking water and vegetable and a primary school. That is first depositing the money in their account and then seeking the contributions from them on egalitarian basis. This way developed a new way to create the common wealth.)
By Krishna menon.