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A Case for Sustainable Rhetoric

The Tower of Gabble

by P. SAINATH

I have reflected in recent times on all the useful words that Development has taught me. It seems to me this is something Civil Society needs to ponder, right from the Grassroots to Emerging Leaders. At some point, a Knowledge-Based Society needs to learn something. What, I do not know, but hopefully something that demarcates us from all those ignorance-based societies of these past millennia. Perhaps we need to have a Consultation of NGOs, Action Groups, CSOs and all other Stakeholders to work out the Best Practices in this regard..

These groups could then work towards a Summit bringing together the best talent from amongst whom we create a Task Force which will then seek to Empower the Target Groups in each sector. The Summit itself will work out an overall Declaration to be translated into concrete Action Plans by Focus Groups. The Exploratory Sessions will be based on Interactive Communication (and Gender Equity).

Since by this time we might be running low on Sustainable Resources, we could initiate a number of Private-Public Partnerships to ensure that some share of the moolah goes to at least a few Beneficiaries. (The Livelihood Issues of the leaders of Non-Profits, for instance, are not unimportant.) These Micro-Credit Strategies could further be supplemented through Budgetary Allocations by other Facilitators (sometimes called governments). They could be roped in via a Plenary Session on Good Governance, Accountability and the importance of Networking.

Given the need to create an Alternative Dialogue with an Innovative Conceptual Framework, we could enlist the Traditional Knowledge of Development Consultants who would call Workshops to decide on how to Mainstream Development Issues in the Media. We must, after all, examine Paradigm Shifts in the Development Debate while strengthening Conscientization, Advocacy Outreach and Institution-Building.

We propose a Preparatory Meeting (at an Eco-Friendly locale) which can formulate a Mission Statement on how best to further the goals of Human Development and Natural Resource Management towards building a better Common Future. Realization of our Millennium Goals would undoubtedly require serious Capacity Building Ideas on how to ensure Food Security for the participants in the Pre-Summit Brainstorming are welcome. Undoubtedly, in this era of the Information Society, the first session will be on ICTs and Poverty Alleviation.

There will be, of course, a Focus Session on Resource Mobilization (Self-Help Groups are asked to show a little restraint at this point). Deliberations resume after a quick Participatory Research Lunch. Germane to the Fund-Raising focus will be the Study of Issue-Based development of Institutional Linkages to the right Donors. The whole area throws up several Challenges / Opportunities that call for Strategic Planning aimed at ensuring Control/Access over Resources.

The next session looks at Integrated Strategies that adopt a Holistic Approach in ensuring Local Participation and Community Control. Case studies of Successful Interventions amongst Marginalised Communities will be presented (by Subaltern Voices from the grassroots). A Core Group will do Environmental Impact Assessments of the radical new rhetoric. Our Documentation & Research Centre will preserve all relevant material in Gender-Sensitive Databases. (All irrelevant material goes into the Final Report of the Conference.)

The above presentation is available in Power Point format. Please add $ 5 for postage.

P. SAINATH can be reached at psainath@vsnl.com.

Editors’ note: Okay CounterPunchers, this is a breach of what we term the Ron Jacobs Rule, in memory of a satire by this same Jacobs which too many CounterPunchers took to be literally true. We swore we’d never publish another satire. But exceptions are there to prove (meaning test or assay) the rule. This is a parody, a very deft parody of a dialect, called NGO-Speak. We’ll leave it to Noam Chomsky to decide how deeply this hideous argot is embedded in Man’s (and Wo-Man’s) neural circuitry, but it’s now become the lingua franca of all grant applicants, conference planners and permanent itinerants to those Forums of Uplift inhabited by all who believe that the world’s problems can be solved by nice people inspired by a trip to Porto Allegre and a (sustainable) grant from some major foundation.

We are very happy to have the author of this genial parody on our site, where we will be featuring his work from time to time. P. SAINATH is a marvelous Indian journalist we’ know and have long admired. His great achievement has been to disclose to respectable India the full extent and horrible realities of poverty there, not least in the thousands of suicides of small farmers driven to self destruction by neo-liberal policies.

After glittering years on Blitz and the Times of India Sainath quit the padded chair of editorial omniscience and started reporting on the situation of extremely poor people across India, spending most of his time in the remoter countryside, hitherto largely disdained by the Indian press. His collection Everybody Loves a Good Drought was a deserving best seller. Sainath has had a powerful impact, not only on Indian journalism, where there have been some efforts to follow his pioneering work, but on the lives of the people he writes about since he has provoked some political reaction to the terrible abuses and corruptions he exposed. These days Sainath is the rural affairs editor of The Hindu. AC/JSC