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Statutory Warning

This Blog is meant purely as a personal diary of a rural manager in making. It exists to record information, experiences and opinions about various issues encountered in the line of duty. Any person, institution and organization mentioned here don't assume any liability for its contents. This is not a deliberate attempt to defame anyone. And if you have actually read all that is written in the blog and are not mad at me, then thanks for your time and patience !

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Another Poverty Line

“By means of deep meditation and magical power it may be possible to sleep on fire, but it is impossible to sleep with an empty stomach in a situation of poverty.” - Thiruvalluvar (50 B.C.)

New poverty line has been redrawn by Rangarajan Committee. It is Rs 32 for rural India and Rs 47 for urban India. The earlier poverty line figure was Rs 27 for rural India and Rs 33 for Urban India.  Columnist T N Ninan has given us glimpse on the approach taken for defining poverty line - "The Rangarajan committee, set up two years ago to take a fresh look at poverty issues, has according to a newspaper report recommended a radically new way of deciding who is officially poor. New in India, that is, because the approach that the committee has reportedly recommended is already in practice in the US and Europe: poverty is defined, not as an absolute level of income, but relative to the average levels of income. The US says all those whose income is 40 per cent or less than the average (median, not mean) are poor; Europe is more generous, and puts the cut-off at 60 per cent of the median income."

The findings of the Rangarajan panel report on poverty estimates states that three out of 10 people in India are poor. 30% are poor but who are they? They are not uniform and homogeneous group as projected by media. Even those who are just above poverty line may fall below this due to vulnerable situations. I assume that new holy trilogy of social security {National Pension System (NPS), National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) and Food Security Bill} can provide safety net to many. Proper estimation, identification and targeting of poor for schemes are the real challenges in getting schemes implemented properly in our country

 Commenting on the poverty line will be like muddling on the pile of deadwood. I came to conclusion now that everyone believes what they want to. So depending on one's ideology, poverty in India has reduced or increased. Statistics can only be a tool for managers or policymakers. Perceptions, Meaning and Utility are the reality checks used by consumers and voters. Even in ours democracy, extreme poverty is not much relevant to the median voter belonging to middle class now. That is the state of affairs.

The cascading effect of increase in prices of petroleum products on inflation and a high fiscal deficit is a matter of serious concern. Upcoming budget must have tough measures to deal with forecasting of poor monsoon and high prices of petroleum due to Iraq war. I hope to see end of Subsidy Raj in Modi led central government and there are talks of abolishing planning commission. To what extent the government will be able to undertake reforms will depend on how far the NDA is willing to go.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Xavier University

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has inaugurated the Xavier University on the outskirts of the Capital city of Bhubaneswar. Report by Odisha Diary bureau can be read in the weblink here. Congratulations to my Alma Mater for inauguration of "The Xavier University, Bhubaneswar" !

Monday, June 30, 2014

Best Advice Ever !

I have landed a new job with Access Development Services at Udaipur. That is new news.

So why this cartoon? I broke 'Golden Rule of Quitting' that is quoted by NaMo above in the cartoon. I have also came to believe that nobody should quit job before working at least one year in a new sector. I faced a short term of unemployment as a rural manager. In retrospection, decision of quitting seems courageous but was made in haste and ill advise. The courage of moment is often over-rated and short of time, the word perhaps should be temperament to show mental strength. The days without job are long and depressing. Many rounds of interviews, rejection and low salary offers were part of this phase. It is easier said to follow own conviction than done. Not only the market treat a labour without job with low packages offering, cost of living in NCR dents the saving. Job hunt also showed me skewed distribution of opportunities, of how inequalities, relevant experience, and notion like 'merit' get created.

New job offer came as a great beacon light of hope and luck to me. Beacon that shines on the tower at milestone may not be the one we envision in the start of journey. I am more dedicated and cautious towards career now. But if you are looking this short tragedy with a tinge of heroism that is missing in my scene. I would have not sustained momentum without continuous support of my friends and colleagues. My mentors turned out to be what prof dumbledore was to harry. Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.

Every disadvantage has its advantage, but it is taken only by those willing to look within and introspect. I accept my fault of ignorance and arrogance. Few days of unemployment taught much on strategy of job search, need of vibrant professional network and solid knowledge. By nature I am a very self-critical person. It has its profits and losses. I was in stage of self doubt with constant rejection. Lately, I converted this crisis much to enrich self awareness and life skills. I am confident but will never take own skills for granted for now. Moral of the Story: There is no Moral in the Story! Just words of an underachiever.

“‎Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else.” ― Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Takeaway from KIVA

"I don't believe in charity; I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it's humiliating. It goes from top to bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people." ~ Eduardo Galeano

Have you heard of KIVA? Kiva is a non-profit micro-lending organization that connects folks around the world who need a loan with people who are willing to make those loan, often at $25 increments. I am giving my tiny share and one year of my activity with KIVA is completed. I have contributed amount of 25 $ as loan ten times from June 2013 to May 2014. Hence, a total fund of 250 $ is acting as seed money on KIVA today. 100 $ has been returned back by the borrowers and is in circulation again as revolving fund. I too got 50 $ bonus for introducing two friends on KIVA. You may doubt what I say, but you will believe what I do with the proof. This is my Profile at KIVA for the verification purpose. The complete process of giving loans and reimbursement through KIVA is explained in a previous blog post.

The poor and the weakest fight harder for survival, so they deserve more. They need only a little money to set up a business that can dramatically improve their standard of life. This is where commercial capital isn't willing or able to serve.  Milaap in India and KIVA are one of the best start-up ideas I've seen. They are doing humanitarian work and completely benefiting all the stakeholders.

The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention. - John Burroughs

WHY I LOAN? I loan because I can. Only capacity and compassion are required to do these small acts. I have a certain degree of positive bias towards marginalised. As traveler and native of India, I have seen poverty first hand and am committed to making the world a better place for all. Ground truth and lived realities are the collateral benefits of becoming a 'Rural Manager'. Aid is a nice but not sustainable way to help people. I had questioned myself a great deal and this made me choose a suitable way to help others.

There are people who claim to become altruistic only when their own self is fulfilled. Its pity that they lack sense of “enough”. Often the ‘successful’ tend to become ‘insulated’ from the society as they get richer and more successful. Most of them gradually generate attitude of apathy and contempt towards poor because the relationship is based upon social and economic inequality. In return, among other things, they always endure the relentless stares of poverty. An unequal society with majority lacking even basic amenities will tend to create undesirable reaction. I am not asking for everyone should have same but that each must have enough. So, such 'successful' persons need to awaken the inner conscience for empathy. To whom much is given, of him will much be required.

"If not us, who? If not now, when? " - A slogan given by Czech University Students in Prague, Nov. 1989.

I always recite this slogan in the hours of doubt. I am not seeking political activism and grand relief work from the readers. A small, sustainable and efficient way to change the world is better than fascination for a big project. I usually follow a simple mantra in the matters of lifestyle : One can change, provided the will is there. I will ask readers to help people through small loans. Doing this doesn't require much time, absence from office for volunteership, and doesn't deplete one much of the hard earned money. I agree that it is neither glamorous and can't make one famous, but it will make a difference to someone!

*I am planning to start contributing on another platform called - Rang De with a new job.


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