iwitnessed ivolunteer

This is something blogworthy that happened which predates the blog, but here it is, because I think I’m getting addicted to blogging.

As a part of Delhi University, I’m used to the vibrant student culture here. People who come and talk to us to initiate change, firebrand students who do propel change.
D school.
And then FMS. Which overlooks the road to the market.
Maybe its symbolic.
Is it an accident that DU doesn’t know about FMS? That no posters of college activities are stuck up in FMS? We worry about companies and the average person not knowing about FMS.
I think its became FMS doesn’t involve itself in DU. Its not just because it’s a postgraduate institute-look at Dschool.
When I reached Dschool, I found myself in a small room, which had some twenty people in it. The talk had not begun, although I was late.
I was tempted to go back.
Then, the people began speaking. I was reminded of FMS. It was life a few hundred metres away viewed upside down-or down side up.
The speakers were very good. Brands in their own right. DPS Mathura Road. B.com SRCC. MBA IIM A. FPM IIM A. They hadn’t let brand MBA sear their skin though.
Mr. Pandey, head of the NGO version of CII- VANI started the Powerpoint presentation. I was reminded of Bschool. The bullet points were there, to hammer his points home .
Profit in its simplest sense, means surplus. To use some favourite MBA jargon, to add value.
To think of value in monetary terms alone would be short sighted. To translate in monetary terms, NGO related work entitles corporates to tax benefits. Hence corporate social responsibility.
He spoke of how NGOs develop people who work, thereby adding to National Income.
I found my attention wandering, in the Powerpoint. I found myself reminded of the lectures in College. At least I’m imbibing a bit more now than I used to then, thanks to Powerpoint.
Or so I thought. Then the second speaker spoke.
Like the storytellers of yore. A raconteur.
I was on a train, on my way to FMS after the Autumn Break. A boy with impish eyes asked me which class I was in. As this is an FAQ, the question was no surprise. How do I explain it to him?
I counted the years I’d studied. Which class are you in? I asked. Class II he shouted. Class 16, I said.
This was the same technique, Mr. Gulati used to explain to the villagers of Ghad, at the foothills of Dehradun. They’d studied till Class III, Class IV. They were astonished and asked, What did you study? And he was at a loss to explain. It helps us get a job, but what is the intrinsic value of what we study?
He’d ask in turn , looking at a field, is this wheat or rice? He was unskilled when it came to thatching a roof or ploughing a field. Do tomatoes grow above the ground or below?
He spoke of villagers who were showed pictures of city folk. What do you associate with these people, he asked them. Civilization.
Alright. Suppose they were traveling through your village and their car broke down. They knocked on your door. What do you do?
They said without hesitating, We’d offer them shelter.
Alright. Now suppose you are marooned in the city. You knock on a door. Do you think you’d get shelter?
No, they said.
Who’s civilized then? Trivia-the root of the word civilization is civic, which is also the root of the word city.
He spoke of this book Affluenza, and this website called trueeconomics.org which counts the goods and bads a country produces, in its National Income.
He spoke of how we are foreigners in India.Of how foreigners who come to India, would probably feel more at home, when they see Macdonalds, than the villager on a city junket.
This leads naturally to the white man’s burden now being the urban educated professional man or woman’s burden.
We live in a global village, where the villagers have been nudged out.
He has set up Manzil, where 80 children who go to government school are taught. Education there means business-it is strictly vocational. I am reminded again of my MBA. No one goes to university abroad-its too expensive .Vocational courses like in plumbing are popular.
So for all quarter life crisis sufferers, ivolunteer (a ‘facilitator’, a la CRAP. PJ-would the NGO version of CRAP be COWDUNG?Joffers a 6 week internship with an NGO, from mid May. For us, they may start projects from June. The NGOs who have agreed to ivolunteers are listed on their website-indiafellow.org.
The forms asks you for functional skills you have. To rub salt in wounds, it helps you out with examples. ‘like can you cook your own food, do your laundry, travel alone.)That made me think. In some ways, I would be a liability where I was thinking I would be an asset. Some one would have to cook for me.
Application forms can be downloaded from the website. Phone:26217460.Email:sujata@ivolunteer.org.in.
They will provide a stipend of Rs. 3500, which is expected to cover your food and accommodation. They will also pay train fare to and from Delhi. They will provide stints in Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Projects would include ones like selling health insurance through Self Help Groups.

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