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FIELD NOTES FROM OTHER INDIA

 EXCERPTS
Other India No. 2, 1977 [Download] Other India No. 3, 1977 [Download] Other India , No. 4, 1979 [Download]
Other India Vol 1, No. 2, 1982 [Download] Other India Vol 1, No. 3, 1982 [Download] Other India Vol 1, No. 4, 1983 [Download]
Other India No. 1, 1987 [Download]


Other India was a quarterly journal chronicling the field experiences and reflections of the NIBM (National Institute of Bank Management) Rural Action Project social activists who went on to found PIDT. The following excerpts (unless otherwise noted) are taken from the early issues, published between 1977 and 1979 by the NIBM. The quarterly continued under PIDT’s management until 1985.

 

“…we were going towards Shankargarh when we found about 25 labourers sitting on a bridge and chatting…They had worked for a few weeks but had not been able to get their wages. In the meanwhile also the work had stopped and they had no answer to give to their families for the work they had already done and for which they had not received remuneration…’What is to be our next move?’ was their question to each other as we came to join them. The discussion went on for a while but no solutions were forthcoming. Then they asked us if we could suggest some method. We told them that we had already heard one or two of them suggest some solutions which the others had not heard…one of them suggested that they write a memorandum to the District Magistrate…He sensed some trouble and on the very next day disbursed the wages. All of the labourers involved in this incident got interested in the activities of the Team and a few of them have been working along with us ever since.”

 

“Some of them realized that through group discussion they could take a decision which individually they would have been afraid to take.”

 

East Champaran, Bihar: “The Gramin Bank has sanctioned some individual loans but the team did not directly involve itself in such lending as they want to promote group lending… There is a danger that the richer section of the area may capture the FSS and like all other development projects the fruits of this project too may be eaten up by the richer section. The bank generally wants influential men…to ease the process of recovery of their loans. The purpose though honest may lead to abandonment of the essence of the project i.e. to help the poor to stand on their own. …as it is known to every body, economism cannot cure the ills of the people of this area. The high rate of illiteracy, untouchability, dowry-system, early-marriage, high birth-rate and all other ills are there…The team was advised to organize social reform activities solely relying on the local progressive youth and people…to arrange groups and make intensive village-level planning at the area of operation.”

 

“Those who participated in the process are not researchers in the conventional meaning of the term. But what they have done…is essentially research work… learning from the people on a continuing basis and communicating their gains in knowledge to the masses… The main difference between an action researcher and a social scientist is that a social scientist wishes to maintain ‘objective neutrality’ whereas an activist is committed to deal with the problem and is hence not an objective and neutral observer of the problem…we have tried to put forward the problems as seen by the people and the solutions that they have evolved.”

Subhachari Dasgupta, Forest Ecology and the Oppressed

PIDT 1986: 3-5

“…the Lal Saheb family, a few of the local government officials and their associates who exploit every bit of the situation to their advantage…see
the Team’s presence and activities as the greatest threat to their interests. At one of their joint meetings they worked out a plan to oust the Team from the Beej Bhandaar and from the area…They also instigated the villagers to ask the Team to go. But not even a single villager co-operated with them. The villagers told them quite plainly: ‘We know the team quite well; they are our friends and are working for our benefit. You don’t have to tell us anything about them we know them well. The Beej Bhandaar is the property of the villagers, built by our own hands. The Team shall stay here as long as they please and as long as we want them to.”

 

“the people came very close to us and now every visit of ours into any of the of the neighbouring villages turns out into a small village meeting in a matter of minutes.”

“We have a long way to go. Some of our efforts have garnered a lot of enthusiasm. From now on we will play a more subdued role, especially in those villages where some activities have succeeded. In those we are forming various small groups like Yuvak Dals and Vikas Dals so that they can taken on and be the inspiration for others.”

 

There is much talk about a proper criteria for development. Many models have been built up and many schemes suggested. Again the painful question arises: are these models and schemes too going to make use of the people like some of the institutions and organizations?

Whose problems are we talking about? Whose development are we thinking of? Whose future are we trying to build up?...In the midst of living and working with the village people, we became clear about one thing: for real development of these village people, there is only one plan that will help; the one born out of their own day-to-day struggle, their experiences, pains and aspirations. One might call it a People’s plan.

 

...There is the necessity of continuously...making people clear about the process of planning [to] enable them to plan for themselves independently in the future. We have no power except through their power; We have no plans except through their plans; and we have no successes except through their successes.

Other India, No. 3. NIBM, 1977: 98.

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