where small is not beautiful...

Welcome to the land where small is not beautiful..

Wonder what I am getting at?

Two recent news items caught my eye. One pertains to sealing and its effect of small traders, and the other on the proposed amendment to regulate foreign donation to NGOs. In both cases the big fish will get away but the small will suffer and ultimately die.

Keeping an eye on nefarious activities is understandable but believing that those who engage in such activities will not find other ways of doing so is naive.

Those who are engaged in trying to make a difference by reaching out to the many who have been let down - children, women - know how difficult it is to get help from within the country. Somehow the word NGO is circumspect and viewed with extreme suspicion and disdain, making people like us wary of even using it to identify one's self. True that it unfortunately conjures in the minds of people the image of huge organisations with large budgets and heavy administrative setups . It is also true that many are just that. Now with the added scare of NGOs being used to fund terror, mistrust will grow.

The flip side that there are some people who set up projects with an honest approach and are engaged in good work. The flip side is also is that funds normally come from across the seas, where even our kin become more charitable.

I spent the first years of pwhy trying to get support from friends, relatives, school buddies of spouse etc watching personal funds whither as very little was forthcoming. Everyone always had a good excuse, one more ludicrous than the other. Must add that what I sought was tiny, something people would flitter away in an evening. I even came up with my one rupee a day pitch, thinking that what I was asking was actually so tiny that it became invisible. But to no avail. Then our famous FCRA got cleared and the same story was sent out on the net reaching people I did not know.

Distance makes the heart larger I should say as I was overwhelmed by the support that came from young students and professionals over and above friends that I had known for long. The sums were not big, as many took the rupee-a-day option that translated into a tiny 8 dollars a year. But we survived month after month and year after year. We survived and hundreds of kids did not drop out, 20 different kids spent a few hours a day laughing and being loved, 30 people got employment and could feed their families, 7 hearts got repaired..

Now with the new law that will soon come to force, we may lose much of this support. Not because we are dishonest or dubious but because meeting the requirements will deprive us of the spontaneous support of small donors who often react to appeals from the heart. Moreover, the new law also states that a tab will be kept on whether or not the money is used for development. This will open the doors to witch hunting, settling of personal scores not to forget new avenues for under the table payments as who defines what development is!

For organisation like ours who do not believe in corpus funds and think that money given for a cause should be used as soon as possible, any blocking of funds to answer queries would mean no money for the next month. For organisation like ours which have very restricted small administrations, a point appreciated by our donors, it may mean increasing that budget to meet the new requirements. It alsomeans retructuring our donor base in a way that may jar with what we believe in.

But above all it will mean losing the warmth and spontaneity that characterised pwhy as its number of supporters grew across countries and lived the joy and angst of our little effort with us.

Small is not beautiful in our land!

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