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Tell me, what is the Best?

I could not forget the pleasant sight of about two hundred women seated in ordered manner. This was the first ever public meeting I attended in Kalama Panchayat, Mayurbhanj, Odhisa. They even arranged their slippers in a beautiful way. I could see the excitement in the women who stood up to respect our presence, however, I do not feel to be revered so much.

Some people are so poor that they cannot think for themselves. What kind of poverty should be this? May be thoughts poverty or vision poverty or hope poverty... I mean, ask them what do they want to do for their development, and they have no idea! They cannot think for themselves that what should be good for their families and what should be done. But some are smart enough to ask for ‘double-loan policy’. She cannot be as poor as the other women, I bet.

Development professionals really bear tough tasks for doing everything apart from working and earning on behalf of the poor people. What can the answer be to more than fifteen women from a single village who want to start tailoring business. If there are fifteen tailors in each village, then who will be the customer? It becomes really difficult to make them understand the implications for some of their plans. After all, they have thought of something with so much efforts, how to capsize their efforts?

Many people are not able to think and those who think, may not be realistic. Now, what should we do? Should we think on their behalf and then suggest them the ‘realistic things’ or should we wait and “enable” them to think for themselves and then find that they do not think realistically? Here comes the challenge.

It revolves around the question "Tell me what is the Best?". There can be many ways to do an activity but there can only be a single Best way. This is why we write Best as The Best! The confusion remains that the community thinks to know "what is the best for them" and we think that we know "what is the best for them" and thus, the confusion becomes a clash of beliefs. The community has indigenous knowledge which comes mostly from direct practices and trials-and-errors. In other words, the community has been unknowingly doing a long-term non-statistical research, to control all the variables in their lives and see the effect of each on the other.

We do not justify our knowledge when we impose Koler's, Keynes' and Prasanna's ideas over them. Similarly, we respect these intellectual fellows and try to adapt their principles for the community. We also know that the decisions made on the basis of coefficient of variation, R square value, correlation and per-capita have not worked in the past 250 years. Now, The Best thing is to build on community's knowledge and enable them to find the gaps in their knowledge and then make improvements in the actual plan for their development which will be prepared by them with necessary external facilitation. I do not know if some bureaucrat will ever read this.


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