A conference I attended earlier this year was filled with people from varied backgrounds, all of whom were present to speak, share, talk and discuss their views and thoughts on gender and the information society. It was the first of the kind seminar that I had attended and was suitably impressed by much of the discussions and the people I met. I expressed my desire to many about contributing more in whatever capacity to the sector and my views were enthusiastically received. Till I realised all were just nodding their heads and following a much followed routine. Smile condescendingly at the bubbly upstart and send her off to someone else to talk to.
The development sector hampers much on upliftment of the downtrodden, removal of poverty, catering to the marginalization, improving governance etc etc. And in the process it marginalizes and ignores many educated citizens (not necessarily in English) who may nurture the desire to be a part of the growing momentum of change. Opportunities for new-comers into this sector are few. You can weave your way in but only if you have an academic education to back or gleefully indulge in idol worship. It is without doubt the domain of a selected few who circulate the same message in various conferences around the country and globe. The role of such leaders who possess a higher vision and policy approach cannot be disregarded but the pride and ego that accompanies their activities is quite hard to swallow. The influx of information and communication technologies for development has become another sector within the arena for development that has a few who talk about the poor and laugh with the rich. Rich maybe not monetarily, but rich in words, work and mostly friends.
Sadly the civil society is being represented by a select few who do not speak the language of the laypeople. Reading a normal project communication document or proposal can be an affair that truly tests your brains. The sector is currently all about networking and proving your mettle, but mostly your point. The educated citizen in reality has got lost in this struggle between the torchbearers of civil society and those who cannot afford oil for a lantern.
Where does that leave us citizens who are watching it all but are unable to do anything? Licking our wounds? Isn�t it time we decided to be recognized as a part of this civil society? Or does the civil society only consist of the academic and monetary doers and the mute rural receivers?
No I am not against this sector. In fact I am part of it. But what I�d like to do is actually contribute instead of just expressing the desire. But unless I start my own organization, I don�t see how I can do anything. And maybe that is exactly why there are so many NGO�s? Not only are there millions who need support and encouragement but also thousands who are not finding anyone who hears their voice. Hundreds who possess the desire to reach beyond themselves but who do not find a forum where ideas are not only shared but also aided to reach fruition.
Its time we move beyond working in isolation. Its time we actually shared and encouraged and not just spoke about the need for partnerships. Forging connections does not differentiate between whom the connections are being forged with. Its time half the country who are labelled as youth are made part of the process. Inclusion needs to be redefined, digital divide needs to be redefined for now the exclusion has begun even among the educated among the society.
Who is going to create this change? Not you and me, but we. We can start by speaking out. No matter if all you say doesn�t make sense. Just speak out, and demand to be part of what is being done in your name, for you, be it by the government or development sector.