Re-thinking Development Work in Singapore

Some thoughts after a decade of a deep friendship with Singapore:

After having volunteered and consulted with a few non profits and social enterprises in Singapore, I understand that the intent is heart warming but the expansion into the ‘greater diasporic hinterland’ is rife with errors, with too little time spent in the communities. Not all decisions can be taken at co-working sharing spaces, try to come down and build teams. Advocacy, Capacity Building and Branding is Singapore’s strength. Long term overseas work, is rather slow and painful. The social return on investment for CSR dollars from or example Dxx Foundation/Financial Community as a whole, is a driver but effective community interventions take years. I would love to speak to globally minded Singaporeans to co-write a thought piece for taking Singaporean expertise beyond the traditional.

Yours Truly

Singapore-phile

Infrastructure, Welfare & the Rhetoric of Development

A few days back, Mr. L K Advani praised Shivraj Chouhan for his exemplarily efforts in transforming his ‘BIMARU’ state into a development hotbed. The locus of comparison was centered upon the notion that Narendra Bhai’s Gujarat was already progressive as Gujaratis have been culturally entrepreneurial by character. There is a grain of truth certainly in this argument.  Chouhan ji has developed Indore has an industrial hub of central India with major automotive and manufacturing majors operating out of the region. Indore has a fantastic urban transportation system too. Amdavad also has a cool BRT system in place with the Metro project under way. BJP Governments have often equated ‘infrastructure development’ with the paradigm of development. Infrastructure catalyzes regional growth by connecting the rural with the urban; the producers with the consumer. It is a growth multiplier indeed. Welfare hand-outs to the poorest of the poor such as the Right to Work Scheme helps the poor as well as yields political dividends as the UPA win in 2009. Effective public good delivery requires robust infrastructure and institutional controls to seal the leak called graft. The poorest of the poor cannot simply depend on the cruel ‘market’ for the benefits of trickle down to seep down to them. Government welfare schemes are the only way out for the weakest of our society to survive with dignity. The Right to Food Bill is vital although it accounts to humongous expenditure. In the aftermath of the Bastar carnage, the rights of the poorest are again back on the front burner of national conversation. I am just sick of the Spot Fixing Coverage. BCCI and IPL are trivial issues being used to divert the people’s attention from critical issues such as Women’s Rights, Systemic Graft and essential legislative business. India is a sub-continent in terms of religious and ethnic diversity and different solutions will be needed to deliver inclusive development. No Gujarat Model, no MP Model matters as Chairman Mao quipped as long as the cat catches mice, it does not make a difference if it is white or black.