New Internationalist

A Life In The Balance

May 1982

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SPONSORSHIP [image, unknown] Facing up to local politics

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A life in the balance
EVERY CHILD is born into a complex and often frustrating environment — and life in this fictional Indian village is no different. The pressures move in from all sides. So if we really wish to help a child there is no point in dealing with a problem in isolation; one of the others is likely to move in and swamp your efforts. Agricultural training is no good if someone is going to take away the land. Nutrition education is no good if all the food has to be sold to pay off debts — and family planning makes no sense where people need more children. Realistic aid has to take all these factors into account — the ‘political’ as well as the technical —because none of them are going to go away.

Thank god it’s another son to help me – though heaven knows what he’ll do for land when he grows up.

We must get rid of all these inefficient little farms. Mechanising agriculture is the only way of feeding the country.

These ignorant village people are holding India back. We really must try and keep down the numbers.

Another boy – and in five years he’ll be ordering me round just like his brothers.

If only we had the food and the medicine to look after him. Since they closed down the clinic we have only our prayers.

A good job it is another boy. His father is so deeply in debt to me that his son will need to work for me as well just to repay the loan.

Since the congress party has taken over the village council I can shut down that harijan farmers group – communists the whole lot of them.

I’ve bought up the village’s harvest two years in advance. It’s good business for me and they can have the money straight away. Leaving the village to come and work in this factory is no good. We are closing down now that the rich countries are keeping out our textiles.

The poor can make progress here – irrigation, new techniques. But only if we can work together to protect ourselves against the rich.

Another harijan. We won’t have any more untouchables living in this part of the village. Time we got the police to burn down their house again.


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Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 111 This feature was published in the May 1982 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 111

New Internationalist Magazine issue 111
Issue 111

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