(by Prasanna Subramaniam) Hi everyone, that was a very interesting group that I talked to today evening (theInder.netCHAT on 6 August 2000). It would all the more be more interesting to meet them soon. U must all be curious to know what I am going to write now. I can understand Deutsch but cannot write properly and hence I am writing to u people in English, sorry for that. If any of u hv got doubts they can always write back to me. All of u need to have a lot of patience to read this as this is a very very long mail and I thought this much writing is necessary for u to appreciate it.
I landed in Germany on Aug 23rd 1999. The other details as to why I am here is known to all of u. Till Aug 99 I was in chennai working and at the same time I was associated with a social service organisation ( org.) called Association for India’s development (AID). Let me introduce to u AID. This is an org. founded in the US by a group of 4 students in the Univ. of Maryland. I dont know how many of u know about the education system in India. We hv the prestigous institutions in India called the IITs and the management colleges called IIMs. The best of Indian brains join these institutions and govt spends a lot of money on the education of these people but what ultimately happens is that the companies or the universities from the US or other foriegn countries take them out of the country. So finally India is left with the less than best brains (like me)in its country and the other countries benefit from these best brains. This is part of the reason why India still remains what it is even after having the best brains in the world. So these 4 students of the Uni of Maryland thought they want to give something back to their country of birth, India. So they founded this org. Soon they started with simple fund raising activities. After sometime they had sufficient funds with them. So they tried to contact what are called as Non governmental organisations (NGO, gemeinnützige auf Deutch). These NGOs are the voluntary social service org.which work in their limited area of influence. They work in the areas of education, health, literacy etc., So AID began inviting project proposals from the NGOs and these NGOs would submit a proposal giving details as to what they are doing and what they want to do and how much funds they want etc., Then AID would decide as to whom to support and how much it is going to help in the overall development of India. In AID we hv what are called as Community Service Hours (CSH) and these are the weekly meetings and here the members of the chapter meet every week and discuss a project proposal submitted by an NGO. All the projects are thouroughly discussed and a decision is made to whether to support or not. It is democratically decided and if necessary it is put to vote and decided. Also these meetings help in monitoring of the projects supported by them through feedbacks that they recieve from AID volunteers in India. This was the initial stages.
Then AID grew bigger and now it has 25 chapters in the US!!! and 3 chapters in India with a volunteer base of 2000. once it became big AID thought that the involvement of just sending funds to India is not enough. It does not help in sustained development and hence these 4 original volunteers thought there should be more involvement with the development itself also later on it was found out that most of the NGOs ( 85% of them ) which started with noble ideas were getting saturated ( sättigung) for want of new ideas and then slowly corruption would increase in these org. So AID thought it has to more actively involve so that these org. dont get saturated and hence corrupt. So one of the volunteers in the US ( he was one of the first four who started AID) said he is going back to India and working with the volunteers of the NGO in the villages full time and thereby putting new ideas and helping them overcome saturation!!!!!! So actually he left a lucrative career in the US and came to villages to work with the volunteers. Now he is supported by AID by fellowships and his daily food is taken care of. SO u can imagine what impact it would hv when a phd from the University of Maryland leaves the life of US and comes down to settle in India. So after him the other 3 also returned back to India and are working full time as social service workers. Also there were 10 more of them who came back to India but they do not work full time but only part time on the weekends. Now AID was more involved directly in the developmental activities and the results began to show. What was started as a Pilot (pilot) project of 5 blocks (1 block = 30 villages that means 150 villages) in tamil nadu is now being expanded to 300 blocks!!!! (9000 villages) throughout India. AID works in the area of health, attacking malnutrition, education, literacy, animal husbandry ( Tierzucht), irrigation and last but not the least computers & software. I was myself involved with these 5 blocks in tamil nadu before I came here going every weekend and working with the volunteers.
After that was cut short by my selection to come to Germany I thought of starting something here in Germany what they did in the US and after 11 months of going to all cultural programmes from the Durga pooja in chorwigplatz in Köln ( last Oct) and putting AID posters banners, talking to people and just 10 days back I collected a small group of people of 8 to hv the first meeting of the Konstituerende Sitzung. We then approved the Satzung for the Verein and the Verein was named as Verein für Indiens Entwicklung (VIE) and later on I came to know that VIE in French and partly German means LEBEN ( life). We are still a very small group of people who want to do something to India. Actually one of the members of this group about 4 months back saw a newspaper article about Drought ( Dürren) in Rajasthan and asked me if I could use my AID contacts to help them out and at that time AID US was associated with an NGO called Tarun Bharath Sangh (TBS) and any of u interested in knowing about how good this org can give a search command in any of the Suchemachine in Internet and u get a series of articles as to how this NGO has helped in the reduction of drought in a particular district called Alwar. But they did not hv funds for repeating the same in other districts. So AID said it would help out and then I proposed this. But unfortunately at that time I was caught up with my Klausur and I had very difficult subjects like the Rechts ( BB, HGB etc.,) to read and hence could not do that much but again started my activities in July. In mid July we decided to hv a gemeinnützige Verein and then in this Sitzung a Vorstand was elected myself being the Geschäftsführer. Then I contacted Balaji and thats how I came to know all of u.
Now u must hv listened to a lot of org. like this which have been started in Germany and I would not be surprised if u think this to be one more org which just asks for money and so on. In fact I myself hv seen lot of people donating a lot of money but nothing significant is happening in India. But I would want to give u some basic things about AID which makes it different from the others ( I am not just talking like just a Werbekampagne, if u get a feeling like that I am sorry). I am just telling u such a long story because u will be asked by people the same questions when u try to contact the people and u must be ready to answer them. Now coming to the differences
1. AID is entirely comprising of youth power. It is basically made of professionals like engineers, doctors and other talented people and not just one more fund raising organisation. Because it has only youth they are able to project the correct India to the world. Be it the software power or the liberal economy. WE DONT WANT TO SHOW INDIA IN A POOR WAY. All the money collected will not go to show India as poor but to the volunteers of the NGO who work in the area.
2. AID just does not believe in collecting money and then sending it to India without getting to know what has happened to the money. It is monitored very closely by the funding chapter and the volunteers from US who go to India for vacation dont take it as a vacation but visit the villages where their chapter has some work to do.
3. Also AID networks the various NGOs from all over India and connecting them. That means if one NGO like TBS has done good work in the drought areas AID will use the TBS volunteers to implement the same in Andhrapradesh which also has parts of its areas under drought and the pilot project in these 5 blocks of Tamil nadu is being done in the whole of India for 300 Blocks. I hope u understand what I mean.
4. All the projects to be supported by AID is democratically decided in the CSH by the volunteers and the goal( Ziel) of sustained development is looked at, whether ( ob) a particular project can live on its own after some time when AID withdraws its support etc.,
Now I come to the 20th August 2000 function. This function was decided spontaneously by members in the Konstiturende Sitzung and said we will celebrate Indian Independence day ( Aug 15th) and since Aug 15th happened to be a week day we decided as is the practice here in Germany to do it in the weekend. It was the best way to start an org and that too Independence day at that. So all of us agreed, even though we knew that the time was short.But the first problem was money. As can be expected as an org of just 10 days old ( and noch nicht eingetragen. Der Verein wird eingetragen beim Amtsgericht, all the procedures hv been completed but the Eintragung itself takes 6 weeks time by the Amtsgericht) we do not hv huge funds ( in fact no funds at all) and at the same time we wanted to send to this org TBS some money and also wanted to hold this function as we were having the Ind. day. At the start of the discussion it was decided we will hv no Eintritt at all!!! We wanted it free but then we thought we hv to at least pay for the hall etc., and hence decided to keep it at a min. of 10DM. Thats about the Eintritt. Also the program as it is now is a thematic dance on India and its culture in Bharathnatyam from one mrs. Aparna Sindhoor. She is originally from Mysore but now settled in the US and she has given a lot of programmes in the US for AID. Now dont be surprised as to how we are calling her from the US to perform and is it not expensive. NO she is here in Hannover as part of some post graduation course in dance choreography and hence I am making use of this opportunity. Other than that we though we can hv a dance or a song or something from as many states as possible to show India as to what it is. For this I am wanting ideas from u people. Now I list out the things I need help for from u people.
1. The most important one will be awareness campaign for the organisation. I hope I hv given u enough information ( to the point of boring u people or maybe irritating u) to talk about VIE ( AID).
2. The second most important info is selling of tickets. Somebody asked me while chatting why we cannot sell it at the entrance. That is going to be there but I wanted people who can be contacted personally and then talked about the org. and then the tickets sold. Personally I mean I as Prasanna or a Balaji or a BIBI will go to the people we know, talk to them and tell them the purpose of this Org and then ask them to support the same. As u see even if we get hold of 100people we would be collecting ONLY JUST 1000DM!!!!!!!!!! and that is nothing. Also if people are appreciating the cause and giving more than the Eintritt like 20 DM then it is all the more advantageuous( Vorteil). Also we hv so many such cultural programs in köln itself people will just think it to be one more and may be there will not be any interest.
Can each one of us bring 10 people to the function?
3. Also I am going to prepare monatliche Spende ( Donation) sheets and sending u the same tomorrow. I request u people to make people sign this Spende sheet even if it 10DM per month also it is OK. It is just the cost of 2 West Ultra cigarette packets or 4 beer cans!!!!!!!!!!!. There are 3 purposes.
a) The money that comes will be a constant one and a sustained one. Means we can support many more org like TBS with the money that is going to constantly come and maybe in the 300 blocks that I talked about we can adopt some block and the monthly expense of running a block is just Rs.2500 to Rs.3000 ( Just 100-150DM) and one block is 30 Villages!!!!!!!!! Again I am stressing this money is not given to the villagers free but to the volunteers of the NGO who work in the villages as their salaries and the other expenses. The moment u give the people something free the whole purpose of sustainable development is lost. Also it is that when we do money collection on a sustained basis can we do some sustained development activity. Actually we do not believe in one time collection and the person who donates forgets that he has given money and does not bother to knowwhere hismoney has gone and the person who collects does not tell the donor where the money has been spent and what is the progress of the purpose for which it has been spent.
b) The second purpose is that when people give money they would naturally be interested to know where their money is going and how it is being used. Also we would be naturally answerable to the people as to how their money is used. Also this increases their involvement with the org and in total with the development of India.
c) Lastly philosphically seeing this would mean to say the ones who hv been successful are being made socially responsible for their country where they hv origin. India.
4. Can anybody help me in preparing the posters? I will give u ideas but I am not good at computers and its tools. Those hv to be brought into shape before Wednesday and I want to start putting them up in the public places like restaurants. I am not expecting many people or tickets to be sold through this posters, but the main purpose is to let people know more about VIE.
5. Does anybody ( particularly Bijon and bibi) knows a place where a sound system for a hall of 100 people can be hired for a very small amount or free if it is possible
6. Also as said before I am looking forward to some talent exhibition by u people like singing dancing etc.,
7. The final question after having read this are all of u convinced about this and now I am frankly asking are u ready to become a member of the same? Membership is not cumbersome. Just a single sheet of paper with ur name, address, tel. no and maybe u can tell ur talents. No subscription fee ( kein Mitgliedsbeitrag) nothing. That too this little form is because the Amtsgericht want them. Also the subscription fee u pay could be the Spende that u sign up ( if u wish so, not compulsory)
I think I hv made this clear to u people and hope u people help me in making this program, Verein and the purpose of the Verein a success.
Thanks for the patient reading. Also when u get time just hv a look at the website www.aidindia.org to know more about it.