Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Dolls of the World

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Idea and Work on
Sustainable Rural Development in Punjab
by S A J Shirazi
Punjab University Press, Lahore
Printed by Summit, Lahore

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Ferozesons are leading publishers of Pakistan with a long tradition of numerous literary, educational and research publications on various topics of science, economy, politics and art to their credit. Our publishing house has always distinguished itself through the seriousness and correctness of its publications. It is therefore an honour for us to publish “DOLLS OF THE WORLD“, in which an extra-ordinary project of an extra-ordinary German lady is introduced as trend-setting model for successful rural development.

It is also an honour to publish this work from the Sub-Continent.It may be pointed out, that the author has used a number of sources and information collected from colleagues for better understanding, which has not necessarily been indicated.

The Publisher

The demand for consistency and reliability is more than ever evident in today’s fast-moving pace of life. One wants –at last- a certain level of steadfastness and durability of effort. But how is this supposed to happen, when changes take place so rapidly, that hardly, if at all, sufficient time remains to respond? How can one react so quickly, when the systems are by concept short-term?

1. Sustainable Development
Sustainability has become a favourite term. One uses such hopeless terms, whenever the society is supposed to be warned about success and they seem to enlighten but in reality, short-term and short-sighted thinking and action cannot lead to the desired sustainability. It is specially of dramatic proportions, when in the system “sustainability” refers intentionally or un-intentionally to the priority of keeping the status-quo or the economic-viability.

2. Urban and Rural Population
Even though the urbanization is proceeding rapidly, still the number of people living in rural areas is a considerable portion of the total population. The tragedy of the rural population is the contradiction between its pride, to be able to cultivate and sustain their living independently, on one side and the inferiority complex towards the urban population, on the other side. The urban population, originally also from the rural areas and now well settled in cities, has understood well how to subdue the rural population by reflecting an –assumed- improvement in their standard of living.

We must point out in this case to two realities, which will not please the city-dweller, but are not wrong for that reason:

1) It is not that the rural population needs the city population but
the other way round.
2) It is not that the developed countries need the developing countries more but the other way round.

This opens a new level of discussion for intellectual discussion, which is however not the topic at present.

Only a remark:
The development in the early industrialized nations paved the way for the prosperity. This happed rather quickly and was successful inspite of the basic error, because it was limited in scope to western civilizations. Increasing difficulties in creating the political-economic relationship made it necessary to expand the system to include more and more regions –another sign of limitations of the existing system. That the basic error was therefore not only passed on to other regions but in even stronger potency and in shorter time is scientifically and philosophically of interest and it shows that in context of the complexity, speed and the uniformity, more populous regions will be at a disadvantage –poor people, who honestly believed that they were taking over an advantageous position in the competition for a better life.

3. City Culture and Traditional Culture
Life in a city leads to a tremendous change in its social structure. The sizes of the family change and with it the behaviour and lifestyle. Material changes overshadow the immaterial changes to such an extent, that the importance of the latter is recognized, when it becomes too late to take corrective measures. As already pointed out in the last remarks, the speed of change plays a critical role: Basic errors are not only multiplied with each problem solution but also the speed of change increases exponentially. Not to be underestimated is the fact, that the feeling of short term success often hides the real problems !

To solve these problems, the city culture looks towards “modern time” measures: more energy production, wider roads, higher buildings, so-called better education, etc.

The industrially emphasized education potential is not in a position to question the most basic errors and to find independent answers, for which –as in the development of nature- multiplicity and time are important preconditions. Coming back to the NGO-types, we may summarize here:

Formation of a local NGO in the rural areas should always build up on the roots of traditional culture because herein lies the strength, power and uniqueness of durable and comfortable existence in the village instead of moving to urban areas hereby only adding to the un-solvable problems of the cities.

1.The Village Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka
The residents of Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka lead an extremely rural lifestyle, which by no means may be considered something negative. This is probably due to the location and difficult approach to the village, which can be reached only in complicated way and also there is no thoroughfare in the village.
This leads us to a stunning conclusion, i.e. not the perfect technical infra-structure of approach roads etc. is helpful to a local NGO but rather the intentional separation from outer influences, which allow the NGO members and the village community to grow slowly together with the NGO.

This slow pace is expressed in the day to day development of the NGO undertaken in small steps. This form of an NGO stands in sharp contrast to the usual help methods and NGO projects, in which success is measured in quantities and industrial approach.

Such concepts are generally not suitable for the development of rural areas, but are much helpful in self-destruction of the cities.

2. The Villagers and the NGO
The village life has always been characterized through narrow social contact, -in all cultures. The tasks to be carried out have been regulated through centuries of conditioning. The NGOs established today, in contrast, are a result of developments of the early industrialized societies of the 19th century.

Only when most important elements of such a social construction –we may call them „social infra-structure”- are available, can one speak of the success of such NGO work. It is important that a balance be created between too much and too little of task distribution, otherwise the real success of the effort will remain doubtful.

The work of an NGO with the aim of promoting income generating measures for people in the rural areas should begin after a careful evaluation of the capabilities of the villagers and then develop from within, -something that can only happen on location and not sitting in a city behind a table. And: one should be prepared to sacrifice luxury and still be satisfied.

3. Handicraft and more
In an NGO, traditional values are a basic component of the organization. If these values are not available rudimentary, identification characteristics of the members of the NGO will be missing. It is therefore doubtful, when the NGO’s allow themselves to ignore the traditional rhythm of the rural lifestyle.

In the NGO being described here, distinct roots of traditional handicraft capability were evident in its members, i.e. the villagers, on which the NGO work could tie on. The villagers already used to make dolls, embroider textiles, etc. Time and analytical capacity are needed to recognize these roots of talent and one should be prepared to proceed with non-conventional methods, only after which success may come, which however can, may and must not be compared with the success of an industrial production.

1. Expert Exchange and Project Parts
Two factors are important for the successful work of an NGO: the inclusion of external experts and the possibility of participation by the local members of the NGO within and outside the project. In the first case, it is very useful as the carrying element of the NGO to make use of the outside influences without becoming dependent on them and in the latter case, to have the opportunity to witness the external effect of the NGO work.

The above mentioned capability lets the foreign “coach” of the NGO –who should and must be working on honorary basis- to be accepted as the leader of the community but outside the community as an absurd appearance, -a characteristic of exceptional management qualities, which one may have and can only learn to a very limited extent at a university.

2. Marketing and Financing
An NGO, which is totally dependent upon financing from outside, is so to say the longer arm of a local or foreign institution, cannot be successful according to the “theory of NGO work”. Therefore the correct relationship between the ideal and the material is of profound importance. As in case of a commercial venture, money must be earned in the market through sale of products. NGO’s in rural areas can work together with similar NGO’s and thereby share their resources. They can and must have a philosophy of their own, -but philosophy alone cannot strengthen the NGO.

Production is done in a way which is compatible with the culture, which allows the fields to be cultivated. Work timings are not from 9 to 5 but that one meets in the morning, or also not, works together or individually, or gets the materials for work at home,- work is done lovingly and at one’s ease. With this method of work it is not possible to maintain delivery schedules of high quantities or to honour contracts strictly. For such orders investments for machines and an appropriate work organization etc. are needed, which lead to dependence and do not allow handicraft work in singular production and high quality.

Productive, informal NGO’s create income additional to the income from agriculture, they posess a social Infrastructure and connect to the traditional talents; they produce in limited quantities and quality controlled. The rule is to satisfy the customers and whole-sellers. Customers within and outside the community are to be looked after and contacts to be strengthened. Considering the small production quantities, only the quality and the “special ness” of the item convince the customer. The „special ness“ is reinforced through invitations to fabulous events. The success leads to many other NGO’s trying to copy the process, but they are normally either not aware of the concept or unclear about it. When NGO’s start to think in masses and copy others, instead of creating their own specialties, they actually act like industrial undertakings: they produce in masses, the products are fully inter-changeable with products of other undertakings, the price levels destroy the small manufacturers, who are ruined and led to think, that they must produce more and more in order to earn more. The dependence keeps increasing.

3. Activities in the Country
An NGO cannot save the basis of its local activities from damage through activities in foreign countries. Therefore establishment of a fine network, to maintain it permanently and to adjust it to the given situation.

For this, the NGO must function in some ways like a company, however without its mass production and sales organization. All this must happen with smallest of staff, eventually with some support from outside, for example through the “coach”.

The NGO must be present in the rural area. It must look after the business customers as well as private customers, -although less and less goods will actually be available !

Why? – Because on one hand, production is not done 8 – 10 hours per day and on the other hand the traditional culture is supposed to be protected. The income is supposed to be additional to the income from agriculture.

If the quality is maintained at similar level and the items, inspire of limited production, remain attractive to the buyers, the additional income can definitely be maintained indefinitely.

The often surfacing objection, to increase the production by including other villages, shows the widely spread way of thinking. There are ten thousand villages, however one cannot copy blindly and one should be able to analyze the capabilities of a community.

1. Learning on the Project
As opposed to the city, long-term free education is not possible in the rural areas unless a new dependence is acceptable. The problems emerging from such an effort can be covered up in the city, because the consequences of an education for the sake of education appear not to be recognized by the decision makers. A local NGO must therefore make sure, that the manufacturing of a product and its exploitation go hand in hand, i.e. that the project should be a learning experience. This cannot happen in masses and has to be done in smaller portions, which is something not understandable for the city dwellers, who are used to thinking in terms of masses.

2. Activities Abroad
We have discussed the necessity of creating a soft network of cooperation on village level in order to be independent of the money flow, which however is also a necessity for a “genuine” NGO. At the same time however, an effort should also be made to work together with similar institutions in foreign countries. In this case, the use of available possibilities is almost a precondition, the danger of “milking” of the NGO through the employees also extremely high, so that this human weakness has also to be countered here! Inspire of the independence of the NGO’s, informal control possibilities are available, which may be used for management purposes.

It may be possible to deliver parts on a small scale to another place in order to manufacture economically. This may be done in similar manner as international concerns by delivering parts. It is however important in such a case that the basic idea of the NGO work inspire of other situation (level of education, harvest time, climatic differences, etc.) is not forgotten. Participation in special events (festivals, museum visits, international exhibitions) and active presence in important countries is to be realized with a minimum of financial expense. The eyes should be kept open all the time, because business relationships are not durable !

3. Networking

Also Networking is a common magic word of the city culture in the present, when a cooperation is being discussed. Cooperation is not an invention of the modern time, it has a very long tradition. Perhaps “networking” refers to keeping contact with each other via the Internet. Here the city dwellers are clearly at an advantage unless competencies are clearly defined in a rural NGO, where the payments like in a city cannot be realized. Also here must in an NGO, a lot of voluntary work has to be done, which a member of city community may not afford to do because of the high costs of living.
The difference between a small and a bigger organization can be best expressed in the words „Small Is Beautiful” by Schumacher, whereby a smaller venture has to be better than a large organization, because –as the GM of an international concern said in few words “the large ones will not eat the smaller ones, rather the fast ones will eat the slow ones”. Here, the fast ones must act “wisely” and thereby more carefully.

1. Big politics and village world
Even if one is of the opinion, that a remote village is not affected by the politics of a country, this is valid only in part. It is true that climate has a big influence in the life in villages and rural areas. This is the case, when temperatures have exceeded the average values, which makes work, usual in the cities, impossible to be carried out in the village. The city dweller easily has ready solutions for improvement, which are however unrealistic when seen in context. But it is true that an NGO in the rural area can be ruined by the big politics, e.g. in cases, where sensitive business relationships exist, which can be destroyed through large occurrences, like for example changing of government, weapons tests, attacks on objects relating to other cultures, wars etc. As opposed to private companies and government authorities, the NGO’s do not work with fixed values to an extent that they are not flexible, however they are more susceptible to negative influence. The contracts should not be so inflexible that the independence of the NGO is compromised. That would endanger the NGO.
NGOs should in any case serve the purpose of income generating measures, otherwise they are destined to fail right from the start; when money stops to flow into the NGO, it cannot exist without income and so the beneficiaries should be asking themselves, what is actually required of them, when the financial help of the beginning is forthcoming.
If the NGO is producer of something, it makes sense to work together with other local NGOs; and in any case it should be useful for small NGOs, if they can work together with foreign institutions, -as long as they maintain their independence.

2. Cameroon-Colombia-UAE u.a.

The NGO Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama has received invitations for sale of their products from a number of countries due to the nature of the product manufactured by them. This is an example for the positive use of modern media in a small organizations. With the help of information on the Internet, various initiatives of women’s groups could be supported, so that –among others- similar initiatives could be successfully started in Cameroon in 1998 and in Columbia in 1999.
Even though these Organizations work in similar manner and they are located more or less in rural area, still, their members are differently educated and living in completely different cultures, - a fact, which is not considered in the industrial production, because such values are not able to be captured statistically and therefore considered not to be available.

3. Iceland and Greece

While each women group in Pakistan, Cameroon and Columbia manufactures its dolls in handicraft work separately and apart from eventual supplies between the projects, the mother project functions as supplier of „raw dolls“ also to the regions, where the raw dolls could bec manufactured but a higher cost, which would make the product more expensive for the buyers. This is valid among others for projects in Greece, Iceland and Germany.

1. A Holistic Project

Also the term „Totality“ in the present times is only a content with another cover; in fact, not much else remained possible for the farmers in the villages than to work collectively. Climate and weather, sufficient irrigation water, the counteraction of pests and results of cultivation activity, the cautious use of the land, the common welfare of the peasant population, etc., all this was not unknown in the past, it has only been forgotten through the process of industrialization ands its influence on the village life, which reflects on the absolute wrong track we are treading. The current problems of our time are characterized by hectic research efforts, multiplied problems through short-term solutions and their short-term but extensive implementation, which in fact hinder an improvement or a solution to the actual problems.

2. Grassroot Level and Big Help

The reference „Back to the Nature“ can be a popular accusation, when NGO’s are categorized. Such an accusation however shows the explosiveness, the positive explosiveness, which is not acknowledged by its critics. A classical case of our limited thought, which does not allow contrary questioning, because following the fact would lead to san entirely different conclusion.
The strange slogan „the future lies in the countryside“ should be fundamentally reconsidered, -a basic error of the crooked, generally circulated growth oriented thinking and actions.

3. Independent,- why and how ?

Independence is gladly propogated, which however is not possible as such, especially not to large extent: if at all, it is possible only in small units, the price of which is a special type of dependence: constant vigilance and review of the basic values.

1. Chances and Opportunities

The development of NGO-Projects in rural areas, with the vision to make possible income generating measures in certain regions through handicrafts production and field research is a real challenge, -at a time when the whole world is lapsing into a globalization euphoria, driven by the city elite and strengthened by the people pushed from rural into urban areas, who are prone to fall prey to the propaganda of the virtues of automation and appropriate advertising.When everyone is running in the same direction, this should be reason enough to question the same and to show alternatives, which should protect from the impending dangers.

2. A New Kind of Work

When the whole world is moving apparently in one direction, then inevitably the prevailing system must collaborate, which eludes the participants, who unable to do something about it, can only judge it from a distance.
Without entering into discussion about economical, social and political tendencies, the results must lead us to describe the inefficiency of the growth-oriented economy to adjust to changes.
These signals point to the necessity of a behaviour which needs to be corrected. Even if the change can hardly be expected from the side of the city elite, the necessity of this change must be pointed through change in the work methods. .

3.Either Or and As Well As

Our human navigation system is based on the orientation towards opposites. This is in this way a part of our dealings and actions, so that for us the difference between small and big, dark and light, hot and cold becomes just natural.
Either-Or,- such is the categorical challenge, which has no room for any intermediate solution between two poles. It may be necessary for the purpose of orientation but it does not correspond to the reality in human dealings. Intentionally we build a smoke-screen and see ourselves on a seemingly critical level.
If really everything were so simple, it would not be possible to withstand the complexity of life. Nature did not develop itself in this categorical way, and above all, not with this speed and not without examination of the surrounding situation.
The conclusion should therefore be more like “As-Well-As” instead of the “Either-Or” in order to open our eyes to the complexity of questions.


The speed appears to be the main problem, when the durability of projects is in consideration. The apparent compulsion for success, that the system is supposed to function at all times and the success, say, is also helpful for the political and economic decision making in questions of population, elections and own profit, is in itself a programmed end to the desired durability of the system.

Literature, Articles, Publications, etc.

The author appreciates the assistance of the Institute for Planning and Consulting
as well as German Society for the Advancement of Culture.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:44 PM,


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