In 6 years, there were 100 major stories and over 300 minor ones. There were over a 3/4 million words, every one of them typed in by me. I had driven myself around to villages and towns in search of stories. I had done all the technical work; I had personally migrated a simple HTML site to a more complex one using a database and a content management system. So there was a sense of technical achievement too. I had been able to fund all my expenses and was in turn filled with contentment. This was the apogee of GNI.
We are all moulded by our experiences. I was by mine. Whether or not it was influencing others in the way I intended it to, GNI was turning me to introspection. My impressions as a journalist had been tossed up in the air, where they eddied about, waiting for the right moment to fall and arrange themselves into a readable message. These impressions, in no particular order were: SS-projects were almost always rooted in caring for resources like water and soil. FF-projects were invariably funded by foreign donors; the corollary being, Indians are not very forthcoming in supporting charitable initiatives. Several of the FF-projects became addicted to seeking money and became notoriously unprofessional in terms of accounting for the funds received and the manner of their use.
The NGO industry, as it were, was attuned to seeking money from foreign donors. India seemed to me a country shamelessly wielding the begging bowl. Money was being received by India from overseas even for tree planting and upkeep of water bodies. We seem to be in a collective trance in regard to self-respect. The student, the scholar, the social activist, the fire-fighter, the tree planter and indeed the State itself was each, a foreign aid-seeker. This had nothing to do with any lack of wealth in the country; it had to do with a lack of giving-hearts and willing-spirits, that drove sincere FF NGOs to foreign donors. Volunteerism and philanthropy as integral institutions of civil society were absent in India.
Primary schools were uniformly neglected and not taken seriously as places where children may learn citizenship and life skills.
[Residents of Chennai can take the ECR, a road that advertises itself as a modern marvel, and gaze at the government school in the village ofPalavakkam; as high speed traffic whizzes by, students can be seen in their class-rooms barely six feet from the paved road, most of their
school’s grounds having been taken away for road expansion.] GNI
stories may have been giving its readers the idea that India was on
its way to enduring success; from which they may have concluded that
they needed to do nothing personally. I the publisher of GNI, fretted with the knowledge that no nation -Japan, Korea or China- went on to economic greatness without caring for primary education or disallowing organised alms-seeking from overseas donors.