We are all of 18! It's great to be around and growing!
IF you asked us how 18 years have passed in our magazine, we would have some difficulty telling you. It is not that we don’t know. It is just that we don’t pause long enough to be able to remember. Time moves fast when you are bringing out a magazine and, so, here we are with a special anniversary issue to mark 18 years and, in our own style, coming of age.
In celebration of our journey, we have dedicated this issue to the great work that voluntary organizations and activists do in promoting development. Without them there are many things that governments wouldn’t be able to get right — not just here in our country, but the world over as well.
Despite this, the voluntary sector in India has been under considerable stress in recent times. It is partly because of stifling regulation and the central government’s suspicions with regard to activists and NGOs. It is also because of a sluggish economy and the challenges of finding donors.
NGOs are not without their blemishes. There are those that do not make the cut and can be accused of inadequate accountability and questionable delivery. But this should not be a reason to put NGOs in general through a grinder and bring all the good work that is being done to a standstill.
To alleviate the recent gloom and help change the narrative somewhat we decided to get some of the best minds in the country to weigh in on the contribution that voluntary organizations make and why they are needed — especially so in an economy with a significant and persistent development deficit such as ours.
We are fortunate to have many outstanding contributors who have spared the time to write for this issue. You will find their pieces in the pages ahead and we would like to believe that together they make a uniquely relevant collection in these times.
With the spirit of voluntarism growing, especially so after the pandemic, people look for NGOs to which they can donate or where they can give their time. We offer in this issue a sizeable number of organizations that we are happy to recommend. An expanded Volunteer and Donate section seeks to make connections which our readers will find useful.
Our opening interview is with Ritwick Dutta, the environmental lawyer. He and Rahul Choudhary are founders of LIFE, or Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, which won the Right Livelihood Award this year. Dutta and Choudhary have won several big environmental cases. The interview with Dutta provides an insight into the reasons for their success and the challenges of taking environmental causes to court.
From Punjab we have a green manifesto put together by citizens as the state goes to the polls. They want political parties to focus on the problems of pollution in Punjab. The story on a solar fridge is a reminder of how appropriate technology can be used to alleviate rural distress. Art by people with disabilities is getting more attention and buyers too — we have a story on an exhibition in Delhi. Our Living section continues to grow in strength. You will find small companies making innovative products. This time it is Ancient Living based in Hyderabad. Check it out