Getting the story straight from the source
We have since the inception of this magazine worked with a broad definition of civil society. It covers anyone making a contribution to strengthening our shared values. No need to be a full-time activist. You could be a lawyer, doctor, executive or government officer. What you do to make a difference is what matters and if that happens in the course of your everyday life so much the better. For us as journalists, this perspective has led us to cast our net far and wide for stories. It has made our magazine more interesting.
Nevertheless, we have a high regard for the work done by NGOs. They lead the way with fresh ideas, enrich governance, provide last-mile solutions and help shape policy. Many of them have become specialized and well-regarded institutions in their own right. Our interactions with NGO leaders have been full of learning for us. Through our interviews and stories, we have sought to document the work of NGOs and thereby give our readers a better understanding of the processes of development.
To go a step further, we have, by invitation, asked some NGO leaders to write about their organizations and their work as cover stories in our magazine. In doing so we have taken our readers straight to the source and created a rare form of documentation. We would also like these extraordinary individuals to become household names and have their contribution appreciated widely.
This month, we have PoonamMuttreja, Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India (PFI). In the past, we have had the opportunity to report on Poonam and PFI, but here you get her in her own words and her insights on the PFI’s work, gender rights and the nuances of family planning programmes.
Under Poonam, PFI has many achievements to its credit. She also knows how to take on governments and work with them at the same time. It is interesting to see how she strikes this balance.
Our opening interview in this issue is with Anil Swarup, a much-respected IAS officer now retired. We talk to him about a rash of controversies involving government officers. Have they been overreaching themselves? We have tracked Swarup through RSBY, education, coal and the PMO when he was in service. He has never been media shy, but no one would accuse him of being a headline hunter. There is an important difference.
We also found it interesting to talk to a young Deputy Commissioner in the field. DrDevanshYadav is an example of how much good work gets done by conscientious officers far from the limelight.
Our Living section brings you rice beer from Goa where the Goa Brewing Co is reviving traditional strains of rice. At the Sunder Nursery in Delhi, we spend an interesting Sunday with a beekeeper to get to know bees and their ways. Theirs is a fascinating world. Finally, we bring you a report from the Arab film festival by the Red Sea in Egypt.