Looking for answers

In continuation of my last entry…

Looking for answers is extremely tricky. First, the question of determining the desirable end-state itself is not easy. “Who” decides is an important question in development discourse, since often, that directly impacts the resultant ‘what’. And since the ‘who’ matters here, one cannot evade this question. The multiplicity of actors, each with their respective guiding philosophies and convictions are themselves the root of possible conflict.

Striking a balance between the macro and micro levels is also important. While micro-contexts vary significantly, they cannot be understood without a macro perspective. At the same time, it is useful to remember that often, plans fail in the last mile, in the hands of functionaries at the lowest level; no more though, than the instances when they fail due to lack of intent at the very top. So where does one place oneself? Should we be trying to build a cadre of high quality implementers? Or is it enough to work for an enabling macro-framework and then wait for things to fall into place; assuming the right environment will enable the rise of good quality implementers?

In studying issues and exploring answers, is it best to be in-situ, or is it important that one steps back and studies the larger context and compares it to similar contexts elsewhere. Surely it requires a combination of both – as can be reasoned quite easily, but practically achieving this balance is a different ball-game. Somebody once asked me why I was trying to learn more about problems in the countryside in India by sitting in the British countryside. I dont have a convincing answer yet.

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