Sunday, November 12, 2006

But, India is developing and leaping forward...

I got this from a friend while trying to explain why we raise funds for grassroots efforts in India.

Every newspaper carries news about the stock market, the high economic growth and the new IT hub India has become. Outsourced jobs and higher standard of living ....wait..higher standard of living ? For whom ? The common man ?

This needs some more information. Every time you try discussing a serious problem that needs to be addressed or something that needs effort - the candid response is - "India is Shining" - we have world class hotels (forget the underprivileged relegated to slums living next door), we have high paying outsourced jobs that has made India a IT hub (forget how even after repeated attempts the National Rural Employment Act of the government never took off and we still have hunger deaths in rural areas), great market economy and booming stock market (in stark contrast we still have so many farmers committing suicides due to debts and there exists inhuman acts such as 'bonded' labour (a lighter term for slavery) that the Indian government claims to have abolished a long while ago)...and so it goes on...

Is a citizen being a traitor or more lightly put losing his 'patriotism' in recognizing the problems of a country and creating awareness about it ?

Really speaking, I don't know - but, if there are lives and livelihoods of children, women and underprivileged that are at stake, what would common sense tell you ? The answer is most probably the same - what country, religion, caste, race, sex etc. etc. you might belong to doesn't really matter.

Some of these are recognized and accepted by the government itself - Here are some articles :

The Guardian

The Hindu (P.Sainath)

If common sense makes you a traitor, I am scared to know what makes a patriot!

Why concentrate on negative aspects - why talk about only the poverty, hunger and probems ?

We either choose to recognize and address the issue at hand or ignore it to keep dwelling on positives. If "progress" is a "wheel", let this be the "brakes" - but without brakes it gets pretty dangerous because harder is the fall.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Is it really that big a deal ?

Running this 50 miler is more than about 'fitness' or 'hobbies' for me. At one level its about challenging my own limitations. But, what keeps me going is the idea of making a difference in the lives of the underprivileged in India.

When I feel tired or when I feel too good about myself - I just reflect on the situation in India - it makes me fly/raise with the 'running' and also brings me down crashing with the 'pride'/'ego' !

for e.g. Based on unofficial estimates (there never is an official estimate on such things) On an average a rural woman in India walks more than 14000 km a year just to fetch water - that makes it 23 miles a day - and thats just one aspect of the hardships that the underprivileged we strive for go through.

So much for my 'Ultra' marathon capabilities!

Then, sadly realization dawned on me that I run not just because I can ..But, I run so that they can live ...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Team Asha growing ...

Team Asha

What started as a small dream in a room in UT Austin has been growing in the last few years!

We started with about 15 runners in the last couple of years and this year thanks to the wonderful efforts of the Asha volunteers we have grown to more than 50 runners, each of them training to run distances they have never attempted before!!

Each one of them is a hero in their own right!

Here are some of the photos from events our team has particpated in :

Twister 10K
Long run in September
A few of our runners

Updates from the Banyan.

If you had donated towards my fundraising efforts in the last year, some of it was sent to the 'Banyan' - An organization I have been involved with :
Banyan and me
From the start
Vocational training

I have updated the project website with the latest information and photos regularly -
Banyan Project Page

I will be visiting India this december and will surely visit banyan and post developments for you all.