Some evenings are special. This post is about one such evening. In a warm Indian restaurant on a cold & wet day last month, friends and fellow citizens in London concerned about India pledged £280/- (~Rs 24,360/-) to a modest proposal I had put forward some days back..
The proposal was for an Outreach – with a difference, focusing entirely on semi-urban and rural India.
Why rural and semi-urban? For several reasons. One was to reconnect. As urban professionals many of us (me included) do not have adequate insights into the minds of the large voting class that neither reads nor discusses issues in English. This very large demographic is not online and is too preoccupied with making a living to “think” about politics in a calm & reasoned manner. This outreach I feel, could help correct our biases and perceptions.
The second reason was to have our ideas reach a wider audience, an audience that is far beyond online blogs, twitter and facebook. Third, was to help us understand top-of-mind issues for a large segment of our population whose voice (I suspect) does not necessarily get amplified in mainstream media.
Fourth was to increase our (FTI’s) awareness about ground-realities. And finally, to help spread the message of liberal policies, smaller government and economic freedom to a wider audience. Hopefully, this outreach will also help connect with independent candidates & other like-minded people in these region.
The Outreach will involve a visit to 4-5 towns & villages in north India to conduct meetings, talks & discussions spread over a period of 5-7 days. Why north India? Mainly because I speak the language fluently (and understand almost all the dialects fairly well)..
While all this sounds great on paper, I will need a LOT of support from friends and others to plan this trip and make it fruitful. I’ll be choosing towns, semi-urban and rural areas which are reasonably connected to each other and geographically proximate to minimise travelling time. The final itinerary is still to be decided but options include the MP-UP border cities, towns in and around N Delhi or rural areas near Indore. The tentative date for this is sometime in early April 2013.
My early estimate of costs (including local travel, stay & other costs e.g. costs of publicity material, costs related to meetings etc) is approx. Rs 70,000. Thanks to some generous support from friends and a couple of FTI colleagues, the total contributions stand at just over Rs 65,000. I am now short of barely Rs 5,000 to reach my target of Rs 70,000. If you can contribute to this effort, pl consider doing so. For ease of record-keeping, I am requesting a minimum contribution of Rs 1000. That said, any amount is welcome and will be gratefully acknowledged. Full details of all contributions and expenses will be shared on the site (including on this page). For now, here is a link to the contributions to date. The shaded portions indicate soft commitments that are yet to be received. I expect at least some of these to come within the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more on this in the weeks to come…In the meantime, comments, suggestions welcome as always. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!
Related Posts: Some memories from Odisha and MP, In which I appear alongside Vidya Balan, If its Feb…, Kamakhya, Brahmaputra and a Monsoon Outreach, Quick notes from Indore and Life in the slow lane..