Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | July 12, 2012

On Paul and other people..

The other day I was watching an interview of a South African activist called Paul van Zyl. He it seemed had quite a history of activism and has been associated with different social causes for long. In the interview, he was saying how art products sourced from developing countries and sold in developed countries are treated as ‘pity products’. People do buy those products without actually wanting to own them.  In an effort to change this attitude, he tied up with fashion designers and started using artisans from developing countries to develop clothes under a fashion label. The sale proceeds go towards helping the impoverished.  

While Maiyet (the fashion label)’s goal is to restore prosperity to impoverished communities facing lean times, it does not consider itself a charitable institution. It tries to sell good quality products and use the money to train artisans, give them fair price by working with various non-profit organisations in India, Indonesia, Kenya and South Africa.

Cynicism may make us question everything associated with such initiatives, but perhaps we need to be open minded too in accepting what different people are doing.

Like I had said previously, here outside India, on one hand I do meet people who either don’t bother or have tremendous hatred about people from developing countries on the other there are people who don’t talk a lot about the social causes they are involved with (and are not at all celebrities or rich and mighty), however they participate in any way they can.  

While the sick who unfortunately are a majority around me, believe that people in developing countries are uncivilized and they deserve to suffer, the normal ones go about their work silently.  In India there are sick people who crib and complain about the West without any knowledge. The other day I read someone’s comment that she thinks the US is jealous of India, so the Time magazine has branded Manmohan Singh as an “Underachiever”. I mean, give me a break!

I feel sad at times that I am mostly surrounded by sick people on daily basis. However, I should say I am privileged that at least I get to meet some normal people.

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