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Amitabh Behar is the CEO of Oxfam India, and former executive director of the National Foundation for India.
- The economy has collapsed due to this unprecedented challenge of Covid-19. The worst sufferers are the informal sector workers, daily wagers and the poor. We need a complete reboot of our economy and we must ensure that at least now we use this as an opportunity and build an environmentally sustainable model which is human economy, ensuring living wages to all and not perpetuating and furthering inequality.
- As quoted in Covid-19 Exposed India’s Apathy Towards its Migrants. Only Social, Financial Security Will Ensure Their Return (May 17, 2020) by Naushad Khan, News18 India
- I just don’t understand why international NGOs need hundreds of people sitting in the North with huge teams to support Southern NGOs on the ground. Most of the resources get tied to these headquarters and little goes to the South. Real decision-making about what needs to be done and how is still decided by HQ-based Northern experts.
- As quoted in The Stories behind Oxfam’s Withdrawal from 18 Countries (May 27, 2020) by Niduk D'Souza, Nonprofit Quarterly
- The gap between rich and poor can't be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these.
- Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist.
- They spend billions of hours cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly. Unpaid care work is the 'hidden engine' that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving. It is driven by women who often have little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run, and who are therefore trapped at the bottom of the economy.
Why India’s NGOs don’t question politics and power any more, 2020
- Why India’s NGOs don’t question politics and power any more (June 01, 2020), Scroll.in
- The Supreme Court of India’s verdict in the case of Indian Social Action Forum or challenging the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2011 on March 6, was one of the most decisive affirmations of civil society’s role as a political actor in India. The judgement reaffirmed the legitimate and critical role civil society has to play to ensure that democracy in India thrives, including through political action. With far-reaching consequences, the judgement upholds the right of civil society to undertake political work and action. At the heart of this is the distinction between political action for political power on the one hand; and political action for furthering rights, development, human dignity, constitutional values, and democracy, on the other. The court has clearly pronounced that political work as defined for democracy and rights is legitimate.
- There will always be a large segment of civil society doing charitable work. They are much needed in a country like India which continues to see endemic and extreme poverty, diseases, and large populations without basic human needs. However, another large part of civil society is, by definition, engaged in political processes for building just, peaceful, humane, and sustainable futures. In great measure, their primary engagement is with the question of uneven and unjust distribution of power, and its consequences on individuals and societies. These might be seen as different paths, but the central theme of democratising "power" remains fundamental to the varied, diverse concepts of civil society.
- Despite such strong ideological rationale for civil society's political work, we have moved to a space where our aspirations and rhetoric are political, but praxis and practice are apolitical. [...] By definition, civil society has to work within a framework of non-violence, but it does not mean that we cannot offer radical responses to injustice and indignity. Our inability to deal with chaos and engage real power has made us a marginal actor in the central discussions of the public domain shaping our polity, society, and economy. The process of this disengagement with politics is paving the road towards civil society's marginalisation.
- Contesting power [...] is inevitable in the pursuit of justice and dignity for the marginalised and excluded.
- At this moment, when the foundational values that defined the 20th century are under stress and the social contract is undergoing unprecedented revisions, as ideas and ideals of citizenship, nations, democracy, justice, and freedom are being redefined; civil society cannot sit on the side lines and remain neutral. It needs to reengage with communities and politics to play a central role in defending, deepening, and promoting the progressive ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity, justice, and democracy.