When, and if, one pays full attention to the news and to the daily going’s on of life around, it comes as an insulting ‘slap in the face’ to witness the begging bowl attitude in action.
This, though, is hardly surprising given the example of successive governments, plus, a sad observation, how disbursers of aid, be it foreign aid or otherwise, go so badly about their business that people, pride long since gone, have developed the greedy attitude of expecting more and more, giving nothing in return: Not even a well intentioned ‘Thank you’.
The writer is not talking about out and out street beggars here but of entire communities who, following in the footsteps of their leaders, have actually come to demand ‘assistance’ for things they could – and should – be doing for themselves.
‘If aid workers can fly here and there, drive around in expensive vehicles and eat in expensive places’ the ‘people’ reason, ‘then they have plenty of money to hand out to us and we do not have to lift a finger in return’ which, considered in the clear light of day, is absolutely terrible!
Where has the nation’s collective, let alone individual, pride gone?
Something, anything that needs doing – planting trees, repairing a water pipe, filling up potholes in a road right along the line to ensuring that people in relatively remote locations can adequately sustain themselves on a year round basis, is, these days, a reason for not just demanding but expecting, aid money to pour in. This is despite the fact that quite often, the solution to the problem, or perceived problem, is staring people right in the face but they are simply too lazy to do anything about it for themselves.
Millions – make that billions - of dollars in foreign aid has poured into Pakistan, on one pretext or another, since the country came into existence but there is, in real terms, very little to show for it. True to say that, especially in the case of American aid, somewhere between 70% - 90% goes straight back to American contractors/suppliers to help their employment and economy not ours. Yet – the great big ‘But’ – why on earth has and is, Pakistan so merrily selling itself out, bit by bit, piece by piece, to American interests for American – not Pakistani – gain?
Does our indigenous agricultural sector for example, an important sector which has always been viewed as the economic backbone of our economy, really need incredibly massive inputs from overseas when we have our own Agricultural Research Departments and Agricultural Universities. And why, oh why, is that often lethal ‘Micro-credit’ system, the initial money often being in the form of so-called ‘Aid’, being pushed and promised left, right and centre when there is absolutely no need, no need at all to encourage people to bury themselves in debt?
Yes. Start up money for a business, no matter how small a business, can be hard to find and even harder to pay back, with interest, if the business fails but there is another side to the Micro/Macro credit being proffered as aid. This, to put it plainly, being that if someone is prepared to work hard and to work the long hours necessary to get any new venture off the ground, they can – slowly and surely – provide that they are determined enough to do it themselves and, more importantly, without getting into debt. Offering, enticing even, people to take out loans in any shape or form and having the sheer audacity to call it ‘aid’ is tantamount to handing someone a noose and telling them ‘go hang yourself’ for, in some other countries, our Eastern neighbour being a prime example, this is exactly the result!
The ‘Aid’ worker driving around in a huge 4 x 4 has been hired, and is obviously paid, to do a job – in the case of convincing people to sign on for credit, they are salespeople not ‘helpers’.
It used to be and still is in many localities, both urban and rural, the tradition, especially amongst women, to form committees into which each committee member deposited a certain amount each month. If, for instance, there were 12 people in the committee, then one of them would get that months total sum, each month in turn. It could be used for anything including, it goes without saying, using it as ‘seed money’ with which to first start and then expand some kind of home-based business be this cooking, baking, tailoring or whatever and the beauty was, of course, no interest involved.
These days though, instead of traditional, community based ‘help’ methods, along comes an aid worker/NGO, offering foreign based credit – don’t forget the interest – thus dismantling joint community systems which have worked perfectly well down through generation after generation to the betterment of all involved. People who could, once they got their chosen business up and running, proudly and honestly say that they have done it for themselves.
This pride of ‘doing’, appears to have, to a very large degree, gone and, thanks to the incorrect usage and promotion of ‘aid’, left in its place a ‘Gimme Gimme’ attitude which is, putting it lightly, shameful in the extreme.
Come on people – where is your commonsense, your determination and, above all, your pride?
The writer has authored two books titled The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War, The Parwan Wind - Dust Motes and lives in Bhurban.