Development Cooperation Handbook/Issues/Our role as individuals
Can we, as individuals, contribute to the achievement of the Global Development Agenda?
Relevant chapters in this handbook
⇒ World citizens
We all would agree that if we all worked in a spirit of reciprocal solidarity and collaboration we would live in a better world. But then we find it difficult to sacrifice our time and our resources for the benefit of an abstract "world community". We would like to cooperate; but we have to survive in a competitive environment.
So the old argument of political economists has failed to convince: sure it would be in the interest of everybody to live in a world where relationship amongst nations are fair; but who would fist drop out of the power race and renounce to one's national interest?
It appears that those who are more selfish are smarter and win the power games; so we fear that "giving to others" would ultimately make us the losers. With no advantage to anybody. Because, after all, what can we do as individuals?
However a new conscientiousness seems to be waking up in new generations that strongly challenges these justifications for indifference and sloth. A consciousness that tells us that we are humans and our real "interest" is to live and express our humanity. We then discover moral obligations that are dear to us. We do not like to exploit the Earth in such a manner that other communities are brought to despair. We feel we have to use this world thinking that it belongs to the other generations that will come after us.
So we get the will of doing something. Of taking side. But can I, as an individual, make any difference?
We asked different stakeholders to share their views on how the individual persons can contribute to the Global Agenda for Development. We also want to compare the aptitudes of the peoples of different nations in assuming responsibility for global development and inter-cultural dialogue.
Below are the answers we collected. The work is in progress and you are welcomed to contribute.
Click on the name of the contributor to go to the page with the full interview.
We must feel it our moral responsibility to help our fellow citizens. The idea of a country or a nation state is history. Today, our economies are intertwined and so are people intertwined both electronically and ecologically.
Once, crossing the oceans was like crossing a whole world. Today people move back and forth easily. Today, boundaries do not matter. So, we cannot remain oblivious to suffering anywhere in the world. And this is what global citizenship is all about.
Julian Parr, the Regional Manager South East Asia, Oxfam GB
Do you think you as an individual can make a difference to the condition of the poorest in this world?
It is about...are we willing to recognize the humanity in others? Are we willing to recognize that instead of all the time just thinking about ourselves can we can think of others, can we see pain around us... can we say "whatever means i have let me respond to it!".
Even if something good is being done, how many of us have the real ability to celebrate that; rather than think "if good is happening from somebody else, I don't really care. If it happens through me and it boosts my image, ego, my stature, then it is worthy". I think we are caught in that trap. I think it is fundamentally about, just offering ourselves to life and just responding to it... and recognizing the sense of responsibility and interconnectedness of life around us.
Etikwa Ikutu - Concord
Vinita Rani - Social worker
Montek Singh Ahluwalia, - Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Government of India
"There is certainly a concept that we are a global community. There is a concept that each citizen much conduct himself in a manner in which his country is seen as a country to be a good global citizen. There may be global values, universal values, but in my view if you don't have global taxation you don't have global citizenship"
Rajesh Kumar Jha Programme Officer for CWSy
Skype - 07 Sept 2010
I think people can support and influence policies and lead their implementation at all levels of governance. It is only when policies are based on people's choices that people feel ownership of policies and hold governments accountable for implementing the same. If, on the one hand, it is vital that people feel a responsibility for participating in policy making processes, it is equally vital that they are empowered by the policy makers to be partners in policy making and implementation. If people are not on board while making policies and designing policies and people’s voices are not taken in account when policies are developed, these policies will remain on paper and will never be translated into action. So without the common man’s voice integrated into policies, plans and programs will neither be representative of people's choices nor achieve their objectives.
According to you the “world citizenship” is a modality of self-awareness that can be achieved by all?
Yes, “world citizenship” is a modality of self-awareness that can potentially be achieved by each one of us. We only need to step outside ourselves and look around us. And we will notice that the consequences of what happens in the world have entered our homes. We can no longer be only local even if we pretend to. We share the natural environment and we all bear the negative consequence of over exploitation and pollution, wherever they occur. And we share the same economic and governance environment and we all bear the consequence of unsustainable financial practices of any nation and of terrorist activities of any group. So we need to take responsibility for the governance of the relationship amongst peoples and nations in order to face global challenges
It is especially the responsibility of people like us- conscious and educated people, who have traveled and worked across countries, who have the capacity to look beyond our boundaries, to share our thoughts, emotions and positive experiences, share the spirit of tolerance, non-violence, brotherhood and peace.
Can common people influence policies? Common people can influence their governments and government policies, however it needs strategic advocacies, involvements of huge number of people and hard work in terms of mobilizing people. But i would be uncomfortable drawing a linkage between people's local process and global development agenda. This does not happen and this is why you see a lager civil society coming up. At the local level citizens have felt disempowered and they feel that they don't have a say in their own government structure. Civil society then becomes a vehicle for peoples voices and protest and is building alliances which goes beyond local boundaries to create a much stronger network. We need today a strong partnership between the Local and the Global civil society.
अयं बन्धुरयं नेति गणना
लघुचेतसां उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकं
Only mediocre men discriminate saying: this one is a relative - the other is a stranger.
For the noble person the entire world is one family.
Maha Upanishad 6.70-73
⇒ Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
Quotation from Daisaku Ikeda
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