Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Settle for less

Yesterday I visited one of our project sites near the ITPL. The slums there have proliferated rather fast compared to other parts of the city and one would expect more by way of facilities and access, considering this is where the money is. But the people there had a long list of complaints and point to where a fence is now being constructed.
That land was ours
, they say, we still haven’t gotten anything for it.
I nodded quietly, taking notes and listing names of CEOs and Managers I need to speak to, on the other side of the barbed wire.

I ask them about toilets, running water, electricity, drinking water, fodder and such like.
(Most are unavailable or very hard to come by.)
Questions answered, we sat down to drink syrupy tea. And I asked a young man - who was a security guard on the nightshift – whether he thought the area had ‘developed’.
Of course, he said, signalling to his friends that I was a moron to be asking such a question. The land prices have more than doubled in the past three years. Even if we haven’t gotten paid as yet, the amount we’ll get ensures us a profit of something atleast.

But they've been pushed back and fenced out. That they don’t have drinking water or electricity or functional toilets didn’t figure in his little assessment.
When I pointed this out to him, he laughed and said they set lowers standards for themselves.

I find myself easily depressed these days.

B used to tell me that CSR is nothing but a gimmick and I’d click my tongue and roll my eyes. (At the time, I was more of an idealist than a realist.)
I still haven’t been able to prove him wrong, though.