Friday, January 14, 2005

Blogroll: IndiaUncut

A small reward I've gotten from blogging about the Tsunami and relief efforts has been an increased awareness of bloggers and websites who are focused on development, sustainability, and South & South East Asia. Therefore, I've made quite a few additions to the blogroll in the last few days, and I'm going to try and point some of them out over the next few days.

Right after the Tsunami, Amit Varma of IndiaUncut send me some encouraging email, which was particularly generous of him considering that he was busy preparing for an extended visit to the affected areas. His despatches and reflections are collected here. Of the despatches I particularly recommend No. 31, No Knives, Some Payment and No. 43: Love Story by the River, but they're all interesting. I think they're excellent examples of the kind of relaxed, immediate first-person writing bloggers really excel at. From No. 31:
“After the initial phase of relief, we put a price on the medicines we give out. I have noticed, in the past, that when we give medicines for free, people are reluctant to accept them, thinking ‘ if it is free, it cannot be good’. But if we put a value on it, any value, they are willing to accept it. So some days after the initial emergency phase, we start selling medicines at one rupee. They may cost Rs 100, but the people don’t view it as charity, and place some value on it. Later, we may start selling medicines for two rupees. People start valuing it even more, and buy even more.”
A more reflective post "9 lessons learned" post, uptop, is a great summary. His nine items, nicely discussed, are: 1) Do a census 2) Enumerate belongings 3) Build a local emergency warning system 4) Conduct disaster drills 5) Constitute a central relief authority for each district 6) Six – Organise a rating system for NGOs 7) Assess relief needs, and prepare accordingly 8) Stick to regulations 9) Fight poverty. 1&2&7 reminded me of William the Conqueror's Domesday book--inventory having been England's first big step from Dark Ages Semi-Wilderness to Great Nation. 3&4 reminded me of the amazing story at the Digital Divide Network about a Telecenter warning saving an entire village. 6 calls to mind discussions on this blog about the need for better reporting and analysis of the non-profit sector, and 9 always bears repeating.

Some might consider Varma to be opininionated and impassioned. While you may not always agree with him, I think you'll definitely find his writing interesting. Funny recent post about the changing use of the word "Marxism": So perhaps what Bhattacharjee is really saying is: “Marxism the belief system is dead. Long live Marxism the brand.”. Varma's running for some kind of Indibloggies award. I just wish he'd add comments or trackback!