Friday, July 4, 2003
Mr. Bhanu Kale

Mr. Bhanu Kale

Being in Panchgani, especially after traffic and pollution of Pune, is heavenly. And watching the mist float over stretch of green is sheer bliss.

Communal harmony continues to be a distant rainbow we chase. “Majority communalism can easily pass off as nationalist, while minority communalism is quickly branded as separatist,” wrote Jawaharlal Nehru. Today, we need to be reminded of that. When asked whether he hated Germans after all they did, Winston Churchill replied: I do not hate in plural! The articles by Khorshed Gandhy and J. S. Bandukwala are therefore timely. We are glad for the contributions from some young persons on this theme.

With this issue, my last, Disha is entering seventh year. Its purpose is to keep regular touch, within limited budget, with those who visit Asia Plateau or wish to know about what is happening there. It is a role different from World Bulletin or For A Change. Or also from Himmat of yesteryears or Antarnaad, a Marathi monthly I happen to edit. A big thank you to that wonderful body of persons who have been a source of support to Disha over these years. One hopes that the source multiples.

As one glances through Disha issues of these six years one feels grateful for much that happened. Indian Army began to come for residential programmes. Earlier they only made a day’s visit. This was one of the key factors responsible for improving our relationship with the government. Twenty Programmes with the management students till today mean that in around fifteen hundred organizations people trained at AP are at decision-making level – a potential worth exploring. Family and children’s programmes became a regular feature. Forget about any,even remote, talk of closure of AP. Calendar of events at AP does not show many vacant slots. Infrastructure Manual streamlined the administration while Programme Manual brought in consistency.

More Programmes mean better utilization of infrastructure and, one may be forgiven for pointing out, better revenue. Workers at AP are better paid today than ever before. With uncle and aunty replacing Mr and Mrs, Resident Team at AP became more of a family. Regularly published Annual Reports, Disha, Address Book, Team Letters etc. meant greater transparency and involvement. Matters concerning rented properties in Mumbai and Delhi got sorted out. Globally, our work became better integrated with programmes like Hoho, Globalization Conference, Farmers’ Dialogue or Action for Life. APCEL seems to be an idea whose time has come.

But what gives one the greatest joy is to see how a visit to AP sensitizes conscience and lights a candle in a person’s heart. To each, his/her candle shows the way. It leads a Maharashtrian professor of economics to Nagaland and teach without salary for a year. This inner glow also gives the courage and the passion. A Brigadier not only refuses to buy film tickets in black but in fact returns with the police to tackle law-breakers instantly. Let’s face it; how many people will do that?

“Optimist invents the aeroplane, pessimist the parachute. Both are needed,” wrote Bernard Shaw. To be truthful, one is painfully conscious of issues that still remain. Like evolving a concise, acceptable description of what is (and what is not) MRA’s role in society. (Bracketed portion is critical. Prioritizing our actions involves deciding what we do, but also what we don’t.) Related to this is the issue of leadership. And a need for a core who give this work (commensurate) time and energy.

Signs of humanness are obvious – not just in others but also in me. Perhaps I understand better today why it is easier to find faults with acts of commission rather than with acts of omission. Why, on the whole, people prefer event management to critical debate on fundamentals, going on fishing expeditions to mending holes in a net. Why life is a package deal.

Speaking personally, one does not fully know what the future holds but, as with walking in the mist, one step at a time is enough.

Bhanu Kale