Jul 29, 2007

Place of Pride

i discovered this pic. tucked away at a remote corner of the UN’s visitor’s lobby, nesting un-praised, unsung beside several other pictures of the peacekeeping forces that the UN deploys across the globe. This is the only pic. of an Indian peacekeeping force; more notably, the caption informs that this is the first all-woman patrol team to be deployed by the UN. Formed on Jan 2007, the Indian team is stationed at Liberia.
I am not naively patriotic & like everyone else, am skeptical of the UN’s role in really providing aid, support & succor to an increasingly fragmented & divided world. In fact, it was disquieting to see our guide mouth a stream of banalities justifying the existence of the UN as an international organization that looks out for every nations’ best interests. I really wasn’t in the mood to get into any political debate but her continuous “Pls feel free to ask me any questions that u may have” finally broke any sense of political correctness I was striving to exhibit. In ans. to my query regarding the absol. breakdown of peacekeeping & lack of UN intervention in countries like Rwanda & earlier during Amin’s rule in Uganda, I was primly informed that the “UN has to work within the parameters set out by member nations & also follow a democratically approved manner of operation that imposes several restrictions on it, which may not be immediately apparent to outsiders.” I realized then what wonderful cover the English language provides for covert operations that ppl like me r to dense to comprehend!
Anyway, as I saw this pic, i wasn’t aware of any conscious sense of pride. However, happy I was at finding this small token of India & indianess in a place thousands of miles away from home. Also, an overwhelming feeling of being connected to India, of being strangely moved, of gratitude that it is thru. the efforts of these men & women that nations write off international debts & any political party who attempts to arrogate such credit to its share shud be kicked. My camera was acting up & despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to keep the flash from exploding. Yet, I wanted to share it with those who visit my blog.
This is seemingly unrelated but made me happy. Just read about Prez Kalam’s pan-African E-Network Project. If Africa has to progress with the rest of the world, this is the manner in which it must be done – by linking commercial interests with progress. For India, this is a magnificent opportunity to foray into the dark continent's ICT development before China sets shop. India will have a ready market to sell its telecom apparatus, IT services & peddle its expertise in long distance education & tele-medicine. For Africa, this is a unique opportunity to connect its 53 countries thru. a fiber optic network to enable better access to healthcare, education & technology at supremely affordable costs.
With the traditional concept of armchair charity being replaced by a more healthy & competitive idea of charity generating revenue for both the recipient & the giver, the E-Network Project seems a much better alternative to Africa’s woes rather than the UN’s doling of aid to the starving masses of sub-Saharan Africa.

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