Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Visiting the Collector

Visiting the Collector – A Petition
February 14, 2006

Valentine’s Day in Japan and the West. The day of love, the exchange of cards, chocolates, flowers, and warm feelings. What a wonderful idea! Surprisingly there have been movements in India against Valentine’s Day as a decadent Western imposition on Indian society. Card companies and cake shops have been the object of puritanical ire. This, I can imagine doesn’t trouble the folks at LAFTI very much. No, they are concerned with spreading the love every day in action. There are many kinds of love.

Amma and Veerachamy have gone to the Collector’s home to wait and deliver a petition to him regarding the housing conditions of Dalits in Chellur and other villages. Houses built with government funds only two years back are already falling apart. Amma wants money to subsidize LAFTI’s work, to demolish these houses, use some of their materials and make strong pucca (proper) houses to withstand the rains and flooding, which seem to be happening with increasing frequency.

It is a cool sunny morning at LAFTI as I write. We are hoping for Amma’s success with the petition, waiting for her return.

Ah, I hear the car, that strong white Ambassador with its diesel engine. The car pulls into the compound and Veerachamy steps out smiling. His bearing is that of a leader indeed. I ask him in Tamil how the meeting went, and he says that it went very well, that the results were fruitful indeed! Then Amma gets down from the car and comes to me smiling, saying they have had a very good meeting with the Collector, that he also had thoughts about the need for more money to be spent on making new houses, not just repairing those that were broken down. Amma has also asked him for a letter of introduction for meeting various officials in Delhi, which he is happy to provide. The sense of forward movement. of momentum however gradual, is unmistakable.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!


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