Sunday, November 4, 2012

Needs and Wants

As I am involved as a facilitator in the training of district, block and municipal officials of South Dinajpur district, West Bengal, when we reach the session on Disaster Response and Relief Management, a huge question rises : how do we manage the gap between wants and needs. The Block Development Officer (BDO) of Hilli block was telling an incident. One day a old couple came and pleaded with him so much, almost crying, saying that they need some support by way of old age pension or some allowance as destitute under whichever provision he can provide for. So, the BDO called one of the officials and asked him to arrange for the necessary paperwork so that this old couple can get some support, at least about 200 rupees a month. Just then the BDO's driver dropped in and asked, "Sir, why these two people were here for?" The BDO replied, "They are poor people. They need some help. So, I asked to arrange for their support under the National Old Age Pension Scheme. The driver said, "Sir, these people are cheating you! They have two trucks and a car which they have placed on rent." The BDO immediately called the mentioned official and asked him not to proceed with the case.

This happens in disaster relief times as well, as everyone wants support for food, shelter etc. What do they do with all that? Often sell them off again. And at times they just want to accumulate. As it is said, "earth has enough to provide for every person's needs, but for everyone's wants." Where do we draw the line. It still remains a mystery to me as it becomes extremely difficult in emergency situations.

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