Hidden Tamil Nadu: Diane’s Perspective

In April, we shared with you about Hidden Tamil Nadu, a unique trip to India this autumn that includes both delicious cooking lessons and thought-provoking village visits. To tell you a bit more about the tour and what it entails, we invited Diane to tell us about her experiences – as she’s been on it four times so far!

My first visit to Social Change and Development (SCAD) was purely moral support for my sister Trish, who had discovered the charity the year before. I had never been to India before and to say I felt out of my comfort zone was an understatement.

However I soon discovered what SCAD was about and that slowly returned me to my comfort zone. My first visit included a comprehensive tour of SCAD’s activities. These included visits to schools, a village for Leprosy sufferers, and a Gypsy village. I witnessed real poverty but also real hope. Social Change and Development truly at work.

Cooking Tour to India

Women’s Groups exist in most SCAD villages and they take responsibility for maintenance of finance, etc., for the village. The health care system delivered by SCAD is evident.  Education is seen as a way out poverty.

This sounds very serious but I have never had such an exciting and humbling experience. So much so that I shall be making my 5th visit this autumn. The visits now include a week of Southern Indian Cooking. Not your usual take away but the real thing.

Cooking tour in India

I made a good mushroom curry with chapattis [made not bought!]. We shopped at local markets much to the delight of the villagers, as in this rural area of Tamil Nadu Westerners are not usually seen. We were treated with warmth and respect. The visits also offer the chance to catch up with projects seen previously and to meet once again with local friends. So much is achieved with relatively little and with very little fuss.

Last year there was a late monsoon. The Indians were delighted at the arrival of the much-needed rain but were sorry we kept getting wet. It was not at all like the UK cold rain and truthfully we thoroughly enjoyed the adventure! We even showed them how to make vegetable soup English-style to make them feel better.

Cooking tour in India

There is little evidence of affluent India in this area. We were miles away from the normal tourist route so I have not really experienced large cities or famous sites and am not sure what my reaction would be. I do know how much I look forward to returning annually for as long as I can.

I return to England with a greater appreciation of what I have and a genuine affection for all the people I have met. It is an unbelievable experience which I hope has made me a much more tolerant and understanding person.

While Jeevika is not directly involved in this trip, we do support it and encourage you to consider signing up for it. If you would like further information, please contact Trisha Roberts by email at hiddentamilnadu@hotmail.co.uk or by telephone on 01787 238360.

India’s Clean Revolution?

We apologise for the gap in posts, but it’s been a busy summer so far in the office! We look forward to bringing you a new series of posts, starting with this one from funding strategy officer Mark…

Something that might be puzzling some India watchers is why the Rupee has been falling of late and why indeed it is so prone to fluctuations. These ups and downs put considerable burdens on the Indian government trying to steer a path toward towards low inflation and economic growth.

As with all things economic there are complex reasons for this but one over-riding factor is India’s dependence on imported energy that makes up almost two thirds of its total imports. Increasing oil prices put greater pressure on its balance of payments driving up inflation and pushing down the Rupee. Recent high levels of inflation and currency instability are reducing India’s attractiveness to the inward investment that has been a vital force behind its impressive economic growth.

Indian rupee falling

Looking to Village India

Low carbon technology is therefore not only important to stop climate change but also for India’s long-term economic well being – especially if it is not going to be held ransom by the price of oil and the fact that oil is becoming increasingly hard to find as the world’s reserves are used up.

Village India may actually present a better foundation for a sustainable low carbon future in the 21st century than the bourgeoning cities. Until now urbanisation has always seemed to be the road to jobs, opportunities and prosperity. This was certainly the case in Europe but it remains to be seen if it will continue to hold true in a world of increasingly volatile energy prices and scarce natural resources where “Small may become even more beautiful”!

India’s Clean Revolution

The Climate Group logoFor more on India and sustainability check out this March 2011 report from The Climate Group. In the introduction, the report’s authors write:

By acting now, India can get ahead of the curve and provide technology solutions which will benefit business and industry, support foreign investment, improve global competitiveness, reduce reliance on dwindling and imported resources, save energy costs and reduce the impact of capital spending on installations that will be around for a long time.

“Remarkable progress has already been made and India has all the ingredients to benefit from the opportunities offered by addressing climate change. The Government of India recognizes these advantages and is taking a leading role in driving low carbon development, in both international and domestic arenas, with the 2008 National Action Plan on Climate Change and its constituent Missions providing a range of key regulations and incentives for low carbon growth.”

What are your thoughts on the falling Rupee? Do you agree with finding a connection between this and green energy solutions?

Images courtesy of East Asia Forum and The Climate Group.