February 21st the Self-Esteem Spirit for NGO/CSOs in Bangladesh
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury:
Dhaka 16 February 2021:
February 21st and the great language movement taught us the how to acquire great courage and to protest the establishment and colonial rulers. Bangabandhu led the movement for our liberation and we have got the country, Bangladesh. It is not anymore a ‘Bottomless basket’. It is rather a basket of resources, our human resource.
But have we, the Civil Society / NGO activists, realized the courage and spirit? We have similar and complementary spirit of Grand Bargain commitment, Charter 4 Change and Development effectiveness discourses, which have clearly outlined to denounce the characteristics of aid colonialism and institutional racism upholding the leadership of local CSO/NGO and their activism.
I always feel humiliated to see that the local CSO/NGO leaders or staff start flattering their international counterparts in any multi-stakeholder meeting and pretend to be inferior to them. The way they flatter is “what you have said is such a good that, I have never heard”, “Yes, I feel bad that I do not have capacity, you need to develop my capacity”, “ I was so committed to your project that I worked here like a front line staff, not as the Director”.” They think as if this kind of flattery would bring them fund.
This is kind of aid colonialism. Being ruled by British raj for 200 years people of this sub-continent have some mental damage, a permanent inferiority embodied in our mind. The leaders during the British rule are seen doing this kind of sycophancy mentioning themselves as slaves of British Raj, as we are doing the same to international actors now. But in fact history says that it will not sustain.
We should believe that, we are equal partner in the journey and we do like to share our experiences and capacities mutually, some international actors also believe in this line. In fact, that’s the learning from all those international agreements that goes against the patron-client relationship and an environment of aid colonialism and institutional racism. It is in fact the real path towards self-dependency, sovereignty and sustainability. Criticism should be appreciated because critical awareness leads to initiate the intended transformative changes. They should not pick “His Master’s Voice” like leadership and organization, what is happening now both in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya response and in national level. They must pick NGO/CSO in partnership by policy and criteria with transparency and fair competition. Otherwise there hardly be serious strive and competition for good governance and sustainability among NGO/CSOs.
We need to think out of the box. You do not always need structures. An individual having few ICT devices can mobilize people, on right based issues and responsiveness to any humanitarian crisis. You do not always need foreign funding -you can generate own local resources. English language is needed but why don’t we tell them to learn Bangla and use it while they work in our country at local level. Why don’t we tell them to give us capital for our institutional development to be self-sustainable at one stage? Why should not tell them what is necessity in their culture, are luxury for ours. We should be economical and accountable to our locality. We should tell them that “one size fits all” is a wrong theory. One single large organization is not appropriate for democracy, human right, humanitarianism, building self-responsive society, for accountability, sustainability and sovereignty, we need to give space to hundred flowers to blossom across the country.