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Detailed Report of Group Discussion
NGO Consultation, 4th&5th May 2017 Back

The two day NGO consultation of around fifty NGOs turned out to be a productive event with the representatives’ enthusiastic and involved participation. The participants were strategically grouped state wise for systematic and meticulous discussions and deliberations on the prospective plan of cadre formation in south India. These groups revised the activity matrix given to them and made many invaluable suggestions worth incorporating. In the last session on the first day, a representative from each group communicated suggestions on the activity matrix and various other related aspects of the programme. The group from Andhra Pradesh suggested that the prospective cadre’s age should range between 20 to 35 years and should preferably be educated in high school. Also, they suggested that since the program was divided into various phases, the first phases could be on SC/ST. To this, Dr Selvaraj Arulnathan, Director at ISI Bangalore, replied that enough had been done on this issue and some concrete interventions were the need of the hour.

The group from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry opined that the intended cadre should be given value based training so that he/she can disseminate, fight and promote social justice. They should also be trained in Marxist and Periyar ideology to promote a radical and emancipator approach towards society. The group also suggested thatOBCs also can be included in this plan of cadre formation. While most of the groups agreed to this proposition, Tamil Nadu group expressed its limitation in doing so. The group also suggested that the session on training in media skills in C7 should be pushed to the second phase and the activity in D4 ought to be placed in the second year. The group also articulated confusions and ambiguities on the term socio-cultural to which Dr Selvaraj convincingly clarified that the term was all encompassing and included the economic and political dimensions too.

The third group from Kerala proposed that cultural mela which is an important segment of the activity matrix, should be extended to three days instead of two days. Dr Selvaraj elaborated on this and said that only if the diversity of the culture could be tapped the cultural fete would be worth extending to three days. The group also suggested restructuring of the section C1 and C2 on social analysis. They said that C2 could be rearranged as C1 and C1 as C2 since part two in section C which focuses on seminal concepts like self and identity should be given initially. Finally, the group expressed difficulty in comprehending D4, that is, the resource material for trainer. Dr Selvaraj replied that the resource material was both meant for the resource person and also the cadre who would be prospective trainer.

The last group was Karnataka and the group’s representative expressed the need to spell out clearly the terms and conditions in memorandum of understanding. Dr Selvaraj stated in clear terms that MoU will cater to all these needs and cover financial aspects as well as clearly define commitment of the prospective cadre. The group elicited clarification on the term Gender mela in the activity matrix. Dr Selvaraj patiently, explained that the term comprehensively included men, women and LGBT and the fair would be a celebration of the diversity of the gender. However, prominence would be given to the marginalized groups in gender such as women since ISI unflinchingly devotes itself those subaltern identities. The group threw open a question for reflection on cadre’s commitment. If the cadre chooses to leave the sphere of social change, then what would be the stake of the organizations involved? To this Dr Selvaraj intelligently answered that the question hinted at the significance of the choice of the cadre. The cadre has to be chosen intelligently and this job has to be done by the various organizations partnering with ISI in this project of cadre formation. Also, he clarified that the cadre would be from the organization only which would, in turn, increase his/her accountability.

This session on group discussion was a democratic exchange of ideas in which all the participants contributed to the prospective program of cadre formation which exhibited their readiness to commit themselves to this program.