Our Beliefs

Our beliefs: are the product of constant reflection on our analysis of society, on feedback and analysis of
experiences of the poor and marginalised as a result of our various poverty mitigation interventions and
on the understanding that our interventions need to be governed by the “art of the possible”. The
burden of change must not be borne by the poor as a result of our ideology, administrative needs,
program design and the pressure for quick results.
We believe that the poor and marginalised have a right to form their own institutions which need to be
respected and not made to conform to official requirements. We believe that stable, thriving,
democratic, wealth creating institutions of the poor at the base are appropriate instruments to change
oppressive power relations in a sustainable manner. Striving to “mainstream” the poor can also be dis-
empowering, if they have to fit into the mainstream, on the latter’s own terms and conditions.
We believe that these institutions of the poor, when provided with adequate institution capacity
building(ICB) can overcome the hurdles created by caste, class, bureaucracy, gender and tradition by
neutralizing oppressive power relations and opening new doors and opportunities to access resources.
The basic needs approach without a direct focus on promoting institutional empowerment of the poor is
inadequate for sustained growth of the individual, it does not factor power and market forces into the
equation which they cannot counter individually.
We believe that we need to constantly dig deeper to reach the poor. Asserting that we are working with
the poor over a period of time in one area – especially if the intervention is effective – results in working
with the enterprising poor. Continuous efforts are required to reach out to those who are left out of any
system not matter how inclusive it may claim to be.
We believe that our interventions should build on people’s strengths, not on their needs to which they
will respond at their time and pace. To start on the basis of needs is to reinforce existing relations of
dependency. Their strengths are based on the relations of mutual trust and support or affinity/social
capital, which is still strong in rural areas. This affinity exists before ARAVALI enters. It is like a diamond
in the sand, which we happened to kick. We can only take credit for stopping to pick it up and polish it.
Other strengths lie in the willingness of the poor to save, (once they realise that their savings are safe
and can be quickly accessed), to invest time and energy to build institutions through which they manage
finance and natural resources, open access the markets, provide services and influence governance.
We believe in investing in children, not in isolation, but together with the mother and in the context of
the family by promoting supportive gender relations and sustainable livelihoods strategies through the
dynamics of an affinity group and a healthy surrounding environment.

We believe that the livelihoods of the poor cannot be promoted by market forces and the private sector
only; on the contrary they could easily be undermined. Institutions of the poor need to exercise a
degree of control over market linkages and intermediary institutions. To intervene effectively in these
areas, the poor need to be supported by Government investment in infrastructure, including roads
(particularly rural roads), transport, storage and marketing facilities and by NGOs to promote
appropriate institutions.
We believe that the poor and the marginalised need a safety net to ensure food security and the
minimum health care and education. Government needs to take the lead and invest in these sectors, but
management and implementation has to involve people’s institutions and should not be left to the
existing delivery system only. The poor should be provided with choices in the field of primary and
secondary education and health.
We believe that technical institutions providing basic training should be privatised or at least placed
under a private-public partnership management model.

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