Saturday, February 11, 2012


Writing a statement of purpose for me is an especially difficult task. It isn’t that I believe I don’t have a purpose, it’s just that the purpose I believe I currently have, I can’t prove to be the reassertion of a long running idea in my head, something that was the natural outcome of my existence up until this moment.
I began rummaging through old sock drawers, school mementos and other things of my childhood that would hopefully link up to the idea that I want to work in development, or at the very least give me inspiration to write about something.
I found what I was looking for. They were small round cardboard badges with the word ‘LAMP’ written at the back in capitals, with the front of each decorated with a stick figure doing something different like swimming, or lighting a fire or eating. It didn’t take me long at all to recollect that LAMP stood for learning association movement programme, a string of the longest and most intellectual sounding words I knew at the time. LAMP was more than that though; it was a ‘club’ that I had conned my neighborhood friends into joining, and participating in, and it aimed (if I can be bold enough to say so) at teaching people essential life skills so that, no joke, they could develop themselves. Hence the eating and the fire and the swimming. I think I’d borrowed the idea from all the Hollywood movies I’d watched about little kids going off to camp, but not having the same in India, I tried to set one up . The club dwindled out due to lack of support, and probably more because we’d reached that age where the boys wouldn’t play with the girls and vice versa.
The next time, during the course of my youth that I can truly say that I thought about development as a career option was during my visit to a small city called dindigul as a part of the state football team. We were representing Delhi at the girls Under 17 football nationals, and the host of this tournament so greatly important for us was a mere speck on the map in Tamil Nadu. I remember when the train halted at the station in Dindigul. I’d never before been to such a remote city (if I can call it that), and I remember at that precise moment realizing the differences between the big cities and the rest of India. It was perhaps a long awaited revelation, something that should have struck me before. Travelling by train in India takes you through many remote regions, and you can catch a glimpse of farmers in their paddy fields and their broken down shacks. It takes a while to register that that is all they have. While I don’t doubt their happiness, it sometimes affects me when I picture the differences between the farmer in modern India and the farmer in Europe. I passed by a lot of farms while living in france, and the comparison between the two was stark. So when questioned about my motivation for working in development I am often slightly uncomfortable. I don’t wish to sound patronizing and pretentious and argue that I want to work in development to make a difference to the vast majority of people in my country, but actually, my idea is simply just that.