In Hindi, badlaav means change. As members of a fellowship that sends young professionals to India to work at nonprofits and social enterprises, we struggle with effecting change, and the resistance to it, every day. We would like to think that we are changing the world, but first we must understand its complexities.
Because we come from different backgrounds and sectors—we are teachers, social workers, lawyers, future doctors, bankers, and anthropologists, among others—we are constantly learning from each other. Through the process of negotiating our local realities and sharing them with our peers, we have developed a huge base of institutional knowledge about India and social change.
And so we are here to share our hard-won experiences with you.
In the inaugural edition of our magazine Badlaav, we will explore the theme of behavior change as it applies to development work in India. We will write about topics like children with disabilities, transgender communities, mental health care systems, equal access to water, and educational pedagogies.
Traditionally, the term “behavior change” is used in the field of public health and refers to activities that motivate people, for example, to use condoms. We have broadened the definition of this term to apply to any work that challenges people’s current habits and behavior in a way that will benefit them in the long run. Emily Coady, currently working on English education at RIVER, in the Rishi Valley, is writing a piece about the need to raise expectations for rural school children and to believe in their ability to succeed:
“India’s school system is in a state of crisis. Behavior change is critical to India’s much-needed reform. The change that must occur is the belief that students can learn and deserve rigorous educational material regardless of caste, gender, economic standing, geographical location, or religion. A child from the slums of Mumbai, a child from rural Rishi Valley, or a privileged child from Hyderabad all can learn the same material. It comes down to the adults who run the system actually believing it is possible, regardless of excuses.”
Our fellows are working with age-old problems in international development but piloting new solutions and dialogues. This fellowship gives us the opportunity to use our expertise on the ground, while our relationships to each other help us to see broader questions in development being taken apart and restructured. We want to bring this conversation to a greater readership to synthesize our institutional knowledge and invite new perspectives and understanding.
We are running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first issue of this magazine, as well as a basic website, and we hope to raise $1500 to cover our design and printing costs. Our writers, photographers, and editors are doing the work for free, out of a desire to see this project come to life. Please consider donating—pledges of $50 or more will receive a copy of the magazine.
Liz Peyton and Ragini Kathail are American India Foundation (AIF) Fellows, class of 2012-13.\n
This project is part of GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.\n