A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Where can one be most effective?

This was a question I posed to Andal Damodaran, a woman who has been working in the field of Child Rights for over 30 years.

She is now president of the Indian Council of Child Welfare, and also part of the Education section of the Indian Planning Commission (a body which brings together leading figures and works on national policy formation). Andal has devoted her life to Child’s Rights issues, actively campaigning for the abolition of child labour the prevention of female infanticide.

For Andal, effectiveness happens at both end of the scale. We met in her office in the city of Chennai. Below her office is a street centre for boys, the sounds of their play and laughter reaching though the windows. As Andal explained, it is her time with the boys which keeps her policy work real.

The policy work keeps her running around the country, sitting on various boards, doing media interviews, writing articles and proposals. My interview with her was sandwiched between two others, both to be broadcast on the evening news, in whcih she was discussing a law coming into effect prohibiting child labour in restaurants, hotels, tea shops and recreational facilities.

She is a busy lady. She knows that her policy work is about bringing vision and possibility to the table. Realistically 40% of that may end up in actual policy; but at least it is 40% better than nothing at all. And the work with the kids? It reminds her time and time again why meeting after meeting, board after board is important. They are the voice she is representing. Their laughter keeps it real.


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