I worked for more than a decade in advertising and media where the general attitude to life is largely ‘sab kuch chalta hain’. Then I shifted to a rights based organisation where the general feeling towards life is ‘kuch bhi sahi nahin chalta hain’. If you are weak hearted, this kind of tectonic shift can be traumatic. So if you are thinking of working for a rights based NGO, I would advice -
Life is an Issue. Seriously!
Q: What books do you read?
A: Manto, P. Sainath, Ramchandra Guha, Noam Chomsky or any book which talks on or is based on an issue.
Q: Have you read Sophie Kinsella or Georgette Heyer?
A: What ARE they?
Q: What do you think of Sholay?
A: It just shows the ‘majority’ mentality by naming a village RAMgarh. Media is so insensitive to minority issues.
Q: How about Bend it like Beckham?
A: Oh, they have highlighted women’s issue so well.
You crack Joke 1: It’s so sexist and anti women!
You crack Joke 2: It puts so and so community down!
You crack Joke 3: Its child abuse!
You crack Joke 4: By now you learn not to crack jokes at all or crack only politically right jokes.
Corporate = Capitalist = All things Terrible:
Oh, we sometimes DO look at corporates benevolently. At times we feel that it’s our duty to teach them about humanity and rights. Can we learn anything from the corporates? Well, you must be out of your mind.
In a scenario where we are looking more and more into getting funds from within the country (read corporates and individual donors also from corporates!), I wonder whether being so ideological is such a good idea.
‘Poor’ = always the sufferer = Good people
‘Rich’ = ‘what the hell do they understand about grassroot issues anyway?’= Elitist
I want to know just how many of us (from an NGO) would forgo a job which pays us double the current salary or forgo an increment because it will make us richer and hence more ‘elite’. Well, I left a well paying sector on my own volition, but that hasn't stopped me from waiting greedily for the year end increment.
Corporate Life is the root of all Evil (not so overtly though):
A typical day in a media house and how men and women behave: Regular bonhomie, shouting during stressful situations, abuse one another openly, back slapping while chatting, party hard after work, drink, smoke, joke, pull each others’ legs, wear any type of cloth (read funky) and nobody will bat an eyelid.
A typical day in a rights based organisation and how men and women behave: Most jokes are cracked by women. Men, I get the feeling, keep the women at a safe distance so as not to offend them in ANY way. A strange silence descends if a woman is seen smoking or drinking. Some men get uncomfortable with women wearing anything different than what is generally accepted (I will leave it up to you to guess what that is).
The World is divided into Two Groups:
There are only two sets of people we like to acknowledge - community people (including ourselves) and the government. Government is still appalling but it’s important to keep them engaged in dialogue. The rest of the society and their sentiments do not matter. Who are they anyway? Public facing campaigns are a waste of time and money and a few ‘Likes’ on Facebook is hardly likely to achieve anything.
Though I strive hard to understand this side of life and viewpoint, I still do not agree to all the ideologies due to which I have been branded a Capitalist (for trying to justify the psychology of ‘the other side’ and finding the concept of equality utopian), an Environmentalist (because I prefer Nature to humans ANYtime) and a person requiring Gender training (because I refuse to be called a Feminist and think that population really needs to be controlled).
It’s been a fun job for me so far!