There are those in the developed world who try to salve their conscience by throwing a few dollars to the South for charity. But there are also a few who make a sincere effort to distinguish between just and unjust policies towards the developing countries. These socially conscious and sensitive persons in the developed countries have an important role to play in the battle against poverty and deprivation in the developing world.
The well-wishers of the North must make the distinction between governments which in broad terms are likely to adopt policies and programmes to check existing deprivations and injustices, and others that strive to maintain the status quo, or even aggravate existing inequities.
Where a sensitive, democratic government exists, the main task should be to strengthen it to enable better implementation of its policies. Private citizens in the north can do this by exerting pressure on bilateral and multilateral aid agencies and financial institutions to cancel, defer or reschedule some of the debts of the developing country in question, and to take other steps which will help release more resources for the government to use for its people.
If a powerful foreign state, directly or through a proxy, engages a Third World government in wasteful wrangles, low-intensity conflicts, or economic blockades of any kind, the private citizens of the North must build public opinion to stop such action. Any effort by the developed countries to weaken pro-people governments, of whatever ‘ideology, should be opposed.
While pro-people governments should thus be supported in every way, the approach toward a governments which is anti-people must be quite different. The efforts of individuals from developed countries, in such an instance, must be to show solidarity with pro-people organisations of that country. Every repressive action of the government must be noted and protested against.
Dogra is the Delhi-based editor of News From Fields and Slums.