Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Recent Interview with My One Year Old

My Baby: Daddy, I’m not so sure about the narrative of progress and justice that I gave you in our last interview.

Me: Why not?

My Baby: Last weekend when we stopped by your office, I looked through a copy of the 2007 UNICEF report (pdf download). Just the picture on the cover made me so sad.

Me: I’ve spent a lot of time looking at that picture. That poor mother with her two kids and in the background a train is leaving, like global prosperity is leaving them behind. India’s growth rate may be 9%, but they don’t seem to be benefiting.

My Baby: What’s wrong with the baby in the mommy’s arms? He doesn’t look right to me.

Me: He's underweight. The report says that 78 million children in South Asia alone are underweight.

My Baby: Do you think it is because of the way our global economy is structured so that governments can’t provide social protection for the most vulnerable groups even if there is the political will? Or do you think it is a legacy of colonial exploitation? Or do you think that there is some kind of cultural problem and it’s the values in our South Asian communities that need to change?

Me: I don’t know BabyG. I don’t know. I do know that mommy wants to feed her children well.

My Baby: The girl in the yellow dress looks like she could be my friend. Maybe if we were friends, I could help make sure her family has enough food. We could form an organization that overturns the economic order. Children for a Revolutionary Economic Order – CREO.

Me: That girl is probably very nice. Her dress looks pretty doesn’t it? But I’m not sure you could ever be her friend. There are oceans between you and her. The Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the ocean of difference in your class. She doesn’t have a basket of toys or three shelves of books like you do. And you don’t speak her language either.

My Baby: But things have to change now. I’ll learn her language. Teach it to me.

Me: The UNICEF report says that putting resources into gender equality is the best way to raise children out of deprivation, because women are generally responsible for childrearing and they are more likely to invest in their children’s education and health. If resources are put into achieving gender equality, they say we can get closer to the Millennium Development Goals.

My Baby: Get closer? That family deserves justice now!

Me: So much has to change BabyG for that family and all the families like theirs to have justice. Kofi Annan said it takes time to train teachers and build clinics.

My Baby: Are you crying daddy?

Me: Daddy cries about this kind of thing all the time.


MaGreen said...

this is a lovely post, greendaddy.

mom of nymphs said...

Just wanted to write that I stopped here and enjoyed your writing and pictures. And, wow!

Sid said...

I am from India, and this touched me. I liked the way you put it. Many people her in the cities don't care to think about a lot of such things. Yup, the 9% isn't making much of a difference to most. But it is indirectly enabling them in a lot of ways.