9 years back, in a paper titled “Coolie Sangha Consolidation & Withdrawal” we mused on an emerging policy and articulated the concept of NGO role transformation. We clarified that ADATS withdrawal was not a mere washing of hands of all responsibility and commitment. We were not going away anywhere. Ours was not a time bound project intervention. We had a continuing role to play. We viewed withdrawal as the necessary “next phase” of ADATS involvement where we continued to relate to independent CSUs.
The Coolie Sangha went further to state that authentic development takes place only after the withdrawal of ADATS, when programmes and activities are carried out by Member Coolie families themselves, on their own and based on a free choice, with neither the compulsions of debilitating poverty, nor the constant persuasion of the NGO.
After 7½ years of involvement in Gudibanda Taluk (and considerably longer in Mittemari Hobli, even if punctuated with intermittent gaps) the ADATS/SCNZ region as a whole has finally entered the third and final 3 year Consolidation phase of Coolie Sangha building. This is the time when Member Coolie families need to seriously consider their independent continuity, continued relevance, sustainable permanence, et al far and beyond ADATS’ direct intervention. Sentiments expressed in that paper, written in August 1994, pretty accurately reflect the thought/ questioning process we underwent just before and during this 6 month reporting period. The actual events that triggered this shift are certainly sad. It is probable that, in years to come, we will look back on recent developments and term them propitious. But that does not deny the fact that they are, at this point in time, acutely painful. However, our commitment to process documentation compels us to record what happened, as fully and critically as we can.