Letter: Positive interference in Indian village life

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The Independent Online
Sir: James Fenton's argument (22 February) that we should not interfere in developing countries seems to denigrate any positive action. So please consider what supporters of one United Kingdom agency have just learnt in two weeks (at their own expense) alongside its partners in India.

These Indian voluntary organisations promote health, water supply and sanitation, education and training, employment and human values in their own localities. Their object is to empower people to improve their own lives. Much of their financial support comes from within India, some voluntary and some from government. Funds from abroad, including the agencies mentioned by Mr Fenton, are especially used for innovation, so as to show what is possible.

We talked with people of Hindu, Muslim and Christian faiths who were working, learning and laughing together. We met women dependent on a new village pump who are responsible for its maintenance. With schoolchildren we enjoyed health education through songs and drama. Our modest 'interference' in people's lives met with an overwhelming welcome, of such warmth and pride that we wish to share it with their other supporters.

Yours faithfully,


Knowle, West Midlands

23 February