Author: Vanita Viswanath

Indian Culture and Traditions: “Circles of Trust” for Next-Gen Aspirations – Part 2

Read part I here. I. Culture and System Change This part outlines 3 concepts that can enable and even drive system change involving Indian C&T and will use examples of lived experience and “trust circles” to illustrate and guide action. 1. Cultural Navigation This concept describes a) individual agency to maneuver through cultural symbols, practices, beliefs represented by others in immediate and extended trust circles (family, friends, gurus, local influencers) in order to slowly bring about change in their own interest; and b) how circles of trust in family and neighborhood respond dynamically and adjust to new needs and aspirations as the economy grows. This is particularly important in managing women’s aspirations for study and career while they also simultaneously try to fulfill their roles of wife and mother. While conducting a training program in enterprise in the state of Jharkhand, I saw Kunti Devi, a middle-aged semi-literate tribal woman, enter the rural venue with two books hidden in her saree pallu to avoid being questioned by community members in her village as to why, …

Indian Culture and Traditions: “Circles of Trust” for Next-Gen Aspirations

Systems change as the governing principle of developmental change evolved in the western world within their political cultural framework of codified democracy, jurisprudence, and thought. Despite cracks in applications of this framework worldwide, the limitations have not been recognized as arising from a restricted lens. The asymmetries in expectations, outcomes, scale and sustainability of development change in different parts of India that investors and funders lament about is a result of castigating rather than integrating the crucial lens of culture and traditions (C&T) to view and effect system change. Culture, as a composite of relationships, norms, long established in “circles of trust” that include immediate and extended family members, gurus, social and religious group members, and the relationships and responsibilities that have evolved to sustain them, even over generations, are the foundation of sustainability and hence of system change. Part I of this series outlines the limitations of systems theory and practice viewed outside of the C&T lens. Part I – Limitations of Systems Theory and Practice I.   The Original Lens for Systems Change There …