House of World Cultures, Berlin
11th to 14th August 2005

BERLIN CHAPTER: House of World Cultures, Berlin
August 12th, 2005
11.00 am – 6.00 pm

Civil Society and Development Aid: The Politics of Responsible Engagement

We examine here the role of development aid as it responds to the needs of civil society. Globalisation has brought into sharp perspective the changed roles of state, markets and civil society when addressing a world of increasing social divides, income divides. The focus on deregulation and privatization in all social sectors has had its influences on development aid as well. Traditional responsibilities of social actors in meeting the crisis of a world of severe divides have come into questioning.
What are the positions of development aid institutions in negotiating this crisis? Are the ideologies of market ethics gaining a foothold in development donor institutions? Are pressures from governments on aid institutions in north countries being passed on to partnerships in the South? Is the grammer of critical debate alive and active in aid institutions? Are civil society organizations which are dependant on aid also undergoing structural adaptations to better accommodate the demands of aid institutions? Are the instruments of aid capable of respecting autonomy, democratic debate and honoring just partnerships where power is not actively used to destroy and the freedom for responsible social action?
These broader questions are posed by us with the intentions of widening the scope of the debate on the role of aid, citizenship and democracy. The increasing rhetoric of ‘aid is trade’ needs to be put down and a more serious quality of engagements between partners in social development needs to be built.

Shobha Raghuram is Director of the India Regional Office of the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries, Bangalore. She obtained a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Pune, in 1981. She did her Post Doctoral Research at the University of Sorbonne, Paris in the History of Ideas and Hermeneutics on a Government of France Fellowship. Her research interests include development policies, role of develop-ment aid, civil society, livelihood concerns and ethics in public life.

Respondent: Susanne Schultz, political scientist, specialist on population politics, Berlin.



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