India runs to a different rhythm. People rise early and sleep late. Typically they work six days a week. Everyone appears to be on the move all of the time, so getting from here to there can be complicated. Lateness is not unexpected.

It is discomforting for an anal Englishman. But maybe there is something to learn, something to take home from the sub-continent, a different take on time. Three examples.

The movement has taken time to build. Aloysius Fernandez started five decades ago, Joyti Mhapshekar four and half. “Speed kills” said Aloysius, something to discomfort the funders and researchers in our group. MYRADA kept getting it wrong. There were seven failed prototypes before the winning formula was found. Joyti suggests four years of gentle pushing by Self-Help Groups before the lazy middle classes (my description not hers) finally figure out the benefits of separating dry and wet waste.

Second example. Stage it. Don’t try and do everything at once. The Self-Help Affinity Groups begin by saving. Six months to a year on they start to make internal loans within the group. Three years later, fuelled by a loan from a bank, they significantly increase lending to one another.

Third. Self-help Affinity Groups appear to follow a similar temporal pattern to business start-ups. The first three years are a killer. Seventy per cent fail. (Many that fail, pick themselves up, dust themselves down and start again). Those that succeed bump along the bottom for a while. If they are still going after three years they survive, and mostly thrive.


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