News Of The Month
Anonymous stories beyond the iconic images

The world still remembers the image of the Afghan girl on the June 1985 cover of the National Geographic magazine as one of the most iconic photographs of our times. Her piercing green eyes and the red scarf clicked somewhere in a remote refugee camp in Pakistan became symptomatic of the grit and pride of the Afghanis, living even in the most adverse conditions under Soviet rule. The world also saw the image of the dying girl and the vulture waiting to feed on her in Sudan which then led to the ethical debate on photojournalism. Some many such images but the fact remains that there is more to these images than meets the eye.

The stark realities of the developing world hasn’t changed much now wherein the development practitioners, rescue and aid workers, whether in conflict zone or least developed countries often come across such harsh realities almost every day. The outside world just gets to see these when one of these photos become viral and pinch their conscience. However, they still miss the stories beyond the visual imagery captured in these frames.

Just before the World Humanitarian Day on August 19 this year, we saw the photograph of a stunned 5-year old boy in Aleppo. Omran Daqneesh with his haunting eyes and face covered with blood and mud was pulled out from under the rubble of his home. His legs were hanging as if he was tired of the weight of his own body; let aside the burden and trauma of the catastrophe around him.

In this still taken from video provided by Aleppo Media Centre, a child sits in an ambulance apparently after being pulled out of a building hit by an airstrike. Photograph: Aleppo Media Centre

The image went viral on social media and again made us question the relevance of development on one side and the meaningless war on the other side.

In development sector, the aid workers who travel to difficult terrains in a bid to initiate the development activities and offer assistance often grapple these harsh realities and yet continue pushing the development agenda. This is not an easy job especially in countries which are destabilised politically or are just beginning to stand up on their feet.

The photograph of Omar along with the recent updates of strife, signals to the international community to take up the cause of development and peace more vehemently. The generations of the children in such war torn countries are in urgent need of help. But the International aid and development community working in such areas are suffering equally- if not more. The increasing lack of resources, problems like closed roads and routes, lack of support from local population coupled with working in rough inhumane conditions, is something which often goes unnoticed by international actors. And this is not the story of Syria or Sudan, but the developing world on the whole with the frontline aid worker in the ‘field’ facing these situations every day, be it famines or bombings. It is not a one or two year’s affair for them. They witness these for years at a stretch. They move from one country to another taking up challenging assignments. If we keep aside the romanticization of living such lives every day then it’s true that these problems are the harsh reality of a development aid worker.

The passion and zest to serve humanity which drives the development community is commendable, it is only when we see such iconic photographs from a famine or a war stricken country that’s when we want to know more. But more than often we miss the stories beyond these heart-wrenching frames. It is time to bring to attention the plight of the humanitarian aid workers who strive endlessly to bring about changes and face endless challenges and pay homage to them.

Aid Round Up

India to provide Rs 300 million aid to Sri Lanka

India will provide an assistance of Rs 300 million to Sri Lanka for livelihood development, including the fisheries sector, in the southern Hambantota district..... Click here

World Bank sanctions Rs 980 cr for Brahmaputra dredging

The World Bank has sanctioned Rs 980 crore to dredge the Brahmaputra as an initiative to develop waterways to Bangladesh and to other South East Asian countries in a bid to boost trade and industry in the Northeast..... Click here

Haryana govt seeks assistance from World bank

Haryana government has sought technical expertise and resources from the World Bank for development of peri-urban agriculture and climate smart agriculture in the state.....Click here

Development News Round Up

India giving World Bank all evidence of improved ease of doing business

India is providing detailed evidence to the World Bank on ease of doing business as it seeks to break into the top 100 countries on the bank's index from its current rank of 130..... Click here

Washington Taps World Bank's Kim for 2nd Term

The United States has nominated World Bank President Jim Yong Kim for a second term. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew praised Kim for working to end extreme poverty around the world, tackling inequality and fighting climate change..... Click here

Govt to hand-hold smart cities in borrowing from ADB, World Bank

The Ministry of Urban Development has issued a guidance note to enable smart cities to borrow from multilateral development banks such as Asian Development Bank and World Bank for project execution.....Click here

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