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   Power and Love
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
09 Sep 2010

Love thy name is social change

What has ‘development’ got to do with ‘love’ and how does ‘power’ relate to ‘love’? Power without love produces ‘development’ that destroys everything we hold dear, argues Adam Kahane, as collision of immoral power with powerless morality constitutes the major crises of our time. Having worked around the world on a variety of challenges ranging from economic development to judicial reform and from food security to climate change, Kahane persuasively argues that a symbiosis of power and love alone can achieve lasting social change.

Kahane delves deeply in the dual nature of power and love, exploring their complex and intricate interplay, but mocks at the idea of applying ‘best practices’ solutions from the past to solve problems. Not only are the problems of our time generatively complex but the future is fundamentally unfamiliar and undetermined, that seeks new set of ‘next practice’ solutions. Waging war against problems may not offer solutions, creating space and scope for collective creation holds promise.

Highly relevant to the global challenges we face today, Power and Love is about the hope and possibility that comes from committing oneself to making a difference in the world. Drawing from his experience of conducting social change workshops across different continents, the author contends that our destruction of aboriginal societies worldwide and our headlong rush towards the destruction of the ecosystems arise from our disconnection from one another and from the earth.

Kahane argues that love connects and creates opening, potential and opportunity, but power is required for these to be tested and realized. However, dialogue that does not acknowledge and work with power therefore cannot create new social realities. In fact, each needs the other. As Martin Luther King put it, ‘Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.’

Power and Love should be read and re-read by leaders in the private, public and social sectors. In his extraordinarily insightful and powerful analysis, Kahane debunks George Bush’s doctrine that ‘if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem’ by presenting an alternative formulation: ‘if you’re not part of the problem, you can’t be part of the solution’. Moving from power to love enables us to see more clearly how we are part of the problem and therefore how we can be part of the solution.

It is an inspiring narrative that is immensely readable for those who are not only empathetic to social change but are looking at ways and means of co-creating new social realities.

Power and Love: A Theory & Practice of Social Change
by Adam Kahane, Tata McGraw Hill, New Delhi; 172 pages, Rs 250

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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