On 26th of March Kallol of NJ, one of the major Bengali social and cultural clubs of this area, will be holding their annual general body meeting. On this day the current executive committee will hand over the reigns of the club to the new committee who will be looking after the club activities for the next two years. In the larger scheme of things, this may not seem to be a matter of any significance. But if we think a bit deeply, few issues may surface and tickle your thoughts. If you come to the Kallol AGM on the 26th, most likely you’ll see the following.
1. Poor attendance despite the promise of good food by the committee. Only few veteran members will be asking any questions and making any suggestions.
2. The new committee will consist of mostly members from the old committee with no election taking place.
This clearly shows that not many of us are interested in participating in the club activities. A handful of members have to carry on the brunt of the responsibilities and activities all along. I am not singling out Kallol, most of the Bengali clubs and organizations face the same situation.
If we try to analyze this situation, the first question we need to answer is, do we need these clubs? Do they add any value to our lives in this country? Most of these clubs were founded to serve some very basic needs of ours – to get together and do some activities together for our social, cultural and spiritual nourishment, be it staging a play or be it holding a Puja. The problem however is that any such activity requires few people to work on the activity and few people to participate and enjoy. This creates two parties, one who works and delivers and one who receives and enjoys. The people on the receiving end do contribute their dues in the form of subscriptions etc., but they do not fail to criticize the slightest inconvenience in any form. The workers, on the other hand, serve solely for the love of the activity and entirely on a volunteering basis. They too, after a while, get tired. But hardly do we see new people from the receiving end come up to join the serving end. We take it for granted that we will always be served and served to the best of our expectations. But we do not think that if the service providers give up, we will no longer have the pleasure of enjoying such great events.
One complaint I sometimes hear is that people are not given any opportunity to serve in these clubs, that the committee members are not inclusive enough and they tend to keep out anybody who has the slightest interest in serving along with them. The allegation sometimes turn out to be true since in many cases, these small club positions seem to become some kind of thrones of power that many fear to lose. The decision makers tend to fantasize that it is their sole right to decide on what, who, when and how!
But I think that this allegation is overrated. If one genuinely believes in a cause and is willing to work for it, most of our organizations will give it a fair hearing. Please try to understand that they too have limitations, both in terms of resources and free time.
So if we think that these organizations do add value to our lives, then we need to participate. We need to make ourselves heard at formal forums like AGMs and other meetings. Let the organizers know what we like and what we don’t. I am positive that we will be pleasantly surprised.