October 10, 2023
KHPT organized a colloquium on ‘Ethical Challenges in Working with Communities’ on October 6th facilitated by Dr Sundar Sarukkai, a philosopher scientist and founder of Barefoot Philosophers, a forum which aims to bring discussions of philosophy to the public. Using examples, Dr Sarukkai drew out some ethical challenges which could arise when NGOs work with communities, after being drawn into partnerships that are almost always asymmetrical in power-structures. He recommended that all interventions be grounded in some amount of ethical theory to ensure that there is thought before action. He said that formulating ethical theory, especially as an institution, is a form of activism in itself which helps understand what acting morally means.
He touched upon various challenges that organizations face while interacting with the communities, which included community’s access to knowledge and information, the use of language, the right to privacy, the exercise of consent and the inequality of position, as well as on the various ethical aspects of funding, making a distinction between philanthropy and charity.
The colloquium concluded with a round of questions and discussions on community interventions and ethics with the KHPT team members in attendance