From earthquakes to tsunamis, from AIDS to hunger, our moral horizon is increasingly global. All disasters, in an important sense, are global, and as such, our attention is drawn, justifiably, to the victims of misfortune. Yet the story often fails to include the other side of the equation—those who want to help the victims: poor students sending money for those in need, activists struggling to help the injured, wealthy philanthropists seeking to make a difference.
The subtle shades of humanitarian efforts—differentiated by varied imperatives, impulses, and systems of obligation and assistance—remain less visible. Alongside the heroic efforts of professional aid workers and the dramatic suffering of disaster victims are those who provide care inaudibly, without recognition and without status.
Most scholars of economic development, philanthropy, and humanitarianism would agree that development, charity, and humanitarianism are each distinct forms of aid. Contemporary practices of helping others are part of a larger universe of giving marked by notions of global citizenship and relations of social obligation that entail rights and entitlements, and sacred conceptions of religious donation, all situated against a backdrop of the global economy of giving. In the context of simple gifts rather than humanitarian aid , different cultural codes define giving.
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However, my appreciation was a source of confusion for her because thanks are not commonly expressed in India. Giving manifests social solidarity, for it is through the exchange of gifts that individuals are hierarchically connected to a larger society. Back in the early s, as the Indian government liberalized its economy, national wealth climbed and the country began aiming to configure itself as a global superpower and a benefactor in the geopolitics of aid.
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Related Disquieting Gifts: Humanitarianism in New Delhi (Stanford Studies in Human Rights)
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