There has been a lot of heated discussion on the Baba Lovers Facebook page regarding a post by Kendra (Crossen-Boroughs) about a request for travel expenses for Mehernath Kalchuri and his family, as requested by Mehernath himself - which was subsequently withdrawn, again at Mehernath's request - and Kendra has spoken very openly about the immense suffering that this post caused her personally.
It was clearly a case of "Shoot the Messenger", because she was made the focus of a lot of negativity and it must have hurt! It is so easy to pick at the flaws and imperfections of others, because then we feel justified in considering ourselves OK, to say the least! However, Christ has put it perfectly when He said that it is easy to see the mote in our neighbour's eye but very hard to see the mountain in our own. When it comes to the AMBPPCT, it is easy to criticize the Trust, its workings and its trustees. I know, I've done it often enough myself. Today I would like to talk about the good things that are being done by the Trust.
You may have read, there is a slew of committees that are now looking into the finances, labour relations, projects, etc. and are actually doing a fine job in some cases, adequate in others. But it will improve slowly. Change is threatening, and major changes take a lot of effort to bring about. Slowly but steadily things will change. Trustees are becoming more responsible. Capable people will come forward to take their place in the hierarchy and will come for the right reasons, to serve our Beloved to the very best of their abilities. In time the Trust will once more be worthy of its name, Baba's Trust. We all have a part to play in this transformation, by making sure that we help by telling the relevant trustees if things appear to be askew and telling everyone if you see things that are being done well.
The Trust has quietly been supplying drinking water to the village of Arangaon for many years. However, in the last few years the monsoon has repeatedly failed. Now almost everyone in the village comes to fill drinking water at Meherabad. There is a line of shining steel pots each morning by the MPC (see picture above), and villagers take their turns in a very orderly fashion, thanks to the intervention of Jal Dastur, one of our Meherabad trustees. When there was a ruckus, Jal immediately shut off the water and then instituted the present system, which is enforced by our security guys. Thank you Jal.
Finances have been a major issue, especially the misuse of Trust funds and also Trust facilities, not just by Trustees but also residents. The Finance Committee is overseen (among others) by Meherwan Dubash. Meherwan is the son of late Trustee Adi Dubash and a qualified Chartered Accountant. It is very clear that there is order emerging from the chaos - Trust cars and labour are not used for personal work as freely as they once used to be, each item purchased has to be indented, scrutinized and passed by the Committee, there are good checks on the donations and the outgoings. There is still a way to go, and slowly the issues of private homes that have Trust electricity and water but are being rented out for profit will need to be addressed, each property that has the utilities provided by the Trust will need to be metered and a fair price charged. In my opinion this should include residents' quarters, because I have seen immense wastage by our residents, where lights and fans are kept running all day (because they don't like to come back to a dark/hot room! It only takes a flick of a switch to put on the light, and the fan can cool the room in a few minutes by leaving the door and windows open to cool it off). If they can afford to pay, they should. If they can't, they will see how much power and water they use, and maybe it will encourage them to be more frugal? Any property which is rented out will, of course, not qualify for Trust utilities. It is not fair to expect donors' money to go towards funding a few individuals' profit. The Trustees are looking into this, I am assured. It will change..but again, change will be slow and painful.
Labour costs are rising, and staff and workers expect good raises each year. However, it is a one-way street so far. There is no efficiency measure, no performance-related pay and no evaluation of the work done by staff and labour. We are a charitable trust, but we need to look at this issue as a practical and not a spiritual matter. The Trust donations should not be used to give workers a free ride. That kind of charity is at best a waste and at worst a threat to the future functioning of Trust work. Labour is organizing. I have heard workers talk about it when I walk around Meherabad on my (increasingly rare) visits there. We may once again have a time where there will be a strike. There needs to be a strong and capable Labour Committee which is conversant with Labour laws, and is able to negotiate strongly and firmly. It is time to set out a fair and legal policy governing performance measurement, pay negotiations, disciplinary measures and the like. A good welfare policy coupled with a fair performance target is the best way forward. Now is the time to do this, not when we reach crisis point!
There has been a lot of progress in our relationship with the Pimpalgaon Malvi villagers. A group of volunteers are going to the local Marathi school and working with the older kids to teach them conversational English. This has made us a welcome and valued presence in the village. There has been a lot of progress in our fencing work, and this is mainly due to the increased cordiality between Meherazad and Pimpalgaon. Contentious issues are ironed out over cups of tea, not out on the field with threats (except for a few instances, and even there, some of the village panchayat members did support our position) and life is a lot more pleasant. What started out being a threat to Meherazad has been turned by Baba into an opportunity to preserve and protect the Trust lands around the core property! Harmony is slowly being established, and we are being involved in social projects like health camps, etc. both by villagers and also by Larsen & Toubro, a big industry that has adopted Pimpalgaon Malvi. He works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform!!
There are many things that worry the Baba world in general, but one thing in particular is of great concern - who will take over from the present trustees? It is vital that the people who come on to the Board are above reproach. It is not enough to take a decision between the existing trustees, the Trust also needs to listen to the Baba community, and pick good, strong and capable individuals. Baba's Trust is not a private club, where members are chosen because they 'fit in'. It is the operating arm of Baba's continuing work. Its main purpose is to fulfill Baba's wishes as set out in His Will. Baba will bring forward people who will fulfill His wishes, of this I am sure. Baba-willing, the existing Trustees will recognize the need for such individuals, and make the selections that please Baba, not each other!! A good start has been made by putting in place an Ethics Committee. An initial circular has gone out, but it is now time that the Trust takes into account views from all over, not just their own and those of a few individuals. There are a lot of good points of view out there, believe me Trustees!
That is it for today, folks. I am not sure if my views are the right ones, so everything written here is my opinion only, and does not reflect the views or opinions of anyone else. As my dad is very fond of saying, "If there be any good in these words, the credit goes to Baba. Only the mistakes are mine!" Jai Meher Baba.