Monday, August 30, 2010


Ajit Chaudhuri – August 2010

Giving voice
Livelihood security
Gender variance
Civil society
Distress migration
Social capital
Bottom-up development
Capacity building
Appropriate technology

One of the requirements of a life in the development sector is the ability to sit through long and boring meetings. In my early years, I had the God-given gift of being able to sleep with my eyes wide open, scoring goals in world cup finals and acknowledging the cheers of crowds while people around me pontificated endlessly. This, combined with an inventory of three semi-intelligent things to say in case some dickhead suddenly went ‘So, Chaudhuri, what are your views on this?’ ensured survival. Later, when I moved up the food chain, I simply cut out attending meetings from my work profile. Things that go round come around, they say, and I am being punished for past misdemeanours by now having to a) attend more meetings (profile building, my bosses call it), and b) contribute to the discussion, i.e. no more sleeping.

This is where Bullshit Bingo comes in! For those of you who are uninitiated, the rules are that you prepare a list of 25 commonly used terms, put them 5 by 5 in a table as above in different orders, and then share these with like-minded participants to the meeting. When a speaker uses one of the terms, you cross it on your table. When you complete a column, row or diagonal of crosses, you get up and say something pre-ordained – it’s supposed to be a loud ‘BULLSHIT’ but, as that may not be appropriate to profile building or contribution, it can be something lighter like ‘I deeply regret my inability to agree with that last contention!’ Ditto with a full house! Needless to add, participants are not allowed to use any of the terms until after someone else.

Playing BB increases concentration powers and enables one to listen carefully to the most mundane of discussions. Be warned, though, that this requires the presence of somewhat like-minded participants to the meeting.

How does one identify them? Remember that ‘many a dumb blonde is actually a smart brunette’ and look for grey beards, khadi attire, and conspicuous commitment to poverty alleviation – these are invariably pointers to the most enthusiastic participants to BB. Stay away from the visiting card flashers, those who introduce themselves with their position (thank you, designation inflation!), and those who inform others of their presence at the pre-lunch post-tea session only because of multiple commitments and busy schedules.

Have a good game, oops sorry, meeting!


Ajit Chaudhuri said...

I wish you had sent this out a few years earlier, during my NGO days. I may not have been so quick to quit!

Madhu Bhattacharyya

Ajit Chaudhuri said...

Considering I was at just such a conference today, Ajit, this is most welcome fortification for Day 2 tomorrow! :) 

Berenice Rose

Ajit Chaudhuri said...

Brilliant- and so timely-am doing a short consultancy with WHO for a global maternal and child health conference and I am upto my ears with Bingo bullshit! Ha!

Saloni Puri

Ajit Chaudhuri said...

Brilliant, Ajit. This one is a definite BINGO! Take a bow for the cheering (and chuckling) crowds.
Now do some distress migration and come to Goa, build your capacity to enjoy the simple (liquid) pleasures of civil society and give voice using appropriate technology involving 6 strings - security of lively-hood guaranteed.

Nandita de Souza

Ajit Chaudhuri said...

Dear Ajit,

Terrific 1 pager man!!! Really loved it!!! The best part is one can relate so well to it that this adds to the pleasure of reading it.....To be honest, I have been missing out on reading your 2 pagers for a while... Am going to pull them all out now as nothing better than this as an antidote to another insipid string of meetings I too try to avoid as far as I can!!!

Keep them coming


Shankar Narayanan

Ajit Chaudhuri said...

"many a dumb blonde is actually a smart brunette": this does not exist - BS!

Som Sen

Ajit Chaudhuri said...

great stuff.. you missed out the upward mobility e,g training in 1980s had switched to capacity building by mid development changing to community participation, viable to sustainable etc etc..The whole thing is dynamic

Sudhir Rao