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Strengthening Local 
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Cultural Alliance 
Culture and Development
Culture is an indivisible part of development when understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means of achieving a satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence. Culture is intrinsic to sustainable human development because it is our cultural values which determine our goals and our sense of fulfillment. It is through culture that we build identity, that essential component of humanity and community and whereby we communicate our ideas, feelings and insights. Culture allows us to learn and develop as people. Its role is so fundamental that it is inevitably the starting point in a more broad based sustainable development paradigm.
This development may be defined as that set of capacities that allows groups, communities and nations to define their futures in an integrated manner. Development processes which fail to recognise this struggle to produce lasting improvements in people's lives.
Culture is far more than entertainment & the performing arts. It represents a cumulative body of knowledge, know-how, practices and representations. These sophisticated sets of understandings, interpretations and meanings are part and parcel of a cultural complex that encompasses language, naming and classification systems, resource use practices, ritual, spirituality and worldview
To engender a debate on the cultural basis of the development paradigm we have both translated into Bengali and reproduced in english a short exposition on Cultures, Spirituality and Development which we have felt raises many important issues which have not received sufficient attention in mainstream development processes
Cultural Alliance
There is thus a need to promoting the performing arts and artistic expression as the medium of communication whereby we understand our experiences, ideas, feelings and insights and build identity, that essential component of humanity and community which allows us to learn and develop as people
Towards this end Ahead Initiatives through a Cultural Alliance of like minded individuals and bodies strives to support communities and in particular the marginalized of the rural milieu to build on their capacity to use their cultural heritage and local and indigenous knowledge as a key resource for empowering themselves to combat marginalization, poverty and impoverishment so as to pursue sustainable development and strengthen their own cultural identities and values through renewal and innovation.
School Engagement Programme
In spite of Cultural Activities being one of the 29 subjects entrusted to local self government by the Constitution in its Eleventh Schedule, most local government institutions are unaware of their responsibilities in this regard. The growing Alliance partnership hopes to work with Gram Panchayats (local self government) to engage schools to fill the vacuum that exists in formal education in this regard.
This focus is the outcome of our understanding that the collective creative capacity of our children holds the key to how humanity’s future unfolds. It is thus important to focus on the young in our efforts to examine anew the cultural basis of our development paradigm and explore development pathways which are sustainable and include those non tangible elements of development and progress which are normative in nature. Children’s attitudes and lifestyles, their responsiveness to educational programmes, their growing sense of ownership of the drive to preserve a decent future for ensuing generations are all intimately linked to their own cultural identities and values, and no worldwide commitment to sustainable development will get anywhere without that recognition.
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Ahead Initiatives 2009