Trees! Bangalore has lots of them. In the office where my organization works I see a book called "Trees of Bangalore". I obviously pick it up and search through it. I found something much more than just the name I was looking for.
The tree was called "Tabebuia Argentea". It has a crooked trunk and giant pods that bloom in March. A beautiful tree that needs no special care and is popular throughout Bangalore for its beauty.
Although beautiful, this tree is not native to India. It is an invasive foreigner brought to Bangalore by the British. The terms 'non native' and 'invasive' are often used as synonyms, but they have a very important distinction. Non native describes a species that is outside of its natural range but has a neutral or positive effect. Invasive describes a species that is not only outside of its native range, but also can spread quickly and have a negative effect on the surrounding ecosystem.
I can't help but compare myself to this tree. I am non native to this land. I came here with positive intentions but what if my presence does not foster positive impacts? What if my solutions and ideas are invasive and harm the Indian social habitat? My feelings of doubt seem to swirl to the surface the more I see how Bangalore's problems have been influenced and cultivated by foreigners.
In March when the Tabebuias bloom we will present our solutions to India's grand challenges. In the meantime I must keep my non-native perspective while staying away from creating a beautiful yet invasive solution.