Creating Capabilities

Well-meaning intervention in people’s lives is only of value to them if it is part of a bigger plan to enhance their long-term future. Giving to a beggar on the streets may give us a sense of well-being and of having done some good, but it may simply perpetuate their predicament and, in some instances (particularly where a beggar master is involved), reinforce their perceived value as a victim.
A more constructive approach is to look at their capabilities, which may be limited simply through circumstances and through no fault of their own while, at the same time, recognising that our own capabilities may be unlimited simply through circumstances and through no merit of our own.

The difference has its roots in random determinants such as geography, climate, politics, and parents, all of which impact the opportunities of an individual.

One way of thinking about such opportunities is through the “Capabilities Approach”. In her book Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach, Martha C. Nussbaum describes 10 Central Capabilities required for a dignified life.


  1. Life Being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length and a life worth living.
  2. Bodily health
  3. Bodily integrity To move freely and safely, secure against violence and to have reproductive choices.
  4. Senses imagination and thought. To be “truly human”.
  5. Emotions To love, to grieve, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger.
  6. Practical reason To be able to plan one’s life.
  7. Affiliation To be able to live and toward others. To have social bases of self-respect and non-humiliation.
  8. Other species To be able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and a world of nature.
  9. Play Being able to laugh, play and enjoy recreational activities.
  10. Control over one’s environment political and material.
All of which we take for granted.

So, what is Khandel light aiming for? Certainly not short-term feel-good hand-outs. By focussing on each individual with their distinctive needs and potential, Khandel light gives tools and hope to enable them to go forward and unlock the Capabilities which are rightfully theirs.