Monday, 29 April 2013

Photocopying for course packs in Educational Institutions

Why students need the right to copy

The lawsuit by publishers seeking to stop Delhi University from distributing photocopied course packs goes against the spirit of education for all
BREAKING FREE: The case also shows why it is necessary for academics to explore alternative open access models.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Average per capita net availability of foodgrain declined in every five-year period of the 'reforms' without exception

The Food, the Bad and the Ugly - P. Sainath        

Edited for clarity

Average per capita net availability of foodgrain declined in every five-year period of the 'reforms' without exception (1992 - 2010).
In the 20 years preceding the reforms — 1972-1991 — it rose every five-year period without exception.

The country's total foodgrain production is expected to touch a record 250 million tons this year (2011-12) - Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar PTI, February 17, 2012

Record foodgrain output of 235.88 million tons in 2010-11 - Sharad Pawar, PTI, April 6, 2011

India's foodgrain production hit a fresh record at 233.87 million tonnes in 2008-09 - Sharad Pawar, Lok Sabha, July 20, 2009

The Minister (Mr. Pawar) said food grain production in 2007-08 had reached a record 227.32 million tonnes and record production has been achieved in a number of crops. - Economic Times, April 23, 2008

“During 2006-07, the agriculture sector has posted new landmarks. The record production of 216 million tonnes of food grains…” - Sharad Pawar, November 13, 2007

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar cite foodgrain production rises every year.
Sticking to absolute numbers helps him maintain a modest silence on another record he's been a big part of.

Daily per capita net availability of foodgrain has been falling steadily and dangerously during the “reform” years (five-year averages for those years from 1992 to 2010) without exception
474.9 grams of cereals and pulses for the years of 1992-96 to 440.4 grams for the period 2007-2010.
A fall of 7.3 per cent. There has not been a single five-year period that saw an upward blip.

What about the 20 years preceding the reforms? That is 1972-1991?
The per capita availability figure rose every five-year period without exception.
From 433.7 for 1972-76, to 480.3 grams in 1987-91. An increase of 10.7 per cent.

Not reaching the needy

Consider the average for the latest five years - 441.4 grams for the period 2006-2010.
That's lower than the corresponding period half a century ago. It was 446.9 for the years 1956-60.
Not great news for a nation where malnutrition among children under five is nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa's.

If production is rising, if the upper classes are eating a lot better - and if per capita availability keeps declining — that implies three things at least.
That foodgrain is not getting to those who most need it.
That the gap between those eating more and those eating less is worsening.
And that food prices and incomes of the poor are less and less in sync.

It also tells us how disastrous the reforms-era policy of “targeting” through the Public Distribution System has been.
The poor have not gained from PDS. The “reforms” period has seen more poor and hungry people shut out of the PDS in practice.
The latest budget suggests that - a universal PDS covering all would cost much less than what the government gives away each year in concessions to the corporate sector.

Economic Survey document

Food availability - highest figure for any year in our history was the 510.1 grams for 1991.
And the average for 2010, after nearly two decades of “reforms,” was 440.4 grams.

This is the point at which someone pops up with: “It's all due to the population. The poor breed like flies.” Is it?
The compound annual growth of population was much higher in pre-reform decades than it is now. But the CAGR for food production was always higher and ahead of it.
Even in 1961-1971, when the CAGR for population was 2.24 per cent it was 2.37 for grain production.
In 2001-10, the figure for population was just 1.65 per cent. But foodgrain production lagged behind even that figure, at 1.03 per cent.

In all the southern states the fertility rate is either at replacement level or even below it. And the population growth rate is falling everywhere in the country.
Yet, per capita availability has declined. So the population claim does not fly.

The buffer stocks with the government show an increasing trend. So per capita availability is in fact declining at a faster rate.
It means the poor are so badly hit that they cannot buy, or have access to, even the limited grain on offer.

GHI ranking

‘Let-them-eat-cake' opinion makers may say that people now care less for cereals and pulses. They're eating much better stuff since they're doing so much better.
So much better that we'd be lucky to reach Sub-Saharan Africa's rate of child malnourishment in a few years.
Presently we rank 67 in the GHI (out of 81 countries with the worst food security status). Rwanda clocks in ahead of us at rank 60.
India's GHI value in 2011 was worse than it was 15 years before that in 1996.

We've spent 20 years promoting cash crops at the expense of food crops.
No one knows quite how much land has been converted from the latter to the former, but it would run to lakhs of acres.
As food crop cultivation has grown less remunerative, many have abandoned it. As farming tanks across large swathes of the country, more and more land lies fallow.
The owners have given up on the idea of making a living from it. Close to seven-and-a-half million people quit farming between 1991 and 2001.
Two decades of policies hostile to smallholders, but paving the way for corporate control, have seen public investment in agriculture crash.
No surprise then that foodgrain production is “growing” only in absolute numbers but falling at an alarming rate in per capita terms.

Maharashtra State Govt. Revokes BT Cotton Seed License (Monsanto)

August 9, 2012

Reasons of ban -
Charges are black marketing, hoarding, inferior quality seeds - not the suicides of farmers!!!
Almost all have suppressed the name of Monsanto!


In Parliament, a tabled report seeks ban on genetically modified food crops and a halt to all field trials.
Maharashtra cancelled Mahyco Monsanto Biotech’s license to sell its genetically modified Bt cotton seeds.

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech is a 50:50 joint venture between Mahyco and Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd. The company has sub-licensed the Bollgard II and Bollgard technologies to 28 Indian seed companies, each of which has introduced the Bollgard technology into their own germplasm.

But now, all trade activities of Mahyco Monsanto Biotech are illegal in Maharashtra.

Kishore Tiwari, head of farmers’ advocacy group Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti said:
“We welcome the decision”,
We demand all other 28 companies sub-licensed by MMB should be banned and replaced by traditional Indian cotton seed.
“Bt cotton seed has played a key role in the Vidarbha farm suicide saga since June 2005”.

Debt for costly genetically modified seeds that are supposed to repel cotton pests, as well as the pesticides they must buy when pests take over anyway.

About 90 percent of India’s cotton-growers have adopted Bt cotton, paying high prices for the seed in the hope that they could save money on pesticides.
The drought-prone Vidarbha region of Maharashtra state has recorded more than 8,200 farmers’ suicides in the past decade, 209 in 2001 alone.
Across India, farmer suicide figures are much higher. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, between 1995 and 2010, more than 250,000 farmers took their own lives.

In January 2012, for the first time, the Indian Agriculture Ministry linked farmer suicides to the declining performance of the Bt cotton.
An internal advisory sent by the ministry to cotton-growing states said -
Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton.
The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers

Bollgard II was developed by Monsanto by inserting two genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into cotton. These genes produce two proteins toxic to the main insect pest of cotton, the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa, so that when the Helicoverpa caterpillars eat Bollgard II cotton they die.
But the cotton bollworm has been developing resistance to Bt cotton.

Farmer suicides in Maharashtra and BT Cotton

Reaping gold through cotton, and newsprint - P. Sainath

Vidarbha's rainfed irrigation led to low yields, as cotton needs two to three waterings.
Don't use Bt here, in unirrigated places like this.
He was silent on why Maharashtra, ruled by an NCP-Congress alliance, promotes Bt Cotton in almost entirely rainfed regions.
Maharashtra State Seed Corporation (Mahabeej) distributes the very seeds the State's Agriculture Commissioner found to be unsuited for rainfed regions seven years ago.

Maharashtra's record of over 50,000 farm suicides between 1995 and 2010 is the worst in the country as the data of the National Crime Records Bureau show.
And Vidarbha has long led the State in such deaths.
The farmers also spoke of vast, policy-linked issues driving agrarian distress here.

Times of India, October 31, 2008
“There are no suicides here and people are prospering on agriculture. The switchover from the conventional cotton to Bollgard or Bt Cotton here has led to a social and economic transformation in the villages [of Bhambraja and Antargaon] in the past three-four years.”.
“Not a single person from the two villages has committed suicide.”

This news came in TOI 2008, when the controversy over genetically modified seeds was raging across India, this story painted a heartening picture of the success.
Same story was run again in the same newspaper, word for word. (Times of India, August 28, 2011) - this time as advertisement from company Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech.

The villagers themselves had a different story to tell in Bhambraja to shocked members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture.
“There have been 14 suicides in our village”
“Most of them after Bt came here”
“Sir, lots of land is lying fallow. Many have lost faith in farming.”
All after 2002, the year farmers here switched to Bt

Over a hundred people, including landed farmers, have migrated from this ‘model farming village' showcasing Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech's Bt Cotton.

August 2011 ad was published after the government failed to introduce the Biotech Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill in Parliament in August 2011.
The failure to table the Bill sparked frenzied lobbying to have it brought in soon.

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, who were disturbed by reports of farm suicides and acute distress in Vidarbha decided to visit the region.
Bhambraja, touted as a model for Mahyco-Monsanto's miracle Bt, was an obvious destination for the committee. Another was Maregaon-Soneburdi.

Bt cotton completed 10 years in India in 2012.
The issues, and claims made by TOI in its stories, have come alive yet again with the debate sparked off by the completion of 10 years of Bt cotton in India in 2012.

The 2008 coverage was a result of the media visit with transport arranged by the company. The 2008 full-page news report appeared in the Nagpur edition.
The second time in 2011, it was an unedited reprint of the 2008 coverage as a advertisement. This did not appear in Nagpur, where it would surely have caused astonishment.
The first time done by the staff reporter and photographer of a newspaper. The second time exhumed by the advertising department.
The first time as a story trip ‘arranged by Mahyco-Monsanto.' The second time as an advertisement arranged by Mahyco-Monsanto.

Some of the photographs were not taken in Bhambraja or Antargaon, villagers allege.

The Times of India story had a champion educated farmer in Nandu Raut who is also an LIC agent. His earnings shot up with the Bt miracle. “I made about Rs.2 lakhs the previous year,”. Nandu Raut told me last September. “About Rs.1.6 lakh came from the LIC policies I sold.”. He has seven and a half acres and a four-member family.

TOI story said that he earned Rs.20,000 more per acre due to savings in pesticide. For four acres, he saved Rs. 80,000 on pesticide.
Many in Bhambraja say angrily: “Show us one farmer here earning Rs.20,000 per acre at all, let alone that much more per acre.

Union Agriculture Minister's figures:
“Vidarbha produces about 1.2 quintals [cotton lint] per hectare on average,” Sharad Pawar told Parliament on December 19, 2011.
That is a shockingly low figure. Twice that figure would still be low.
The farmer sells his crop as raw cotton. 100 kg of raw cotton gives 35 kg of lint and 65 kg of cotton seed (of which up to two kg is lost in ginning). And Mr. Pawar's figure translates to just 3.5 quintals of raw cotton per hectare. Or merely 1.4 quintals per acre.
Mr. Pawar also assumed farmers were getting Rs.4,200 per quintal. That was close to the cost of cultivation. And that is why such a serious situation is developing there.
If Mr. Pawar's figure was right, it means Nandu Raut's gross income could not have exceeded Rs.5,900 per acre.
Deduct his input costs — of which 1.5 packets of seed alone accounts for around Rs.1,400. TOI has him earning Rs.20,000 more per acre.

The ad also has Nandu Raut reaping yields of “about 20 quintals per acre with Bollgard II”, 14 times the average of 1.4 quintals per acre.

Almost all farmers with bank accounts are in critical default and 60 per cent of farmers are also in debt to private moneylenders.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Rethinking Institution Building in 21st Century India - C Shambu Prasad XIMB

Talk for seminar on “Challenges of Leadership in 21st Century India”
Organised by Sarvodaya Mandal, January 30, 2013 Bhubaneswar
C Shambu Prasad. Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar

Lesser known aspect of Gandhi’s work - institution building
Gandhi gives us more insights on how contemporary institutions can be shape

General decay in our institutions that needs greater and closer attention - people not helping each other...
Why is it that we are not able to build institutions that remain:
  •     truthful to their original intent,
  •     institutions that continue to learn and improve,
  •     that respond to different stakeholders requirements that can be sensitive even as they are purposeful

Umair Haque HBR blog on the Builder’s manifesto - financial crisis of 2008 - absence of leadership or statesmanship when there is a wave of crises sweeping the globe.

The crisis of leadership is evident to most Indians.
The alternative is not an autocratic leader but one who could empower people by building newer institutions.

Haque says - Leadership was built for 20th century economics
The textbook skills of the "leader" — persuasion, delegation, coalition — aren't universally applicable.
Rather, they fit a very specific context best the giant, evil, industrial-era organization.

What leaders "lead" are yesterday's organizations. But yesterday's organizations, he suggests, are broken.
The biggest human challenge isn't leading broken organizations. It's building better organizations.
It isn't about leadership: it's about "buildership", or what I often refer to as Constructivism.

Gandhi’s constructive agenda, alternative models of economics, and suitable societal institutions

Haque compares Obama with Gandhi.
Obama's problem - is that he is too much of a leader — and not enough a Builder.
He has mastered the principles of leadership that has resulted in politics as usual, instead of political reform.

Gandhi, in contrast, was no mere leader, but the most awesome kind of Builder.
He built one of the most significant institutions in history: nonviolent resistance.
Obama's challenge isn't just "leading" by horse-trading better — it's reforming them

Today's builders are igniting institutional revolution for a post-industrial world.
They are forging the new building blocks —
  • ethical investment, 
  • deep journalism, 
  • socially useful finance, 
  • universally accessible communication
 — that a rusting economy, society, and polity so urgently demand.

The 21st century doesn't need more leaders - nor more leadership.
Only Builders can kick start the chain reaction of a better, more authentic kind of prosperity.

Gujarat Vidyapeeth - community spinning yarn - what is the right thing to do, what money can’t buy

The blind faith that many of us have on technology can come in the way of building institutions.
How did Gandhi connect without all these ICT innovations?
What was the nature of the connection that he had with people?
Why our current leaders are not able to reach common people with technology today?
Why is it that the ruling class is so disconnected with common people today?

Rebuilding Institutions: Gandhi Style
One agenda for change for Congress at his speech at the Benares Hindu University in 1916.
Gandhi was critical of the Congress’s composition which was highly tilted towards the rich and elite.

The fearlessness to speak truth to power was part of Gandhi’s agenda of creative dissent. 
This was however not for media bytes, but for a larger programme of reconstruction and institution building.

Gandhi’s rebuilding agenda was not reforming old institutions but critique of institutions and their roles.
Importantly his critique was an internal one to bringing back their creative power and impulse.
Empowering fellow countrymen and enhancing their capacities was an important role of his institutions.

Institutions to Gandhi were not static in terms of design and agenda for action.
Among his institutions that he built was the Ashram. - he visualised the Ashrams as a place for ‘scientific and prayerful experiments’. Several examples across the country where people built their own institutions based on Gandhi’s constructive work agenda. There were thousands of these across the nook and corner of the country. Many have survived decades of decadence in their microenvironment, some continue to inspire.

Little is known about them today as Indians we celebrate the person and ignore the ecosystem that a person’s work created and we often do little area studies about these micro-histories of regions.

The Gandhian `ashram' was envisioned to be the prototype of the society.
“The ashram was primarily a training institute which provided a common discipline and purpose, and a toughening of the body as well as the spirit. If it is not considered blasphemous to say so, the ashram may be likened to an army training camp in which while the armaments and the drill were wholly different, the purpose as well as the daily routine was very similar. The ashrams and the ever increasing fallout from them were meant to forge India into togetherness, and to create an army, which not only proved as tough as the forces of the adversary but under the general ship of Gandhiji was two or three paces ahead of British strategy and forces.”

Ashram also became a centre and promoter of constructive activity - as the need arose gave birth to organizations which were concerned with one or the other single item of the constructive programme.
Examples - Charkha Sangh, the Go- Seva Sangh, the Harijan Sevak Sangh, the Gramodyog Sangh, the Hindustani Prachar Sabha, and the Talimi Sangh.

How then can we rethink our institutions today?
Leadership challenge lies in strengthening our institutions, recovering the liberal space that enables dialogues, the ability and respect to listen to each other.
If we need to build a better society on peace, non-violence and justice, we need to do this in our institutions and make this an everyday activity and perhaps take this slogan of the
Ashoka Foundation - everyone a changemaker - to ‘everyone an institution builder’
  • Philosophies of open source
  • Transparency in functioning
  • Accountability etc in the way we work
  • Flattening organisational hierarchies
  • Reducing knowledge hierarchies

Innovation has not yet occurred in most of our institutions and that we need management innovation.

Try and root some of these ideas in our institutions.
Some of the commandments of Umair Haque on leadership as he contrasts leadership with buildership.
1. Boss drives group members; Leader coaches them. Builder learns from them.
2. Boss depends upon authority; Leader on good will. Builder depends on good.
3. Boss inspires fear; Leader inspires enthusiasm. Builder is inspired — by changing the world.
4. Boss says "I"; the leader says "we". Builder says "all" — people, communities, and society.
5. Boss assigns the task, Leader sets the pace. Builder sees the outcome.
6. Boss says "Get there on time", Leader gets there ahead of time. Builder makes sure "getting there" matters
7. Boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; Leader fixes the breakdown. Builder prevents the breakdown.
8. Boss knows how; Leader shows how. Builder shows why.
9. Boss makes work a drudgery; Leader makes work a game. Builder organizes love, not work.
10. Boss says, "Go;" Leader says, "Let's go." Builder says: "come."

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Trusteeship: A futuristic concept

There is global discussion on creating new metrics of ‘valuation’ to make markets respond to burgeoning crises such as the widening income gap, ecological imbalance and social instability. 
Can Gandhi’s concept of Trusteeship enable the creation of a broader, more wholesome definition of value?
Azim Premji recently signed the Giving Pledge (an initiative by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet). 
The reasoning behind Premji’s decision – Trusteeship.
“Wealth to be used for the betterment of society and not as if one owned it,” Premji said 
Premji has committed large volume of his assets, estimated at about $16 billion, in charitable trusts

There is a crucial difference between philanthropy and trusteeship.
Philanthropy - giving away surplus wealth without questioning economic system which allows such concentration of wealth.  
Trusteeship is a futuristic concept which radically challenges the very concept of ownership.

  • Has been promoted on both moral and strategic grounds. 
  • Privileged are deemed to have a moral responsibility to those less better off. 
  • Viewed as a safety valve to defray discontent about vast disparities in assets and income
By contrast, Gandhi’s concept of Trusteeship 
  • you are never really the ‘owner’ of wealth but rather its temporary holder or caretaker.
Wealth-creation requires special abilities - need to be honored but not to put money-power in hands of few.

George Soros argued that since all wealth is generated in a social and cultural context, it is never private.
Soros has acted upon this belief in two ways
  • As ideas, he campaigned against ‘market fundamentalism’ – cold logic of supply and demand. 
  • In material, his Open Society Foundation has annual budget of $850 million.
At the same time the concept of social and environmental ‘returns’ on investment has gathered momentum. United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing at the New York Stock Exchange, in 2006, was a significant watershed event.

Widening income disparity is the top-most concern in World Economic Forum’s 2013 Global Risks Report. 
Ecological imbalance is accepted as key risk – threatening both economic and social stability across world. 
There are efforts to create new metrics of ‘valuation’ that will make markets respond to these crises.
- many of these emerging responses tend to offer piece-meal managerial solutions.

‘Conscious capitalism’ and ‘Caring capitalism’ are making their presence felt on the global stage. 
Management guru Michael Porter is making waves with the concept of ‘shared value.’

Gandhi’s advocacy of Trusteeship is hardly ever mentioned on the global stage. 
Most people associate Gandhi with asceticism, overly idealistic and unviable.

Trusteeship is beyond two dominant trends of the 20th century - feral capitalism and stifling communism. 
This is based on the conviction that individuals and society can, and do, evolve to higher states of being.

Gandhi was confident that it will survive all other theories, no other theory is compatible with non-violence.

Can Trusteeship be a value and a policy framework to shape more just patterns of accumulation? 
Can it give rise to a new definition of ownership itself?
Can the concept of Trusteeship enable to create a broader, more wholesome definition of value?

Firstly we need to understand the experiences of who lived by the principle of Trusteeship.

What has been the tension between pure accumulation and a philosophy of trusteeship?
How Indians grapple with contemporary forms of accumulation and ownership, giving and sharing, could be a crucial component of how these issues are tackled across the world.