Saturday, December 29, 2012

Time to stop the ape in us

The word and the act of "Rape" has an ape in it. Everytime, in the last few weeks, people around discussed about this act, I felt disturbed with ripples of thoughts. It emerged on mind that its time to stop, tame, train and question the ape amongst humans that provokes this barbaric act. Therefore whenever stories of Jessica, Pratibha or the 23 year old woman comes to mainstream news from many of such events in India already happening in different segments of our social structure, it seems this has become a routine or a periodic event in our country.

Right now, though, it is inspiring to see the assertive nature of the youth of our country demanding the basic rights: the solution of taming the ape amongst us will not only happen with a conscience/emotional awakening, awareness and its outburst. We need to have effective institutional and judicial mechanism and execution agencies, fast track single window clearance trial systems to create a deterrence signal to such insensitive, inhuman behaviour within our society. Effective functioning of these mechanisms can create strong deterrence signal against such a barbaric behaviour in a social set up marked by class differences arising owing to differential access and possession of wealth, money, political power. Often such a difference in the possession generates audacity, arrogance, criminal motivation that pushes towards such a heinous act. Whenever an occurence of such a horrible act happens, it gives a signal to the people of our society that the deterrence mechanisms are not working as it ideally should be.

Therefore, the efficiency of the role of institutions, legislations, school education (which is not only curriculum based) becomes extremely important. In all these spheres, the ethics of human relation, emotions, sensitivities and psychology should be introduced in an appropriate way. At the topmost structural hierarchy of governance i.e. within the Parliament, a special session should be held to pass on a bill on how to institutionalize deterrence signals to reduce the act of rape in our country by means of policies which are transparent. An important instrument of such policy implementation will be strong legislations, institutional actions. Demand to conduct these sessions within the Parliament should come from the voting community and all sections of the society. Artists, thinkers and intellectual community should communicate the demand to conduct such a special session to the politicians by means of films, songs, poetry and any art form. If such a communication can bring in tears in the eyes of politicians debating in the special session of the Parliament, then who knows one day a bill will be passed to create institutions to create deterrence signals against the act of rape and train the ape prevailing amongst us within the society. Therefore, the time for it is to do it now!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

South South Cooperation and World System Theory: Interconnections

World system theory highlights the existence of a hierarchical structure in international power relations. It also brings up the hypothesis that international economic inequality is an outcome of a power relation between different groups of countries. Such a power relation drives the way social systems, culture of different countries interact with each other through the form of trade, information, cultural exchange and different forms of alliances. These alliances are further being developed by politics of the time and the nature, form of the societies of allying countries. It is determined by internal politics of individual countries as well the global political order: a major part of which is being guided by power relations of the allying countries. Intellectual history of explanation of these alliances can be traced back to the thought process of Marxists and dependentistas. However, dependency theorists and world system perspective to analyse the evolution of any present modern world system arose from 1970s. This came to forefront on a large scale and got consolidated by writings of Andre´ Gunder Frank, Samir Amin, and Immanuel Wallerstein. In their writings, a historical perspective of the evolution of various global and financial institutions and its impact on formulation of the world political order, governance system was discussed. However, world system theory is not only about development of global and financial institutions like World Bank, IMF and their impact on global, political order and power relations. It is about how people, society, culture, political, multilateral, bilateral and several other types of institutions interact with each other. In this systemic framework, dynamics and relation between different nations of the world follows a core, semiperiphery and periphery relationship.

As a part of this, there are some countries which are at the core and top of the power hierarchy of the world system. Countries belonging to the semi periphery and periphery follows a dependence on the core countries. However, gradually over time, countries from the semi periphery and periphery move towards the core. A cyclical pattern is followed with the guiding rules of a musical chair game: this happens when the countries from the semi periphery and periphery come to the core and oust the one sitting at the core towards semi periphery or periphery. This mechanism of countries approaching from the semi periphery or periphery to the core is also being determined by resistance of people and development of the society of semiperipheral nations who gradually become developed and economically powerful to finally come up towards the core. A major factor of that economic power comes from capital accumulation by these semiperipheral countries. Finally, core nations of the history are moved towards semi periphery and periphery over a span of time facilitated by some crisis or sudden change in the global governance regimes. Taking a cue from this, one can see how South South Cooperation between many semiperipheral (if they can be called as semiperipheral) countries of Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, Latin America, Asia Pacific today is actually going to make them move towards this core.

Internally there are many challenges within these semi peripheral countries and there is a continuous synthesis, interaction happening between the domestic contrasting factors of these semiperipheral countries. But still no body can deny the fact that South South Cooperation is helping these semi peripheral countries to accumulate human, financial, economic and social capital for the long run. Scars of the financial crisis of 2008 and the recent Euro Zone sovereign crisis has further strengthened the need for such collaboration. The musical chair game and movement of semi peripheral countries engaged in South South collaboration towards the core is evident across global governance platforms of WTO, UNFCCC, UNCSD etc. too. Further, reelection of President Obama creates a hope that in the coming days these movements will also be evident in establishing cooperation between the North and South in addressing the common global challenges of the humanity. However, no one can deny the fact that the notes of South South Collaboration accompanying the harmonious movement of semiperipheral countries towards the core has already begun. Right now, the notes are being played in a mellowed way: but it is not far away when these mellowed notes will be heard over a large part of the world with an orchestrated harmony. Till then, we all have to observe the world system and understand these notes with more subtle sensitivities!

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

“Can entrepreneurship create social transformation in India: notes from the story of Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry”

Basic initial readings on the view points posed by Karl Marx presents capitalism as a system which doesnot  lead to social transformation through distribution of wealth to the marginal sections of the society. Such a lack of distribution maintains a class divide between the have and have nots of the society. Therefore wealth and profits generated by production of goods and services using labour of the marginal segments (proletariats) of the society are not transferred back to them who provides their labour for the capitalist who produces goods and services and creates wealth. So the essence of this system named as capitalism believes in exploitation of the labour and persistence of this proletariat class for their profit generation. This in a way doesnot allow this marginal class of people to come up the ladder. Till few weeks back, these notions were well encrypted in my mind and I was fine with these ideas. But then, I came across a term called “Dalit Capitalism” and everything got jumbled up. I was lost in understanding what “Dalit Capitalism” is all about.
Moreover, I also read about the formation of Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India in 2005. Further based on readings from some of the news items, I came to know that in India there are 30 Dalit Millionaires who have been listed and recognized by Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. India which has large number of people below the poverty line, two billionaires (who comes in the list of top 10 billionaires of the world) also now has millionaires from Dalits. Moreover, the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is promoting entrepreneurship amongst people from Dalits. Some papers by Indian Institute of Dalit Studies are of the opinion that Dalit Capitalism has arrived in India with the emergence of Dalit millionaires and their recognition being given by the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I cannot say whether this is “Dalit capitalism” or not as the way these entrepreneurs are functioning needs to be observed over a certain point of time before such conclusion are drawn by comparing their functioning mode with the capitalist system that was put forth by Marx.

However, one cannot deny the positive aspects of these happenings in a country like India which has been a country of contrast, cosmopolitanism, libertarian ideas as well as been marked by feudal caste based oppression in rural societies.  Certainly, the formation of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 30 Dalit millionnaires inspite of having a touch of caste identity into it announces the translation of dreams, aspiration into the socially excluded castes of Indian society. It is too early to comment on whether formation of these entrepreneurs, chamber of commerce will translate to actions that can bring forth and create more of such entrepreneurs and employment generation for Dalit with all labour rights. But, it cannot be denied that the formation of a chamber of commerce is in itself a step towards creating institutionalization of a process that can ascertain economic rights to people from the Dalit group and can ensure their employment generation.

Some recent work done by few social scientists from Harvard and University of British Columbia in this regard shows that the wage gap between the labourers from Dalit and other groups of the society is gradually reducing in India. Now, whether it is because of these Dalit entrepreneurs, the Chamber of Commerce is yet to be assessed. However, there are many promising and aspiring trends that are happening within the country that shows that there is some positive social transformation of Dalits which are happening within the country. I really do not know whether this can be called as a “Dalit Capitalism”.
It is quite premature to coin that term before having a substantial empirical evidence of the entire system in which the Dalit entrepreneurs are operating. The future will indicate further in which direction these entrepreneurs are moving. They can move towards a larger capitalist system or can bring in more social transformation of Dalits by reducing wage gaps, giving Dalits employment, economic rights. No matter, whatever is the outcome, one has to accept that the aspiration of creating and owning wealth by marginalized sections of the society has sparked on within India. Nature of the momentum of this wealth creation and its expansion to wider sections of the marginalized sections of the society will determine whether a social transformation will take place or not in future.

Uncertainty is one of essential facets of future. But, such a facet cannot stop us from dreaming that in future this expansion will happen and a social transformation will take place in our country. At that point of time, may be the name of “Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industry” will shed off  the word showing the caste identity owing to the transformation that will bring up the marginal castes to the mainstream of the society.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Can South South Cooperation create convergence? An insight

South South cooperation is often seen as an outcome of the interaction process between international education, international cooperation, relations and development. Development practitioners often quote the word cooperation and transfer in an interchangeable way though in the discourse of south south knowledge exchange the two words have different interpretations. The question to ask is whether south south cooperation leads to convergence in the education systems of the partners in the cooperation.

There is no one time static answer to this because convergence is a dynamic evolutionary concept. Scholars like Gita Steiner Khamsi suggests that convergence will require an application of the learning from the reforms of other countries into the domestic boundaries of another which has a totally different set of political, administrative and institutional setting. The need to apply can arise from external as well as country specific factors which otherwise would not have happened. A successful implementation of the learnings will need a continuous policy and institutional nudging through an interdisciplinary mode. It will also require the diffusion of the learnings and knowledge from reforms in other educational systems of other partner countries and its reapplication over the years in another country. This mechanismof learning and reapplication in different settings is quite evolutionary and will take some time to understand before it leads to an outcome that becomes an international benchmark. In order to arrive at the understanding of this process it will require continuous interdisciplinary thinking and may be in a ten years time one can come up with an understanding of a particular educational system convergence example through "South South" knowledge exchange process. Till then a continuous debate,documentation and exchange should happen in an interdisciplinary form. Therefore the time is to act now before it becomes late for ever to create a harmonised converged entity of "Global South"!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Relationship between India and Africa dates back to the time of Non Aligned movement, when President Josip Tito of Yugoslavia, President Gamel Nasser of Egypt, President Nkrumah of Ghana and Prime Minister Nehru had formed a partnership to promote the voice of countries of South. India’s involvement in Bandung Afro–Asian conference of 1955 further showed how India Africa partnership during that time was guided by ideological, political issues. Leadership guiding such a relationship wanted to take a stand against imperialism, colonialism and racism which were prevalent in countries of Africa. In 1950s, political and ideological principles drew these two countries towards an alliance. In the next two decades common developmental, economic challenges of India, Africa and a demand for a “New International Economic Order “  by  them became key drivers of such an alliance. Post 1990s, a new framework of partnership between India and Africa has been developed.
Since mid-1990s, South South Cooperation has become the mantra of India, Africa partnership. A key element of this partnership has been economic diplomacy pursued by India. India has been engaged with Africa at regional and bilateral levels. At a regional level, India has been an observer in regional organisations like SADC (Southern African Development Community), COMESA (Common Market for East and South Africa), ECOWAS (Economic Community for West African States).  Moreover, India has maintained bilateral engagement with various countries of Africa. Such a bilateral engagement with Africa has developed through merchandise trade, investment, aids, exchange of knowledge, human resources and skills. Some of the sectors in which this engagement has gradually grown are –natural resources, infrastructure, agriculture, energy, health and food.  
As a result of that, value of merchandise exports have grown at a larger rate than imports between India and Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius for items like transport equipment, machinery and instruments, pharmaceuticals, non-basmati rice, manufactured products, cotton-yarn fabrics, as well as primary and semi-finished iron and steel products.  India has also expanded her trade relationship with Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and 17 other countries of Africa through the Focus Africa Programme.  Outward foreign direct investments from India to Africa have increased by 32.5% between 1997 – 2008. Indian companies like ONGC have made equity oil investments in Ivory Coast, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, São Tomé and Sudan. Exploration and production blocks have also been acquired in Madagascar, Nigeria. India has been dependent on Africa to secure access to oil resources. This is not only important for India’s energy security but also it can help her to reduce the dependence on Middle East and other parts of the world for crude oil. As a responsible partner of South South collaboration to strengthen the economic diplomacy, India has taken measures to expand line of credits and grants to build up joint projects by involving players from Africa and India in sectors like railways, information technology (IT), telecommunications to generate multipliers for the economies of Africa in the long run. Presence of Indian companies have grown in agriculture, secondary, tertiary  sectors through companies like Mahindra and Mahindra (which has provided tractors for agriculture sector in select countries of Africa),Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Tata Consultancy Services.  Africa has also seen a spurt in the presence of major pharmaceutical companies (Ranbaxy, Cipla and Dr Reddy’s), consumer product firms (Emami and Marico), construction firms (Punj Lloyd and Shahpoorji Pallonji) from India.
However at the backdrop of this growing South South collaboration, since 2007, there has been a shift in the focus of the main instrument of South South Cooperation between India and Africa. The focus has shifted towards capacity building and enhancing measures in Africa by Indian institutions through exchange of knowledge, human resources and skills.  This deliberate shift of focus has been created to start a process to enhance the trust levels between the people of India and Africa by understanding each other to a larger extent. Thus as an outcome of this exchange, there is a hope of formation of a new harmonized cultural identity of Africa India relationship that started way back in 1950s. This move towards exchange of human resources can be realized in the policy of countries of Africa who have welcomed knowledge expertise of various sectors from India to create larger social welfare for their nation. Thus, one can see that joint efforts are being made by India through the Pan African E Network to reduce the poverty of African youth by means of removal of the digital divide. Pan African E Network has been integrated with education and health care centres where through better technology the youth of Africa is provided timely, vocational, education and proper healthcare to address their basic developmental needs.
Capacity development in science and technology through knowledge and human resource exchange is an imperative to form a unified, harmonized identity of South South collaboration between India and Africa. In this regard, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India has extended CV Raman fellowships to support the training of students of Africa in science and technology at institutes of India. India is also expanding number of scholarships for students from Africa in agriculture, science & technology under the framework of enhanced cooperation supported by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. India is supposed to be the lead country in the Life and Earth Science segment of the Pan African University and IARI is engaged in developing capacity of institutions of Africa in agricultural research.  Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme of Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India having 47 empanelled institutes of India like TERI, IIM (A), Administrative Staff College of India, RIS, ICISA, NIIT, APTECH and many others have facilitated such enhancement through knowledge exchanges between practitioners, mid-career professionals of Africa and India. These courses have created experience sharing between countries of Africa and India in the knowledge domain related to accounts, audit, banking, finance, telecommunication, english, management, rural development, specialized and technical fields, environment, renewable energy, sustainable development. Over the years, participation from Africa in these training programmes run by various Indian institutes and held in India has increased.  These training programmes are now needed to be organized in various countries of Africa to accelerate the existing knowledge and cultural exchange between India and Africa. Implementation of capacity enhancing training programmes in Africa on several issues pertaining to sustainable development which are of common interest for India and Africa can be a way forward in this regard.  This can be done through new capacity building institutions in Africa. India has already moved forward in this direction by proposing to build 21 new capacity enhancing institutions in various sectors of Africa.

Actions taken by India on South South collaboration with Africa after 2007 have shown that such an association is much beyond trade, investment, enhancement in the balance of payment of countries through cooperation. It is an exchange process in health, culture, sports that can define human development and a cultural identity. This has been evinced in the firm commitment shown by India towards research and development in medical services for rural areas through application of tele and e-health applications. It is also being manifested in the pledge of India against the usage of counterfeit medicines in Africa by promoting access to traditional medicines, practices for the rural population of Africa through larger research and development in such disciplines. Collaboration between India and Africa in the health sector for contributing towards Africa’s development  has been evinced in India’s support directed for knowledge, experience sharing in health care systems, community health programmes and accelerated reduction of maternal mortality in Africa.

Post 2007, South South Collaboration in sports between India and Africa has started happening through an agreement to develop sports policies, training of trainers programme for India and Africa. Initiatives in cultural activities have begun through mutual cultural tours between India and Africa supported by ICCR. Cultural dance troupes supported by ICCR have gone to Africa for performance. Similarly, musicians, dancers and performing artists from parts of Africa have come to India for performance. Indian film festivals have been organized in Africa and collaborative projects have started happening leading to mutual development of creative industries in India and Africa. This is relevant as Bollywood (world third biggest film industry) has many things to learn from the world’s second biggest film industry in Nigeria. Such learning will only happen when there are exchanges of creative thinking. Proof of such exchanges within the entertainment industry lies in the title credits of Bollywood director Vishal Bhardwaj’s film “Kaminey” that acknowledges a script writer Cajetan Boy from Kenya  for his script of the film “Kaminey”.  Reports from Bollywood suggests that the script was bought for $4000 from Cajetan who was mentored by Vishal Bhardwaj in a script writing workshop at Uganda. This story, essentially summarises the changing paradigm of South South collaboration between India and Africa. It is about giving equal recognition to the human skills, knowledge, talents and creation of a space for cultural exchange to create a harmonized identity for mutual benefit of the people of India and Africa through trust and bondage. Such a human connection, bondage, will therefore secure the future of alliance, partnership between India and Africa in the next decades and for future generation. 

South South Cooperation and Democracy, Development, Society: Some Generic Thoughts

Our time in the current years is already observing a shift in the dominance of nations towards countries of South like India and China.  South South Cooperation has achieved a new meaning in the context of this shift in the dominance  towards Southern Countries. Additionally, countries of Europe have been going through sovereign debt crisis. This has added to the woes of North North cooperation.
Growing protectionism in U.S driven by the financial crisis has acted as a barrier in determining a smooth transition to North South Cooperation. With this premise the importance of South South Cooperation has increased. This article would not however dwell on these dimensions of South South Cooperation. This short note would ratherexplore the theoretical generic question of whether cooperation of South South nature is driven by the state and nature of democratization of the two states that get involved in cooperation.
So the basic question that we explore in this note is – Does the nature, state of democratization of two states in a South South cooperation guarantee or ascertain the degree, extent and sustainability of cooperation?
In order to get an answer to this question we have to first search through the extensive literature on democratization. Dahl (1998) suggests that democratization as a subject has been widely researched. Geddes (1999) provides extensive literature for Latin America on nature of democracy. However Collier, Levitsky (1997), Geddes (1999), Kitschelt (1992), Remmer (1996) provides us with literature on how and why democracies sustain and how quality of a democracy determines that longevity. Literature validates that quality and longevity of democracy of a country to a large extent is being determined by the level of economic development.
Economic development has also a considerable effect on the sustainability of democracy (Przeworski & Limongi, 1997). Sustainability of democracy is ensured by higher levels of economic development along with other factors like degree of socioeconomic equality. So two countries which can be at the same levels of development can forge a larger beneficial spillovers from cooperation. South South Cooperation between countries at similar levels of development thus might work if we try to bridge this theory of democracy to nature of South South Cooperation.
Additionally, two countries can be at different levels of democratization levels but still cooperation can emerge with a vision of complementary partnership. In terms of South South Cooperation the level of democratisation in two partnering countries might not always be a key factor.
However the level of democratization and stable political environment in two countries can help in the forging of the cooperation measures. According to Fish (1998), Kopstein &Reilly (1999), economic reform is one of the best indicators of democratization. In this regard, one needs to see how various countries of South are performing in terms of sustainability, longevity of democracy.
Rich post socialist countries have performed better in terms of sustainability of democracy whereas countries like Albania, Kyrgyztan have been moving away.   Sustainability of democratization is guaranteed by economic growth and reforms that can reduce  the authoritarian structure of the ruling party. With higher economic growth often the accountability of people of the nation can increase with the implementation of necessary domestic reform measures. Public pressure for accountability of the government, larger civil society participation and increased levels of education are some of the outcomes that incur with the advent of economic reforms which leads to larger transparency and democratization on the path of increasing democratization. The moot question is whether occurrence of such conditions in two countries forging a South South Cooperation facilitate the chance and nature of longevity of the nature of cooperation.

Any cooperation measure which aims to promote development, can benefit the public at large by creating more transparent accountable structures that can sustain the degree of cooperation. The same principle will hold good for South South Cooperation measures. .
If there is a chance of economic reform that can happen as a spillover of South South cooperation, then such cooperation measures could be used to create democratization in the countries that get engaged in those measures. Performance of south south cooperation in terms of its sustainability can actually increase if those measures create more stable democratization process as an outcome of cooperation.
If the two nations can discount the fact that such democratization process can start as an outcome of the cooperation, then there is a larger change that they will forge such cooperation provided that the two countries are not being guided by authoritarian government and governance principles.
However whether such democratization will happen or not also depends on the political leadership which  is at the centre stage of South South cooperation measures. The value system instilled by the political leaders in the implementation measures  of South South cooperation policies will guide the nature of democratization as an outcome of the South South Cooperation measures.
Democratization process can be understood through a short and long term view. The one which has emerged in southern Europe or in East of Africa is more of a long term nature whereas the one which has emerged in Latin America, Europe is of a short term nature (Di  Palma, 1990).

The reason behind this different duration of democracy and its effect on economic reform can happen owing to a following reason.  In a country which has achieved a new democracy, people are more sensitive and if they expect that there are chances of losing out from economic reform process in the new democracy then the tensions can increase between a new democracy and economic reform. Precisely this then guides how long a democracy will stay in a country. Two countries in South South Cooperation on same levels of economic development can forge a stronger partnership. But the strength of the partnership will also depend on how internally the people of the countries are managing the tensions between the trade offs of economic reform, democracy and the fears of losing out from such economic reform process. This can only happen if the domestic governance structures, institutions of the two countries are not able to give confidence to the people of the nation. The degree of confidence giving by the state to the people in turn also depends on the positioning of the democracy and at what point of democracy the two countries are standing out. If the democracy is well rooted to the social origins of the people then the fragility and negativity of the tensions between the people from loosening out from a growing democracy, economic reform process can go down. This can instill larger strength to the nature of democratic functioning of the nations, which thereby can also help in forging in South South Cooperation measures of the two partnering countries.
Historical dynamism and relationship guides this process that can also thereby act as a contributory factor in determining the South South Cooperation relationship of the two countries. The nature of the relationship within the countries and people of the countries also determine the cooperation relationship. One can find linkages between this proposition and Moores work on social origins of democracy .  Social origins of democracy will also depend on how people, civil societies are functioning in a democratic state and whether the state is connected to the people through civil society groups. Such connection can go up through reduction in concentration of bureaucratic and aggregated forms of representation.  Robust civil society participation, transparent institutional functioning, larger societal disaggregated linkages across the people of the society existing in the nations forging South South Cooperation can pave a way towards stronger social origins of democracy in partnering countries of South South Cooperation.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


The blitzkreig, gamet of celebration regarding the KKR win in the recently completed IPL 2012 has left many sports followers with some unanswered questions. Nature of celebration following SRK's KKR win compelled us to think whether a sport like cricket on a platform like IPL promotes or instigates a jubilation of power/money/community or  a state. This became more prominent as IPL 2012 was all around surrounded by an aura of money, glamour, politics and interstate clashes (SRK being humiliated/condemned by Mumbai Police and thereafter KKR cricketers threatening to boycot the matches following SRK's humiliation). Somewhere or the other, IPL as an entity needs this aura for its survival within India. It is now an epicentre or a magic wand to establish certain power credentials. It needs SRK to have its TRP value along with many other cricketing personalities. IPL 2012 was an evidence of the influence that a franchisee owner can play in sorting out auction disputes and maintain the rolling ball/red carpet of IPL. All these outcomes of IPL 2012 is known to us. But, what is still unknown out of this jampacked entertaining annual exercise called IPL are the gains driven out of it for the larger wellfare of sports in this country. Precisely, there IPL has created an inequity by establishing all the spotlight and TRP value on a sport with a larger neglect of many basic sports like tennis, football, badminton, swimming and many more.

Amidst all this we also need to question is whether this TRP value of IPL 2012 ensures the fitness levels of all cricketers, who am sure will be quite strained and tired in the upcoming T20 World Cup. It is going to affect their performances as they are humans at the end of the day. It is a system that we have created that needs to be questioned for their future performances. The media should not attack the cricketers after their performance in the upcoming T20 World Cup but rather they should question the system that has promoted an entertaining theatrical. We also need to ensure that the monetary spin offs of this glamour struck tournament gets into the larger benefits of other sports to raise their TRP values so that the ingrained neglect of other sports and sportspersonalities are reduced. In today's world, we have to face the fact that sports needs glamour, TRP for its survival. Any sportstar also needs it for his/her survival and for the long term survival of sports. It is true for all sports/sportstars playing football, badminton, tennis etc. We cannot neglect this fact. Sooner we realise it and tap this opportunity and create a system so that all other sports of our country gain out of it, faster will be the reduction in the biased focus that cricket has received in this country. Well, I am not against cricket as a sport. Having played cricket and still playing it even now, I think it is a wonderful game. But, what I cannot support is the unfair way in which one game in our country receives all the attention at the cost of many other beautiful, artistic sports. What is more disappointing is the systematic, strategic push by which cricket is pushed through the support of glamour, money, political clanning, media and larger social context of the country where the sport is seen as a big dream seller.

Hence, the question is, cant we sell the same dreams and aspire larger populace of our country through other sports. This raises question that what stops us from starting a J league (as started in Japan) in India or globalizing our National Football League to make it big. It also raises question of what stops us to create a market opportunity out of expansion of our National Football League, PHL (The Hockey League) to attract investments, glamour, all big sportstars so that all these other sports can also be tapped as a potential dream seller in our country. The financial resources gained from such ventures can be used to groom upcoming nascent talents. We have tried it for football earlier through different formats like establishment of SAI, Tata Football Academy. But today's time is different. I guess, here we have to be realistic and may be a sort of IPL format type (with foreign footballers coming to play for our IPL football franchisee clubs) can be envisaged in case of football. But its just that in this type of IPL Football, there will be no change in the 90 minute format game. Well, these are wild thoughts at this point of time. For its implementation, it will need a strong coordination of many institutions within the country. AIFA, FIFA, STATE CLUBS, Corporates, Media all have to come together to realise this dream.

If this dream is realised, then other than cricket many other sports will aspire sporting talents of our countries. It will also create competition amongst the states (through the state clubs/or state franchisees to chase their dreams). These tournaments will be a means to achieve those aspiration levels thereby generating larger happiness and sense of accomplishments for the people of the country. Degree of such accomplishments will be higher for those who will come to such a platform from far down the rural parts of India. Once it happens within our country, the means of jubilation for a state or community will spread and diverse from one type of sport (cricket) to many other forms. For a prospering, aspiring country like India, it is essential that she reduces the existing biases of spotlights on a certain sport and expands it to several other forms of sports. This will create a bigger outlet, means to realise the dreams of several states of India even with the cost of little interstate rivalry. The gains as an outcome of realization of such dreams will be far higher than the little costs. So, lets start our preparation for those days to come!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"I Want You - Not a Bob Dylon Song"

"I want you" ! No, this is not the first line of the famous Dylon song. It is the English translation of one of the lines of a song titled - "Tomake Chai" sung by Kabir Suman. This is a song which was released in April 1992 and many of the young school goers heard it for the first time during September 1992 before the Durga Puja of that year. That Durga Puja was not any same for me. I was smitten by an album - "Tomake Chai" by Kabir Suman and today after 20 years on an April, Sunday suddenly the memories of September 1992 is arising again.

So, in this reminiscent state while celebrating Kabir Suman in my soul, I realized that it was in September 1992, this album brought out a structural change. Life was not the same and had changed for many young school children like us. That change was not only being observed in many forthcoming concerts in CLT (Childrens Little Theatre in Jodhpur Park), Madhushudan Mancha (in Jodhpur Park) or in Sunday Club (in Durgapur) where for two hours, we had done concerts (some in school fests and some other being a part of other cultural activities) in which many of us were giving some solo performances singing songs of Kabir Suman: But the change was more innate. This album of Kabir Suman had brought in a change in the thinking process of many young school goers at that point of time in Kolkata. It showed us a way to question structures, status quo to bring a difference in the lives of people. This has to be done by bringing in the context of people, their lives, emotions, shades of human beings in the medium of communication. Kabir Suman showed us how simplicity in communication can bring difference in the lives of people by building up a human connection. It also had a flavour of questioning the system but in a constructive way.

For young adolescent minds the questions his compositions raised was too difficult to avoid. But what it highlighted and brought in our middle class conciousness is a self belief to be successful by doing your own set of work simplistically with a continuous focus on relating the work with a larger goal of bringing a change in the lives of people in the neighbourhood.

So, Kabir Suman not only brought a change in the form of music making, but he also brought in new aspirations for people across different spheres of life. These people belonged to regular office goers, budding engineers, professors, sportsperson, doctors and so many. The spirit of bringing a human connect in the work and professional domain to reflect aspiration of society, human beings for creating a social change was being learnt from Kabir Suman by many of us in our generation. So it was much before "3 idiots", 20 years back through this poet, musician, singer, performing artist - Kabir Suman, we had learnt how to create a meaningful way of bringing a social change by being diligent and honest to the professional integrities in different domains of professional classes. So in a way the inspiration to bring meaningful persevering policy relevant changes through professional, intellectual integrities was being learnt from this man - "Kabir Suman".

So, today I realised what deep impact the songs had made in many of us. It was not only in the rendering two hour music concerts of Madhusudan Mancha, CLT but it had created aspirations which are driving many of us and will drive in the next 20 years to come. So to conclude, like many of us, today I would sing again - "Kabir Suman Tomake Chai" - "Kabir Suman - I want you".

Friday, February 17, 2012

Community and Second Hand Car Market

I never knew a parallel auto industry exists in New Delhi till last Thursday when for the purpose of some project research my colleague Saswata and I spent almost half a day in Mayapuri. I was astonished to see the strength of innovation that exists in India because of the entrepreneuring grey matter originating from the "Jugaad" zones of our brains.

Mayapuri, a place in West Delhi is marked by a wide array of shops that are dealing with all forms of second hand motor, auto components. It is also creating a value out of these second hand components. We realized that when we saw a jeep which looks like a new car. Some investigation revealed that the engine of that car is from Japan (a second hand engine), the tyre is from United States. I could not believe that a car can look so fresh and new even after its components are second hand and have been imported. The entire Mayapuri market is informal and unorganized and the health, safety aspects of the people working over there seemed to me of an issue of grave concern. But here, I wont get into all these. Rather, I would share another observation that was found in Mayapuri.

Most owners of all the second hand car manufacturing and motor shops were from Punjab. This was a real life example of how a certain community which can develop certain skill over a long period of time can understand the business of that sector. People from punjab have always been good mechanics, drivers and they understand the functioning of auto parts. Many of them, through historical land and family lineage have got exposed to the mechanics of how machine components of tractors, heavy vehicle cars behave. It is this exposure that have helped them to accumulate a skill over the years to understand how second hand car and motor components can be further reused. They have understood to create value out of these second hand components.

History and exposure of communities plays an important role to establish market share in a certain business. I was seeing the real life example of that. What was making me more surprised is the strength of human skill that each community of our country possess. We just need to provide the right environment, platform, infrastructure for these skills to be nurtured and bloom more. If we can really do that, with the big companies supporting the informal segments having their innate human skills, we can even have our own second hand car manufacturing industry which can meet the domestic market as well as the ones in other countries of South Asia, Latin America and other countries of South. We have the biggest strength to do that! Our strength lies in the continuous supply of innate human skills and craftsman/craftswomanship (disobeying the gender biasedness!) within our country.

Visit to Mayapuri not only revealed an entire new world but also made me realize our strengths and challenges as a nation. But, I am sure that the future is only towards the brighter side for us and for many of the people working in Mayapuri who possess skills no less than a highly qualified engineer working in the factory of Maruti/Honda/Hyundai. Its just that, we need to bring them together and exchange the skills in a similar platform which will do wonders. And when that happens, the next time during the visit to Mayapuri, I will feel more proud to be an Indian!

Learning bidding games from metro station

Every time, when the journey in metro from Jorbagh to its destination at Vaishali station comes towards an end, a feeling of repeatative memories arise. These memories arise, because most of the time when I come out of the Vaishali metro station, I see a real life example of competitive bidding games. It happens between the rickshaw drivers who are competing amongst themselves to catchhold of new passengers who will travel to various points of Ghaziabad from Vaishali metro station. The auto drivers come, bid for an auto customer by offering prices for certain destination points in Ghaziabad.

Auto drivers start competing amongst themselves and try to bid the lowest prices for any destination to win a customer. But last few months' observation shows that there is a lowest price below which auto drivers wont go even when they are competing amongst each other to win a customer. These base prices are different based on the distance of the place from Vaishali metro station. It also depends at what time in the night people want to go to these places from the Vaishali metro station. Generally after 10 p.m., the base prices are jacked up even if the auto drivers are bidding and competing. This is because in the base price the night charge is incorporated.

However, it is important to understand what determines this base price of auto drivers in a competitive bidding game where they are trying to win a customer. If the customer knows to what extent auto drivers' offer base prices can be reduced then sometimes the base price just goes down by Rs. 10.

Interesting number, isnt it! Why just Rs.10 and not Rs.5? Are the auto drivers ready to sacrifice Rs.10 in a competing game because for that amount of money sacrifice they can still accomodate the cost. Or is it the psychology to win against the peers is so high amongst the auto drivers that none of them reduce the base price by Rs.5 but rather by Rs.10? But, if the customer can read all these situations, most of the time in such a competiting situation, the customer is able to reduce the base price of the auto driver by Rs.10 and can be in a beneficial situation.

I have not come to any conclusion after observing these bidding games. I am sure, these kind of bidding games are happening in many of the other metro stations in New Delhi where most of the auto drivers are standing outside the metro stations. But surprisingly, outside the Jorbagh metro station, I have observed that the bidding games and competitive atmosphere between the drivers donot exist. They are more organised, stand in a line and are not competing amongst themselves to win a customer. So is it so, that the absence of prior organized structure of dividing the customer segment amongst the auto makers creating such competing bidding games amongst them.

Moreover, there can be a psychological window too for analysing what leads to these games. It will also be interesting to know driven by what psychology these auto drivers get indulged in these competing games that sometimes lead to a reduction in the base price. We also need to ask ourselves that what psychology of the auto driver leads them to sacrifice Rs.10 in the base price.

I dont know any of the answers to the doubts of my mind, as I need to observe a little more in the metro stations to arrive at some findings which are situational, time, context specific. May be some more indepth, time varying and segment specific research amongst these auto drivers at different points of metro stations will give future directions!