Monday, December 29, 2008

Litchi growers demanding for the formation of co-operatives.

I went to the villages of Kaparpura and Sarmaspur in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar state for my field work segment (FWS). Muzaffarpur district ranks number one in production of Litchi(Litchi Chinensis). It accounts for 70% India's Litchi export. The agro-climatic condition of the district is conducive for litchi cultivation. My themepaper for the FWS was " exploring various kinds of horticultural products and their marketing networks in the Kaparpura and Sarmaspur." Litchi was one among the various other horticultural products under my study. Here I would like to share the amazing facts regarding production and marketing of litchi. I will emphasize much on the marketing aspects of litchi.
there were 52 farmers owning litchi orchard. out of that only two owners were directly involved into marketing. Rest have sold their orchard to the local middleman called paikaar. The orchard owner sell their trees in the orchard to these middleman on the basis of previous year yeild. once the orchard is sold the risk is transferred to middleman. these middle mand have contacts with the businessman outside the state. in the month of April which is the season for the litchi, these businessman send their traders to the city of Muzaffarpur. these traders purchase the litchi tree from the middleman. Grading, sorting and packaging in done in the fields. After that the packed fruits are transported to the markets of Delhi, Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh. On the basis of that day market price, the price of litchi boxes are decided. the businessman informs the local middleman. upon his confirmation, boxes are sold in the market. The entire transaction takes place verbally. There is no written contract or agreement.
I wanted to know about the non-involvement of orchard owners into direct marketing of litchi. For this purpose, conducted three rounds of focus group discussion with different sets of growers. The most common reason for their non-involvement was the very short shelf life of litchi. it is just 24-36 hr. Also these growers do not have link outside the state market for exporting the fruit. so they are dependend upon the middleman and are devoid of reaping actual benefit out of litchi export. this is the scenario at the villages of my study. Most of the growers agreed that if the government starts co-operatives for litchi, then they will sell their produce to the co-operative and the government will look after the marketing of the fruits. by doing so the growers will reap maximum benefit. the litchi is sold in boxes as well as in the bunch of 100 pieces. the litchi which costs Rs. 15-25/100 piece costs around Rs. 120/kg in the markets of Ahmedabad. If co-operative is formed, the role of middleman will be abolished. Growers will be involved in the production as well as selling processes.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Education in tribal areas

I went for the fieldwork in the tribal area of Nandurbar district and my theme paper was on education. These areas are totally isolated from rest of country. The language spoken by majority of native people is only Bhilori and that creates a barrier to communication to the external world. The medium of education in the local schools is Marathi. The concept of playschool is absent in the village as the anganwadi exist just for namesake. So a child is introduced to altogether a different environment with teachers speaking in a totally alien language. These conditions generate fear for school among the young children. All these schools are affiliated to Maharashtra state education board and all the education material and syllabus is same throughout the state. Thus a tribal child will be studying the same things as studied by a child studying in metro cities like Mumbai. In such condition it becomes difficult for a tribal student to associate his learning in classroom with the external environment. Thus he loses interest in his studies and quit going to school if parent do not force him to do so.
Spread of education can play a catalytic role in development of these areas. Thus there is a need to ensure that government agencies, teachers and the tribal people join hands to improve the present situation. Education department should publish separate books and curriculum for the tribal children at least for the primary standard. The education material should be such that a student is able to relate it to environment around him. Educated people in tribal areas should be given special training and then they should be recruited as primary teachers. This will ensure that the teachers know vernacular language as well as the language spoken in state. Employment to educated tribal people will also inspire others to study. Panchayat has an important role to play in the process of transformation. They should ensure that schools are running properly and encourage people to send their children to school. Village education society should consist of educated and enthusiastic young people.
All these things collectively can help to ameliorate the condition of the tribal areas of the country.


Today's win win game was really an eye opener. Why did we all end up loosing 760 points when we would have ended up scoring 1000?

The problem was probably in our lack of understanding that we cannot win only by defeating others. All the teams ended up thinking that they have to score the highest, be it at the cost of others. At the beginning, three teams chose rabbit, and one team went for rat. Had that team, selected rabbit too, all would have ended gaining collectively. But then, the incentive for sticking to rat was quite higher - there was gain always except when all the four teams chose rat . Most of the time, all the teams ended up choosing rat thus taking the score to negative. But this atleast ensured that all the teams were getting negative.

This was just a game so we could end up thinking that we all would have gained. But is it applicable in today's cut throat competetive world. Even the win -win rule can not be applied everywhere. Nature also follows the survival of the fittest rule. I would cite the simple case of tehri dam over here.

Tehri dam (2006) , in Uttarakhand is one of the highest dams in the world. The dam is at present providing electricity and drinking water to Delhi and U.P. and earning a huge profit for the newly built state Uttarakhand. But at whose cost? Yes... at the cost of the interest of the localites who had to evacuate their ancestral lands. Of course, the government ensured that these evacuated families be rehabilitated. Out of the many, some 100 families were rehabilitated on the outskirts of Dehradoon. Out of the frying pan, they are literally into the fire again. These people were given land in lieu of their homes in Tehri but the expansion of Jolly Grant airport is threatening to uproot them one more time. Needless to say, the dam resulted in the loss of rich fauna and flora of the area apart from the historical old Tehri and singori- the tastiest sweets of Garhwal region. Was the collective action really able to create a win- win situation in this case. What went wrong here ? We were able to quote many mistakes in the game but what went wrong in this real life situation and why we were not able to create a win- win condition here??????

CAC win win game

I feel there is an intrinsic flaw in today's CAC game. If everyone cooperates and plays to create collective benefits to all group, it can be done in only one way. All groups if played so will end up winning 1000 points totally. This is possible with only one case and that is last option in cac tau material (E option in cac book i.e. if everyone selects rabbit). Otherwise it is a "zero sum game". One group has to lose in order to let other group win. Even if one group does not go as per option 6 then everyone will end up losing. This I feel is not case always. There should be an incentive to correct any wrongdoings of the past. This game totally discourages a concept of co operation if single group defects. If one group previously defected (due to any reasons like greed, lack of knowledge) wants to correct their stand in second round should be rewarded with benefits of cooperation. Other groups which are not defecting and following principles of cooperation should not penalized so heavily that they end up losing. Their margin of profit should be reduced instead.

I tried to find out any other option where total sum of all group's gain end up in positive but could not succeed. I will be happy if anyone finds out such combination.

Lessons from Chak De India

Remember "Jo nahin ho sakta hai, wahi to karna hai". The story Chak de India was simple, characters full of personality, there was humor, defeat, victory and the game of hockey!!!!The movie is around that How the Impossible is made Possible when all the team members start delievering.
  • If you have the talent, passion and commitment, you can make underdogs win
  • Its not good to mix personal and professional lives.
  • At times tough decisions has to be taken.
  • Team/Organization is always bigger than the individual.
  • Taking the Challenges as oppurtunites.
  • Dream big as without dream nothing is achieved.
  • Strategy is important - know the team members individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • We have to identify as Indians first and rise above our affiliations with our states, religions and castes.
  • We must embrace discipline to strictly follow every step required for success.
  • We have to put the interest of our nation ahead of our personal interests, subordinating our egos and biases.
  • Put in tremendous hard work and make short-term sacrifices for long-term glory.

The movie clearly demonstrated how an underdog hockey team can achieve world cup by virtue of inspired leadership and collective action.

Reflections on Win-Win

In today's dog eat dog competition is "Win-Win" possible? when we are concerned for our "win"do we care this Win-Win....but....hold on...Why do I use dog eat dog phrases.To a great extent it depends upon how do I perceive these outcomes.Isn't it?

say for example my friend and I appear for an interview. He gets selected and I am not...can it be a "win win" situation for me?.... It's "win" situation for my friend( I assume) as he is selected, and for me can it be a "win" situation too, because he(my friend) is selected...Yes,it can be.

ActuallyI see flaw in my thinking(that I have accumulated till now) that seeks my own benifit at the cost of others in any situation... and here is this win win approach ...probably giving us one of the important messages of our Vedas"SANGACHADWAM,SAMVADADWAM,SAMVOMANASI JANATAM"(lets go together,let's speak together and there be a uniformity in our actions and in our heart).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reflection on today's game

Some thing very interesting came out from today’s game. What if these group leaders do not know each other i.e. you do not know players of the game, how would you negotiate? The problem is more of information symmetry. Until we are, assure of what others are going to do, most of us will always be trying to minimise the negative payoffs rather than targeting positive payoffs, probability of which is very low. Many of us are risk-averse by nature and this nature is reinforced once you see the possibility of long chain of negative outcomes.

Even after negotiation, one group reneged on its promise, reason being short-term gain. The challenge is still how to inculcate these thought process of collective action in the situation of information asymmetry.

What if in the very first round we had that unexpected result of rabbit chosen by all the groups. In that case would we perpetuate the same result, I guess no. the incentive of one group to renege is still so high.

Then how can we restore this outcome. I think negotiation repeatedly. However, this negotiation will be successful only if games are to be played infinitely. It is very difficult to get the required result through out the number of times games are played finitely. Group will always try to deviate in the last round and because all groups will think in the same way, they know they will get the negative payoff; they will try to renege on the penultimate round. Taking this logic forward, it will not be surprising to see the deviated results from the first round itself.

Another thing to take note is the discussion that emerged once the instructor moved out of the room. All of us wanted to go for rabbit because we are tired of loosing. Most of us implicitly agreed that we should go for rabbit but then again one group reneged and look, how this affected the course of the game at least for the coming two rounds.

This is also a good illustration that most of the disadvantages that we could feel due to lack of collective action are intangible. The damages that are done to the environment hardly capture our attention because we are not going to be affected by it at the moment we commit something hazardous. What if instead of losing points, we were losing money, in that case after some losses I am sure that some strong mechanism of control must have emerged and people deviating from the norms must have been punished or at least were not allowed to play the game. I think the solution lies in the strong resolution to care for the short term and intangible losses. This will lead to collective action but how to control people who are not in proximity?
Can somebody help?


when we talk about co-operation, it usually happens (i presume) that all the concerned involved are aware of the possible benefits that would accrue on co-opearting and the harms that would result from doing so. but when there are incentives for people to defect from the common understanding, there are high probabilites that a person/group would do so, and why not when they are going to benefit from it. (this is what probably happened in the game). so is co-operation a good word to just talk about, does it actually carry some meaning, will people co-operate on their own, when there are incentives for defecting. i dont think so. i think people on their own will not co-operate, when the situation is such.......rather they have to be forced to co-operate with some dis-incentives on failing to do so and this co-operation must be beneficial for the whole as well as for the part. indeed we all are a part of the larger whole.......but it depends on how we view it......for some the whole may be they themselves, for some their households and family, for some their country (a bit rare) and for some the whole humanity (even rarer). it depends on which whole we identify ourselves as a part of, and accordingly our actions will be shaped. comments solicited.................

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Purpose of co-operation

I had always been in a kind of shell, that I am self sufficient and I don’t need any body to help me. Several times had come when I was required to seek help from others, but demanding help from other was against my principles. I don’t know whether that was my self confidence or my arrogance. I was sceptical that why people takes help and what is the need of taking help from outside when we are often told, we are the supreme creatures and we have the power of thinking that other living organism lacks. The Big words like mutual help and co-operation were just jumbled alphabets for me, but the time since I started reading ‘Collective Action Component’ as a paper in the second term, my opinion has changed and now I have other questions hammering me all the time. Now I have the questions like what will happen if I refuse to help others and what will I feel if I demand help from others and they refuse me to help? The only answer comes to my mind that it will create a distance between me and others, in other words the social or personal relation between individuals may get deteriorated. Is the motive of maintaining harmonious relationship, the root cause of co-operation or help? If the answer is yes, than isn’t is our selfishness. And if the answer is no, than it implies that we need co-operation in each and every sphere of life. Then my question is what the importance of an individual in the society, when s/he is not able to survive without others. We are being taught that each and every individual is special and has some unique features, than what’s the use of that individuality if we are interdependent for our survival.
In my opinion, co-operation comes, when an individual recognise his inability to overcome any problem. He then seeks others help to solve his problem and again it a self motive of the agent that is going to be served by the other agents in the system. So it is the selfish nature of mankind that creates the co-operation and the process keeps on going.
I may be wrong about the understanding of the concept of co-operation but I have never witnessed any co-operation that excludes profit motive or better to say deriving profit for self. We say that we should work as a team and must co-operate with each other but my question is, by co-operation aren’t we limiting our capabilities and increasing interdependency?
I am not denying the importance of co-operation, as we are man and not God, we need others help and co-operation. But the prime objective of co-operation should be CO-EXISTENCE and not merely existence.

Collective Action in Lagaan

Lagaan, primarily a critique on British imperialism, is a film steeped in Marxist ideology with the symbol of the village as a potentially liberating force of collective reaction and revolution. Lagaan is an excellent example of a mainstream film that has highlighted the process of inclusion of a dalit disabled person. The movie is set in the Victorian period of the British Raj, and revolves around the peasants from a barren village who are oppressed by high taxes imposed by the British. When the peasants attempt to persuade the officers to reduce the taxes, the officers put forth a proposition to the peasants. One senior officer offers them to cancel their taxes for three years if their village team beats them at cricket. After accepting this proposition, the villagers face the arduous task of learning the game and playing for a result that will change their village's destiny.

Bhuvan takes up the impossible task of defeating the British in a game of cricket, which Captain Russell puts forward to him when the villagers say they cannot pay the tax that year.Bhuvan- The Leader
Building the Team, Allocating Roles, Realising self efficacy, Supports the Team Members, Leads from the Front, Defines the Enemy, Trains and Practices, Never Gives Up, It's about Team Spirit.

Above all, Lagaan is about people. Ordinary, average people, who are going about their lives - like each of us. Who, when the moment demands, do extraordinary deeds. It is about the power of a Team - the muthi ("closed fist"). As a team, they were fighting for the future of tens of thousands of their countrymen against a heartless enemy (the British). They had few resources, and little knowledge of the game of cricket. What they did not lack was fighting and team spirit, and the will to win. They were not playing a game; they were fighting a war.

Fictional society Part I

Gidden says that reflective monitoring of actions and rationalization of action of agent is very important to create a structured society. Rationalization of action is practical consciousness and reflective monitoring of action is discursive consciousness. Practical consciousness is routine work that we do in day to day life like getting up in the morning, going to classes, having lunch etc. These actions are not thought of in our mind before doing them. Only if any deviation occurs, we think about it. Discursive action is reflection on those actions. When we walk on the road, we see that we follow traffic rule so that you do not get hurt or nobody else is harmed. This reflective monitoring of action is necessary to create a social structure. This is what Gidden Says.

But what if….

The practical consciousness part of Godden’s argument is removed. How would be social structure then? What if our daily routine is a pure reflective motoring act? To explain further, I would take bath if I do reflective monitoring of my action and see that I am not causing any problem to my fellow friends by smelling bad. Ain't many people do that in the society? Then, isn't practical consciousness caused by or an outcome of reflective motoring of action?
The reflective monitoring of action will force people to think about broader aspect of society rather than sticking to his own “I’. If everyone behave reflectively without any practical consciousness then human altercations, conflicts, atrocities against women, corruption by politician, road accidents, riots can be reduced considerably. If this comes out to be true then I feel that would be better social structure than the present one. What say????

"Fictional Society II" follows...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

HIV and collective action

ila mam's comments on HIV AIDS and men's contribution has set me thinking...

the moot question is whether collective cooperation across gender is possible/needed in this case??

i believe v wil need to understand the problem better bfor recommending solutions...the questions v wil need to address are :-

1) are men solely to blame?

2) even if they are, wil their abstinence alone solve the issue?

3) if men are solely to blame, how do v bring this problem under the scope of collective action. I mean, should the collective action be of men alone.

But then, isnt it also true tat women are also gettin affected by it? So, should the stakeholders b both the affected nd the causal agents...please note tat the way v define HIV problem leads to different models of collective action which will finally translate into action plans..

all of urs collective cooperation solicited to resolve my confusion...

Monday, December 22, 2008


ECO DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEES (EDC) are formed by the initiation of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Many EDC are functioning in the village Thirunelli. EDCs are formed by the colective effort of Tribal People in the Thirunelli Village, Forest Department of Kerala, Kerala Forest Research Institute. Forest Department was formerly having a centralised system of looking after the Wildlife. Now it has been changed to participatory system. . In olden days, the tribal people in Kerala harvested NTFP (Non Timber Forest Produce), at low impact level. In the context of low employment generation outside the forestry sector, tribes, particularly primitive tribal groups depend heavily on collection of NTFP for their livelihood. Thus this increased demand, however, has transformed the traditional low impact pattern of resource extraction into more intensive forms. So there was illegal trade of the forest produce. This made the centralised system of forest management ineffective. Now in a EDC, the main purpose is to stop the forest encroachment. More than the Forest Officials, the tribes know more about the forest. So a committee was constitued which included both the forest officials and the tribes. The NTFP collection was restricted to Tribals and could be sold by a Schedule Tribe Cooperative Society to the outside market. This brought the information about the encroachment in the forest as well as income for the tribes.
This collective action which include not only the people from the society, but also from the government departments helped to conserve the Forest and make it sustainable

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the discussion that happend in the class regarding giving more money to those who are deprived, more than what they are actually working for, i wonder how is this going to help that poor person. just in case, if all such people are similarly given extra money then ceratinly they will have more money to spend, but on the other hand wont the goods also become expensive, as more money would be available to buy the same goods. consequently, those who would have been brought to a minimum level of comfortable sustenance would again slip below it as the goods and services would also become more expensive. so isnt it a a sort of vicious circle going on. the basic question that i wonder sometimes is whether it is actually possible to remove poverty, because just because millions are poor a lot of vested interests are served. few people get to exploit those who are poor and for the rich its not possible to become rich without exploiting the poor. is it actually possible to eliminate this exploitation completely, this exploitation on which the whole structure of the society is based.

neo-grading system

this is about the grading system proposed in cac class by raju sir...

i just cant find any loopholes in that system..his recommendation was tat the group itself shud give a grading list of members based upon their, the instructor will grade the quality of assignment comin in...suppose he gives a grade B to the group as a based upon the grading list provided by group members, the instructor can assign grades to individual team members so that average of the group turns out to be B...of course, we have to assume that the group members act as rational agents..

lets thrash out the nitty-gritty of this system...i think this system would b better than the current one....the current one just cant identify freeriders..nd the efforts of hardworkers r never recognised...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama’s victory-collective action through use of technology

Democracy is not personal, because if it's about anything, it's not about the individual. Democracy is about others. It's about transcending the self and acting collectively. Democracy is people, participating together to make the world a better place.
Victory of obama is an example which will pave the way of technology in stimulating similar use of fighting elections by mobilising people collectively.
The focus on the individual, and its false equation with democracy, began back in the Renaissance. The Renaissance brought us wonderful innovations, such as perspective painting, scientific observation, and the printing press. But each of these innovations defined and celebrated individuality.
The individual we think of today was actually born in the Renaissance. One man, one vote. We fight revolutions for our individual rights as we understood them. There were mass actions, but these were masses of individuals, fighting for their personal freedoms. As individuals become concerned with their personal plights, their former power as a collective moves to central authorities.
Consider any commercial for cologne. Its target audience is not a confident person who already has a girlfriend. The commercial communicates, "wear these cologne, and you'll get to have girlfriend." Who is the target for that message? An isolated, alienated person who does not have girlfriend. The messaging targets the individual. If it's a mass medium, it targets many many individuals.
These things are not genuinely collective at all, in that there's no promotion of interaction between the people in them. Instead, all the individuals relate to the hero, ideal, or mythology at the top. This means the way to participate is not simply to subscribe to an abstract, already-written myth, but to do real things. New technology is not about getting someone elected, it's about removing the obstacles to real people doing what they need to get the job done.
Obama —the first truly Internet-enabled president—we should take him at his word. He does not offer himself as the agent of change, but as an advocate of the change that could be enacted by people.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


One of the major problem that mankind is facing today is terrorism. Around ten years back when India was bleeding with terrorist activities in Kashmir, the world maintained a silence and said it was India's internal problem and its a movement but the moment 9/11 happened the world began defining terrorism with new perspective. Actually its a basic human problem that unless a human being himself experiences the pain he can't relate to it. This is the major cause of of all the evils. Today the whole world is showing sympathies towards India. Why this change in perspective? Has it something to do with emerging Indian market? Has it something to do with 9/11? Has it something to do with the fact that in Mumbai's terrorist attack a lot of foreign civilians were also killed? So the fundamental nature of cooperation is "the common pain". In any kind of cooperation anywhere in the world, the pioneering reason has been the "common pain".
So when US, UK, France and other developed countries have begun experiencing the pain of terrorism similar to that of India, they now understand India's position better and also nowadays we get to listen that every one or the other world leader wants to cooperate with each other to fight terrorism. Again, the basic character of cooperation is that every pertner has to share the benefit. Earlier almost all the terrorists used to take shelter in Britain. Not long ago LITTE'S headquarter was in London. For many years it remained so even when they were involved in so many attacks on honest civilians. After 9/11, they were banned and now we see they have very difficulty in getting the funds. So unless cooperation haapens one can't fight such evil or "the pain". But terrorism is still there because cooperation is not on a mass scale. Now if attacks like 9/11 happens in other countries also(i hope and wish it doesn't happen ), the cooperation would be more and the whole world would cooperate and join the battle. Like terrorism poverty is also an evil and it kills more people than terrorism. But the problem here is that the developed countries cannot exprience "the pain" and without there active support fight against poverty cannot be sustained. Forget about the developed world even the better off population does not cooperate because it cannot relate with the pain of poverty. So, is there no other option? Certainly there is an option. The first option is to get close to the nation with common proble and cooperate with each other to spread the message that the root cause of terrorism is poverty. Once the developed countries realise that the rrot cause fo terrorism is poverty they will cooperate and then then decisive war against terrorism can be fought. Hence the cooperation can happen only when the participants are convinced that they would definitely be benfitted but the purpose can only be solved when everybody benfits with it. To conclude for collective action and cooperation its very imporatant that the right message is spread at the right time among right people. Cooperation and collective action is certainly "the panacea".

Rational people achieve rationally collective outcome ?

Individuals are seen as motivated by wants of goals that express their preferences. They act with specific, given constraints and on the basis of information that they have about their conditions. The idea of rational action has generally been taken to imply a conscious social actor engaging in deliberate calculative strategies.
Trade union, political parties that actions taken by individuals are aggregated and an agreed policy formulated then it is legitimate to speak of collective actor.Rational people have no individual incentive but even OLSON agrees to the presence of selective incentive which alters the cost in such a way as to make support of collective action profitable.
An example of this type of collective action was seen by me during my posting as veterinary doctor in Gopalganj district of Bihar where people took to street and blocked the road due to irregular supply of electricity. Though they were well aware of the fact that it will cause hardship to travellers but the incentive for them was higher and hence they resorted to this mean.Thus collective action generally incorporates some type of incentive to make people act.

Education-- adaptation and experience!!!

Here I want to reflect upon what Raju sir taught us in the class room. He told us that education is not what we get in the classroom but it is gained out in the real world. I t comes with different experiences and our adaptation to that particular situation. This is very much related to my experience of fieldwork. I know whole fieldwork was to gie us the real insights of the rural india. But Prashant and I had an unique experience during our stay at Katri. Probably you all must be knowing about our bitter experience and that we had to leave the village. This experience make me think about what sir taught us. When I reflect upon that experience today, I am in total agreement with the sir. Here in classroom we can sit together and develop hundreds of development plans. But real challenge comes at the time of implementaion. That experience taught me how different is the reality from our classroom or campus environment. It showed me how difficult for any NGO or field worker it can be to enter a new village and implement the plans. We all should think about this and understand by heart what exactly sir wanted to convey. Really education is not a classroom practice but it is a practised and gained in the real world. It gives us the opportunity to understand various situations and our approach to tackle them. We should learn from our previous mistakes and improve upon it. That's what the real education is--continual adaptation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

India vs England...........a changing perspective.

Yesterday the comment of David LLyod had made me to write this blog. When Tendulkar made his century he said "Mumbai has won .Mumbai has shown the world..............Mumbai responds............". There was not a singal sign of defeat on this ex-English cricketer . Was it purposfully or just an act of consolation? England captain Pieterson's statement to tour India to answer the coward act of terrorists, has some meaning which we should realise. The double standard of England to tour India but not to tour Pakistan need to be seen through a different glass which shows the act of solidarity in the time of crisis. Observations of the western media indicate that now UK and USA are on a line of thinking that Pakistan is a terrorist country. Gorden Brown's recent statement about the terrorists of UK that 75% of them have their roots in Pakistan. It seems that after Mumbai hijack the western perspective have changed and now they are realising that its not the freedom struggle of Kashmir but a terrorist act. Will this bring a collective action of all countries against terrorists as it has brought after 9/11?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Distribution justice

CAC class has always triggered lot of emotions in me. Todays class was the most puzzling one. In the entire class, I was thinking about the points and questions raised by Prof. Raju. How many of us will be ready to pay more for the commodity only for the sake of distributive justice? Do not we feel cheated when we pay more for the commodity that is available at lower cost at some other place? And the most fundamental of all, how are we helping a poor milkman by paying Rs50 per litre of milk when the market price is Rs.20 per litre. Are not we directly telling him that “ poor chap, I pity you?”

I do not completely disagree with the theory of distributive justice taught by the professor. My only point of concern is his expectations from consumers to pay more for the productions of poor people. I would be interesting in knowing why the price of that commodity is low. Taking his example forward-“ why is milk sold at Rs.25 per litre while coldrinks at Rs.40?” Economics will simply say “ a theory of supply and demand” and take the back seat. I think there is something dipper in the story. Were it only supply-demand, what if all milk producers join and decide to sell milk at higher price? Will that drive the price of milk upward? I am not very sure about the potential of collective action here. Because they need money badly, they will always be tempted more to break the cartel.

I go back to my fundamental question’” Are we expecting that if we pay more to one milkman, he will ask for more from his other customers and thus a loop will be created which will finally culminate in to higher price of milk?” If we are thinking on those lines, I think we are expecting too much. What all you have to say my dear friends?

Please help me in getting out from this dilemma.

Waiting for your reply
Ravi kumar Dhanuka

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Problems in collective action:An example

Here I would like to cite an example from my field work in Khirsu(Uttarakhand).People were using an underground water resource for meeting their drinking needs.They had built a cemented structure(tank) around it, to store water.Gradually the cement started coming off and it was felt that the structure(tank) needs fixing.People started collecting "chanda"(money) but there were some persons who thought that in any case it has to be made so why should they give money?
Money collection was not enough and a meeting was organized .Some of those who declined earlier, gave money but others again said "the people living near tank consume much water than we do".They further said" those people even wash their clothes with this water" hence they will not give equal amount of money..I dont know what was in their can one overcome this problem of nonparticipants benifiting from collective action? Do you have any solution to this problem.

why collective action is necessary?

Friday, December 12, 2008

CAC and Individuality

Human beings are the most confusing yet the most intriguing species. They understand, comprehend, judge, love, abhor etc but the most astounding emotion they emote is that of 'pretention'.
It is this quality that helps them to adapt and change according to need. In a group where one stays merely because of compulsion and dire need; does one really reveal one's true emotions or feelings? Why is one scared to show one's most honest feelings? When he laughs is he really laughing or he is simply pretending to be accepted as part of the group?
"Marginalised people cooperate" are words of Raju Sir but I wonder can cooperation lead to further marginalisation of an individual?
Every sphere and paradigm I have seen of life(be it in urban or rural areas); I see clear cut boundaries, limitations and restrictions. Man develops relations for self interests but then its his individuality that wants to break free. Isnt then family, social ties, groups and our roots developed through blind following of ancestoral religion and morality functioning as limitations.
To think about it what is the need for Naming a New born. Whenever we see a baby; our reflex action is to ask for his name. Not finding out the name makes one feel perplexed and on the other hand knowing the name makes us feel connected to that baby.
May be it is this need and want of man succumbing him to strong ties of friendship and love through acts of cooperation and consensus.

evolution redefined...

wat i'm bout to write is based upon some of the thoughts generated by sid's blog...

but then, sid's q related more to collective action per se...on the other hand, my thoughts were more about some of the assumptions that we make before defining collective action...and hence the need for a seperate discussion....

the crux of my argument is 'humans might not be the pinnacle of evolution'....i dont have a concrete philosophy behind my argument, but i'l put in my arguments nevertheless...

1) Let me first take non-violent movement of Gandhi...all of us think that non-violence in the face of violence is the greatest achievement...but if this is so, then i think the trees around us and all the herbivorous animals are higher forms of evolution because they practice the toughest thing (as defined by us) day in and day out...might be the plants and the animals decided not to become humans bcos they saw the evil in being a human...and therefore it might be possible that most of the trees around us might have evolved from Homo Sapiens...

2) All the brain research that I have read about have the goal of finding out whether some other organism's brain is as evolved as that of a human...but has any research started off without the assumption that human brain is the most evolved...i mean, we define intelligence as grey cells in brain...but what if this is not actual intelligence...what if length of root of any plant is the actual measure of intelligence?? my point is, humans are the most intelligent bcos v has set ourselves as the perfection that every other organism should aspire for....nd v compare all other's with this scale...

It might be opportune to mention here that until about 500 years ago, we thought that everythin revolves around the earth....we conceptualised it this way to boost our ego, the argument being 'since humans inhabit earth, everything revolves around the earth'....

let the thrashing begin....turn me to pulp....

punchline - are coconut trees evolved mallu's??

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

what we wants peace or aggitation

Dear friends,

In Collective action, we are talking about action for some social cause. but, according to Popkin people do it because of their self interest in it. yes, it is right whenever,we have option we go for better return with less effort. one factor is Self issurance i.e. food,house,livelihood,rights. a common man never think for any action. we are born up with the tendency "accept what is available". When these all action are driven by self interest, then how we can say, it is rational or irrational.

Action demands Body,Mind,Spirit,Need,Motivation,Finance also. is it possible to do something without thinking ??. in these mass action, people loose their life and in last, who get the benefit.....Free riders and only few of those activist. it is very easy to say that we are integral part of society...but, how much time we sacrifce for society, environment. 

we are ready for bargain and trade-off with situations. never think about those people, who are suffering from these. Industralisaton is good. but, is it good if, you are doing for your personal interest.A farmer loose his land /livelihood for our housing apartment, factory.

So,  what you choose: 1. Collective action by farmers /Affected people

                                       2. Collective action by us ( Using resources efficiently)

I have nothing more to say, "it is all upto us. what we wants peace or aggitation".

levels of cooperation... are the priorities right??

while reading the essay on the various levels of cooperation, a few points had been raised by the author, which are rankling in my mind. i would like you people to help me get some ideas as to where my line of thought is going astray.
first, a little general idea about the author's view point; he states that the 'True cooperation is found in other centered behaviour, i.e., cooperating in terms of the largest good'. he also treats the reflex level of cooperation as the most basic, and as deduced by his writing, as the most limited and elemental form of cooperation.
i am confused now... why is the form of cooperation that has played the most integral part in the evolution of ALL life, (not just of humans, but the whole array of life forms) considered as the lowest level. on the other hand, the other centered level of cooperation, which, according to me, has hardly been witnessed in the history of mankind, has been accorded the highest level!!
think about it... how much have we, as humans, benefitted from this other centered level, whereas we owe our existence to the so called reflex level. and also, in this others centered approach, we assume that we would be helping and uplifting the other members. so if only one party is the giver, and the others the takers, why is it called cooperation? they give the example of parents and children. this according to me, is not even cooperation. why? because what are the children contributing to the system. they are only taking from it.
therefore, according to me, the priorities should be reversed. reflex level of cooperation is the highest level we have achieved so far!!
people may say that since we don't have enough examples of other centered level of cooperation, it would be unfair to base my argument by comparing the reflex and other centered levels. therefore, allow me to try to compare the reflex and getting ahead level of cooperation. firstly, is this getting ahead level even cooperation? how can you cooperate to compete? it says that people cooperate with some to get ahead of others. but where have we seen that once the individual is stronger than his cooperating group, he would even care to cooperate with them any longer. would he not be having the feeling of getting ahead of even his comrades? if not, then why is he the leader (refer to fifth line of the fourth page of the article). how has he 'gotten ahead' to that level while leaving his comrades behind? that means he was not cooperating his fullest to the group, but keeping a bit extra for himself in order to give himself an edge. i would like to say that it is just manipulation of simple beings by an intelligent organisation or individual to achieve its self interest. SELF INTEREST!!!! a higher level of cooperation is based on self interest?? how can it be called higher then. instead, look at the little amoeba guys, who are ready to drink poison for their friends. so who's the charitable one of the two? also, just think about the stakes here. the so called higher level of cooperation is about improving your personal or (rarely) your cooperating community's condition. but reflex cooperation is about the biggest thing of all. it is about survival. you can say for yourself as to which is the higher one now.
one more thing before you bash me... we know that the reflex and instinctive levels of cooperation are inherent in us, whereas the others are learned. why do we assume that what nature has given to us is of lower value than what we learn? should it not be that what we have received from nature is the biggest and most important asset we have?
i may have not been able to express properly my line of thinking here. but that would become clear only after more discussion.
waiting for your feedback....

Self interest in collective action

Collective action is seen everywhere, from the cities to the villages. For my fieldwork, I went to Kanjani village in Nandurbar district in Maharashtra. The village is a tribal village and kinship prevails there. The sense of bonding and co-operation that was present there was the first time I saw services being provided by various villagers to others at no cost. For eg. An ironsmith in the village would make shears and knives and would not charge any money and neither would he accept anything in kind. At that time, I did not realise the importance of such acts, but after a few sessions of CAC, I realised that if the ironsmith is providing his services free of cost, then he expects an equal amount of service in return. This form of give and take is a result of the self interest of a person, but it is essential to the overall co-operative spirit of the village.
This kind of self interest (or selfishness), results not from a feeling of egotism or self – centeredness, but comes from the basic need of survival. Even an individual ant or bee, which portrays a great show of co-operative action in its swarm or hive, performs the action for its own food and survival needs. So, I think it is correct if we say that co-operation without self interest does not exist. It is only at the highest level of co-operation, that the group begins to think about members outside its group, that such a thing is possible. But such cases are rare.
Another reason for collective action can be the herd mentality. A lot of times, especially during the rebellious teen years, people become part of a group in spite of trying to. A good example of such a situation can be when people become part of a fighting group. Generally, it is just one or two individuals who have some motive behind getting into an argument or a fight. But many among the fighting members are there just because they are aligned to the one or two who actually started the fight.

Collective action and Cooperation during my fieldwork visit

Hello friends, as part of our fieldwork I went to the state Rajasthan. My host organisation was URMUL Trust and my village was Dandkala. It’s a village of Pakistan refugees who settled over here after 1971 Indo-Pak war. In our village Electricity was one issue which touched my heart as despite being an electrified village in government records there was no electricity in the village. When we (me and my village partner Anand) probed further to know the exact reason behind it then we came to know that 4-5 electricity poles needs to be repaired and electricity meters needs to installed in households. We thought that it is not a big deal for us to facilitate villagers on this issue. We started talking to villagers about how to solve this problem. After lot of meetings and discussions villagers came to consensus that the whole village will write one application collectively. Villagers understood the importance of collective action and cooperation needed to solve this problem. Although in Dandkala Rajput and Jaat community are not at very good terms but for the benefit of whole village they decided to cooperate and collectively take action. Villagers wrote one application to let government officials know about electricity problem of Dandkala. We told villagers that since it is an election time so by just little bit of collective effort of electricity can come very soon. After this villagers even talked to local MLA Mr. Devi Singh Bhati about this issue and without any fear demanded electricity for the village. Talking to Local MLA who is extremely influential person clearly demonstrated that it was the collective strength of the whole village which made it possible else villagers are very fearful of him. Villagers decided that all of them would go to submit the application to Executive Engg. at Bikaner. The result of all these efforts resulted in installation of Electricity meters within 12 days in 70 households. It was made possible only because of cooperation and collective action of villagers. This collective action reinforced my belief that villagers need just a facilitator and not sympathizer. Comments Welcome please!!!!!!

fieldwork experience in terms of collective action

Recently we IRMANs have returned from their fieldwork. I think most of us would have got an opportunity to see the collective action for different things. But my experience was a little different. In a state like Rajasthan, in my village have sufficient water supply but the neighbouring village is facing a water crisis. But from the past 4 or 5 years the government has been doing nothing to tackle this situation. It was the local people who understand the micro picture and find ways to solve the problem. They collected funds from each household and some from Gram Panchayat and repaired the kunds, a water storage structure. Thus this community participation forms a very good example of collective action. It also taught me that collective action will be successful when the results reaches community as a whole and just not yield the sectional benefits.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Collective action in Nandigram

Nandigram incident is particularly important in perspective of collective action.We know that the land was earmarked for an industrial park.Salim group of indonesia was going to set up a chemical hub here. But Before their land could have been seized people took preemptive action and despite of being from different religions and casts they fought collectively.They formed "Bhoomi ucched pratirodh samiti" and it is important to note that till that time no big political gun was associated with them.This movement was called "people's battle against imperialist economic attack" by US attorny general Mr.Ramsay Clark.This movement to my mind was a balence between scott-Popkin argument.They were protecting other's land rights and had also some self interest involved.More surprisingly there were small children also who were also excited and giving support to the protestors probably exhibiting "other centred level of cooperation"which is rare these days.

Jajmani system- who wins..scott or popkin??

We did Jajmani System in our RSP course..i guess we all would remember that!! As i was going through the moral economy approach, i thought it really explains why it started in the first place. Collective insurance, social security, discouraging the market forces at least among the community, a "conservative egalitarianism" which gives enough to survive but doest not challenge inequality..the words just fell in place. It felt like it was an analysis of the jajmani system itself.
Then came the political economy approach and it shattered all my arguments. It said that "every peasant was a hard- calculating egoistic individual out there to derive maximum personal advantage." Does that mean that the jajmani system came into place because the small low caste peasants who were hard-pressed for food security were able to extract a good enough bargain from the higher castes? Or was it the other way round, that the landlords got a good bargain in getting services and paying peanuts in terms of grains to the lower castes?
We also know that the jajmani system also worked between the castes of the same hierarchy. In this form, the exchange of services was of more or less of equal magnitude. here, nobody got a great bargain but it still went on because of mutual advatage. It is also noteworthy that in many cases in jajmani system there was an insurance of sorts that in case of need the "jajman" family would come to its rescue.
The most important point where i see an obvious winner in hands of scott is that the system went on for a long time as opposed to popkin's theory that these kinds of co-operations are bound to fail. Moreover, the system died down as soon as the market intervened in villages and people found better prices of their services elsewhere.
I guess i am biased towards scott in this!! What do you all think??

The perspective of looking at collective action and cooperation ......

It is not necessary to look out for big events to understand the dynamics of Collective action and cooperation. It is a very common phenomenon in our lives. Human Beings are by nature social and society itself is synonymous with co-operation and collective action. Humans formed the society because they felt the need for it . Human beings realised that a single person can not be efficient in all spheres of life.Even markets are formed out of this collective action. Here, we may say that collective action and cooperation takes place primarily due to selfish reasons.
Giving an example from the tribal village in West Bengal, the people work for each other in the village but do not charge money for that. In lieu of the work done, they expect the same from others. This is because of the fact that the family size of the villagers is small and they would not have enough of man power or economic power to get their work done.

Monday, December 8, 2008

sustainability of collective action....

when collective activity is rational (according to group, as per mutual decision) but it may be possible taht a lion share of participants are not in tune with the decision. But for the sake of mutual benefit they put ineffeorts in the action. If it is the way to go about, then sustainability of the action is a matter of concern. How long will it sustain?
Because in West Bengal there are rare examples of successful collective action..

are terrorist attacks a form of rational actions

after the mumbai attacks recently, i have been thinking about what could be the rational the terrorist go on with. there are so many people involved in it. the reasons of joining these camps could be many. but when all such like minded people are going on with a motive, can we label these activities as rational action?
what could be their interest as they go on to give their lives away?.. when they are ready to take this extreme step, there is clear evidence that they value something more than self interest..may be they think of their family(financial security promised to the family), if they do so then it is the collective interest of the family which took over the interest of that individual.
in this case the rationality of an individual or selfishness is missing..
your views about this issue can make things clear...

Individual Rational and collective irrational understanding

Friends, I am trying to understand Popkin's belief of collective action failure even in small communities through some concepts in economics.
Lets go through this example: If an individual farmer reaps a bumper crop, he is happy (quite rationally), but if all the farmers reap a bumper crop, all of them could be unhappy. This in economics is known as "misery under plenty" and it arises because the farm produce may be perishable and too much of production may lead to a throw away price.
Hence individually a farmer wants a bumper crop (so does every other farmer), but collectively they may not want to have a bumper crop. Hence all farmers would end up with having less production. Hence there seems to be a conflict in individual and group rationality.
I invite comments on this so that we can have a discussion..

Sunday, December 7, 2008

" is caste system helpful in collective action ?"

dear friends,

in India, caste plays a major role. mainly in rural areas, during my fieldwork everyone in the village was interested in my caste then occupation. i also feel embrassed many times.

but, the view changed when, i came to know how this caste system is way to win the bread and reducing the exploitation. Hadaan village is a drought prone area and in summer government provide drinking water to villagers free of cost through Panchayat.because, Sarpanch belongs to forward caste starts negelacting lower caste people. now, these people does not get water through this scheme.after a span of one week, the lower caste people arrange a meeting with sarpanch regarding this matter.but, the problem was still their. At last, they  (lower caste people) come together and block the state highway.

now, the problem come under notice of government adminstration. the seprate tanker is alloted to these people. which was managed by their own caste people and Sarpanch had been fined of Rs.5000/-.

in my view, in this view caste structure is good for sustainbility of resourceless people. 

Friends, I'm tryin to understand why collective action would happen from an individual's point of view.

My view is that all of us are selfish initially. But it is only when we progress through life that we understand there are limitations to what we can achieve by self-interest alone. Hence, wouldnt it be sufficient to look at an individuals development through life to ascertain whether he will support a collective action intervention at some point of time?

If this is the case, then what we have to focus on is why collective action fails even when there is a critical mass of collective-action-oriented individuals...(societal study)

If this is not the case, then we have to inspect on what triggers support for collective action at individual level...(individual study)..

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Friends, i'm interested in the difference between rational and irrational. My central question is, who decides whether someone or something is rational or irrational? In the first place, by posing this question itself am I not working under the assumption that I'm rational and hence this question itself needs to be rational (again assuming there is perfect correlation between my question being rational and me being rational along with a whole set of other assumptions)?

If this is an assumption that you need to make before engaging in any discourse, how can there ever be something like perfect truth? Because, if there is perfect truth why is there a need for any assumption? (I tried to solve the problem by tautology, but i gave up finally)

Note, I'm just trying to understand the sociological, please try to make the answer as lucid as possible keeping in mind that my basic qualification is Engineering...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Natural resource management...... a “chosen participation” or “imposed participation”?

Natural resource management...... a “chosen participation” or “imposed participation”?

For the last twenty years, the international policy discourse on natural resources management has promoted communities’ participation in order to achieve sustainable development and conservation of natural resources. In India, the Central Government approved and promoted this agenda through its National Forest Policy (1988). The States have been requested to implement Joint Forest Management and Planning (JFMP) schemes so that village communities get a share from the forest resources and “identify themselves with the protection, development and management of forests and other Government waste lands”.

For my fieldwork as part of IRMA curriculum, I went to Kanhari Khurd, Mandla, Madhya Pradesh (a village surrounded by forest from three sides). There also villagers, mostly Baiga Tribals, were engaged in the so-called joint forest management. However, what I experienced was that the villagers were engaged in such a process but not willingly though have got a slight sense of ownership over their forest. They have stopped over-exploitation of forest just because if anyone does so other villagers will complain against it as they have already been denied such source of income (wood cutting, etc). No one was keen on protecting their forest whole-heartedly rather it is more of forced participation. Therefore, there remains a doubt about the long-term sustenance of such natural management practice.

So, isn’t such Collective action for natural resource management therefore assumes more of a shape that describe “imposed participation” rather “chosen participation”? And hence will it have long-term sustenance?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

colective action without any logic

"A man is a social animal" i.e. ever since the evolution of civilization they are living in groups be it hunter - gatherer age or todays 21st century man they have always realized the importance of society. no body can , even , think of living in isolation. we always need someone or the other at any point of time. Despite all this we always preffered individual benefits to collective benefit. so those are not that equipped they feel getting lost some where in the system and in situations of desperateness external agents use them to achieve their personal goal and common becomes a toy in their hands.
so be it godhra, ayodhya, singur, nandigram.............etc every time the collective action was in the form of mob behavior and the outcome was something that cant be justified. here i would like to share some of my experience. it was may end last year when the whole of Rajasthan was burning i had to report to IRMA for induction field work and the train route was completely paralised by the protesters and at tghe same time Punjab was burning because of Dera Sachcha Sauda issue . thousands of people including men women and children came on the streets . they were protesting against the ill treatment mated out to their guru Guru Govind Singh. many lost their lives , properties worth crore were damaged. what was the outcome? what did they achieve by resorting to such acts is still beyond any logic.


multiple realities

Yesterday in the class of CAC, some useful discussion took place on the issue of Manipur turmoil in the context of Special Armed Act 1948 (AFSPA). For quite some time Manipur has been witnessed to great insurgency problem in a bid to restore normalcy in the area the govt has continued with Spl. Armed Act and a legislation about 50 years old.
Now it is this Act has triggered a fierce agitation in Manipur.What infuriated the people was the high handiness’ of the army personnel and the rape of Manipuri women . Women in a symbolic mode of opposition to the Act paraded half naked through the streets of Imphal. Manorama Devi , the rape victim unable to get justice has been on fast last several years. Presently she is lying in coma.
Now to evaluate impassionately the much maligned Act. It is in implementation not to terrorise the local people but to crush the insurgent elements , who have created unrest in the area. If some sporadic ignoble acts like one occurring of the case of Manorama Devi not mean that it is all evils. It has rubbed some people the wrong way it has also been largely instrumental in protecting the lives of many more in the area so the onus should be not on abrogating the Act to ensure it’s implementation in the right spirit. Undoubtedly the rape of Monorama Devi was a condemnable act but it is more and aberration than the norm. Against one misdeed are many of good works done by army personnels in the area so far thousand of soldiers have lost their precious lives combating the insurgency in the area. No body takes care to highlight the sacrifice of the army personnel. The entire north eastern region is extremely volatile so stringent Act are the need of the hours to keep India internally secure. No democratic govt. wants to alive this type of Act but when they don’t have any alternative solution then they adopt this sort of measure. (The condition of north-east is more worsen than J&K)

Suman Kumar

Individual rationalities Vs Collective rationality

Dear Sir,
I would like to comment that your idea of making us ask questions was good. It was seen that most of the students started thinking about various questions that he or she could ask or post on the blog. In that sense it was very good and thought promoting and in a way it initiated some discussion on various aspects. But I would like to point out another side of this problem where it was seen that all the students of PRM-28 reserved their questions to be posted on the blog or to be handed out as a written document. This made the class less interactive than it should have been because the topics that you handled and manner in which you handled the class were very good and there was scope for many more questions to pope-up. But all the questions that would have come to the mind of each participant was being jotted down on a piece of paper and was handed over to you. This made perfect sense to individual participant as each question was valuable and it fetched marks. But as far as the whole class was concerned, this turned out to be a loss in the long run as all these questions were capable of raising a series of questions, which would have been more beneficial to the whole class in the long run.
In short, it was a typical example of how some thing that is perfectly rational for every individual in a society has turned out to be something not beneficial / less beneficial to the society.
So I request you to kindly consider the questions that come up in class also for the grading purpose – if this method is used for the next batch.
Cijo K. Joseph (28010)

Pondering over Patan

The recent incidents in Patan are really shocking. In this context the worry and concerns of the parents of the girls studying in Primary Teacher's Training College can be well understood. And probably on the basis of convergence of the same predisposition they collectively made a protest.
But soon it turned into a violent agitation. The crowd destroyed vehicles and one of the accused almost got lynched. The police came and tackled the situation.
This could probably be just one example to show that practically it is difficult to categorise a collective behaviour on the basis of a single theory ( Convergence or Contagion or any other) which we often may tend to do.

koustav sanyal, 28015

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

where are u o lord !!!

It is considered an affront to raise objections against anything that religion touches or casts its shadow on. You are as good as a blasphemer. Atheists are tolerated as long as they are silent. So are the devouts who keep criticism to themselves and muzzle themselves. Not long back faith that made the airwaves was should the Sethusamundaram project be undertaken or not? There are 2 groups opposing it. One is led by ecologists and environmentalists. They oppose this herculean task that will construct a bridge and connect India and Sri Lanka due to various factors that can be taken as evincing from genuine human interest. The other is led by political parties led by the BJP who say that the current project will damage the ancient bridge constructed by the Lord’s army some 17 thousand years ago or something extravagant like that.

Did Lord Ram exist? Who is Lord Ram one can ask, as a lot of them – government agencies, archaeological department etc are asking. My question is this - Who is Lord Ram who on a regular basis…once every 10 years or so comes like Hurrican Katrina and makes waste of common sense, humanity, logic and other such trivia?

To begin with – Lord Ram is the beloved God of most of northern India other than South India. The ruling party of Tamil Nadu, the Indian state overseeing the construction of the bridge is DMK. Led by writer, poet and atheist Karunanidhi who posed some very entertaining questions – sample this - who is this Lord Ram? How did an army of monkeys construct this bridge over troubled waters? Where did Ram get his engineering degree from?

This has outraged the hell and heaven off the believers. How dare anyone ask WHO the good Lord is or was? Isn’t it understood, they ask. They also being experienced politicians have extended support to the ecologists. Now the work on the project has been stopped. Battle lines have been drawn. Faith vs Science. Where is Lord Ram? Is it sheer coincidence that we show our collective action only when it comes to defending our religion or region?

What led to the Babri Masjid demolition?

The right-wing BJP hit up the ramp to power by mixing religion with politics.There followed an enormously successful mobilisation among Hindus all over North India. They laid the foundation of new temple and a new movement to rage the mosque. BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani led a Rathayatra (literally, a `chariot-journey') through north India.It looked like play-acting to everyone except the believers.For them, it kindled dim memories of the Ashvamedha Yagna, the ancient ceremony profitably used by kings who wanted to enlarge their territories. His tantrums worked until the `chariot' reached the border of Bihar, which was then administered by a lower-caste chief minister who had no use for such Brahminical rubbish. Advani found himself taken into custody for disturbing the peace. The movement was over.But only until 1991, when there was another mobilisation by a much stronger BJP. Thousands of rampaging activists tore down the Babri mosque, quite literally, with their bare hands. There was unprecedented rioting across the country.BJP supporters and affiliates regularly demand that a temple has to be built on the site of the razed mosque. If that happens, another round of bloodshed is inevitable. The violence surrounding the demolition, in which so many lost their lives, has not really been addressed by the courts. The people responsible for the demolition -- who had persuaded the government of the day that nothing would happen -- and the people who instigated the riots walk free. Why is it so that the politics is used as a weapon again and again by political parties to further their interest. History is being repeated again in Maharashtra in the name of regionalism, the only difference is that the players have changed but what never changed is the use of common people for their own destruction.

Student Unions - Are they needed?

Students Unions in colleges and universities are initiated mostly for students rights in the colleges or there rights after their education like their employment rights. Students use these organisations as a platform for raising their voice through different kinds of collective actions like peaceful protests or strikes etc.
But in the prsent context, in our country most of these organisations have been politicised and are thus used or misused by different political parties.
So do we need such kind of student organisations?
If yes then how these organisations should be functioning?
And how the political parties should be refrained from interfering with these kinds of organisations?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Is Democracy Viable??

Democracy is a form of participative government and India as a state is a follower of Democracy. It is also considered desirable for the cooperatives (especially operating in India) to have a democratic structure. In India, where the major chunk of the voters or the members are constituted by so called "uneducated or less educated" people. Would it be viable to have democratic structure in benefit of state as well as the cooperatives when the decisions of the voters or members are more driven by some influential leaders and their stereotypes rather than the benefit of their own, or the organization?

Policies of Government

Poorer individuals usually attempt to benefit from the public good without contributing to its provision. This is encouraged by the state policies which are vote bank driven, and state rarely plans any program or scheme which empowers the farmer. Free electricity sheme in Andhrapradesh, distribution of colour Television sets in Tamil nadu never empowers any section of the society inturn leads to under-production (inefficient production) of the public good. I had attended many NSS camps roaming 100 and odd villages vaccinating animals and distributing medicines to the farmers, NSS camp will be success only when it is conducted for free and without taking a single penny, other wise the turn out will be very low. Even the well off people are habituated to take the benefit from the public good without much contribution. This can be changed only by framing developmental activities which are more participatory should be in a way, contribute to the system and reap the benefits.
M.Amarender reddy

Mob killing: The darker side of collective action

The increasing incidence of mob killing in India should be a cause of concern for us. I am referring to killing of NCP leader in Nagpur on 9th Feb. It is perhaps the most brutal political murder in the history of Nagpur, when suspected Shiv Sena supporters beat congress member Gyaneshwar Sathawane to death at an election rally. The incidence revived our memory of Just five months back when in Lucknow the mob killed Shiv mohan who was accused for doing rape and killing of a two and half year girl. The victim left behind a 70 year old blind mother who was protected by the police. Few days before that event Whole nation watched with shame and horror when two Bhagalpur policemen tied a 20-year-old small-time pickpocket to their motorbikes and dragged him cruelly on the road. This unlucky youth tried to pull a woman’s chain. The incidence took place after the merciless beating of this youth by mob.Few years back the merciless murder of Gopalganj district magistrate G Krishnaiya by angry crowd through stone pelting still daunts our memory.It also proves the hard fact that victim of the mob can be anybody from politician to a small chain snatcher, an alleged rape victim to a honest district magistrate.

Such incidence happened before also but their frequency increased during recent time. But this culture must be stopped before it spreads. The distinction between the crowd and in other forms of society is that the crowd has no tradition. It has no point of reference in its own past to which its member can refer for guidance. It imposes no obligations and creates no loyalties. When a mob is created it becomes a terrible power to defy the even basic grain of life, which must not be done. Mob is very freckle in nature. It cannot be given power to decide about what is right or wrong in the society The anger of mob is just a way to expressing their frustration in the personal lives of the participants. Many of them were nothing to do with sensitivity towards the victim. They do this because no one can be held responsible for the damaged caused. So in my personal view we should discourage such type of moral policing shown by the mob.To this context the study of mob psychology and application of collective action principles becoming more and more relevent in today's world.


IT as a sector certainly contributes a lot in the growing Indian economy and many have already declared India as the "information superpower". But there is a lot that needs to be done before assigning these tags.

The IT companies in India are mostly export dependent, this is very much true for the ITES sector as well. Indian companies have been able to fetch majority of the orders on the basis of low costing which in turn involves the so called "cheap labour". This labour may seem to be cheap for the Americans or the Europeans, but the salaries being offered by the IT giants means a lot to the fresh graduates.
A guy who has completed his schooling and has a nice fluent spoken english easily gets a job with a call center offering Rs. 100K per annum approximately, this obviously means a lot in the nation where unemployment and under-employment are serious issues.

These mesmerizing offers by the IT companies leave no room for employees to think about the negatives of working with these "BRANDED" corporates...
Young women and men work painfully long hours practising cultivated American accents to sell products they have never seen or give invisible customers information they don't remotely comprehend. Even the software guys don't have fixed working hours, its all about completing and delivering the project before the deadlines to get a NICE HIKE IN THE APPRAISAL.

But the picture is not always a rosy it is in the present day scenario where every alternate day we get to read in the news papers about, these IT giants firing the employees without any notices, cutting down the salaries, eliminating the appraisal process etc and all this only because of a single reason i.e. "The revenues have decreased due to the appreciating Rupee".

There have been numerous attempts to form the employee unions for the IT sector, but due to the various public policies and the manipulating power of the industrialists all these attempts have not succeeded.

Setting our goals in accordance with our people's needs and resources is the only way we can move from being cyber-coolies with no rights and little security, to dignified, respected workers who control the labour processes they work under. Is there a need for Collective action and cooperation from the IT employees? Please comment!!!

-Mayank Midha

TASLIMA NASREEN- Demanding Collective Action

The story of Taslima Nasreen is linked to other more relevant realities of India’s present state. It is not the question of one neighbouring country banishing a woman, a writer, a sympathizer of the oppressed, but it is the question of our own country falling prey to the clutches of extreme radicalism, a new breed of fundamentalism that spreads across religions and silences a vast majority that is essentially peaceful and docile.

Taslima Nasreen’s story is also a grim reminder of the extent to which the state can go to protect elements that threaten peace and how dependent and vulnerable we as the citizens of this country are when faced with its ire. It is also important to us because the question of individual identity has taken an altogether new course in the 21st century. Conflicts rage between different domains not only on the question of resources and oil, but also on the issues of history, culture, religion and identity. It is this fabric of identity that links peoples of different countries in an undefined bond, arousing passions and sentiments in no time. Hence, Taslima’s opinion of her country’s mal handling of a situation today spells trouble even in her country of asylum. Lastly, the most disturbing feature of this turn of events is the mute spectatorship of the vast majority of the world, a section that has unknowingly become partners in numerous crimes against humanity.

Hence, it will be appropriate to conclude that Taslima Nasreen is not the problem at all. She is only the face of a larger problem that looms large over all protectors of freedom and liberty. To ignore her and pass her of as someone else’s burden would mean to give further encouragement to the minority that is behind a steady and an organized onslaught against peace. To push her out of our conscience would equal accepting a life of fear and slavery. Whatever be the finale, under all circumstances one must remember that ‘No one is free when others are oppressed’ and that ‘Liberty with danger is better than peace with slavery’.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How Leaders Emerge..........?????????

Every collective action involve the action by a set of people. During the exercise of small situation in front of all the groups. Almost all the groups emphasises the fact that there is a specific sub set of the people which acts as a guiding force for the entire collective action. This sub set emerges from the same set of people then what are the distinguished charactersticts these personalities hold that they are able to motivate a large chunk to act in particular way.

Do the sociological studies could explian the reasons for the emergence of leaders?

Do the brought up, socio-economic factors play any role for the emergence of these personalities?

Also why in large chunk of the population mass there is the tendency to be the followers (if so)?

“Greater the financial clout greater is the role in decision making”

Almost every international organisation is working on this line in the current scenario. Power and polities is most evident in the working of the world’s two most important organisations : WTO & WORLD BANK.

In the both organisations USA is the largest depositor. On the one hand it has gained the power to control world trade through WTO on the other it has gained the power to control world credit through the World Bank. The situation at hand may be synonymous to the colonial rule. The developing countries are worst affected because of this policy. So what type of collective action should be taken by developing countries as a whole to end this discrimination?


Cheating in examinations ~ Crime or a Right!!!!!!

Of late there has been a disturbing trend of blatant cheating in examinations not only by school goers, but also the graduation and post-graduation students. What has been more disturbing, is the involvement of parents of these miscreants in this act of theirs, who see this as a justifiable practice - even going up to the extent of demanding it as a 'legal right'. The recent boycott of examinations by law students in Bihar when being denied the use of unfair means bears a testimony to this fact. Several questions now arise pertaining to this malpractice :

1. Whether this action, which has gained collective propositions, has ethical or moral grounds to stand upon?
2. If the parents demand cheating as a right, where is our young generation headed towards?
3. Is this a continuous apathy or leniency of the authorities concerned towards such miscreants which has led to the worsening of the situation to this extent? (Perhaps the involvement of the invigilators and teachers has also contributed towards this)
4. The most important question however is, how to undo the 'wrong' that has been done? Is there a need of a social reformer of the likes of "Gandhi" or "Vinoba Bhave" to solve this problem, or collective action by common people is enough to solve this?

The questions are easy to frame, what is difficult is to find an answer to them.......

Kumar Siddharth

Who will think about us?

For my field work I was in Junagadh Gujarat. My host organization was Aga Khan Health Services. There main objective was to impart health awareness in rural people of that area. During our visit I came to know that they choose this place because of 'Ismaili community' and reason for choosing this because their founder was from that community. There were different reports and strategies for 'Ismaili Community' and other communities.
If they are working for some specific community or some specific section. Can their be any collective action for whole society?Or it may be that sections who are in need of such help may be kept aside?
Yesterday in lecture of SIFF's founder Mr. Vivekanandan he told that they are working for marine fisherman not for inland or fresh water fisherman who are more in vulnerable condition. Then how this section come out of abject vulnerable conditions. They are in more need then why they were not chosen? During our field work experience sharing session many raised voice that when NGO's who were their host organization were not working for poor people then why should we join?
Wether these NGO really filling the gap between Government and Rural people?
What can be done for those sections who have been left by both NGO's and Government? or that is fate of these sections to take birth in poverty and died in poverty.
Rakesh Matai (28033)

Collective action doers for others benefit and not individual interest.

it was 8th August 2006 when city of Surat was drowned under water and it took as long as six days for some area to around 3 days for some other to come out of water. But what was amazing to see that the people who got out instead of working for himself and family went out to help others. It was mass collective action in small groups we can say. As soon as water went down to chest level people from other areas entered in the water and helped anyone who met on the way. There was no dearth of help in form of food, milk and water (mark it was mineral water). People helped each other without discriminating on basis of caste, class, relative, known,etc. Help was coming in such a big way that people had to say no that we don't require help any more. I was myself working at Sumul Dairy and we had opened outlet for people who came for bulk purchase and we could see groups of people visiting dairy at least 10 times a day just to collect milk and distribute it to affected people. It was there own money and time they spent for others. Many industrialist used to come forward and apart from donating money they served as a labor in milk distribution system on gate of dairy denying to take care of collecting money. Peoples life were restored back in days and this was not the end. Once flood water completely vanished and people cleaned there house (again most of the apartment people came out voluntarily without discriminating as rich or poor and cleaned there compounds together) most of them were refilled with the grains and utensils at least for there current needs. Monetary help was also coming in a big way. Most of the people who could help in any way did help and that too without expecting anything is return or an individual gain.

C-block victory "JATRA 2008"

Jatra is one of the occasions at IRMA which is celebrated or rather participated by almost all the residents in the hostel block. C block was never considered to be in the race for the cup, but the result is for everyone to see. For a block that was at the bottom of the rankings the previous year, this comes as a surprise to all. The success of C block can not be attributed to one particular person but to all the residents in the block who contributed to the victory in some way or the other. i won't name people here but each one of us did what we could do best and here we are. many would shut our Jatra victory off as an ordinary event, but to me it was a sheer example of the so called "collective action and cooperation" where the 27ers participated shoulder to shoulder with the 28ers. I have no idea as to what theory to use here but one thing that i can write here is that our victory in Jatra 2008 is collective action and cooperation to me..

Collective Action......?

Much has been said and volumes written about how collective actions benefit the society but how about the collective actions of some people which cross all the boundaries of humanity and surpass the limits which differentiate human beings from animals.
No doubt it was the collective action of millions of Indians which brought peace to the disturbed souls of Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Matoo. When the whole nation woke up from the deep slumber it was in, the result was : Cases reopened and accused who went scott free were now convicted by the same courts...!
But then how would the Godhra Massacre and the aftermath be described as? After the karsevaks were burnt alive in the train, was the collective action of hundreds of hindus against the muslims justified? Were they correct in taking two eyes for an eye by killing the innocent children and raping the helpless women? Would this action be still called as a collective action after it took away thousands of lives leaving behind another thousands stranded and out of their homes struggling to stand on their feet without any outside support?
The killing of the karsevaks by some anti-socail elements was avenged through the killings on a much larger scale.....Is this collective action.....

Collective Action..............?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Collective Action for what?

Whenever this word collective action comes, mostly we refer to the positives of coming together for achievemnet of some common goal. While the pereception of the definition still holds, it becomes all the more important to see whether the goal is rational for the collective and not harmful for those who are out of it. An example is riot, where only a small number of people are directly involved to say affected by what had happened, but then the feelings of others are also excited to take leverage of the large number. many of those participating dont even know what the fight is all about.

A cartoon appeared in a daily that said, Though we are participating in the riot, for the reason we will have to check the newspaper headlines tomorrow.

Another aspect of collective action is religious clash and this area is such that those involved justify it but for most others it remains a futile action taken to disrupt normalcy and gain power.


While listening to one of the stalwart of collective action Mr. V. Vivekanadan one thing I realized that all collective action requires bottom up approach. Outsiders should just work as a facilitator not as a leader which is the normal tendency of human being. He gave the example of various NGO which failed to bring change appointing their own employee as the leader of the initiative. he also emphasized that even he never took a leader kind of role in organising the fisherman. He worked as a facilitator and an observer. But my confusion is how to balance one's role in such kind of action when you are deeply involved in it and not seeing any change in the status quo. There are many incidence where people repeatedly told and given direction what should they do but changes rarely take place. In such a condition bottom up approach doesnt work. They are not capable enough to realize the benifit of collective action. In such a condition unless we take some initiative and make other follow its not going to move forward. so sometimes we also need to adopt top down approach.

benefit vs loss

Collective action lowers the transaction costs for the farmers in the rural areas. It enable them to make investments to improve both the private and common property resources, which is otherwise a costly affair. For example common irrigation system at the village level. But in such a system it has been found that people who are in power (here power is referred to social power, economical power and political power) reap more benefits as compared to other people who belong to the lower strata of the society
Thus, the property right to both privately and commonly held resources need to be well defined and respected. Some communities and societies engage in collective action successfully went and benefit from such activities while others fail. REASONS CAN BE MANY........

Collective Action: Where are we heading

Rajen Hajra, a father living in the suburbs was taking his daughter, Sanchita (class six student) to school in Kolkata by local train. The train being overcrowded, Rajen as always stood near the gate with his daughter’s school bag while Sanchita went and stood a little inside. They would have been reunited after a few stations. But Friday (08 February, 2008) it did not happen. The school bag got entangled with a close standing electric post causing Rajen to lose balance and fall. Sanchita had no idea of this and she waited for her father to come.

Rajen, after falling down, made a few calls to his home and notably to the missionary school of his daughter, who was duly collected by her teachers. All this time a ‘Gherao’ and ‘Stop the Railways‘ campaign was started by the mob to protest. Rajen laid there uncared for. The event went on and by the time police was allowed to get Rajen’s body, he was long dead. (Rajen had time to make many phone calls)

The police gave the excuse that the mob did not allow them to come near the body.

Sanchita questions,”There were so many people and still no one took my Dad to the hospital. Everyone stopped the trains. They didn’t even allow the police to take my father to the hospital. My father had to die lying down at the side of the railway line”

Do we have an answer??

Thoughts by: Sreejit Basu (28044)

Friday, February 8, 2008


"Negotiation is a basic means of getting what you want from others.It is back-and-forth communication designed to reach agreement when you and the other side have some interests that are shared and others that are opposed."
---------- Roger Fisher

The quote reminded me of JATRA-2008, where everyone fought for the championship and in the process we had so many differences and diverse interests. We had to solve so many problems. Unless we live in total isolation, we are, by necessity, involved with problem solving and negotiating with others at some level as a regular part of our lives. Out of habit and lack of knowledge about alternative strategies we try to solve problems by stating, and sticking to, our position.In a conflict, one side states what they want ("I want my opponent to be defeated in the game") and the other side states their position ("Your team should get a second position"). The goal becomes trying to convince the other side of the rightness of their “position”.Problem Solving from Positions is Limited Because

1. It can be inefficient
2. It can produce unwise agreements
3. It can be hard on the relationship

“Collaborative Leadership” or “Public Conflict Resolution” or “Collaborative Problem-Solving,” is this emerging tradition of outreach education which reflects an institutional perspective on collective action and governance. This view of collective action is built around ideas of identities and conceptions of appropriate behaviour. It assumes that individual action depends on answers to questions of the sort: What kind of person am I? What kind of situation is this?In collaborative problem solving, parties work side by side to solve the problem together. Rather than negotiating from opposing positions, the parties, through a number of different techniques which we will describe, identify problems in terms of interests.Now that youíve got lists of interests, think about some creative ways of meeting as many of these interests as you can. You have an opportunity to create options that will meet your shared needs. Think, also, about possibilities that could create value by expanding the pie and meeting additional needs. Search for options that will benefit all parties.Remember that collaborative problem solving is all about trying to satisfy the interests of ALL parties involved. Therefore, it is important to spend some time considering what the other sideís interests might be.Figure Out Your Interests
1. Figure Out Their Interests
2. Think of Some Options That Would Meet the Interests
3. Consider What a Fair Standard Might Be
4. Keep an Open Mind

"As useful as looking for objective reality can be, it is ultimately the reality as each side sees it that constitutes the problem in a negotiation and opens the way to a solution."