Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why there is an urgent need for collective action against HIV/AIDS

Recent estimates suggest that the HIV affected population in India lies between 2 million to 3.1 million. This seems like a small proportion but indicates a huge number of people whose lives are threatened , battered or ruined. Surprising is the fact, that a state like Andhra Pradesh has nearly 1/5th of the total cases of HIV incidence in the country. We also find that 118 districts of India have more than 1% people who are HIV positive. 1% is generally taken as the cut off point for a disease to be a 'generalized epidemic'. The population at large believes that the person who has contracted HIV bears the responsibility for his or her own unfortunate condition, since the condition could have been avoided through changing personal behavior. This belief not only exists in a developing country like India but also in advanced nations like US of A. I agree, that many actions that lead to contracting the infection are certainly within personal control and the role of personal ability is an important connection to keep in mind in planning strategies for prevention through greater availability and use of information, more social advocacy and education. However, this is not an 'open and shut' case as it seems as this approach ignores the nine-tenth of the ice berg that lies below the surface. The reasons that this ice berg presents for a need for collective action galore. Some of them are -

  1. The infection can come to a person in ways over which he or she has little or no control. This applies to all those people who get the contagion through blood transfusion, to children who get the disease before they have any control over their lives (both prenatal & post-natal). It also applies to people who get it from their spouses before they realize that they are infected.Women are greater victims of this lack of control. 
  2. Ignorance of the law cannot be taken as a legitimate excuse for a legal lapse, lack of awareness of the ways of transmission of the virus or of prevention measures. 
  3. Individual conduct is often swayed by the prevailing modes of behavior. I would mention here the collective action of the sex workers' union in Kolkatta in moving the highly vulnerable population of commercial sex workers  towards a 100% use of condoms. Personal fight is a big part of the fight against AIDS, but group norms are very important in influencing this. 
  4. People are greatly influenced in their behavior not only by well-reasoned advocacy (as was the case in the Kolkatta case mentioned above) but also by what may be perceived as 'thrilling behavior'. It could be something as simple as smoking or taking drugs. In fact, taking drugs has also hugely contributed to the spread of the syndrome. This is very highly prevalent in Manipur. 
  5. 'Just saying NO' in any situation that could be potentially dangerous, is not a solution. Life often has such actions as a part and parcel of itself, either in the form of needs or wants.
  6. Criminalisation of some types of human relations contributes to driving such queer people underground, making it difficult to bring them into standard public discussion.
We need collective action because its time we stopped blaming the victims and stopped looking for reasons for reasons to leave them to look after themselves. There are many NGOs who work in this field - Care India, Center for Advocacy and Research, Constella-futures, Durbar Mahila Samavay Committee, Family health International, Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust, Internation HIV/AIDS alliance, Karnataka Health Promotion Trust, Naz, Pathfinder International, Tamil Nadu AIDS initiative, Transport Corporation of India foundation, Project Orchid, Project Parivartan, etc.A cure for AIDS will soon be found. But we need to mobilize the people not only to spread awareness, but rescue the people who are already infected, while saving the people from contracting the infections in future. This cannot be done by individuals, but it requires groups to be activated. It is indeed a big issue, that somehow people just conveniently tend to ignore. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Uru's story is each rural manager's story? (
Expert solution vs Engaged solution: How do they make difference for collectives?

Bar dhaoe rejene

Am I ready for re-storying when my life is going well?
What is the cost of remaining in the comfort zone?
How do we inspire collective to purify itself through struggle?


Are we leading a life of Rumplestiltskin?
What creates Rumplestiltskin?
What can be done to avoid the end of Rumplestiltskin for us?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Placement conundrum

Before the student enters IRMA:

Parent: what salary will my son/daughter get at the end of the course?
Faculty: Last year's average salary was 6.5 lakh.
Parent to Son/Daugher: I can afford you better education where you can get better salary.
Son/Daughter to Parent: I want to work in social sector.
Parent to Faculty: In social sector, will she/he get at least 4.5 lakh per annum.
Faculty: I think so.
Parent: Otherwise, it is not worth you going there I spending 4 lakhs for you.

What is education?

Dichotomies of life

Teacher- student, doctor-patient, agricultural scientist-farmer, bureaucrat-applicant, minister-voter, landlord-labourer, employer-employee, priest-believer, banker-customer. These are some of the dichotomous relations in which expert knowledge is imposed. What are the rural management perspectives to live an world with less dichotomies?

Internalisation of power structure

What are the management tools which attack internalisation of power structure? If not, why management tools are not taking internalisation seriously?

Education paradoxes

Is 'problem posing' education another paper tiger? It seems during 1970s and 1980s, this model was truly liberative. But with the disappearace of socialist dream, has the problem posing education lost its charm?

Management Education

Is management education meant to liberate learners? If not, why not? What are the value changes required if management education has to become a liberative experience?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Is there still hope for cooperative movement?

How can co-operative movements link up with other social movements (e.g. student movements, food and peasants’ movements)? Can co-operatives offer a radical alternative to capitalist economy, or do they just seek to mitigate its effects?

Consumer cooperatives and Producer cooperatives

Is there a conflict of interest between producer co-operatives (e.g. farmers) and consumer co-operatives? How could cooperatives help people secure their basic needs? These are some of the real world questions when one wants to promote cooperatives and realises about multiple-stakeholders. What are the ways out?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Incentives and Collective Action

Do incentives really promote collective action? Or are they breaking collective action? One can easily say context matters. What kind of contexts requires incentives, and what kind of contexts dont require them to promote collective action. When incentives dont hold the members of collective, what holds them?

New forms of mobilisation

Is it that the time is over for the old forms of mobilisation. People out in the street shouting slogans etc? Or is it that we are fed up with these types of mobilisations? Or are mobilisations just changing the colour, and the substance still continues?

Labour Unions for IT firms

Will labour unions in IT firms improve their efficiency? What kind of management would want labour unions in the IT firms? What are some of the 'social goods' which are creating synergy in IT firms?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Moral head weight of leaders

Most of the Indian politicians are corrupt. They dont also claim any moral head weight. Is it not contradictory to the leadership principle of drawing sources of power? If yes, why such leaders continue to be in power?

Cooperatives and social structure

Do cooperative business strategy provide any hope for restructuring society? What kind of restructuring is visible? Is it the case that social structures are so strong that if cooperation is to happen, it has to happen only through social structures?

Affluence and leadership

If leaders with risk taking capacity come from affluent sections, what surety is there to expect that class-interest will not be the primary level of functioning by such a leader. What kind of leadership emerges in poor communities and marginalised sections of society?

Single loop and Double loop learning

Can a person with single-loop learning alone rise into the position of leadership? Not necessarily. There are possibilities that through single-loop learning a person could take an organisation into new heights. However, on a macro level story, such a company could be serving to the double-loop learning of some other players.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Collectiveness of A Caravan

We all are familiar with the image of a long winding caravan making its way across deserts.A closer look at it will show the essential need of people to work together to achieve a difficult task. Crossing a desert is one task which an individual can not perform on his own, given the high risk involved. So even if there a rich merchant in an oasis, he will never set out on his own but wait for a group to accumulate so that they can set for the journey.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

collective effort

A indian reflection of collective action !

The Indian Railways show the true picture of India in which passengers from across the states travel together to various destinations. Talking to fellow passengers , sharing books ,newspapers and sharing meal goes on smoothly in the compartments of the Train. I came across an incident which made me thought about collective action passengers perform in order to help another fellow passenger. I was travelling back to anand late night when i entered the sleeper class compartment of the train. I sat beside an old lady eating dinner. She offered me the food but i was already packed to retain more of it.
Time passed , she completed her meal and headed to the lavatory to wash her hands. Suddenly she fell, looking at the scene i tried to hold her up in my arms. She became pale and lost conscience . There was a wave of worry among the passengers in the compartment. Everybody searched for a doctor reacting to the situation. People also started pouring water on her face, rubbing her palms so that she holds on till the doctor arrives. After some time a doctor was located and brought to her notice . He gave her the treatment and declared that it was a heart attack.Her life was saved and my destination arrived.
Collective action and co-operation can save lives ( in this case) and destroy lives (m as in case of communal riots).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why so pessimistic?

One can't ignore the presence of a high degree of pessimism in the context of collective action and co-operation, be it Hardin's 'tragedy of the commons', Prisoner's Dilemma or Olson's 'logic of collective action' or even in general perception. The words, 'tragedy' and 'dilemma' for example indicate pessimism.

What gives rise to such pessimism and what effect does this pessimism have on the adoption of collective action and co-operation? And should this pessimism be taken seriously? In the absence of answers to the above questions, more questions arise.

Is the difficulty in achieving collective action and co-operation a plausible reason to be pessimisic about it? If so, can't human nature which is supposed to be responsible for such difficulty be dealt with in a way as to decrease such difficulty (Isn't that the aim of studying CAC?)? Didn't Gandhi do it? By calling him ahead of his times, we discount the possibility of using his ways. Doesn't successful collective action and co-operation give reason to be optimistic because of its very nature, which is quite different from the other ways of doing the same things, for example, through government interventions or the markets which tend to fail in the long run (with questionable success in the short run). Isn't collective action and co-operation, overcoming the acknowledged difficulties, a sustainable way? In this sense, isn't it more reasonable to be optimistic about collective action and co-operation than otherwise?

In calamity

You are head of an NGO in Hyderabad. You have sent a team of six volunteers to Kakinada region, which is affected by cyclone. After two weeks of work your team leader reports back saying, local people are hostile to us, while local people cooperate among themselves. You are asked to take a decision on the possibility of pulling out of the volunteer team from the location.

Dealing with rumour

You are working with Reliance Fresh as regional head manager for Maharashtra. There are over 200 outlets under your responsibility. You get an inside information that employees from various outlets are influenced by the local communities, which are providing vegetables to Reliance. These local communities are being organized by NGOs. The predominant mood is that Reliance may reduce the price of products after few years, and therefore local communities need to organize for collective bargaining. This influence the morale of your employees, who is affected by this propaganda for collective action.

Community sentiments

As an IRMA student group you carried out a street play in a slum community. Somehow a portion of the song of street play hurt the religious feeling of the community. They are doing a gharaoe not letting you to go out of their community. How would you strategise?

Dalit atrocity and collective action

A dalit atrocity has taken place in a village. The village has equal strength of dalits and high castes. Police intervention has become fruitless to contain the inter-caste violence. Police intervention failed because dalits claimed that if they are given access to the well of drinking water, they would forget about the atrocity. High caste are not ready to budge to this demand. They say the person who committed atrocity needs to be penalized and no more concessions after that.

Looting the vehicle and NGO's dilemma

You are running an NGO in a village, which is located near a high way. A lorry carrying valuable goods breaks down near village. When the driver and cleaner of the lorry has left for city to bring a mechanic the village looted all the valuable goods. The driver approaches you as NGO head for a solution rather than police action. When you interact with villagers they claim that though all villagers participated in the looting, many of them had dissented.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rationality:Fools paradise ??

The idea of collective action prompts one to instantly think that its all about compromising self for the overall good of the whole.But on futher introspection, actions by the collective, actually seem to benefit self at the end of it! Inequalities will prevail; we work our ways to bridge the divide, in the process creating a healthy environment for the self to live and flouish.

Irony is we look narrow down the relm of rationality to such an extend that it facilitates deterioration of the social fabric which by no means shall accommodate the “I”.Wonder if it’s the Fools paradise?!?!

Why do we do what we do? Pondering upon the question, it is amusing to realize that most of it is driven by people around us. We get an invisible strength when we see our companions working on something-the strength to do it ourselves. Am sure I would never have ventured into the world of blogging had I not seen so many of my batch mates doing it! To me it is the most important characteristic of collective action: it brings empowerment, in a more effortless way than individual action does.


Man has learnt various attributes from nature...he has learnt the art to swim from fish and invented the submarine...he has learnt the art to fly from birds and invented the airplane..he has also learnt to behave collectively by the animals in the jungle who indicate the arrival of a dangerous animal to the prey by imitating various signals and voices..! Animals move in groups in order to save themselves from the hunters...Man has tried to work in co-operation at the global level by forming various committees and cartels but by his unruly behavior he has not been able to add more value to this world..! We humans need to learn a lot more from mother nature...We can and We Will

Collective action- made it easy

Story of wolf tells us how a herd of wolves are able to hunt wild cows which are much more powerful than a single wolf. Same applies in our society when many people come together and accomplish a difficult work in an easy way. Our friend Sandeep has cited one example where villagers come together and rebuilt a ruined primary health center and I witnessed a similar incident during my fieldwork stay when villagers built an artificial pond in just three days for celebrating rituals of Chhath festival.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Collective Action : Saviour for a community.

Collective action is an essential instrument for coming together of a group of people to achieve a given goal for the betterment of the society as a whole . one such instance is cited below.
This is example from Malpur village in Bihar where there was absence of the health care facility due to the absence of infrastructure . The building was in a very bad condition in which the health care was impossible. T people from the village needed to visit the block hospital or the district headquarters for treatment. Thus the villagers decided to take a collective action when no help came from government to renovate the building. So capital was collected from every household of the village for the building material. Labor from among the villagers reduced the cost for the renovation. Finally the building was renovated in four month time and continuous medical facility became available to the villagers. So in case of emergency like snake bite primary first aid can be made available quickly thus saving precious life .

collective action and co-operation - a silent revolutionary measure

We had heard and learnt that in co-operatives there is common goal of all the members for benefit of all but some time it is for benefit of whole mankind and it binds the people.

In Thana village of Dist. Dehradoon (Uttarakhand) though there is disparity on the basis of caste and class but people of village come together for construction of the road and plantation of trees by Sharam daan (voluntary labour) in their area as it was the need of commons. This action takes them closer and teaches them to work together for social cause.

Some more about the commons

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prisoner's dilemma!!!

Various Manifestations of the Third Dimension of Power

Markets are promoted as the 'natural' way forward to suppress the debate for inclusive growth. In USA, war is peace. American citizens are told by the state, "You either support the war or it means you are supporting terrorism." The state makes it look like there is no other choice. The traditional gender roles are called 'natural' to suppress any attempts towards redistribution of power. Corporate owned media picks up issues that are relatively less threatening to the power of its owners to deviate people's attention from issues that are more threatening to their power.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Conflicts are Healthy Signs of Collective Action?

All nice people, good hand shakes, patting each other, sugar coated words. Is it the really good collective action? Do conflicts have more curative function than damaging function for collectives? What kind of curative functions are possible? How to use conflicts as instruments for better outcomes?

Can collective action cope up with change in leadership?

In Rambagh, bikaner, women S.H.G's were running efficiently with rules , roles and responsibilities put forth and an institutional framework in place. But the change agent and leader was URMUL setu sansthan which made it a reality. It has been three years since the S.H.G's started but now also URMUL acts as a moderator and facilitator in the functioning of the S.H.G's.
My question is that should An external facilitator look to detach itself from the collective action after a point of time? If yes then when can URMUL or any other institution take such a step?

Role of incentives in Collective Action

Blogs are meant to share your views and we can safely presume that this blog is created to share knowledge and enhance our learning about Collective action and co-operation. So, if we look at the formal setup then the learning process would appear to be one of the collective actions, as the knowledge cannot remain with an individual and neither can it be amplified if it remains within persona.

Now, looking at the coercive action that we need to be cunning enough to distribute our time and resource over blog space in such a way that it maximises our incentives, be it marks, Gyan or social recognition.

If the incentives are not there then you wouldn’t find many takers. So, only posts with high returns would invite maximum number of replies and the self interest is bound to take back seat, at least theoretically if not practically. Hence, incentives in collective action are of paramount importance.
Keep posting. :)

A short story of cooperation..(3 min reading)

The day CAC course begun I could not resist to think about a small story I heard long back in my childhood. It goes as.....
When the universe was created a debate started between 'Devs' (Gods) and 'Danavas' (Demons) who are more powerful and it seemed to take the shape of battle. Indra meanwhile thought lets ask 'Brahma' (The Creator of Universe) whom he bestowed with greater powers and virtues and somehow convinced the two sides to refer this debate to Brahma. Meanwhile hearing this Brahma replied that both are equally important and powerful as the 2 eyes complement each other and both eyes together makes the 'vision'. Needless to say both sides persisted so Brahma told them to come on feast next day where he will announce his decision. Next day Devas and Danavas appeared for feast but they were surprised by the condition to eat. The winner would be the one who finished first and had minimum wastage of food. Each one of them were given a spoon with a long handle and they had to eat grasping the end of spoon and they were not allowed to use hands. After much of time passed Danavas began to eat with spoon but it wasted a lot of food wheras Devas decided to feed other Dev with his spoon while other reciprocated the same. With this method thay managed to eat fast with zero wastage and were announced winners.
So, within each of us lies the Deva and Danava and it is we who decide the winner...the Deva will work together, learns to share and prefer win-win situation(abundance mentality) for all. Whereas Danava will be selfish, selfcenterd and have scarcity mentality. The human mind is its own place and can make a hell of heaven or heaven out of all. If we think world as a one family and if we work together and learn to share world would be better place but only question is 'if'....

Rich and Poor Kids in the World of Social Capital

Is social capital real? Or is it some artificial extension of economic capital? There is argument that when 'social exclusion' came into fore about the marginalisation of some individuals i society, social capital was brought in as a solution. In any case, many of the entrepreneurial firms, and family businesses in India seems to be thriving based on the principles of social capital. However, danger is that the threat of 'crony capitalism', which is challenging the Indian growth story ( could be the flip side of this social capital based growth.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Scarcity and collective action

Is scarcity really a determinant of collective action? We could make argument for and against such a statement. What contexts of scarcity may generate collective action, and what may demobilise collectives?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Collective Action

"Collective Action" most of the times seems to strike the cord among the poor people. The very reason for this phenomena may be that the poor are not economically sound enough to pool in enough resources for a particular activity. If they are made aware of of a potential income source which can be tapped then obviously the people will come forward together, which would not only benefit them but the entire community. Moreover one can also say that collective action is simply not for the poor. Everyone can reap the benefits out of it. With time people have begun to understand the positive aspects of collective efforts and nowadays this is also visible in almost every sector starting from the ground level to big organizations.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


If necessity is the mother of invention, it's the father of cooperation....

Payment for Envrionmental Services

Payment for Environmental Services (PES) has become an important strategy to manage common pool resources. Crux of the strategy is summaries in a CIFOR paper:

Let us imagine the classical problem of regenerating a river, that was dead because of 'tragedy of the commons'. How are the differential benefits in up-lands and low-lands creating a new collective action problem when we regenerate this river? Do you think PES is the right solution to commons management?