Sunday, February 12, 2012

Politician vs Technician: Food Security Bill

Public Policy Making is a special case within the collective action problem. The members of collective action in policy making are subject experts, politicians, bureaucrats, and voters. (At one stage judiciary enters this list of actors but primarily carries out the function of interpretation.) It is good to observe how different opinions by experts and views by different politicians are sorted out when a bill finally gets through.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tit for Tat Vs The Power of Forgiveness

"An eye for eye will make the whole world blind", says Mahatma Gandhi. The world has been trying to find sustainable soultions to historical faults such as 9/11, apartheid violence, communal violences in ireland and India etc. Those who emphasis forgiveness say that forgiveness need not be viewed as a principle of altruism, and it is done out of self-interest. At the same time, Tit for Tat clearly says it is a tool of cooperative game and aims to elicit cooperative behaviour from others. How do we strike a balance between these diverging strategies?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gandhi: Many faces

There are four Gandhis after Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, says Ashish Nandi. If we take success as the parameter which redefines ethics and morality, how do we judge many of our revered heroes?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Choices: Real and Artificial

Whenever discussion on placement comes up, IRMAns talk about increasingly expensive education and constraints on working in sectors where rural management professionals are required. Whenever I hear this, I think about extremes:

1) Student pay nothing. In return student work what you are asked to. Something like military training. We will end up making another bureaucracy.
2) Tied agriculture labour. You take a loan from landlord (to have freedom of doing what you want) and pledge your labour in return.
3) Complete liberal education. Student dont pay anything the State bears all expenses and student is free to do what he/she wants at the end.

In the scenario we have three unconnected entities: loan giver who has their logics to operate; educational facilitation is done by someone else who claims of a mission; student who undergoes the course is left with artificial choices. The very fact that we are talking about 'freedom and choice' here (in the context of liberation) and not mechanically choosing from the given options, sky is the limit. I am reminded of the famous saying by Bernard Shaw: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. Unreasonable man peristantly attempts to change the world. Therefore all progress depends on unreasonable man!".

Saa Vidya Ya Vimukhtaye

What are the institutions that create counterproductive results to liberation?

Gaon Chodab Nahi

Let us identify generative themes in Gaon Chodab Nahi.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Global scale collective action requirements

Though collective action is preached a lot, often at the level of action it is failure. That is what we are seeing when the issue of climate change is being discussed by world leaders and negotiators again and again. As RIO+20 is nearing, this short video reminds us about the challenges ahead to embrace collective action in new ways to tackle global challenges.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Conflicts as signs of good 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?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Collective action that transformed Chinese Economy

Yen Jingchang was a farmer living in remote rural area of China. He took lead to transform Chinese economy using the principles of collective action. This little known story is worth reading.

Outcomes of Movement4

What are the likely examples of repressions (since the ideology and means are different than of state) of movements by the state and what are the likely outcomes from this?

Outcomes of Movement3

Leader of a movement is discredited by the state when the means adopted are illegitimate, but the goal of collective action is same as that of state. What happens to the outcome in terms of achievement of aims and nature of institutionalisation in such contexts of discredited leaders?

Outcomes of Movement2

What are the likely outcomes in terms of achievement of the goals of collective action and nature of institution formed if the means adopted are legitimate but the ideology of movement is different? Ofcourse level of toleration will be different depending on what kind of political climate exists.

Outcomes of Movement1

What the likely outcomes to the achievement of aims of collective action when the ideology of a movement/ collective action is same as that of the state government and the means are considered to be legitimate? The state would facilitate. However, it is likely different outcomes happen depending on political conditionalitie and the nature of purpose around which collective action is generated.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Authority and Obedience

Stanley Milgram Experiment

Leadership vacuum

Kofi Annan characterises the greatest problem of contemporary times to be absence of good leaders. Where are the leaders in your case study of collective action (poster) drawing their legitimacy?

What happened to movements?

"Many many years ago there was a species called social movements..." What will be the state of affairs when I tell this story to a younger generation?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Technical and Adaptive Leaders

Keeping the poster assignment in mind, each of your social movement would have one or more leaders. How are each of them exhibiting characteristics of technical/adaptive leadership?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Control Over Resources and Action Orientation

Let us study this matrix which helps us to better understand different types of organisatisational strategies when we keep control over resources and action orientation separatey for individuals and for collectively. What instances from real life fits in where?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cycle of Poverty and Third Dimension of Power

How can vertical and horizontal integration of services of collectives help the poor communities to break the cycle of poverty? How could all three dimensions of power be effectively used by the collectives to manage the diversity of resource basis and aspirations?

Heterogenous and Homogenous Collective Action Contexts

Insider-outsider problem is a difficult nut when it comes to the question of Commons. The heterogenity of outsiders is a manageable issue if the insiders have strong unity and when they are homogenous. The problem gets complex when the insiders are heterogenous. Small sections within insiders have some strong linkages with outsiders (which may be heterogenous or homogenous).

External Agent in Collective Action

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 SHG's started but now also URMUL acts as a moderator and facilitator in the functioning of the SHG's.
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?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Collective Action anyone??

Last night I was watching a movie- 'The help.' As I started watching it, the horses of my thoughts also followed the symphony of move and started galloping. When the movie concluded with the song 'The Living Proof', a remain of our CAC class finally came to the brim! The Living Proof! Yes it is a living proof of a handful of ordinary Helps making the entire community of whites realize their atrocities against the black race!
Before I take my stand on the circumstance depicted in the movie, I would like to give everyone a clue of what the movie actually had. This is a story of late 1940s when America started to expand at a lightning pace. We can compare that era with the current Indian scenario of development. The people were earning a handsome amount with high disposable income. But, as there are always a dark face beneath the brighter one, the racism also reached the peak in the tenure of the American President John F. Kennedy. The culture which was pretty popular in that era was of black helps(maids) assisting the white affluent families. Their work  included all the chores along with the added work of baby sitting. We can call it the case of modern day maids combined with the babysitters in a single package. The treatment which the whites provided them can obviously be understood by us as we are having enough experiences of discrimination form the fieldwork! Even in the present world the situation of Apartheid exists in America. The only difference we can notice is that the situation has improved a bit.
The story takes a 90 degrees turn when an American white female wants to publish the perspectives of the Helps in a newspaper to get the required ovation and a job in the hot shot corporate editorial clubs of flying city New York. As it was difficult to get a Help interviewed with her own will (especially to speak against the Whites) and tell her true story, she first tried to interview a Help by force. The Help also responded to her as if she was ordered by her boss to answer the questions to this interviewer. These two conducted few sittings at the Help's house and soon became good friends. Help starts narrating her part of the story. American interviewee than asked the Help to get some more friends of her so that she can form a document which is more credible. Her request was obviously denied as no one wanted to go against their own WHITE bosses! Importantly, in the outer world, the atrocities against these helps also became more rampant. After some days the Helps decided to meet this American lady and tell their part of the stories. No wonder , in just a single night the entire book of 262 pages was ready to be published. To know what happened next, just click on

Kathryn Stockett, Author of The Help

Many elements of collective Action are highlighted in this movie. Being a student of CAC, I would like to mention 
some of them. According to me the people came together because:
  • They wanted to change the status quo.
  • They wanted to live a  happy life.
  • They wanted equal representation.
  • They realized a way by which they could use their weapon(weapon of the weaks!)
  • They wanted to change the existing power structure.
Still, I would like to roll the ball in your mind to let you think about my classification if it as a collective action! Is it a collective action accordng to you?Think and comment!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Power of the weak

What a contradiction! But, that is what weapons of the weak indicate. Wherever power dichotomy exists such as landlord-labourer, teacher-student, Leader-follower, voter-legislator, parent-child, it is most likely that weapons of the weak will be used. Do we have examples of how weapons fo the weak limits the choices that powerful person has got?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Challenges of Defining Power

If scarcity explains collective action, do we still need to bring the concept of power to understand the nature of collective action? If yes, why? How are different dimensions of power impact on the nature of collective action?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tragedy of commons in IRMA

But when I see as Insider, I don’t find any reason to believe this fact.
Just 3 days before there was a lot of fun in IRMA. “Jatra”, an internal event where hostel blocks locked horns with each other for the title, was organized. A lot of congratulations to “D” block for grabbing the trophy once again. It was the best example of collective action in IRMA in front of my eyes, where 24 individuals of each block fought with other block for winning the event.
Common rooms have been the most important part of Jatra for every block. Most of the blocks started preparation almost a month before so regular meetings were held in common rooms. A lot of strategic decisions were taken by hostel blocks before and during Jatra-
What is our current position?
What to do in next event?
What about next day?
To which block, we should collude to fight a common enemy.
Apart from it, common rooms were the places of preparation for blocks- whether to make props for mock rock or fashion parade, practice for block song, DJ war or adapt tune etc.
I thank a lot to Dr Kurien to provide hostels with common rooms facility. After this I got understood the importance of common rooms.
For whole Jatra, common rooms were the busiest rooms in IRMA. Blocks were preparing whole night for events of next day.
But once Jatra was over, no one looked for common rooms. No one went inside them. No one cleaned the common rooms. Even after three days, Jatra is over. This has become dirtiest place in IRMA.

I tried to find answer to this thing. And it again remembers me two events of Jatra. One is “Dirty Room”, other is “Treasure Hunt”.
As the name suggests, the dirtiest room will be winner. So we did a lot of things so that rooms should look dirty like- Spoiled eggs, dirty cloths and Socks etc. Event happened in morning and surprisingly such dirty rooms were clean by evening. The reason being it is private property of individuals whereas even after two days of event, common rooms still remain dirty, reason being it is common property of 24 individuals residing in that particular block.
In “Treasure Hunt” there was a clue “tragedy of commons” about common rooms and TV room. But no one took lesson from game. And game remained game only.
What could be solution of these problems?
May be, Make rules or game so that blocks will clean their common rooms after Jatra. And most clean common room will be awarded in “Clean room” competition.
Does solution always lie in making rules? Or can we do it collectively.
Please ponder for two minutes…………..

Monday, January 9, 2012

Collective Action for the Poor and Rich

"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 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.

The world is scarce or abundant?

Is not the question of scarcity very similar to the paradox of half-full glass? 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?

Common Property as Social Institutions for Resource Management

Commons is an attitude; a worldview. A worldview that instills a strong sense of responsibility towards our surroundings and our future. There is also a danger here: the logic of commons is understood and internalised by the members of commons and not outsiders. In other words, worldviews are still not shared worldviews with wider world. What is required to transcend this?

Public goods and Common Property

"The right to possess is to be sharply distinguished from mere protection of possession once achieved - that is, it is a cliam right to have possession, not merely a power to acquire or a liberty to keep. If I have a right to possess a thing, others do not merely have "no right" that I not possess it; they have a duty not to interfere with my possession" (Becker, 1977: 21). How does this conception of the interplay of right and duty help us to clarify 'open access' regimes from 'common property' regimes? How does this help us to think about management of public goods in people-oriented manner?

Living Flag Challenges

Different motivations and varied aspirations among members make living flag ambition a herculean task. Despite of this, the experience of 'building the aeroplane while traveling on the same' is awesome. We want to control our desitny than someone else does this. Each community says this, indirectly, when they give shape to traditions which contain rules of governing the resources of those communities and the relationship of members with those resouces.

Elinor Ostrom's Lecture

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resistance against commons

Who resists commons? What kind of interests prevail in the resistance against commons? What are the successful stories and processes which has overcome such resistance?

Political Institutions for commons

What is the nature of political institutions which are suitable to promote commons? What is the nature of relationship between members of commons and political institutions to keep it as guardian for commons?

Synergy of markets and commons

What are the succesful examples where market mechanism is incorporated with the question of commons? What lessons do we learn from such examples (across sectors) for future design of markets?

Market Mechanisms and Commons

Central feature of commons is its position as a midway between 'Open access'and 'Closed access'. How does market logic conflicts with the logic of the commons?