Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Euromaidan PR

00sKyivis relatively calm now, so it’s just the right time to study Maidan in detail. Almost everybody has heard that word, but not everybody imagines how everything works here. Now the protesters occupy Kyiv’s center – Maidan Nezalezhnosti square, almost all of Khreschatyk (the main street), European square and some of the adjacent streets. A few administrative buidings have been captured; in them, heating and medical help centers have been established, as well as stations for accepting and redistributing clothes and other items. There are hundreds of tents on the streets, in which the activists that have come to Kyiv from all over the country live.

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Gender Equality is Smart Economics

by worldbank.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


Posted: January 20, 2014 in Politics, Uncategorized
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The growth of social media as a source of news and change ideas in India is yet to reach a maturity of judgment that looks at the statements and posts dissociated with the people positing them alone. The information out there is not just about how quickly an alternate and crowd sourced reality is offered. It is about a sustained conversation and its impact. More and more posts and feeds are being assessed over a wider spectrum of context.

The AAP imagery that rode the deluge of likes and endorsements is now turning into structured arguments. Whether or not there is a systemic ideology or political philosophy behind AAP, the social media narrative is inadvertently creating a set of core principles. These are based on recent actions of the party leaders in the government and comparisons with the deviations that question the liberal democratic framework.

The run-in with systems of policing and law is not a run-in with corruption or injustice as the institutions that oversee policing acquire the character of the ruling government determines legalities.

Is the strategy to create racial profiling and individualized notion of what the law is all about not a take from what BJP and its affiliates are known for.

The call to show foreigners – read African nations – the appropriate and right way of living in India is akin to the slogan of Bharat mein rahna hain to Vandematram kaihna honga. I know it is sounding extreme but seems to be going that way.

In spirit this would mean individualist and populist interpretation would override law. The knee-jerk would prevail over substantive change.

Or worse still AAP is creating a template of wider national electorate that encompasses elements of jingoism and easy to assimilate tricks of political change.

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A State of Existing: North Dakota

Posted: December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

Find the Beauty

“Ghost towns stud North Dakota, and this empty house is just one bone in a giant skeleton of abandoned human desire.”

A quote from a perfectly written article for National Geographic about North Dakota titled,
The Emptied Prairie” By Charles Bowden

I remember, as a little child, walking hand in hand with my father across fields of long prairie grass.  I was amazed by the dance created by the wind as it touched each blade of grass.  To this day, I can close my eyes and visualize the sight seen as we walked closer to an abandoned farmstead and the excitement noticed in my father’s eyes and heard in his voice. I learned from him that these abandoned properties are not a place of destruction, but a story of endless outcomes.

The trip to North Dakota was an incredible journey, one that I am happy to say, was…

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Defying the comfort of political realism and bordering on extreme populism of promising the earth, the Aam Admi Party has many of the political determinist in a state of intellectual limbo. Though so many of us continue to live in political simulation without any reality check based on credentials of our student-day readings — when theory was still not considered unprofessional part of education and yes was not optional — the emerging situation finds us excited yet disengaged. It’s like watching someone else’s fight and hoping for an unexpected result, beyond a win or a loss.

We often talk about options, and in political terms it meant different things often garbed under names of political parties and ideologies, but for most it has been about systemic change in broken fragments depending on where we live in the social and economic matrix of the nation. To some it took shape of access and mobility in aspirational virtues of  paid education, capitation fees, home etc. To others it was more basic. Almost like clinging to a string — you could read entitlements — of the massive fabric of the nation in the making, slogans and punchlines keeping alive desires of being connected with a political system represented by electoral process and netas.

The liberal, centrists and left spaces find fragments and pieces of engagement in AAP and its new-born legacy. The governance and accountability framework, the moralist stand on corruption devoid of power analysis, the promise of opening the ranks of political elites to do gooders of the neighbourhood and subverting the political system to change it — not replace it. This cocktail leaves, us political determinists, uncertain confused and enjoying the status of fence sitters.

I am plagued by some thoughts as I hear conversations around me — I have a fairly narrow and predictable surrounding of people who make living serving their passion of working in civil society, scholars working within institutions and activists.

This may border on political fiction but here it is:

The nascent history and trajectory of AAP’s political journey are mainstream and middle class agenda driven. The conversations on governance and transparency are about about affordable, efficient services and not equity that cuts across the larger questions of resources, land and social inclusion.

The support for AAP and its spans luxury car owners wearing the cap to urban poor leaving the days wage to add to the rank and file of the crowd. The key driver, however, or the vanguard of AAP is educated middle class with mixed sense of political commitments. To this class or section the agenda of entitlements, inclusion and poverty seem to far away from the priorities and one might even say untenable.

It is here that I see agenda of the temple in Ayodhya and a moralist fight back against corruption, by a class that has used and benefited from it, a diversion to what can be a broadest engagement sans systemic change or a power-shift. I remember being told point blank recently that the biggest corruption scandal underway is the sale and privatisation of peoples’ resources and taking away of assets that feed much larger majority than those debating for a particular from of growth.

Populism has mostly been an instrument of tricks than of methods in the political space for moving to a broader support agenda and based on what we have seen so far, AAP will inherit more of the old with an opening of ranks to allow the swell of new urban/middle-class/ groups into its ambit but not the disenfranchised and not the dispossessed.  In case you are wondering who does care among the political parties, the ones with base and electoral traction, about the other India, well that is precisely the point.

The emergence of AAP, its mixed legacy of anti-corruption legislation struggle, its extreme populism and aspirational slogans that promise change will hit the reality of political exigencies, of methods and not just tricks and of balancing a growth agenda with will always be narrow in its current form without a substantive agenda of change.

The search for options in Indian politics has always led us within…as voyeurs of this political change sensation, we must also remember that the adventurists have had a role. And in some ways the history is repeating itself. The space that socialists filled once,  AAP might fill in different times.


Lest we forgot….

These images are a shocking reminder of the violent birth that the two nations had. More than the religion of the dead, the images document death of those who paid the price of a political delineation that the people did not have a say in or had any control over its consequences. This history of our needs to be spoken about, not to dig wounds, to count the cost that poor across the two communities have paid and continue to pay for decisions and politics far removed from them. These records and narrative need to be a part of what we teach in the universities as examples of tragic consequences of a political decision on which foundation of one the largest democracy were laid.

Two distinct points made by an industry federation representative recently about India’s private companies and CSR in the wake of the new companies law are worth mentioning.

The companies are more keen to change the communities closer to where they are located.

This needs to be weighed in the context of global brand outreach and the wider linkage that the communities have with the market. Is it still sensible to look at CSR engagement in the context of a factory or facility setting, because it does have a bearing on what kind of social impact the company has its eyes set on?

A restrictive approach would deliver only a short-term engagement, not a substantial approach to link the community and the company brand to the wider world. It also impacts how the specific work and learning are leveraged.

The second one is about reluctance of the companies to support networks of civil society for capacity building in comparison to directly working with the community. In the current law, the definition of impact is not restricted to numbers of beneficiaries and activities alone, but also to sustainability and long-term changes.
Investing in capacities of civil society organisations and networks to work specifically on leveraging schemes and using CSR support strategically make much more sense. The direct community outreach service should not be the only output as it is sustainable.

My question back to the representative would be: Have we prepared the industry to look at CSR within the larger ecosystem of entitlement schemes? Have we prepared them to look at the stakeholders who work on the same issues? Corporate sector is expected to bring in efficiency and professional management in whatever it does but is that passed on to the current approach to CSR framework.