Friday, September 24, 2010

Tech protests

Flagging a story in the Economist on Technology and Protest. Digital activism in all its shades.

Clicktavism and how cross-border campaigning for causes is bringing people together.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The right to development

So what you do think about this Indian Express edit?
Right on Rights?

Livemint: Public purpose redefined.

Is development a dirty word? Solution by the judiciary for a governance problem.

Here is a short piece I had written for one of my formal employers, a few years ago:

It is almost natural that policy-making in India is more often than not fraught with complications and contradictions. Why is the Argumentative Indian struggling to articulate, killing himself on expression rather than execution? To attribute this lack of coherence and clarity in policy-making to the sheer diversity in the country is in part explicable.

A scheming minority having vested interests, who claim to be articulating the concerns of a larger majority, is particularly stark in a developing country where nearly half the population is not even aware of their rights, let alone voicing them.

In a society as large as this, to organise a dialogue to arrive a decision based on consensus with the participation of all stakeholders concerned is clearly impossible. To get a rational dialogue flowing, driven by seemingly different and contradictory concerns is a dilemma that is perplexing.

In a milieu like India's where different stakeholders have access to policy-making, there is a tangible benefit of diversity of perspectives the stakeholders carry with them. But just too much time is spent on arriving at a minimum common ground which is necessary as a starting point for participatory policy making.

Further, when complex and controversial issues get engaged through a participatory approach involving stakeholders drawn from widely different backgrounds the process is even more difficult. But given the framework of the law and existing governance systems, little is done as opposed to what can really be done.

In India more so, adding to the confusion are stakeholders in policy-making who may refashion their interests and position them differently for short term gains contrary to the larger common good. In this politics of exclusion, arguments are apriori tuned out.

Formations of cliques in a diverse society is based on differing perceptions of 'value'. To arrive at the lowest common denominator or a representative value for a large group is still possible, despite various differences in cultural sensibilities and sensitivities. But just how much representation is required? And who regulates this representation?

The broader objective of achieving social equity is distant from where policy-makers actually sit and crystallize decisions affecting millions of people. Seldom can the costs of a democracy that a generation has to pay, is offset by the larger social equity met.

While there is no way to quantify the costs of a democracy, there is no shying away from the fact that the pace of growth is reduced while servicing the larger idea of equity. So what is the inflection point, where one has the authority to outweigh moving forward despite limited representation as against maintaining status quo and still not bringing stakeholders into the fold? No easy answers there.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Analyzing the death of a RTI activist

Tehelka probes into the death of RTI activist Amit Jethwa who had filed a PIL against illegal mining near the Gir National Park area in Gujarat.

People like Amit are modern day martyrs, giving up their lives defending the right to know - denied by our very own countrymen. But RTI is a revolution that has been uncapped - never to be contained again.

On National Public Radio - for workers

Stumbled on this nice clip from NPR Music on the eve of Labor Day in the U.S. Mostly music for workers in South America by artists from the region - but relevant world over. Trapped Chilean mine workers - this is for you.

Read a piece from the Guardian on the Chilean government questioning mine owners about the incident.

Protest against rising food prices in Mozambique

Here is an AP story on police firing at a crowd that was protesting against rising food prices in Mozambique.

Have a look at this nice interactive graphic of the Financial Times laying out the recent spike in wheat prices.

Food prices and land grab - beginning of a war?

Sam Kalaynee - Thai journalist in Burma: Obit

Obituary: Sam Kalayanee - an article in The Irrawaddy.

A rare light that shone over the opaque and difficult challenges for democracy that Burma faces.

Here is another link for Burma VJ on youtube - a film that Kalaynee co-produced. Any journalist who has held a camera and shot covertly can feel for the video reporter. The despondency and existential angst of this Burmese reporter, is a question that many of his tribe face the world over. Does it matter?

Hunger-striker dead - protested Chavez land nationalisation.

Read a Reuter's report here on a Venezuelan hunger-striker who protested Hugo Chavez's land nationalization policies. This was compared to Orlando Zapata - a Cuban protestor who died earlier in the year.