KICS Manifesto
KICS Manifesto
State and Drought
State and Drought
Solar Feeder
Solar Agriculture Feeders: An Attractive Alternative compared to Solar Pumpsets in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

Knowledge In Civil Society: Shared worldview and role

The Objects of the Trust[1]

1.    To work with organizations devoted to Science and Technology, with special reference to all aspects of agriculture, village industry, environment, health etc. to help usher in a just and equitable society by pooling, documenting and making accessible knowledge derived from the work and experiences of such organizations and from all other relevant sources.

2.    To advance knowledge-dialogues on Science and Technology as the basis for policy formulation by government through pooled and well documented studies.

3.    To encourage various organizations to undertake and carry forward work that would enrich and enhance knowledge that would expand the focus of the objectives of the Trust.


Shared world view


Few points from the KICS Concept note[2].

-       KICS is driven by the need to rein in S&T without being anti-S&T. Modern S&T could be kept on leash by democratizing

-       The role of civil society should be to work to build a polity that is democratic and non-violent, respectful of women and the marginalized, garnering in the process the clout that can keep S&T to be at the service of societies and communities rather than the other way.

-       Alternative knowledge systems should come to their own, represented by, and embedded in, the variety of systems of languages and dialects in India

-       Ecology and environment can be preserved by having a polity with reduction in aggregation that has been the bane of ecological and environmental health all over

-       KICS seeks to help CBOs & NGOs  to explore their ways through facilitative processes.


  1. The three pillars of the shared world-view of KICS are[3]:
    1. Recognition and respect for the plurality of knowledge
    2. Striving for sustainability in the long run from the view point of the majority
    3. Ensuring justice through democratisation
  1. KICS focus is on the lives of the majority, who face economical and social deprivation and our endeavour is to end poverty and impoverishment. Science & Technology (mainstream or traditional or community) has a key role to play in this endeavor, by linking with other dimensions of development - be it economic, social, political or environmental. Its role could be positive or negative. KICS will critique the negative role and promote positive innovations.
  2. Our approach is to empower the people through a process of knowledge dialogue and innovation, towards addressing the problems and managing the resources
  3. KICS promotes a pro-active, multi-dimensional, integrated approach to address issues. KICS considers building bridges very crucial and critical" across experts; across sectors; and also across academic research & the grass roots
  4. KICS is not affiliated to any political party, but is deeply political in its consistent pro-democratic, pro-poor and pro-sustainability position.
  5. KICS will be inclusive to attract multiple thoughts and actors from civil society. We will strive to listen to all who wish to dialogue with us. But when choosing fellow travelers, we will exclude those who do not subscribe to the objectives and shared world view of KICS



Role of KICS


  1. Primary role of a think tank drawing its strength from a network of organisations and individuals
  2. Secondary role of  a facilitator of S&T innovations towards  strengthening people's knowledge; democratising policy & planning; main- streaming innovative pilots, which help to break out of the vicious cycle


/sreekumar n, 10.11.2010/

[1] As mentioned in the KICS Trust deed, 27/08/10

[2] KICS  - A draft concept note, MV Sastri, 17/2/10

[3] Elaborated in ‘Knowledge Swaraj: An Indian Manifesto on Science and Technology', December 2009

Knowledge In Civil Society (KICS)
A Draft Concept Note -II
24th February 2010 - Core Group Meeting

I. Introduction:

KICS has been working for five years now, as an informal convergence of civil society activists and academicians who are interested in the areas of concern to civil society. Occasionally, KICS has been able to draw in other experienced individuals and professional depending on their interests and the issue at hand. During these five years KICS has been mainly holding workshops and sharing sessions in small groups. In between these events, there has been regular exchange of ideas, information, and views, albeit between a few active contributors, via mailing lists. A few research and case studies under different projects have also added a dimension of proactive synthesising of some of the knowledge and experience in civil society. KICS has also been to formulate an Indian manifesto on science and technology following a series of consultations. This manifesto has inspired a few case studies on different sectors that would feed into the draft in the coming months. Some of this knowledge and information have been consolidated through a few publications, films and more recently through the website. So, perhaps there are many who are passive recipients/beneficiaries of this exchange.

Legally, KICS has been functioning as part of CWS. A quick email consultation on this about a year back revealed that most persons wanted KICS to try and have its own legal identity. There were a few who struck a cautionary note to this move. In view of the latter, a firm decision on getting a separate identity for KICS had been postponed. We now feel that we should move ahead with the proposal in such a manner that will take the views of the few ‘cautioners’, and evolve a consensus.


April 2007

The Question of Mandate of KICS


We have to view civil society groups as dynamic bodies. They draw from their own experience, respond to changing environment and develop mechanisms to renew themselves. It is not suggested all civil society groups do this. The nature of the group defines the extent to which it struggles with its tasks, and continuously makes itself relevant.

It is fascinating to reflect on the beginnings of the civil society groups (we are not talking of the humdrum bubbles which appear in big numbers at the drop of a hat and disappear as quickly, but the serious ones, which only concern KICS anyway). I invoke here an expression, which others have been employing, in terms of which the relevant civil society groups mark out themselves : social entrepreneurship. This should mean using opportunities in a given situation to push a community or society beyond what appear its binding invariables. At the inception, often social entrepreneurship is driven by powerful instincts, rather than by full clarity ; what is apparent is more a dynamic of drive, on day one.

During the initial period of the existence of such a civil society group, it is on probation, as it goes through its experimentation, launched within the opportunities available. This is the period when it may not be absolutely clear whether opportunities around which work may be initiated would lead to something fulfilling. Some forays would be unproductive but would nonetheless help define vision, as well as the mandate that would in future settle what falls in the group’s purview, and what, not.

Until that critical time, what is the mandate of the group ? I would say the overall objectives as articulated for a start by the initiators lay down the mandate of the group. A stage of the work would be reached, sooner or later, when the initial enunciations become less important than what experience teaches. I was part of an organization (of importance) which has gone through such a process, and it finally came to a point where it could establish a quasi-juridic group, to which questions whether something would fall within the mandate of the organization or not could be referred, and this group’s findings would be binding (more or less).

In our instant case, when KICS is still going through its probation, the enunciations of the initiators, I submit, would be still important to decide whether something falls within KICS mandate or not. What are these enunciations ? That civil society’s experiments, based on pro-people tilt, could be cobbled into something wholesome that could be an alternative development paradigm ; that advocacy with the state becomes that much more meaningful if what is advocated on behalf of KICS is projected as part of something holistic rather than as a miniscule ; that KICS has to scan, progressively, serious civil society experiments to arrive at this wholesomeness ; that in the interim, KICS should
inform itself on the way policies are formulated by the establishment, examining the strengths and chinks of the establishment ; and that KICS should gear itself to aggressively project its viewpoint to good effect at the opportune moment.

In that sense, policy discussions are very much in the Mandate of KICS. We cannot shut KICS off the policy cogitations of the state while we laboriously complete our scanning of civil society work across the country (or even abroad) to perfect our vision.

Note on KICS
by M.V.Sastri

February 21, 2007

Dear Shambu,

Thank you for sending me Prof. Wiebe’s  December 11, 2006 note again (there is a further note from him ?  Can I have it too ?  But I am penning my response straightaway).

I must say at the outset that I generally agree with the Professor.  I am only elaborating on that further.

What exactly is KICS ?  I am not opening up a whole discussion again, but a few  sentences may be necessary as a backdrop so that the criteria of membership, how open we should be etc. would fit into that :

a) If the state doing only, and all, the correct things, KICS is not needed.
b) Civil Society does several correct things, which are not known to the constituents of  the civil society, nor to the state.  The civil society performer may not even know how to value own work.  Therefore these pieces of work ought to be broadcast, should be in public domain, which is so much easier in this cyber era.  We can have a Website which anyone can access.
c) At the same time, there should not be an avalanche of unordered information in the Website which confuses, instead of enlightening.  The (registered) KICS members have this responsibility (among others) of putting that order in the enormous material we may lay our hands on.  But for this we need proper KICS membership.
d) How do we develop our membership ?  This is the crux of the matter.  The chosen members should have a role in deciding what goes into the public domain through our instrumentality.  They should be knowledgeable in some aspects and be willing to give time for this work (though we should not ask for too much time).   Since KICS is itself an emerging group, anyone making a request to be a member should be made member, and should be retained as a member for two years.  We could also be proactive in developing membership, but no one should be made a member by merely adding to our mailing list hereafter. There should be a simple proforma to be filled by the member candidate (The proforma should not put off anyone !).   The proforma should include our expectations from members (put in gentle terms !).

What could be our expectations from members ?

i) Attend our meetings (not all but atleast some).
ii) Comment on material we consider for Website (not on all material, but atleast some).
iii) Organize meetings on our suggestion or on their own initiative       (in consultation with us).
iv) Suggest what further work needs to be done by civil society at the ground level.

If a member does none of the above in the two year period, we will delete him or her from our membership with a polite letter.

e)Now  who are the “we” who would do that ?  Can we have an Executive Committee of 5 elected by the next General Body meeting ?  Supposing       you and I can consider ourselves competent, as an informal adhoc body, to do all this for now, until we became more formal, does this sound alright ?
f) In the next General Body meeting,  can we also take some steps to ensure that the parking place is not so clearly CWS so that ownership goes more to the generality of civil society groups ?

With warm regards,

Yours sincerely,


Dear Shambu, 11 December 2006

As you know, I lost all emails in the second half of November. But I do remember my promiss to brainstorm with you about additional list- and forum-management options (spurred by our discussion in Hyderabad and Julia’s request to receive the general emails as well as the agricultural ones). I guess that you will discuss these issues with your new “KICS executive committee” — that group seems to have been created for exactly this task...
Here I go — just some thoughts between you and me:
  • should we not distinguish between:
    1. information distribution
    2. discussion participation
    3. management involvement
  • my feeling is that there will probably be an increased security and exclusivity; the latter possibly being handled by only email
  • for information distribution the key question is probably how open and out-going we want to be:
    • primarily sharing information among registered KICS members, however widely defined) (this would imply to work via a listsserv for which one has to register; and then we do need criteria for inclusion)
    • or completely public on the web, without any constraint or control (this would imply a website from which everyone can download)
  • in all cases (listserv and open website) it makes sense to create some sub-categories, as you have started to do: general (or still emmerging) KICS issues, agriculture, water management, handloom, energy, ... My gut feeling is that criteria for inclusion would basically be the same for all categories; that is, people can just choose for one or more of these categories, once they are admitted at all.
  • I find it more difficult to analyse the situation on the 2nd function—discussion participation. While my inclination on the 1st function (information distribution) is to be rather open and out-going, my inclination on the second is to be more restrictive: personally I invest in reading KICS because I am particularly interested in what you, Ramoo or Annapurna, or..., thinks; not in what any guy somewhere in the world argues.
  • I guess the combination of my preferred openness for information distribution and relative closeness of discussion is best implemented by a combination of website and discussion list. It must be technically quite simple, but here stops my hands-on experience.
Now your turn Shambu. In the next step, after your reaction and modifications, we can try to specify criteria for inclusion and specifications for a technical solution.
Sorry that this took me so long; I was overwhelmed by phone calls and appointment as soon as I arrived this morning. Tomorrow I have an interview on national TV about our nanotechnology advice and the government’s reaction...

Best wishes,