KICS Manifesto
KICS Manifesto
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State and Drought
Solar Feeder
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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,