Sharing Session 27: Suicides and the Predicament of Rural India

Public Lecture By: Dr. A R Vasavi

{youtube}4LFGlKQE1fQ {/youtube}Why has rural, agrarian India turned into killing fields? Why are agriculturists resorting to suicide? What is the social and political significance of such deaths? These are the key questions that Dr AR Vasavi seeks to answer in her latest book “Shadow Spaces: Suicides and the Predicament of Rural India” as a way to understand the spate of suicides since 1997 by agriculturists.

KICS Sharing Session #26
The Looming Energy Crisis and Agriculture:
Who will feed India when the sun sets on oil?

Date and Time: Thursday, October 20, 2011, 0430 – 0600 PM
Venue: Conference Hall, Centre for World Solidarity (CWS), Street No.1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
Facilitator: Steve Hallet (ppt)
Moderator: Sreekumar N

There have been recurring fears that the global population is becoming too large to feed and that we should expect widespread famine. Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 The Population Bomb predicted widespread food shortages in India in the 1970s and 1980s. These predictions proved false and India’s food production increased dramatically through the years of the Green Revolution. India has grown  in many other ways since this time, its economy has been one of the fastest growing in the world over the last quarter century, and India has become a major global economic hub. But the news is not all good. Economic and agricultural growth have been matched by population growth and the accelerated extraction of natural resources.

Many of the challenges that India faces are mirrored around the world, and are linked to emerging global crises. Paramount among these is access to energy resources. The whole world faces the imminent decline of oil, natural gas and coal resources, but India is particularly vulnerable. Oil supplies in India are woefully inadequate, and India already imports the lion’s share of its oil. Natural gas is somewhat more abundant in India, but India has already begun to import natural gas as well. Coal is the mainstay of India’s energy portfolio, but even coal resources are becoming depleted. What will India do to generate its energy needs as fossil fuels go into decline? Some of the biggest challenges will be in agriculture. High yielding cereals are dependent upon gargantuan supplies of fossil fuels: diesel for tractors; natural gas for fertilizer.

How will Indian agriculture fare through the coming energy crisis? I know this sounds like the bleating of yet another Ehrlich or Malthus coming to cry “wolf!”  We have heard all this before: I know. But, the fable of the little boy who cried wolf always ends the same way: the wolf always shows up in the end. India, once again, faces an uncertain future.  How will it respond?

Steve Hallett studied at Lancaster University, UK. His career took him to McGill University, Canada and the University of Queensland, Australia. He is currently Associate Professor of Botany at Purdue University, USA. Steve’s main areas of research activity have been in weed science and sustainable agriculture, and he has published more than forty peer reviewed articles and book chapters in these areas. His project work has taken him to China, Central America and a number of countries in Africa. More recently, he has delved into studying the confluence of energy and agriculture issues and is the author of the recent book “Life without Oil: Why we must Shift to a New Energy Future” (Prometheus Books).  Steve will leave you deeply concerned about the inevitable changes coming to global agriculture, but most importantly, he will provide new insights into the changes that are necessary to make the world a better place.

Sharing Session#  25: "Producing Under-nutrition" by Dr. Veena Shatrugna

on June 18th, 2011 @ 4:30 PM

Conference Hall, Centre for World Solidarity (CWS),

Street No.1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad

The nutritional status of the poor in India maybe described as alarming. Most of the indicators of nutrition status such as adult weights, heights BMI, percentage of children who are severely malnourished, mean birth weights, infant mortality rates, dietary intakes and unacknowledged starvation deaths confirm this fact.  Hunger is as widespread as it is invisible to the scientific eye.  The question that must be asked is how did India get into this trap of under nutrition with such serious consequences?


Sharing Session - 24

Kisan Swaraj Yatra


Starting on Gandhi Jayanti in 2010, nearly 220 people went around the country for 71 days, on a "Kisan Swaraj Yatra" which tried to draw fresh attention to the continuing agrarian crisis in the country and to highlight solutions as well as to put forward some demands to the government on behalf of our anna daatas. This Kisan Swaraj Yatra, which culminated in Rajghat on December 11th 2010 had 'FOOD, FARMERS & FREEDOM' as its main theme and was organised by a loose coalition of more than 400 organisations around 20 states of India called Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).


In this session, the facilitators shared their experiences from Kisan Swaraj Yatra along with the main demands in the Kisan Swaraj Policy that ASHA has evolved. This was be followed by a discussion. The session was held on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at the Conference Hall, Centre for World Solidarity (CWS), Secunderabad. The facilitators were Kavita Kuruganti (Convenor ASHA), supported by Ramanjaneyulu (Centre for Sustainable Agriculture) and Kiran Vissa (Association for India's Development)

A report of the sharing session can be downloaded here.


with Ranjeet Ranade & Bablu Ganguly

CREAM is a  barefoot management course for grassroots level entrepreneurship managers.  A group of mainstream managers have got together and devised a field based management course for people from NGO and CBOs. The course was crafted such that certain basic knowledge from the mainstream is adapted culturally and organizationally to suit the NGO and CBO environment, and ethos.  Two years and several graduates after, Ranjeet will share with us the knowledges and learnings of the CREAM experience.  Bablu from Timbaktu took a hard look at three decades of his activism and nature work, and went into Timbaktu Organics full steam to test his dream of a strong local and decentralised economics.

The genesis of CREAM is from the thoughts of Bablu Ganguly of Timbaktu Collective which were on these lines – “The people we work with should participate in larger markets and they should do so from a position of strength. We must work on equipping them with skills and knowledge to do so…”

Rural attitude towards entrepreneurship is changing in a positive way. NGOs want to encourage the population they serve to take on livelihood (business-like) initiatives. But people involved in these initiatives often don’t know how to own, start, and manage a business. Supply can’t handle these challenges as the standard MBA is high cost, elitist and hence beyond access for this population. The current scope of Bachelor of Commerce and other degrees don’t address their needs. CREAM (Course in Rural Entrepreneurship, Administration and Management) attempts to fill this gap between the demand and the supply.

CREAM is a travelling program which is spanned over 6 months with 5 days of teaching every month. The delivery is bilingual (English and the local language) and the coverage does the balancing act between breadth and depth of a number of business management areas such as finance, sales & marketing, operations etc.

The first program and was conducted in Andhra Pradesh from June 2009 to December 2009. There were 18 participants which had business managers managing businesses initiated by NGOs. The second program was run in Kerala for its state government poverty eradication mission (Kudumbashree). The objective was to train 30 micro-enterprise consultants who in turn are providing business consulting services to 15,000 micro-enterprises started with the help of Kudumbashree. The next program was for Vikas Bazar Network which is a network of 15 or so organizations in the state of Jharkhand. Their work is in the field of providing market-based intervention. The focus of this program was to cover basic business functions as well as basic project management processes such as planning, monitoring, and risk management.

Unediting transcript of the Sharing Session is here.

Short film on the Certificate in Rural Enterprise Administration & Management course offered