Vol-CI : October 1, 2012

Dear Colleagues

Hope you all are well; here is another set of for your perusal.

1. It has generally been said that globalisation in the last two decades has led to globalisation of elites across north-south divide. The continuity of neo-liberal macro-economic model owes a great deal to ‘circulation of elite economists’ too. The former Chief Economic Advisor to IMF Dr RaghuramRajan has become Chief Economic Advisor to the Finance Minister of India. His predecessor former Chief Economic Advisor in India Dr KaushikBasuhas now become Chief Economic Advisor in the World Bank. In the meanwhile, remember that both Dr Man Mohan Singh, the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Dy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India have served years in the World Bank earlier.

2.  The new season of the famous TV show ‘Who will be a Millionaire’ in India (‘KaunBanegaCrorepati-KBC’) opens up with the most famous Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachhan as the anchor, narrating a poem on the ‘virtues’ of knowledge. After 30 years of its existence, the core message of PRIA—‘knowledge is power’—has finally received visibility and recognition in this show! KBC show now certifies that ‘only knowledge will take you successfully through the journey of life’; aren’t we in PRIA truly thrilled now?

3.  A major road-show of a dozen EU countries is doing the rounds of a dozen cities around India this month; their mission? To search for partners for innovative research in ‘science and technology’(S&T) from Indian academia and scholars. The main themes of S&T are the ‘usual suspects’—biotechnology, nanotechnology, pharmaceutical, aviation, nuclear energy. It is clear that European S&T establishment is in search of inexpensive Indian scientists and laboratories to do research in those fields which can yield patents and commercial profits. Why is EU not supporting a programme in India on ‘Citizens and Science’, where scientists and citizens dialogue about research priorities (as it funds such programmes within the EU)? Are Indian citizens not quite up to the mark for such dialogues?

4.  Around 2000, most active and dominant segments of Cambodian civil society were international NGOs. That situation has only marginalised changed in the past 12 years. Rapid economic growth in Cambodia, as elsewhere in Asia, is being promoted through large-scale mining and logging companies with national and trans-national stakes. This ‘land grab’, and its consequent displacement, is being resisted by the people in many rural areas. Civil society actions to support people’s struggles are few and far between; the political authoritarianism makes alliances rather difficult. Media’s voice is also silenced, as is evident from the recent murder of a fearless journalist Odom. The solidarity of pan-Asian civil society is much weaker today?

5. In this era of contestations and conflicts, the resilience of state and its institutions are deeply challenged in a democracy. Indian democracy, like its other counterparts, is also facing numerous challenges. Leadership in democratic governance requires attention to a myriad stake-holders. Hence, civil services play a crucial role in ensuring democratic governance, even when political leadership does not. Yet, politics does constrain civil services in today’s world. Much administrative reforms and effective devolution of resources and authority depends on leadership of civil services in countries like India. Not enough attention to leadership requirements and challenges in civil services has been paid in research and training programmes. While the world is in search of visionaries, day-to-day affairs of governance could considerably improve with bridging leadership in civil services?

All the best

Rajesh Tandon