Archive for the ‘Rural Development’ Category

e-Learning (8 C’s ) – Shiksha : Education Equity through technology tools

March 12, 2007

“The illerate of the 21 century will not to be those who can not read and write but those who can not learn, unlearn & relearn”- Alvin Toffler  

Dear Friends,  This is a very nice e-Learning Model for facilitating education through technology tool with synergetic efforts of all stakeholders.    CII-Shiksha has created an 8 component model to deliver the program and to ensure a meaningful impact on the teaching-learning process in the schools.The schools put in their efforts by way of three components which are Computers, Connectivity and Commitment. CII-Shiksha provides Content , Coaching and Communication  components – Creativity and Collaboration. components to the program. The outcome of the mutual contribution are the two. 

Pillars of e- Learning 8 Component Model:

  1. Creativity
  2. Communication
  3. Collaborations
  4. Commitment
  5. Computers
  6. Connectivity
  7. Contents
  8. Coaching

Program Details: http://shikshaindia.org/details.html

CII-Shiksha Motto-Five all’s: 

  • Covering all – catering to all categories of academic institutes
  • Open to all – sharing of source code
  • All states
  • All Languages
  • All subjects

 Objective of Shiksha India:

·      To equip schools with Shiksha platform comprising of Content, Coaching and Communication.

·      To develop a network of like minded partners (organisations, institutes and individuals) and facilitate to bring in their expertise to the Shiksha schools, in terms of manpower, resources, projects/programs, etc.

·      To develop a network of schools and provide with a platform to combine their efforts and reach common identified goals without efforts being  duplicated and resources being  wasted.

·      To provide a forum for students and teachers across the country to collaborate, share and showcase their creativity.

·      To  network with other similar initiative and provide special synergies for the schools in the Shiksha network

Source: http://shikshaindia.org/index.html

Ajay Singh Niranjan Email: ajay_uor (at) yahoo (dot) com

********************************************** Knowledge and ignorance are the two unborn ones. One is the ruler and the other, the ruled. Apart from these two, there is another who is also unborn and who is connected with the enjoyer and his enjoyment. And then there is the infinite self, the universal form, who is non-doer. When one knows this triad, one has known Brahman (cosmic consciousness).”- Upanishad

Effective Artciles which align to above article. Kindly link and share your expereince.

——-||||||Effective Quotations by Great Thinker||||||——- 

 Gearge Bernard Shaw:::Mahatma Gandhi ::: Swami VivekanandaPeter F. Drucker :::Warren Bennis ::: Jack Welch

Indian NGOs: Learning to Walk the Line between Social Responsibility and Commercial Success

February 3, 2007

In rain-starved villages in the remote interiors of India where subsistence farming has long been the norm, farmers have been driven to debt and death by the vagaries of the weather. Uncertain monsoons have forced many farmers to choose between migration and abject poverty.

Muniyappa was one such farmer. Maintaining his 1.5 acre banana farm in the rural districts of Bangalore was becoming a struggle, one he was ready to give up for urban life. What changed his mind was a product called KB Drip, an irrigation system that ensured controlled and year-round access to water. The product was developed by IDEI, the New Delhi-based Indian arm of International Development Enterprises, a non-profit in Lakewood, Colorado, that aims to use “market principles” as it works to help rural farm families improve their agricultural productivity.

Sumita Ghose, founder and CEO of Rangsutra, a Gurgaon company that focuses on livelihood issues of rural artisans and farmers, started the company 15 years ago as a non-governmental organization (NGO). But over time, she decided the NGO model didn’t work best for Rangsutra and turned it into a business. Says Ghose: “Ownership is a very big motivating factor, and we decided to start a company with artisans and farmers as shareholders.”

IDEI and Rangsutra are part of a growing breed of nonprofits and other Indian entities working for the underprivileged that have become business-savvy and embraced modern management methods. 

India has always been a fertile ground for social issues of all hues. Its rampant poverty, unemployment, disease and illiteracy have drawn voluntary organizations and financial support from philanthropists, charities and religious trusts.

That old order is changing. Social commitment is no longer the preserve of voluntary workers. Conventional business and management metrics are being bundled into a package with unconventional means of finance to provide unique solutions for large social problems. Knowledge@Wharton spoke to NGOs and their financial sponsors who are making the transition from a “charity mode” to a professionally run model in an attempt to grasp the nature and extent of the changes underway. In the emerging NGO landscape, scale is important and so is sustainability. And both depend on an innovative and steady flow of funds.

IDEI produced a Bollywood-style film to promote the $30 KB Drip and convince farmers about the benefits of drip irrigation. It has so far sold innovative irrigation products to more than 85,000 farmers in India. It is one of the many companies backed by Acumen Fund, a global non-profit venture fund based in
New York City, and part of the Fund’s $1.4 million “water portfolio.” Varun Sahni, the Hyderabad-based country manager of Acumen Fund in India, says his fund chose to back IDEI because, “we look [to support] ventures that are going to have lasting social impact.”

Life as a corporate entity is proving to be more bountiful for Rangsutra. Its artisan shareholders invest an initial Rs. 1,000 each ($22) and have a say in the company’s operations. In its first year (2005-06), Rangsutra managed to break even with revenues of Rs. 26 lakh ($56,500). “We are planning to go over Rs. 1 crore this year ($218,000),” says Sumita.  Rangsutra is supported by Aavishkaar Venture Funds, which is described by its CEO Vineet Rai as a regular commercial fund that “wants to invest in businesses that make money with a social commitment.”

The lines between for-profit and non-profit ventures are beginning to blur. The focus everywhere, not just in
India, is on building sustainable development models. There is also an increasing realization that the traditional models have had a limited impact on the problems they sought to resolve.

A glaring example in India is the education sector. Over the years, there has been sustained government intervention through programs like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (mass literacy movement) that aim to put every child in school. Lots of NGOs have been working in the sector for decades. And even though there are instances of remarkable achievements by individual NGOs, observers say these efforts have yet to translate into a significant nationwide impact.

A survey conducted in 2003 by Pratham, a Mumbai NGO active in the city’s slums and backed by Indian private bank ICICI Bank, is revealing. The survey says the percentage of children in the country who can read nothing and those who can read only the alphabet is about 52%; 40% drop out before completing primary school; and 11% of the children do not enter school. “We realize that a single experiment is not going to make a difference,” says Usha Rane, director-curriculum at Pratham Resource Centre. “At Pratham, we think like the government. We think mass.”

Scale Matters

The majority opinion within the social development sector is that it is not enough to create isolated models of excellence. As Rane explains, “It is necessary to create a mass movement.” Pratham operates out of 14 states. In the 10 years of its existence, it has developed reading and mathematics kits that are being used to teach the basic concepts to unlettered children. Nearly 1.6 lakh children have benefited from the program in the last three years.

Like Pratham, many NGOs are working scale into their operations. Muthu Velayuthan who has been involved with migration and livelihood issues in the villages of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, has set up a rural production and retail network under the brand “Aaharam.” He says that his work in the villages showed him the tremendous potential that is locked up in the Indian rural framework.

He developed Aaharam as a supply network that organizes small self help groups into a federation and links that to a producers’ cooperative. That cooperative in turn processes the agricultural produce into a range of agro products such as spices, pulp and juice. It also retails these in the rural market.

In its first year, Aaharam reached out to 1,000 families and created an inter-state platform of 160 federations. Its current monthly turnover is over Rs. 3 lakh ($6,500), and it is expanding its network of states and federations at great speed. “Our mandate,” says Velayuthan is “to promote traditional markets.”

Aaharam, like several such organizations, walks the line between social responsibility and commercial success. It applies corporate marketing and business strategies to further the interest of a marginalized population. And in the process, it builds economies of scale into its operations.

Devashri Mukherjee, the Mumbai-based director of venture programs at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, a global association of social entrepreneurs based in Arlington, Virginia, points to another example: Nidaan, a company run by Arbind Singh in Bihar. Singh focuses on the very poor and marginalized sections of society in one of India‘s most backward states. He organizes them into co-operatives and links them into a marketing group that not only protects their rights but also guides them to making financially sound decisions with respect to sales and production.

What emerges from these experiences is an innovative chain of scale, professional management and funding support that links these organizations in a web of sustainable growth. Scale increases the bargaining power of groups. A professional management team sharpens focus and enhances efficiency. And finance works in two ways: as a catalyst that helps build the other links in the chain and as a growth pill that creates sustainable models out of small beginnings.

Clicking on the Right Links

Traditionally, fund support has been a key imponderable for NGOs. Since most NGOs were — and many still are — primarily dependent on grants and donations, they faced the constant threat of their money resources drying up.

There are two ways in which the sector is getting around this problem. One is through the well documented rise of micro finance institutions (MFIs). Micro credit has had its successes and failures, but MFIs have helped significantly increase awareness and interest in the rural sector. The other development is the emergence of social venture funds such as Aavishkaar and Acumen and the development of organizations that link donors to NGOs such as Give Foundation of San Jose and Kiva of San Francisco — both are active in
India.

Exploring New Organizational Models

On the one hand, these developments have deepened the financial market for the social sector. On the other, they have forced NGOs to break out of the traditional charity models that they were built upon. Says Vinay Somani who has set up Karmayog, a Mumbai-based B2B for NGOs, “Outside funding agencies bring in best practices, force NGOs to become more transparent and lead the entire sector to a system where self sustainability becomes a specified goal.”

Finance, along with scale and professional management practices, is creating a network of sustainable organizations. The Aaharam network is illustrative. Velayuthan experimented with other forms of social intervention before he decided on a group-based income generation model that according to him “seemed to be the answer to rural poverty and migration issues.”

Velayuthan was not the first to try out this model, but he designed it with commercial and contemporary management practices. He used money from microfinance institutions to set up a company, set specific production and sales targets (for example: the amount of mango pulp to be sold in a month) and ensured that the company scaled up within a given period of time. He also worked to build strong managerial skills among his team by organizing monthly meetings and routine interactions with private industry.

Aaharam’s goal is to address food, nutrition and income security of producers from resource-poor areas. It largely works with rural women, taps into their expertise to make a wide range of agro products, and helps them market these through a company within a specific district or zone. “We wanted to stop migration [out of rural areas], and the only way to do that was to create reliable income sources during lean agricultural months,” says Velayuthan, whose initial funding came from MFIs. “We looked at five broad areas where this expertise could be used, and classified these as neem, tamarind, medicinal plants, traditional crafts and charcoal.”

Velayuthan says he faced his biggest hurdle in setting up the company; next came the first milestone of breaking even. Aaharam charges its members a fee. This serves as working capital for the company. It also seeks out marketing and retail tie-ups that would bring in funds for expansion and business development. It already has a tie-up with the Mumbai-based Parle group for the sale of mango pulp and has recently entered into a contract with Bharat Petroleum for producing fuel pellets from agro-waste.

Aaharam is only one of the instances of the work being done in the rural sector. Says Vineet Rai of Aavishkaar, “The entire rural space has come alive in the past few years. There is a huge pipeline and we can’t respond to all of them.” When he started out in 2002, things were very different. “There were not many projects that we could invest in at the time. We used to get about two applications a month then. We are now getting an application a day.”

Forming Networking Platforms and Communities

Rangsutra is a company that Aavishkaar supports. It has, within a year of being set up, established a small export market and a link with urban retailers such as FABIndia for the linen and hand embroidered clothes it makes. Says Sumita Ghose, “It is a difficult process, but we have learned to get out of the NGO mindset. Managing cash flows was a unique experience, but it has helped us focus and think our strategies through.”

Another example is LabourNet. Run by Solomon J. P., it started out as an organization that looked after the rights of construction workers. It has evolved into a complete database of construction workers in and around Bangalore that links industry and laborers and facilitates training programs targeted at the construction workers. “We charge a fee from the company and the workers. We also offer our services to companies that want to train the workers, and that becomes a steady revenue stream.” LabourNet helps the workers get medical and other workplace benefits and works with the companies to enhance productivity.

The network has tremendous community contact, which opens other doors. LabourNet has won contracts with Bosch to market the latter’s tools to construction workers; with microfinance companies; and with a waterproofing company that wants construction workers to use its products. Says Solomon, “Workers get these products cheap because they are buying in bulk; the water-proofing company benefits as it gets bulk orders, and we get the funds to run our network.”

The Individual Makes Way for the Organization

Most of these organizations are also developing professional management teams to run their daily operations. That is vastly different from the earlier NGO model of centralized decision making that was usually dependent on a charismatic founder or a committed charity organization. This is partly due to the nature of the projects being planned and the increased volume of funds flowing into the sector. Says Varun Sahni of Acumen, “We don’t invest in an individual. We look for an organization.” Acumen representatives are part of the beneficiary organization’s management board and participate in the decision-making.

Professional participation is welcomed by people from within and outside the social sector. Says Karmayog’s Somani, whose portal aims to connect NGOs with those who want to fund, help or seek their help, “We want to ensure that the NGO sector has access to trained and educated professionals.” For instance, Karmayog has been working on civic issues in the city of
Mumbai and has effectively used systematic networking between lawyers, academics and engineers to initiate dialogue between citizens and the local municipal corporation.

Several donor agencies are also driving NGOs to inject professional management approaches. Says Venkat Krishnan of GiveIndia, part of Give Foundation, “For us, the driving force is empowering both NGOs and donors. By allowing NGOs to state what they want support for, we are allowing them to focus on their missions and strategies the way they wish to. And by allowing donors to choose which projects they want to donate to, we are ensuring that there is an automatic ‘market pressure’ to encourage efficiency and effectiveness.”

The Flip Side of Getting Business-like

While these are sound and logical arguments, there is of course a flip side. Professional management, scale and sustainability may well be the way to go for the social sector, but not all socially relevant projects lend themselves to a market-oriented rigor.

India does not have a social security network like many developed countries. It often falls upon the voluntary sector to look after the marginalized sections of society such as abused children and women, the poor, the mentally challenged and other underprivileged sections of society. Funds are hard to come by for these projects as they do not fit the new mold. The challenge going forward is for this segment of the social sector to redefine the rules.

Source : http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/

Learning from Management Guru-Prahalad to Yoga Guru-Ramdev

February 2, 2007

Lessons from Swami Ramdev – – Saurabh N. Saklani

Aspiring entrepreneurs will do well to study yoga guru Swami Ramdev’s meteoric rise and success over the past four years. The swami’s mission statement, if he had one in his organisational plan, would probably read ”to create warriors of yoga and transform India and Indians back to the healthy and spiritual land of old.” Right from his easy to follow pranayam and yoga exercises to his rants against cola and junk food companies, the swami’s actions demonstrate a carefully planned strategy for success.

During my time at The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) in Silicon Valley, I had the opportunity to hear a lot of Professor C. K. Prahalad’s ideas on business and entrepreneurship. His landmark book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid , makes a compelling case for focusing on the world’s poor for the next round of global economic prosperity.

Interestingly, I noticed that many of Professor Prahalad’s key suggestions have been implemented by Swami Ramdev in his phenomenal rise to become a household name in
India (he is in the UK teaching pranayam as I write this article).

I will share some insightful excerpts from Professor Prahalad’s book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits (Pearson Publications 2004) and then look at the relevant aspects of Ramdev’s entrepreneurial strategy within that perspective.

Point 1: Professor C. K. Prahalad writes, “If we stop thinking of the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognising them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers, a whole new world of opportunity will open up.”

Much of Swami Ramdev’s rise has to do with his long-term vision. Right from day one, he did not get influenced by the instant success and fame of other contemporary gurus and preachers who targeted the affluent section of the Indian society. Instead of focusing on the easy pickings—high profile followers such as actors, politicians and businessmen—he entered a significantly larger market by focusing on the economically poorer and resource-constrained masses. Small wonder that a newer and bigger world of opportunity opened up for him rather quickly.

Point 2: Professor Prahalad writes, “What is needed is a better approach to help the poor, an approach that involves partnering with them to innovate and achieve sustainable win–win scenarios where the poor are actively engaged and, at the same time, the companies providing products and services to them are profitable.”

Swami Ramdev has constantly utilised his target segment as partners in innovation, marketing and growth of his organisation. How does he do it?

First, he conducts effectiveness studies during his yoga camps where his staff collects on-the-ground data from participants before, during and after the camp. Given the vast attendance in each of his nearly weekly camps, one can only imagine the volume of data that is collected and analysed. He periodically revises his instructions, based on the results of ongoing research. The way his yoga camps have evolved, it is clear that he has succeeded in simplifying the efforts required to gain maximum benefits from his exercises, with enough room for flexibility and ease of involvement for the average follower.

Second, Swami Ramdev has built some powerful partnerships with various prominent TV channels to broadcast his yoga camps worldwide. During the camps, he routinely asks participants to get up and share their ‘ pranayam success stories’. Inspirational accounts from regular folks—ranging from control of diabetes, normalisation of blood pressure to healthier cholesterol readings and disappearance of joint pains and skin aliments—have proved to be invaluable marketing assets for him. And best of all, they come at no cost!

Point 3: Professor Prahalad writes, “The strength of these innovative approaches, as you will come to appreciate, is that they tend to create opportunities for the poor by offering them choices and encouraging self-esteem.”

This is where Swami Ramdev scores heavily. He has created a great deal of self-esteem among his followers. The common attendee in his programme feels special, interacts and relates to co-followers who are undergoing similar life struggles and aspirations, and gains immense confidence through perceptible and immediate self-development. Ramdev’s lessons in nation building range from fighting corruption to improving our living conditions and are interjected at strategic points during his yoga instructions.

In addition to humour, the swami masterfully conveys a sense of pride and possibility among his listeners. Seeing positive health results makes one feel strong and well- endowed to instill bigger changes in the community and the country. More than the actual realism in these sentiments, it is the message of hope and confidence that creates higher self-esteem and a new found sense of empowerment among the common follower.

Point 4: Professor Prahalad writes, “The traditional approach to creating the capacity to consume among the poor has been to provide the product or service free of charge. This has the feel of philanthropy. As mentioned previously, charity might feel good, but it rarely solves the problem in a scalable and sustainable fashion.”

Swami Ramdev has done no charity. Instead, he has cleverly camouflaged what could have been straightforward ‘pay-per-service’ such as the Art of Living programmes. He charges for attending his camps but only through price discrimination. Those that can pay more are able to get better seats the front. Ramdev’s dynamic revenue management is an interesting adaptation of the pricing model used by airlines worldwide.

Point 5: Professor Prahalad writes, “By focusing on the BOP consumers’ capacity to consume, private-sector businesses can create a new market. The critical requirement is the ability to invent ways that take into account the variability in the cash flows of BOP consumers that makes it difficult for them to access the traditional market for goods and services oriented toward the top of the pyramid.”

Swami Ramdev has indeed created a new market. Or maybe he has simply uncovered a latent one. And yes, he has certainly accounted for the variability in cash flows of his consumers. His masterstroke has been to utilise the masses at the bottom of the income pyramid and unlocking immense value for his own projects and aspirations. By tapping into his follower’s resources based on their comfort level, he is able to secure large collective donations for his gigantic yoga learning retreat in Haridwar.

Not only has he effectively factored the variability in cash flows among his followers, he is also tapping into the more affluent foreign NRI segment at the moment. It is interesting to note that he delayed his global strategy till the time his stronghold in the Indian market became unshakable (as evidenced recently when millions of supporters backed him up amid allegations of the use of human remains in his ayurvedic medicine).

Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Ramdev’s strategy reveals many relevant and powerful lessons for budding entrepreneurs. The list is endless but here are some obvious pointers that one can take home:

Exploring under-served markets; establishing a presence in the large bottom rungs of the pyramid; fostering adoption through awareness, trial, and evidence at a very low cost; maintaining a sharp focus on one’s target segment; saving on marketing and innovations costs by utilising consumers as partners; and going global after ensuring a strong foothold in the domestic market.

Finally, entrepreneurs must embrace the fact that insights and wisdom abound in all areas and are not restricted by domains and industries. In his book, Jack, Straight from the Gut , legendary business leader Jack Welch talks about “boundaryless” sharing of ideas. Since new ideas are the lifeblood of business and success, Welch believes that “The operative assumption today is that someone, somewhere, has a better idea; and the operative compulsion is to find out who has that better idea, learn it, and put it into action – fast.” The not so obvious connect between a yoga guru and a management guru showcases this very powerful weapon that must find a place in the harmoury of entrepreneurs. 

Source: Businessworld 

***********************************************

“All the techniques, all the methods, all the paths of Yoga, are really deeply concerned only with one problem: how to use the mind. Rightly used, mind comes to a point where it becomes no-mind. Wrongly used, mind comes to a point where it is just a chaos, many voices antagonistic to each other, contradictory, confusing, insane”.-OSHO

SWOT MATRIX of INDIA: Analysis of Indian Social- Economic- Political- Technological conditions.

January 31, 2007

Dear Friends,  

There are few questions about our complex & unique system of India. How we can change our system thinking? How we can make a synergetic triangle: Industry-GOI- Institution for co creation of knowledgeable resources for evolution of innovations. 

Root Causes – Why Plans are not execute at the bottom? Constrains – Where are missing link?

Strategy & tactics – What is the action plans? Methods-how these actions plans execute for achieving the end Goal.

Kindly download one page colored framework of SWOT MATRIX of INDIA. URL: syenrgetic-trinangle-industry-government-instituion.docsyenrgetic-trinangle-industry-government-instituion.doc  

SW0T   ANALYSIS:

                  Industry-GOVERNMENT -institution

 STRENGTHS 

  • Highly educated , skilled ,young, capable & dynamic  human resources
  • English speaking & analytical students
  • World class business-social-spiritual –political leader, Professor, scientist, Manager-Doctor-Engineer-Civil servants etc
  • Very rich in  Natural & Living resources
  • Biodiversity & Traditional knowledge base
  • Diversity vs. Ideas-Innovation-Integration
  • Powerful spiritual strength (yoga-Ayurvada-Healing-therapy services)
  • Geographical location (whole markets are shifting toward Asian nations)
  • India Strategic position at various platforms
  • Big democracy, Big market & free media
  • Range of emerging professional champions
  • IT & Software superpower

WEAKNESSES: 

  • Lack of trained & skill work force  
  • Small supply of specialize professional
  • Lack of spirits of entrepreneurship, patriotisms and leadership skill
  • Lack of effective & execution framework
  • Lack of Indian management models
  • Lack of transparency-Trust-Responsibility
  • Lack of learning habits & Team work spirit
  • Fear of sharing knowledge & taking risk
  • Thinking win-lose   lose-win   look-outside
  • Slow absorption of Innovation & change
  • Lack of Indian management models
  • Absence of greater technology impetus
  • Unawareness: Quality-Standardization
  • Lack of Emotional-Spiritual development
  • Rush of getting high marks not Development
  • Blindly respect anything taught by elders

THREATS (Internal & external): 

  • A feeling of unstable government
  • Self centered political leadership
  • Slow & Dysfunctional judiciary and corrupt law enforcers
  • Regulation, protection and restriction
  • Mechanistic -stable-Layered-complex system
  • Corruption, Ignorance & Complacency
  • High competitive & marketing forces
  • To patent Indian intellectual property by outsider (unawareness about own research)
  • Fast change Internet-information technology& new Inventions-Technology-Innovations
  • Diversity vs. Imbalance- clashes
  • Regional-Religion-caste-culture conflicts
  • Migration of all branch to software job
  • Job seeking mind sets, not job creator
  • Unnecessary social pressure on students
  • Excessive rich & powerful mindsets

 OPPORTUNITIES 

  • Big potential market in education Sector & emerging new market Segment in services (create it)   
  • General Agreement of trade on Services
  • Research & Development capability
  • Generate intellectual property
  • Resource Building capacity
  • Competition- cost – Quality service

  • Collaboration : win-win thinking
  • Hybrid solution–balancing & blending
  • Tourism, health sector, food processing
  • Rural economy development & social transformation ( PURA model )
  • Need  modernization of infrastructure , Library and laboratory
  • Internet institute network & e-Library
  • Councilors and student advisors

Key:
India has lots of weakness but this is a space of thinking (new Ideas or new perceptions), understand it as a space of opportunities and transform into strength.  

Note: Please send your suggestions, experiences & questions for improvement of this SWOT MATRIX of India. 

Ajay Singh Niranjan ( ajay_uor@yahoo.com)

Deeshaa – Transforming Rural India

January 29, 2007

Rural Infrastructure and Services Commons

RISC Schematic Presentation

The problem of the economic development of large underdeveloped economies present unique challenges that require innovative solutions. In an age of increasing specialization, there is a critical need for integration to supplement the specialization. Economies are complex, nonlinear systems and just as they cannot be adequately described by partitioning them into subsystems and analyzing them piecemeal, so also their problems cannot be addressed by partial interventions. This is because the subsystems of complex non-linear systems interact strongly with one another, and even the most carefully thought through partial solution often fails to achieve its intended goal.

The aim of RISC is to address the problems of one such complex nonlinear system — the rural Indian economy — and to outline a solution that addresses the problem of economic growth comprehensively by accomplishing a set of interlinked transitions to a more efficient equilibrium. Economic development is multi-faceted — demographic, technological, social, political, military, institutional, informational, ideological, and so on. Given binding resource constraints, the optimal solution requires the power of ideas for it to be feasible.

The RISC Paradigm

The economic development of India’s 600 million strong rural population presents formidable challenges and also great opportunities. An institutional innovation called RISC — Rural Infrastructural & Services Commons — is presented that has the potential for achieving the multi-faceted goals of sustainable economic development.

Fundamentally, the specific market failure that RISC addresses is that of coordination failure. RISC is designed to coordinate the activities of a host of entities—commercial, governmental, NGOs. It synchronizes investment decisions so as to reduce risk. It essentially acts as a catalyst that starts off a virtuous cycle of introducing efficient modern technology to improve productivity that increases incomes and thus the ability of users to pay for the services, and so on. It creates a mechanism that reduces transaction costs and therefore improves the functions of markets.

Revolutions in the information and communications technologies (ICT) have the potential to remove the barriers to information asymmetries that were impeding the working of markets that are critical for economic growth. The forces of globalization have created opportunities for the integration of rural populations in a larger marketplace than was ever available to them before.

Economic development is both the cause and consequence of urbanization. RISC achieves the urbanization of the rural population without requiring the massive and unsustainable rural-urban migration. It brings urbanization to the rural population by making available to them the full set of services and amenities that are normally available only in urban locations. It works within the constraints of limited resources by concentrating them in specific locations to obtain economies of scale, scope, and agglomeration. It helps lift the population out of a development trap by making available to them the benefits of technological advances and the increased access to global markets that globalization promises.

RISC follows the logical trend of moving away from vertically integrated institutions to one of horizontal segmentation and specialization. Thus, conceptually and operationally, a RISC has two levels: the lower one is the infrastructure level (henceforth, the I-level) which consists of power, broadband telecommunications, and the physical plant (building, water, air-conditioning, sanitation, security); and above that the user services level (henceforth, the S-level) which consists of all services that are relevant to rural economic activity such as market making, financial intermediation, education and library, health, social services, governmental services, and so on.

The I-level provides a reliable, standardized, competitively-priced infrastructure platform. This is achieved by the coordinated and cooperative actions of firms that specialize in the component activities. Co-located on the S-level are all kinds of firms that provide user services. The presence of the I-level reduces their costs and therefore the prices that the users face. Economies of scope and agglomeration are obtained by the presence of the variety of different service providers.

Given that rural populations are very poor, it is reasonable to expect that the aggregate demand of a single village for any single service will be very low. However, the aggregate demand for, say, a 100 villages for a single service could be significant. Aggregating the demand for many different kinds of services of the same 100 villages would translate into lot of services. These services would require infrastructural inputs which can be commercially and sustainably supplied. The total rural population of India can be covered by about 6,000 RISCs each servicing the needs of 100,000 people. The economies of scale are obtained by implementing a few thousand RISCs. Access to a RISC for any rural person is only a ‘bicycle commute’ away.

RISC is not an attempt at social engineering through centralized planning. Neither is it another model of Internet kiosk or telecenter. It aims to solve a problem by appealing to the profit motives of all participants, be they private sector, NGOs, or the public sector. The good that will surely come out of it can only be attributed to Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

The foundational idea upon which the proposed solution stands is that of the emergence of complex adaptive behavior from the interaction of agents following simple rules within a sufficiently rich environment. The solution provides a balance between the forces of cooperation and competition, between standardization and specialization, between private and public action, between generalization and particularization, between globalization and localization, between unity and diversity. It is an idea that is at once both blindingly obvious and fleetingly elusive.



Are you interested :Write to us for more information on RISC.

Download the concept paper on RISC.

Join the Deeshaa Community —  /www.deeshaa.org/