Abstracts to South Asia related papers
Abstracts to South Asia related papers:
A conference on Swedish Development Studies research, named ”Fattiga och rika. Aktuell utvecklingsforskning och dess villkor i Sverige” was organised by Sida/SAREC and Lund University on 9–11 January 2003.
Many of the papers presented at the conference were related to South Asia. Below we publish the abstracts of these. See the separate list of these that SASNET has produced.
Abstract: In my forthcoming doctoral thesis, on which my paper is based, I treat two examples of technology transfer within the iron industry, from Europe to India in the 1860s. In a general sense, it treats crucial questions of the dynamics in technology transfer and the connections between technical changes and economic development. An important aim has also been to reach a deeper understanding of present day problems via a historical study. During a period of big changes within the iron and steel industry in the middle of the nineteenth century, three Swedish engineers were engaged to construct iron works in India. Nils Wilhelm Mitander (*1833, 1903) was employed in the autumn of 1860 by the British colonial government to take charge of the construction of a new iron making establishment on the Narmada river, close to Indore in present day Madhya Pradesh. (Burwai Iron Works in Barwah). Almost at the same time Julius Ramsay (*1827, 1874) and later Carl Gustaf Wittenström (*1831, 1911) were employed by a private company to run and modernise an iron works north of New Delhi on the “slopes of the Himalayas” in present day Uttaranchal (Kumaon Iron Works in Dechauri). The three Swedes had all a thorough education and experience from iron making in Sweden, acquired in the social and professional networks of knowledge of the iron making districts in central Sweden (Bergslagen). The Swedes worked in India for only some few years and big problems were encountered. Still, under their management, substantial new constructions were made and iron was produced. In Barwah even a new plant was built and finished. None of the new plants was though brought all the way to regular and permanent production. In spite of these final results, which might be considered as failures, the projects are important. They were to be two of very few efforts to establish iron production based on modern blast furnace technology in nineteenth century India. Their significance also increases since the period in question, with a focus on 1850-1870, was also an important period in history, during which foundations were laid that still have importance today. An immediate goal for my thesis work has been to establish why the two iron making projects were not finished. My approach has been broad and the perspectives are gradually widened. Starting from a chronological description of the developments at the two sites, past analysis of geographical preconditions, the character of the technology and I move to its relation to social and cultural conditions. In the latter case the study of differences in knowledge and culture – and conflicts – between the Swedish engineers, their British employers and the Indian workers are of special importance. On a last, and in many respects decisive level of analysis, the political economy of colonialism is considered.
Malin Arvidson: Disputing a development discourse: analysis of performance and motivation of local NGOs
Abstract: The paper focuses on local NGOs, chosen as implementing partners in development projects. The discussion has been inspired by a study of the implementation of participation and empowerment strategies in two development projects in Bangladesh. The NGOs here, as in development projects in general, are chosen for their ideological background as well as geographical closeness to the grassroots, hence are believed to be suitable partners in projects emphasising participation and empowerment. The strategies rely highly on implementers having the right attitudes, and on organisations ruled by solidarity and commitment to contribute to the common good. However, concern is being raised about changing characteristics of NGOs. It is often argued that pressure from external actors (donors, governments) have forced NGOs to compromise their valuable characteristics. Such a discussion highlights important processes that contribute to a transformation of NGOs from volontary to more business-like organisations. In this paper however, I wish to bring in a different type of discussion, looking into staff motivation and organisational control from an internal perspective. By complementing previous analysis of changing characteristics of NGOs with perspectives highlighting the inherent difficulties of controlling staff commitment, solidarity and altruism, the paper aims at increasing our understanding of how these organisations work.
Henrik Berglund: The Saffronisation of Civil Society – A Study of Hindu Nationalism and Organisational Life in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Abstract: Organisational life in Varanasi is threatened by political forces mobilising on the basis of caste, ethnicity and religion. The most powerful challenge has been posed by Hindu nationalist forces, strongly supportive of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This challenge presents a problem strongly related to the issues of democratisation and development in the Third World. Every multi-cultural state needs to accomodate conflicting demands from various groups, both constitutionally and in its daily administration, in order to guarantee the respect for democratic rights and to facilitate social and economic development. The Indian solution has been a secular democracy, based on the principle of equal treatment of all religions. The BJP now argues for a Hindu state, with the constitution and the political institutions based on Hindu values and traditions. It is the leading party in the current coalition government, but is severely restrained by its present allies. The party is a two-faced organisation with both democratic and non- democratic features. The riots in Gujarat in March 2002, claiming more than 800 lives, is only one example of how parts of the Hindu nationalist movement use political violence with the intent of demonstrating Hindu supremacy over the national minorities.
This type of violence has been on the agenda of the Hindu nationalist movement ever since its formation, but has been combined with more accepted forms of activities within civil society. The movement has for more than half a century been engaged in social welfare, education, health care etc., and its political wing – the BJP – has generally worked through legal means. The practice of political violence is part of a Hindu nationalist tradition which in the Indian debate is usually labelled "fascist". While encountering stiff resistance from other segments of civil society, the BJP has during its successful campaigns drawn on both its fascist tradition, as well as a democratic practice. The paper analyses how these two traditions are combined and how this Hindu nationalist challenge is met. How are the fascist and the democratic features of Hindu nationalism combined in the BJP's challenge of Indian secular democracy? How do the secular forces of Indian civil society counter this challenge? These processes are studied within two different areas of civil society: The women's movement and the human rights movement.
The issue of a fascist versus a democratic practice will be addressed by drawing on previous research on the ideological aspects of the BJP, and by analysing the interplay between various factions of the Hindu nationalist movement in the local setting. The BJP's definition of the role of women in society differs strongly from that of the mainstream of the women's movement. On the issue of human rights, the party argues for the abolition of some minority rights, and advocates a human rights charter based on Hindu culture and tradition, while its opponents insist on the protection of secular principles. The paper aims to catch these conflicts by analysing the work of women's rights group and human rights organisations outside the Hindu nationalist fold.
Abstract: Social capital has become one of the most popular areas of research in the last decade following the study on Italy by Robert Putnam in 1993. But the theory has also come under severe attack by some scholars. My paper will briefly outline the claims social capital theory makes and address some of the critical points made by e.g. Ben Fine and John Harriss. The paper will also provide some data from the large scale survey the Agora Project did in five states in India to show that social capital matters – not least – for the poor.
Abstract: Good girls do not wear jeans, Hindu religion under threat says seer, MNCs behind proliferation of beauty pageants, Towards cultural fascism, Away with culture police. These are just some of the headlines of the recent years´ heated debates of culture, globalisation and Indian versus Western values. Young women wearing jeans in school, the celebration of Valentine´s day, the spread of beauty contests and ´Hindu-hostile´ film making are some examples of recent practices and events making their way into the Indians´ everyday lives - something which has been both embraced and met with massive protests and agitation. The paper mainly deals with the impact of cultural globalisation and its varied local responses in a particular place, namely (mainly northern) India. The events described will also be used as examples of some of the main discourses of the impact of globalisation, such as homogenisation, westernisation, commodification, hybridisation, resistance and reactivation of what is seen as ´traditional´ and ´Indian´.
Abstract: To claim and to assign rights in land and natural resources is a contested domain characterised by conflicts and negotiation. In India, ever since the British East India Company entered the forest tracts in the early 19th century, they either claimed authority over land by military force or by using law as a means to redefine rights. In south India, the 1830s turned into years of deep conflict over legal rights.
I will argue that in south India the lack of a well-established, centralised state together with the presence of the specific and different interests encompassed by different factions within the East India Company made the settlement of rights in the local contexts more open to negotiation. Further, I will argue that the settlement of rights depended much on the classification of land in combination with the classification of people as communities. A major characteristic of rights in land and resources as they were established by the colonial administration is that they were communal rather than individual, and particular in the sense that certain rights were acknowledged certain groups of people. In this way, ethnography, or Victorian anthropology, came to be a tool of Empire. However, when the British officers negotiated the settlement of such rights they were not negotiated in a completely open agenda but within a discourse where ideas of property dominated.
Finally, when people locally responded to European violations of local norms of land management and control, the response did not come in the form of an open revolt against colonial administration but as various forms of resistance that took on many shapes. As the documentation reveals, the local communities as, for example, the Toda did not act on community-basis, either as Todas or together with other communities as one big, subaltern community against the colonial administration. The documentation rather reveals a situation where resistance was located in kinship-groups and settlements. Further, when people acted to secure the land they once controlled, it turns out they often utilised the legal sphere, for example in petitions to the district or presidency administrations. Hence, they acted in a sphere that was defined and imposed on local society by the colonial power and resistance came to be expressed in the discourse of the dominant. In spite of the uneven power-relations, the outcome was not immediately predetermined.
This work is part of the research project “Claims and Rights: Processes of Negotiation over Nature in India” (Anspråk och rätt: En studie av intressen, aktörer och hävdande av rätt i det koloniala och postkoloniala Indiens skogsområden) financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. It relates closely to the project ”‘Indigeniety’, Rights and the State in Historical Memory and Historical Documentation” financed by Sida/SAREC.
Abstract: The concept of Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) has since the mid 90s gained prominence in several of the large national and international research institutes and NGOs, such as UNDP, CARE, CIDA, and IDS. The SL approach functions both as a conceptual and a programming framework for poverty reduction in a context of sustainability. The intention of the approach is to apply a holistic perspective in the analysis of livelihoods to identify those issues where an intervention could be strategically important, either at the local level or at the policy level. The approach attempts to go beyond the conventional definitions of and approaches to poverty eradication by taking a broader view on poverty and paying more explicit attention to the various factors or processes which either constraint or enhance poor people’s ability to make a living in a socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable manner. The paper explores in what ways the approach is, and can be viewed as a device or concept for a more integrated or holistic approach to rural development issues and poverty. The paper has three main sections. First, an analytic framework for analysis of the function, content and level of knowledge integration is laid out. Second, working papers and other documents from research institutes and NGOs working with the approach, are analysed with respect to the framework. Third, the results of the analysis is discussed. It is shown that despite the holistic ambition of the approach, work is often departmentalised due to practical and theoretical constraints. However, there are also examples of integration taking place, indicating the potential of the SL concept to be used as an holistic device for development and poverty related studies and work.
Abstract: Kerala, a federal state in South India, is a unique location to investigate and deepen the understanding of the relationship between gender and power. The state of Kerala has achieved the highest status of women in India. Despite of this there is a considerable low participation of women in the political sphere and an increase in social problems, such as violence against women, and high suicide level. This questions the liberal assumption that formal equality, in terms of women’s high status, produces changes in the power relations between women and men. This paper discusses this paradox and looks at the two collective actors that are politicising gender relations: the left women’s movement and the autonomous feminist network. Their processes of framing and articulating gendered political discourses reflect the tension and contradictions between identity politics and party politics, between the civil society and the state and between women’s status and power. The study is based on extensive fieldwork and deep interviews with the female leadership of the collective actors in Kerala.
Birgitta Essén: Investing effectively in maternal health. Experiencies from Malaysia and Sri Lanka during 60 years, and Guatemala today
Abstract: Reducing maternal mortality has been one of the major challenges for obstetricians for many years. Of allindicators commonly used to compare levels of development between countries, levels of maternal mortality show widest disparities in health in comparing low- and high-resource countries. The lecture will present results from a research project in Malaysia and Sri Lanka in the area of reproductive health, supported by the World Bank. It shows how low-resource areas have developed effevtive referral systems regarded childbearing women in order to reduce maternal mortality during six decades. The study from a rural area of Guatemala reflects the importance of cultural considerations among the target group when discussing the efficiency of referral systems related to maternal health.
Abstract: Effects of harmful algal blooms are a concern world wide. During the last decades, the Indian west coast has been exposed to extensive fish kill and mussel intoxication with lethal human effects, due to blooms of toxic algae. Normally, microscopic algae are detected and identified by microscopy. This is a time consuming work, requiring an experience executer. We have developed a user-friendly DNA based technique for fast and accurate detection of the planktonic and benthic stages of some toxic and potentially harmful species of microalgae. Species-specific primers were constructed. The designed primers amplified a product of expected size from cultured planktonic cells of the target species, and did not yield any product with a wide range of other algal species used as negative controls. The PCR method for detection and identification of dinoflagellate planktonic cells and cysts from the species was applied on field samples. Water- and undisturbed surface sediment was collected along the southwest coast of India and the west coast of Sweden. DNA extracts from water and sediment including DNA from dinoflagellate planktonic cells and cysts were obtained. All sediment and water samples that contained any of the target species as confirmed by microscopy, were also positive for PCR. Field samples negative for any of the target species by microscopy, were also negative by PCR. Restriction enzyme digestion and/or DNA sequencing confirmed the specificity of all the PCR products from field samples. The yield of DNA from water and sediment extraction was low, and therefore nested PCR was necessary for accurate species-specific detection of the target species in most of the field samples.
Urban Hammar: The Kalachakra Initiations of Dalai Lama and their Significance for the National Consciousness of the Tibetans in Exile.
Abstract: During the last thirty years the present Dalai Lama XIV has given a number of mass initiations in the special form of Tantric Buddhism called Kalachakra "The wheel of time". These initiations have been of great significance for the Tibetans in exile and strengthened their national consciousness. Kalachakra is a very complicated teaching, being a sort of encyclopaedia of the Indian Buddhist knowledge of the 10th/11th century. The teaching was introduced to Tibet in the 1030s and has since been regarded as perhaps the most advanced practice of Tantric Buddhism. The initiations take place during three days with up to one week of preparatory teachings. In this form of Buddhism the emphasis is on practising the thought of enlightenment (bodhicitta) and reaching the goal "nirvana" or "the void" in one life-time. The basic texts of the Kalachakratantra are made up of five chapters. The first chapter daels with the outer world (macrocosmos. The second chapter deals with the inner human world (microcosmos) and the system of the subtle body with its chakras and channels.There is a correspondance between the two worlds. The third chapter deals with the intitiation and I make a description of its different stages, based on a Kalachakra initiation by the Dalai Lama which I attended. In order to reach the state of "supreme unchanging bliss" which is the final goal of Tantric meditation a six-folded system of yoga is used. The aim of the initiation is to give permission to start using these methods. There is an interesting eschatological perspective in these teachings based on the assumption that a future king of Shambhala is going to come and fight the barbarian enemies of Buddhism, which in these texts means the muslims. They were at that time in the process of invading India and destroying the Buddhist culture. One theory of why the Kalachakra teaching was created is that it was an intent to try assemble both Buddhists and Hindus in the defence against these invasions. These Kalachakra initiations have become places for national reunions, apart from their main religious significance. Almost every Tibetan in exile and a number of Tibetans from inside Tibet have now received this initiation from the Dalai Lama. Another reason for giving these teachings is that the world now is supposed to be in danger and the initiations are there to help assemble the forces of good in a world in crisis. The initiations are labelled "Kalachakra for world peace" and there is a strong emphasis on promoting world peace. As a conclusion it can be said that the Kalachakra initiations as given by the Dalai Lama are of great religious significance for the Tibetans in exile, but are also of great poltical significance. They give hope of a better future in an eschatological perspective. After the final battle against the enemies of Buddhism there will appear a sort of golden age, and this hope perhaps also can be experienced as a hope for political liberation.
Abstract: In Varanasi (North India) where many water resources are regarded as holy, the question of water quality is a highly controversial issue with religious and political overtones. This paper discusses some of the common conceptions of water and health, and the reception of health information among inhabitants in an inner city quarter of the city. It also discusses which factors seem to facilitate the reception of health information.
Abstract: Sivakasi looks like any other crowded and busy small town. It is situated 50 miles south-west of Madurai, the South Indian temple city. Yet the town itself and the neighbouring municipal areas of Thiruthangal and Sattur in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu account for the greater part of India's production of matches, fireworks and printed matters, such as posters, show-cards, calendars etc. Growth, whether expressed in volume of production, numbers of firms, employment or sales, has been explosive during the last few decades. Testimonial evidence indicates that there is no unemployment in the region and therefore no beggars. Practically every household, it is claimed, enjoys some form of earned income from the three main industries in the area: match, fireworks and printing. The reverse of the medal, however, is to be found in the poor working conditions, the very low wages and the widespread use of child and female labour. The child labour force in Sivakasi and the surrounding area is estimated at nearly 125 000, perhaps the largest single concentration of child labour in the world. The vast majority of the child labourers in the match industry are girls. They are forced to work in order to earn their livelihood and to save for their dowry. Boys are also employed in the match industry, but most of them work in the fireworks and printing industries as helpers, carriers and so on. The workers are bussed to Sivakasi every day from villages as far as fifty kilometres away. As most of these children have not received primary education they grow up without acquiring any specific skills and end up in low paid jobs. After having married they are forced to send their own children to work. They are thus caught in a vicious circle. The entire household economy revolves around the three industries and there seems to be no escape. In the first part of my paper, I will give an account of the development of the match industry, and to some extent of the related businesses, in the region. By focusing on economic and social factors and entrepreneurship in particular, I will try to explain why a dynamic industrial district has developed in an otherwise backward part of Tamil Nadu. The remainder of the paper will be devoted to a detailed examination of the workers' situation and working conditions. In this context we must consider factors on both demand and supply sides. Why do factory managers prefer to employ women and children? Is it a means of keeping wages down? Could it have been a way of reducing the risk of organised protest? Children in particular are a docile group, not likely to question management's wishes. A common assumption is, moreover, that children are more dextrous than adults and therefore more suitable for the type of work which is required in match manufacture. What evidence is there for this assumption? How important is child labour for the income of working families?
Abstract: This presentation deals with the performance of poverty alleviation projects. It assesses why so many have failed and why successful projects have been successful. A retrospective overview of the development of the concept of poverty shows that we now see it as a more multi-faceted and complex problem than we used to do. Thus, it is argued, the way towards effective poverty eradication goes through holistic, participatory, approaches that build on sharing of knowledge and learning by doing. Projects and programmes should build on the full knowledge of all stakeholders. This way we can create dynamic collaborative environments that build knowledge strategically by developing and applying it as it comes available. It is suggested that common sense and holistic systems thinking are essential starting points for improvements of the quality of decision-making and the learning and innovation in poverty alleviation efforts.
Abstract: Major efforts have been put into the task of providing clean water to people. Well drilling has become a cheap and common technology in the last few decades. A rich flora of handpumps has been developed, tested and ranged in order of reliability. It is nice to note that one of the best, India Mark II, has a Swedish heritage. Child mortility in third world countries has decreased by half in the last tree to four decades. To which extent is improved water supply behind this positive development? Diarrhoeas, respiratory infections, measles and malaria used to be the great killers. The introduction of handpumps can eradicate a parasitic desease like Guinea worm and decrease the incidence of Schistosomiasis and Typhoid. It has however probably not affected the frequency of diarrhoeas in children. There is a long way from the handpump to the mouth. In this gap social interventions are needed. The introduction of sanitation in the form of the technically very simple pit latrines may greatly reduce the incidence of parasitic diseases. The precasting of platforms makes the construction on the site simple. The groundwater quality may under certain circumstances be affected. Presumbably viruses is the main threat. Nitrate that may cause methaemoglobinemia below the age of 6 months is probably a much smaller problem. Here again social intervention promoting breast-feeding is very important. Less commonly is the presence of toxic inorganic substances in water a problem. However, in the cases where this is a natural phenomenon it can have a large spread. One example is the presence of excessive fluoride in East Africa and the Indian peninsula causing dental and skeletal fluorosis. The removal of fluoride has not so far got a technical solution suitable for the rural environment in a developing country. Chemical precipitation is complicated and requires access to electric power and good maintenance. Adsorbing filter have a rather small capacity. Alternative measures like water harvesting has been used successfully in a limited number of cases. Also in this connection social interventions are needed as water is not the only source of fluoride. Such intervetions are practised in India by senior fluoride researchers. A recent problem is the occurrence of arsenic in groundwater in many sedimentary areas, especially in S and SE Asia. About 30 million people are at risk in Bangladesh. This seems largely to be a natural phenomenon and has probably been present in the groundwater for thousands of years. In this case, unfortunately, the wish to give people clean water in the 1970: and 1980:s has meant that millions of wells have been drilled into the toxic groundwater at depths of 20-60 m. In this case there is a posssibility of drilling deeper wells to get good water. This will be exceedingly expensive as millions of wells have to be replaced. Removing the arsenic on the community water supply level is relatively easier than to remove the fluoride. The big problems arise in areas with handpumps. A number of solutions manageable for the individual family is tested now. Such solutions are roof water harvesting and filters of different kinds. The evaluation of these technologies has to be evaluated regarding its socio-economic applicability. Not least must the women have a say as they mostly are the one that has the responsibility for the drinking water supply. New simple technologies in water supply has come forward and meant improvement both what concerns quantity and quality of water. As pointed out above, the technology has to be adapted to the local environment and be accepted and managed locally. Without social interventions the effect on health by improved water supply may have little effect.
Abstract: Afghanistan has extremely low rates of enrolment in modern education. At the same time, the country has a long tradition of Islamic education. This paper describes the development of Islamic and modern education and the conflicts over Islam in modern education. From an educational perspective, three issues have been at core of all insurrections throughout modern history: i) the role of Islam in education, ii) education for girls and iii) governmental control of Islamic education. The government of the 1920s introduced girls' education and also tried to control all forms of Islamic education but met strong resistance; girl schools closed down and the King had to exile. Up to mid-seventies Islamic and modern educational systems lived on side by side, seemingly in peace. Local communities run Islamic education in mosques and madrasas and the government slowly expanded modern education, from the fifties also for girls, and mainly in the cities. Islamic subjects were included also in modern education. During the Communist regime (1978-1992) schools were almost free from Islam. Parents withdrew their children from school. Traditional madrasas continued in local communities. In areas liberated by the mujaheddin primary schools, also for girls, were supported by international NGOs. In the curriculum for primary schools introduced by the Mujaheddin Government (1992-1996) Islamic subjects constituted around 30 percent. Boys and girls returned to schools and still schools were run by NGOs. With the Taliban in power (1996-2201) girls were banned from all education and Islam was made the main subject, covering around 60 per cent of the timetable. However, neither the ban nor the curriculum had serious impact on education in the rural areas of Afghanistan. Mainly NGO supported schools were operating, expanding opportunities for girls and maintaining the 1992 curriculum. The present transitional government (2002) has imposed a new curriculum in which Islamic subjects correspond to 12 per cent. It appears that this measure pleases the international aid community but it is an open question how the Muslim Afghan parents will react.
Jan Magnusson: The Baltistan Movement and the Emergence of Tibetan Identity in the Northern Areas of Pakistan.
Abstract: When you first come to hear about it, it sounds very unlikely: The emergence of Tibetan identity in Baltistan. The region, situated in northeastern Pakistan is completely islamized, and is dominated by Shia muslims. The religious influence in local politics is strong. Local history has also been altered to legitimize muslim decendance and rule. A historical relationship with Ladakh was severed at partition. The wars between India and Pakistan as well as the geopolitical tension between India, Pakistan and China stopped all (legal) cross border interaction. Today the people of Baltistan have forgotten the Ladakhi-Tibetan part of their history and cultural heritage. But at the same time, many of them speak an archaic dialect of Tibetan. As written language, Tibetan has fallen completely out of use. Recently a number of local projects to raise the general awareness among the Balti about their Tibetan heritage have been initiated. Behind them is a small group of mostly young and intellectual Balti men that believe that the survival of the Balti people as a nation is impossible without a union with Ladakh. It is this movement, and particularily its elite, and its purpose to establish a new Tibetan identity for the Baltis that is the subject of my paper.
Abstract: The Maldives like other low-lying areas have been condemned by IPCC to become flooded in 50-100 years. The INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution (the international organisation that hosts the true world specialists on sea level changes) have studied the actual sea level changes in the Maldives and hope to be able to extend the studies to other parts of SE Asia. Our findings reveal that there is no reality behind the scenario of a recent future flooding. The sea level has not been rising in the Maldives in the last centuries and at around 1970 it even experienced a significant lowering. The models of IPCC are simply over-ruled by the theory and observation by sea level specialists within INQUA. We should all be happy about this, one would assume. This is not the case, however. The government of the Maldives has put much prestige in the fear of a future flooding, accusing the west of having caused this situation and demanding them to pay for it. Without a flooding scenario, they now fear that international aid might be cancelled. In this situation, our scientific studies in the Maldives are regarded as anti-governmental and we are now working under very complicated conditions. For the people of the Maldives it is a great relief not to live under a constant threat that all will be gone in one or two generations. For science it is necessary to be able to go on recording the true story and not having to rely on absurd models not anchored in field observations. For a poor country like the Maldives they should always be entitled to become assisted by countries in the west. Furthermore, a coastal like the Maldives is always threatened by coastal events (storms, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc) that may have disastrous effects on a short-term scale. References: Mörner, N.-A. in Integrated Coastal Zone Management , Launch Ed., 17-20 and Second Ed., 33-37 (IPC Publ. Ltd, 2000).
Abstract: Detta paper baserar sig på ett projekt i Sri Lanka där vi studerar regionala skillnader. I jämförelsen behandlas den nationella utvecklingen, exemplifierat med Hambantota och Gampaha distrikten. Detta avses också få en fortsättning i något av de tidigare krigsområdena i öster. Detta specifika paper baserar sig på studier av litteratur, statistik och djupintervjuer i Hambnatota. I studien koncentreras intresset till hur befolkningen uppfattar sin egen situation och sätter denna i elation till vad utveckling innebär. Social service och försörjning utgör centrala tema i studien. Det visar sig att det existerar klara skillnader även inom Hambantota, mellan olika delar och mellan individer. Detta analyseras i detta paper och ställs mot existerande maktstruktur i distriktet.
Camilla Orjuela: Supporting Civil Society to Support Peace: Donors, NGOs and the Quest for Peace in Sri Lanka
Abstract: It is increasingly recognised that civil society has an important role to play in conflict resolution and peace building, by involving and educating grass roots and thus granting legitimacy to top-level peace processes. A growing interest in development assistance to support ‘peace’ (as a prerequisite for ‘development’) has paved the way for an influx of funds to ‘civil society’, chiefly to NGOs doing peace education and campaigning. This paper looks at the case of Sri Lanka, where an ongoing peace process has made donor support for civil society peace work a burning issue. Defining and building up a civil society is not an easy exercise, as a look at the question “What is civil society in Sri Lanka (is it really ‘civil’)?” will reveal. Ethnic divisions within civil society, the obstacles to its functioning (especially in the war zones), and the criticism directed towards foreign funded ‘peace mongers’ are discussed, as are the potential positive effects of civil society work to back peace processes.
Abstract: In rural areas in developing countries, there is a big need of localised alternative energy sources. The most common need is energy for cooking, but electricity generation and heating is also an issue in many countries. In India, the use of animal dung slurries in small-scale anaerobic digesters has proven itself as a simple and still efficient technique for providing households with cooking gas. But, even if all available dung would be utilised, the produced biogas could only cover the cooking needs of one third of India’s rural families. Other feedstocks are of course available, if considering the large amounts of plant biomass produced every year, especially in tropical and sub-tropical countries. In India an estimated 1 130 million tons per year is produced, dry weight, consisting of leaf litter, terrestrial and aquatic weeds and crop residues from agriculture. But, the slurry-type digesters are not suited for these feedstocks, because of incompatible reactor and process design (narrow inlet and outlet pipes, problems with crust and scum formation leading to lower maximum loading rates and poor decomposition). Switching to high-solids digestion or so called dry digestion would alleviate a lot of the problems inherent with slurry digestion. Alas, most of the dry anaerobic digestion technology developed to date are for larger scale applications, and not economically feasible in the small scale systems needed in developing countries. Also, if considering countries with a more temperate climate, it is necessary to find ways to adapt the digestion process to run at low temperatures, i e 10-25 degrees Celcius, since decreases in scale invariably lead to increased heat losses, thus risking the overall process economy. In Southern Sweden the Agrigas project is working with agricultural crop residues, mostly beet tops, wheat straw and ley crops. The reactor systems range between 1-350 cubic metres, encompassing small-scale to farm-scale level. Three of our main themes are novel reactor design aiming at high-solids digestion, cold-adaptation of the anaerobic microbiological consortia, and development of a low pressure gas scrubber suitable for small-scale applications. Increasing the solids content in the digester up to 25-45% effectively lowers the free liquid content, thus avoiding the crust formation inherent with slurry digestion, and making it harder for scum to form and propagate. The most simple reactor design tested so far is a column type single stage digester, with recirculation of leachate to the top, where also the biomass is fed in. The biomass is fed in a semi-batchwise manner, but emptied out batchwise. Feedstocks with a rigid structure and low biodegradability, e g wheat straw, is put in the bottom as a bed material for the slow-growing acetogens and methanogens. Using organic, biodegradable supports turns out to be beneficial compared to ordinary inorganic ones, since the vulnerable microorganisms under these living conditions seem to be able to sustain much larger fluxes in volatile fatty acids concentrations, temperatures and liquid flows. This means that it is possible to feed the reactor with quite high batch loads at a low frequency, maybe once or twice a week, and that recirculation of leachate is not needed more than maybe once or twice a day. The resulting weekly maintenance requirement is thus low, even if all operation is done by manual labor. A second, more sophisticated and capital intensive reactor design involves a moving instead of a fixed bed, using screw conveyors for stirring, feeding and digestate outtake. This system is yet only tested in laboratory-scale, but is a promising candidate for a high-rate small-scale digestion system. Adaptation of the digestion process to temperatures between 10 and 25 degrees Celcius may be worthwhile as the loss in gas production rate is compensated by a lowered or completely avoided need for process heating. Especially for easily degradable substrates the yield per amount of substrate is less affected by the lower temperature. Also, the methane content of the biogas increases, due to the higher solubility of carbon dioxide in the process liquid at lower temperatures. In fixed bed applications, slow-growing microorganisms are retained in the reactor by using feedstocks like straw as carrier material, and the higher density of microorganisms may make up for the lower activity of the microorganisms. Gas scrubbing technology of today often uses high pressure to remove the carbon dioxide, but that requires expensive technical equipment, and an additional methane recovery step, since methane also dissolves to a certain degree under high pressure. In small-scale, it’s not so important to have a continuous process, so scrubbing the gas in a batchwise manner at lower pressures could represent a much more simple and economical alternative. Pilot-scale trials with such a system will start this winter.
Abstract: Overpopulation and intensive utilization of land has led to loss of soil productivity and poverty in many areas around the world. When vegetation is lost the soil will be much more prune to erosion and it is essential to establish new vegetation in such areas in order to inhibit further soil loss and ultimately restore the productivity of the soil. Most plants forms symbiosis with microorgansims to obtain nutrients from the soil. Leguminous plants forms symbiosis with soil bacteria (Rhizobium) to obtain nitrogen and many plants form symbiosis with mycorrhizal fungi to obtain phosphorus and other mineral nutrients from the soil. Mycorrhizal hyphae have also been found to be important to improve the structure of the soil, which is essential to reduce soil erosion. The aim of the present project is to create favourable conditions for mycorrhizal fungi in sites with degraded soil in north Africa (Tunisia) and South-East Asia (Nepal). Field experiments are being established in these areas to find suitable plant species and suitable mycorrhizal fungi to establish new vegetation in degraded soils. One such site is Bou Hedma national park in central Tunisia were Acacia tortillis is growing naturally and forms a savannah forest at the border of the Sahara desert. The species is very important for local people since it produce fodder and fuel wood as well as binding the soil and reduce the spread of the desert. In these savannah forest we have established a field experiment were we are studying the influence of locally produced compost material on the growth of mycorrhizal hyphae. The aim is to develop better methods for establish new Acacia trees in this area were the plantation success today is very poor. Similar experiments are planned in Nepal but these have not started yet due to unstable political conditions in Nepal.
Sten Widmalm: Prerequisites for decentralisation - Health, Education and Panchayati Raj reforms in India
Abstract: The success and failure of decentralisation reforms are studied in two states in India: Madhya Pradesh and Kerala. Using quantitative and qualitative data, the ongoing Panchayati Raj reforms, and their influence on the effectiveness and the degrees of corruption in the health and education sectors, are in focus. The paper presents the preliminary results from a research project that is supported by Sida/Sarec and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Uppsala University.
Abstract: This is a doctoral project, in which I have studied three unions of working children in India. The unions are Bhima Sangha, Yelenakshatra and Hasiru Sangha, all operating in Bangalore, Karnataka. My main question has been whether these unions have succeeded in creating more social space for the mobilised children to act in order to improve their situation. I have further been looking at who are the ones that are organising? What are their goals and what kind of strategies do they use to achieve these? What kind of networks do they create and how do they make use of these? What is the character of the co-operation between adults and children? The analysis is based on theories of social mobilisation and children s participation. Children s rights according to UN convention 1989 and how to interpret these, will be central aspects.
Abstract: I want to present an alternative approach in the discourse of nonviolent action studies, dominated by the sociologist Gene Sharp (1973) and the “technique approach” (McCarthy, Ackerman & Kruegler). In nonviolent action studies social movements which use non-armed forms of struggle in order to effect social change is the object of exploration. It is an interdisciplinary field of academics, consisting of researchers from sociology, international relations, state politics, feminism, peace research etc. Instead of focusing on the ideals or argumentative logic of nonviolence like the literature before 1973 – and instead of focusing on showing the strategic effectiveness of possible nonviolent struggle techniques like Sharp et al; a social constructivist approach would focus on the construction of nonviolent resistance as a complex and dynamic social process. One research direction would be to focus on the problematic construction of a “movement culture of nonviolent action”. The proposal would be that the social construction of personal habits into a functional institutional system where nonviolent action is embedded in a movement culture would make nonviolent action sustainable. The movement culture of nonviolent action is a nonviolent society grounded inside a dominating social system, yet moving against it by socially sustaining critical action. It is about a new kind of society opposing the existing one by being situated in the middle of it. This kind of movement culture of nonviolent action is about living the revolution, not simply individually as a life-style as a self-betterment, but collectively as in the constructive program which Gandhi emphasised but which Sharp neglects in his focus on technique. This movement culture is not about alternative living as creating something better for us who are able, but a confrontative society which confronts by living other values on the sites which belongs to the dominating system. This movement culture is not about proposing or protesting in a liberal sense of free speech and opinion making but about enacting and living the proposed life by constructing it. It is the social materialisation of values and ideals of social change. And this process is problematic and multidimensional, a lot of things need to function together as a whole, and it needs to be dynamic in its expansion. Since a lot might get wrong, and lead to the impossibility so sustain nonviolent action during time and reactions of opponents, there is a lot to understand and study. Basically, what makes the movement culture of nonviolent action possible among the landless movement in Brazil, but not in the environmental movement of Norway? What aspects of social life need to interact creatively in order to make this confrontative society sustainable? This is surely not only a matter of effective resource management, but as well a matter of creating social solidarity and integration in a situation when both tempting offers and frightening reactions of the dominating system risks to tear apart the social solidarity on which any wise strategy builds. A social constructivist approach would try to understand what makes the unthinkable – nonviolent and persistent resistance against violence and oppression – intellectually thinkable AND social sustainable. What makes nonviolent action to become a part of a movement’s culture, a part of people’s habits? What makes nonviolent action become natural and integrated into social life, and not an extra ordinary idea of strategic thinkers developed in isolation in a planning centre shouting out their advice/command into a deaf desert.