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Development Serving the Global Common Good

Civil Society Dialogue Forum for South Asia


Mumbai, 22 26 September 2014

DAY 1- 22/09/2014
The civil society dialogue forum in South Asia on, Development serving the global common
good, commenced on the 22nd September 2014. The South Asian dialogue forum held in
Mumbai was third in the series of six regional civil society dialogue forums. First being held in
Lima, Peru and second in Malmesbury, South Africa. This dialogue forum was organized by, The
Xavier Institute of Social Research & Action (XISR; Mumbai, India) with MISEREOR (Aachen,
Germany) and the Institute for Social and Development Studies (IGP; Munich, Germany) in
Mumbai.
The session began with introduction of the participants present from different countries of the
South Asian region, followed by a brief presentation by George Stoll highlighting the genesis,
framework, objective and general structure of this project. The main purpose of the project being
to promote a shared vision of, a global common good, reconcile development with the progress
of the poor, questioning the conception of development understood as material progress alone
and understanding the civil societys conception of a good life, among others.
The following session began with group discussions. The participants groups reflected on the
questions of, what constitutes a good life. (As development was understood as peoples
aspiration for a good life) What are the factors that help or hinder people in pursuing a good life?
A few things that emerged from the group discussion were:
The idea of a good life is a subjective and a relative concept. Conception of a good life however
necessitates that individuals at least have access to basic resources, socio-economic-Political
Rights, equal access to life enhancing opportunities, personal autonomy among other things.
Groups in general also emphasized on how a number of agents/agency in society shapes the very
idea of a good life for individuals and community. Media, various processes of socialization have

projected good life as more and more capital accumulation, resulting in increased consumption
of goods and services often which are not essential but projected indispensable for a living. This
conception of a good life understood as material ownership is not just popular but equally
problematic often promoted by the media and corporate nexus. Furthermore this conception of
good life is neither sustainable ecologically (Depletion of resources, increase in carbon and GHG
emissions, climate change) or socially (as a few sections were completely left out from this
model of development). Questions were raised as to, how much is enough? Should the
Government through laws regulate the consumption habits of individuals to offset the negative
impacts (Ex: Making fuel or cars expensive) or should there be conscious voluntary effort on the
part of the individuals? Or maybe a combination of the two would help? Some argued that
government regulation would not be effective as that would go against the individual autonomy
or choice most liberal democracies of the world guarantee their citizens. All the more those
people in emerging economies which have just got a taste of good life may not tolerate such
external interventions.
There were two field trips organized in order to gauge what constitutes peoples aspirations of a
good life. To that effect the first field trip was organized in a village at the foothill of Elephanta
caves.
DAY 2 23/09/2014
Field Trip I Elephanta
Approximately 200 families lived in these villages, mainly belonging to the Agri-Koli
(Fisherfolk) community which fall in other backward castes category (OBC) in Maharashtra
State, the broad observationand participants reflections were:
Tourism- It is the only source of income for most of the inhabitants. There are many who are
engaged in a traditional occupation of Doli carriers. The doliwallahs ferry tourists up the hill
(to the caves which are situated about 150 steps from ground). Generations are trapped in this
rather inhuman profession due to lack of alternative employment. The income sources almost
freeze during the monsoon as the island is closed for tourists. Participants added that the idea of
Tourism or Heritage site needs to be understood in a holistic way. Conserving heritage site

means, not just protecting the caves or architecture but the surrounding nature, people and their
livelihood.
Access to drinking water - The drinking water is available at the caves (about 120 steps above
ground level). Women do the hard work of carrying utensils to and fro. Moreover, there are legal
snags to any development in the caves in order to pull water downhill as it is an archeological
heritage site.
Electricity - The Island, which is an hour away from the Mumbai city, gets only three hours of
power supply each day i.e. 7pm to 10 pm while the city of Mumbai enjoys a 24-hour power
supply and has not seen power cuts in the recent past except one or two occasions.
Agriculture - It is not practiced due to two main reasons. Firstly, the villagers claim that they
are unable to bear input costs as they are very high owing to the fact that the island is cut off
from the mainland. Apart from this, the rising monkey population makes it difficult to protect
and preserve standing crops.
Education There is one Public school for the children till standard 10thin the village. As such
locals had no complaints regarding the schools or its administration. The youth generally
dropped out of school after 10th, for others with resources, they went to the cities to pursue
higher education.
Health There is not a single primary health clinic (PHC) in the village. There have been
instances of fatalities because snake bite and a case of pregnant women having delivered in the
ferry en-route to city hospital however the local administration has still not set up a PHC.
Political Culture - People here lack political agency simply because they are a small
population and does not really influence the arithmetic of democracy, in other words, they are
not a, vote bank. Also, the local leadership has not been very actively involved in addressing
grievances of the locals. Yet there is heavy dependence on the state for development.
Furthermore when locals were asked why they do not agitate for their demands of healthcare or
electricity they were apprehensive of such a move and feared consequences as they would still
continue to live in same village alongside the village head.

Waste Management The place was littered with plastic and other debris. The locals had not
taken any initiative to address the issue of litter or garbage. Participants emphasized on the need
on zero-waste policy to reduce the garbage. Other inputs included, educating locals with various
ways of disposing garbage other than burning.
Other ObservationsIt was observed that locals lacked creative and strong community
initiatives; it is a resilient community but seems content with their way of life. The potential of
Forest as a vital resource has not been explored. Fishing is not an occupation but majorly an
activity for personal household consumption. A positive observation being there were no children
employed in any shop, dolis or other work.
Prof George Stoll post the above deliberation and discussion gave a brief presentation of global
trends observed on account of the present development model. With that he left the participants
to contemplate over the question of, what is the way forward for development?Is it - global
welfare or global sustainability? What this challenge means for South Asia? How can these
countries overcome the challenges and achieve social justice along with Human development?
A few things that emerged after participants dialogue were:
Shift of focus from welfare to well-being Well-being of an individual or community should be
at the heart of the development agenda.
Re-visioning of Banking and contemporary business model: These need to be radically
redefined. Efforts to move from joint stock system to a co-operative system in stock holding of
Business was proposed, so as to usher in economic equity and thereby blur the lines of
organization head, employees and staff. The present business model being production oriented is
producing more than what is required without considering the ecological fall-out of the same, the
resource-intensive practices is resulting in extraction of natural resources an at unprecedented
speed, this excessive extraction of both renewable and non-renewable resources is resulting in
increased ecological footprint and other adverse impacts.
Education- Socially conscious policies, business model will emerge when education is multidisciplinary. Management, sciences disciplines need to be integrated with studies of social
sciences, humanities, literature and ethics. Strong case was made for not just technocrats but

socially conscious managers and administrators. Other pressing issue being that of
commercialization of education, popularity of private education to that Public Schools.
Nation- states need to come together- Regional Coalition of governments to address the
challenge at regional level was proposed.
New indices to measure development: From GDP as indicator of growth to other indicators
which take into consideration income along with quality of human life. Not necessary to limit to
only those indicators that could be quantified. Importantly, bringing in ecology, community at the
heart of re-conceptualizing development.
Redefine meaning of, capital and de-glamorize materialism
Role of Faith based organization is immense in South Asia.
DAY 3 - 24/09/2014
The session started off with the discussion on changing the dominant discourse of development
which lays emphasis on economic growth. A more holistic model should be developed focusing
on qualitative aspects than quantitative ones. Also, the economic development model is centered
around efficiency and delivery often compromising on and ignoring social equity.
The private is efficient doctrine has led to overt privatization and subsequent commercialization
of basic needs and services like education, housing, health etc. which has left out a large number
of people who cannot afford them.
In recent times, we have observed state governments fascination, at times, obsession with the
idea of national security which is required to be shifted onto more significant and critical ideas of
human security and food security.
The concept of democracy needs to be re-conceptualized and revitalized because of certain
autocratic tendencies embedded within it. Formulation of development plans and policies in a
democracy usually takes place at higher echelons with a strong emphasis on centralized planning
mechanisms and is frequently void of local participation. Moreover, there is an inherent
drawback of democracy wherein the majority over rules the minority, hence, alternative model of
development pursued by a minority is simply not taken account of or at times suppressed by the

majority (the proponents and supporters of economic model of development). But at the same
time, participants more or less agreed that central democratic polity should still be the final
decision making authority citing that the NGOs and CSOs are mostly elite formations and should
not be in deciding positions.
The subsequent question of how do we change is equally important. During the sessions certain
key arguments emerged. One of them was that, how do we identify ourselves? Self-identity
needs to be broadened and integrated through education.It is extremely important to bring about
certain changes to the currently dominant model of development.
In a more practicable approach, different indicators/indices like ecological footprints, genie
disparity, Human Development Index (HDI) etc. can be added to the GDP.There was emphasis
on increased developing a mechanism for ensuring transparency and accountability of the
activities of states, corporations, NGOs, CSOs and other stake holders. Radical reforms to
regulate private businesses and corporate need to be instituted as the concept of Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) alone cannot serve the purpose. Corporate reforms in order to make worker
stakeholders was proposed. Also, New experiments in financial lending, with a change in interest
based lending model needs to be explored. The prevalent electoral system, first-past poll system
needs to be challenged on account of its glaring draw-backs and fair alternative to it needs to be
brought in place.
Field Trip II - Uttan, Gorai
Uttan is a coastal town located to the north of Mumbai in Thane district of Maharashtra. The
coastal town comes under the jurisdiction of Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation. However,
a part of its jurisdiction is handed over to the Mumbai Metropolitan Development Authority.
Locals here are at loggerheads with the MMRDA over the issue of grand tourism plans laid down
by the latter. They (the locals) feel that tourism will hinder peace and tranquility of the area.
Faith based groups claim that it will be a major hindrance to the local cultures. The proposed
Entertainment Zone along with other development plans like Special Economic Zones, ManoriMarve Bridge etc. are often ideated and formulated without any local participation.
Dumping ground is one of the main concerns of the locals here. The dump waste atop the hill
contaminates water bodies which in turn affects agricultural activities. It has adversely affected

the Chowk, a coastal village which has predominant fishing community. The village community
also faces the risk of health hazards due to heaps of garbage being dumped each day. The
agitation against dumping zone started in 2007. There was a sustained movement of resistance by
the locals against the dumping activities. In 2009, villagers stopped MCGM garbage trucks. The
police intervened and resorted to lathicharge, it also used acid gas to scatter the agitators.
The local politicians/ councilors are in a way protecting the dumping zone and are co-opted by
the state authorities to suppress peoples movement. The church dominates the movement and
there is sheer lack of an interreligious dialogue. Furthermore, other alternatives such as National
Fishworkers Forum (NFF), an all-India organization protecting lives and livelihoods of fishing
communities in India need to be explored.
The two field trips put forth a very contrasting picture in terms of active involvement of people
demanding from or opposing the state authorities. Both have suffered due to state inaction (in
case of Elephanta) and state high handedness (in case of Uttan), but the community in Uttan
seems to have built a movement to counter and question state policies whereas Elephanta
residents have not been able to create any sort of social movement or even a forum to forward
their grievances consistently to the political class and state authorities.
Local-Global interconnectedness
Development is not a top-down phenomenon but the current discourse focuses on centralized
development. With reference to the field trips as case studies, we can conclude that the problems
can be rectified by involving the community in formulating development plans. In other words,
making it a more democratically decentralized and participatory process.
DAY 4- 25/09/2014
The day commenced with feedback, insights and learning from the field visit to Uttan, Gorai.
Some of the ideas that emerged from this dialogue were
This conditions, of some sections of society being adversely affected due to growth lead model
of development is a global phenomenon. A question raised was, how we can protect these global
commons in danger? The participants appreciated the active role of Church (FBO) played in

taking up peoples cause even at the risk of facing backlash from the state and also
acknowledged the power faith based organizations possess. At the same time, some participants
were critical of the paternalistic role played by the church and the lack of inter-faith based
organization effort to garner wider support for the cause. It was proposed that development, not
necessarily may be bad but we need to reconcile between development processes and the
preservation of the local peoples livelihood, tradition, community and culture. Other suggestions
called for the further exploring the role of Multi-National corporations (MNCs) in the processes
of development in India and globally. A positive aspect noted about the movement of the people
in Uttan was that women were at the forefront, they were bold and resilient , it was clear that
their strategy was to resist the forces of state however they seemed to lacked a larger plan.
The next session, began with important interventions by Prof George Stoll, he set forth the
ground for next group discussion by letting the participants contemplate over how would they
help the fishefolk community in Uttan, understand the meaning of, global common good?
A few things that emerged were, Common Good is closely linked to the community but there is
also a need to look beyond one community and strike a balance with the good of other
communities. Therefore we need to enlarge our understanding of what constitutes, common and
good. The idea of Common Good can be sometimes abused based on how one defines it, for
ex: the garbage from city was dumped in the outskirts of Gorai thereby ensuring the right to
clean air, to city dwellers and depriving the Gorai locals of the same. From this experience
another idea proposed was, that which is bad for someone else is not good for me either. Local
and global is the same, local issues have a significant impact on global scenarios. (Ex: Dumping
ground in Uttan at large, is resulting in pollution of marine life, soil and ecosystem of the Planet)
Sensitivity and concern based on this understanding needs to be developed at both individual and
institutional level. A national common property title for coastal land was proposed among other
things.
Lastly, Commonality needs to be explored.

At the same time space should be given for

commonalities to co-exist with cultural diversity.


The next round of discussion began with understanding the key players in the process of
development. Add karava lagel..

I.

Politics, Governance and Justice

Regional disparity/inequality often blamed on geography but it is actually perpetuated due to the
lack of initiative from the political leadership sometimes rooted in the very political culture of
the place; a backward region is often characterized with a subject political culture. Vote
banking and politics of patronage is a major hindrance as it often instigates populism and ignores
long term policy initiatives. Positives of regionalism are frequently countered by powerful
neighbours with motives of establishing hegemony over the region. The rising dominance of
business-interest groups like ASSOCHAM, FICCI, CII have lobbied for patronage and support
from the states policy interventions. The doctrine of Public-Private partnership which is fast
becoming a popular governance plank not only facilitates the easy entry of private in public
wherein the former engulfs the latter gradually but also facilitates states retreat.
Non-party social movements are acting as successful interventions to authoritarian policy
making across India. Judicial interventions, though in a very limited sense, are significant. Castealliances in the political sphere provide voices to the often unheard silent revolutions. Building
and strengthening of strategic alliances among different groups representing similar interests
across Academic, Social, Economic, Political, Activist spheres of influence is the need of the
hour. Enhancing and increasing democratic space and creating more spaces for dissent.

II.

Education and Knowledge

The main purpose of education is to build character, develop innate skills, and enhance
knowledge among others. Education is one aspect, that takes place as much is school and the
world outside, at all levels but schools invariably plays a central responsibility in this sector. The
participants critiqued the present system that pushes the student to learn faster, learn more
information and score higher. It was proposed to explore the wisdom of science, religion,
traditional knowledge practiced in communities and integrate it with other streams of learning. A
multi-disciplinary approach was proposed to the present compartmentalized style of learning that
is observed. The role of state and its reach makes it an important stakeholder in education.

III.

Financial Systems

Corporate leaders have been exploitative of baking systems as they frequently indulge in
siphoning of money from banks. Informal financial systems like pawn shops who charge
exorbitant interest rates could be linked to formal financial systems where investors pitch in
money. The Right to Information Act passed in 2005 has institutionalized a citizen-oriented
regime which has provided a platform for citizens to access information serves as a apparatus to
keep check on financial scams and corruption cases.
There were several remedial measures and proposals which came up during discussions. Setting
up of think tanks dealing in areas of financial systems is necessary. It has been observed that
many NGOs and CSOs do not pay equal attention to issues regarding financial regulation are
often ignorant about financial connections and hence it is essential to their increase awareness.
Also, political pressure combined with implementable regulatory mechanisms and parliamentary
monitoring system should be used in order to have better regulation.

IV.

Agriculture and Food Security

Landlessness is a serious issue as more and more people are losing land owing to increased
mining activities and tourism initiatives. Natural resources ideally should be shared and used
with permission of the local community. Also, their participation must be encouraged by the
authorities in order to avoid discontent which has led to a violent revolution in the mineral and
natural resource rich areas of Central India. Global fast food giants have entered South Asian
markets and are affecting food consumption patterns.
Further discussions yielded solution oriented approaches like eco-agricultural approach The role
of national and international food sovereignty organizations is critical. Furthermore, a network of
movements and activists working in the domain of food security should come together to
assemble a strong coalition to mobilize people around issues relating to land and food security
and thus pressurize government authorities. Land is not only property but a source of livelihood
and hence needs to be looked at in a framework of constitutional right.

V.

Media

Patterns of media ownership is fast changing with American style grand media corporations
controlling almost all segments of media and owning huge stakes in various other industries.
Today mass-media is business oriented; almost 85% of the revenue comes from advertisements
and hence content is accordingly doctored to suit the sale of certain products. News making is
more of a business activity as news is often tailored and at times totally suppressed or eliminated
to suit corporate/business interests. In order to curb this, there is a need for an alternative model
like that of a subscription-based model (For instance, the Tehelka group freed itself from politics
and pressures of advertisers). Apart from this, a strong quasi-legal body with necessary amount
of power to make binding decisions.
Day 5 26/09/2014 (Conclusion var thoda rework karva lagel and I found a few relevant
points made by participants which need mention they are scattered as of now and hence
need a lil more time to streamline and connect the dots)
The last round of dialogue began with synthesizing the ideas and inputs given by participants so
far, it also explored those areas, issues related to global commons which further warrant
attention.
Global Common Good is a working model. It needs to be defined and redefined based on various
issues facing the world. People should re-engage with the communities. The approach towards
the state should be balanced. There are many who co-opt and collaborate and work closely with
the state but there it is also essential to question the state time and again on issues of policy. The
states anti-people agenda can be countered with vibrant peoples mass movements.
Also necessary is a dialogue between warring populations or communities. There has been an
initiation of a dialogue between erstwhile enemies in Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese and the Tamils. As
mentioned earlier, common good is a relative concept and is different for different people.
Likewise, women in southern Sri Lanka placed democracy and food security at the top of the
agenda for achieving common good while their counterparts in the North regarded education and
quality living as their prime concerns.

Migration, which is both forced (due to war, ethnic cleansing, natural calamity or human
trafficking) and voluntary is becoming a major challenge and concern for nations in the world.
Improved Labor laws, protection of migrants rights, steps to prevent Brain Drain from
developing to developed nations, calls for co-ordinated action at international level and sound
policies at National level.
Global phenomena of increasing unemployment or under-unemployment among the youth
around the world needs to be studied and policies to that effect formulated. The youth cannot be
a dividend in any country unless their potential is tapped and there is are opportunity of gainful
employment for them.
The Agricultural laborer and marginal farmers in South Asian region are amongst the most
deprived section of this development story. Land Reforms, sound policies of land for land grant,
strong implementation of resettlement and rehabilitation for those displaced due to projects is an
urgent need.
Self-cleaning is extremely critical in order to bring about a change.
Engagement with the state should not always be looked with suspicion because there are nonstate structures which are undemocratic and sometimes consist of fringe, anti-social elements.
Religious fundamentalism is another closely associated challenge that needs to be nipped in bud.
Furthermore the funding of such fundamentalist group to certain activities detrimental to
democratic processes and institutions needs to be checked.
The drive towards privatization and commercialization of education in Nepal was essentially
triggered by the states dilapidated education system. It is true in case of almost all South Asian
countries. Also, the political leadership instead of strengthening the system plays a part in
deliberate sickening of state run units. Today, most private schools are owned by political
leadership of the left.
We need to understand that opposition is also engagement and is equally significant for bringing
about a change through policy interventions. Hence, there is need for reinforcing and fortifying
democratic spaces for protest and dissent.

There is a need for publishing of material on alternative development discourses. Books and
other forms of literature should be made available to students at cheaper rates. (thoda add karava
lagel)
Lastly, along with sharing our common suffering there was an equal emphasis on sharing the
success stories, ideas that have transformed the world.