Monday, November 25, 2013

CfPs: National Workshop on Corporate Governance Practices in India: Retrospect and Prospects; 14-15 Feb at IICA,

National Workshop on Corporate Governance Practices in India: Retrospect and Prospects

National Two-Day Residential Workshop for Research Scholars

14-15 February 2014

Organized by School Of Corporate Governance and Public Policy, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, IMT  Manesar Campus, Distt. Gurgaon, India

The School of Corporate Governance and Public Policy (CG&PP), IICA  is organizing a National Two-Day Residential Workshop for Research Scholars on the theme 'Corporate Governance Practices in India: Retrospect and Prospects'. The workshop will provide a platform for discussions on wide range of issues related to the conceptual and legal framework affecting corporate functioning, new aspects of scholarly enquiry on governance in corporate bodies - public and private; and arrive at comprehensive solutions on policies, designs and implementation. More significantly it will cater towards knowledge partnership and collaboration for future research.

The fate and face of a nation are reflected in its economy, and while the economy is a result of the well being and functioning of a variety of components, it is also related intrinsically to the performance of the corporate sector.

Call for Papers

Main Theme: Corporate Governance Practices In India: Retrospect and Prospects

Broad Themes

  • Corporate Governance In Group Companies In The Private Sector
  • Corporate Governance In Public Sector Enterprises
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Corporate Governance In Banks And Other Financial Institutions


·          Doctoral Fellows, Scholars, and Faculties may submit papers on the above broad themes. Papers should be original in content and not published anywhere else. Top three papers will receive cash award.

·          Abstracts should not be more than 300 words and should be submitted before deadline.

·          A technical committee will review the papers, after which selected paper-writers need to submit their full research papers. Soft copy of abstract and complete papers should be submitted by e-mail only and should reach with a copy to All presenters and delegates should register before deadline. For registration fee and other details of workshop and accommodation please consult SUBMISSION GUIDELINES in our website.

·          For further information and details of abstract and full paper submission, please contact Anna at 9971115102, 0124-2640039, 264000, and visit our website

Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), established by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India is multidisciplinary knowledge sharing and capacity building institution aimed towards developing and facilitating discourse and service delivery on matters relevant to corporate affairs. The foundation of the institution has been laid with focus towards synergizing and creating a vibrant think – tank body that would play instrumental role in building responsible and sustainable business societies. IICA since its inception have established itself as centre for learning, training and excellence on good governance; providing world-class repository for researchers, policy makers and implementers on various subjects and matters related to corporate regulation and governance such as corporate and competition law, accounting and auditing issues, compliance management, corporate governance, business sustainability through environmental sensitivity and social responsibility, e-Governance and enforcement etc.

Further Details and Registration Form:


Saturday, November 16, 2013

CfP: "Institute on Internet and Society", at Yashada, Pune, India, 11-17 February '14

Institute on Internet and Society

The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), Bangalore is pleased to announce the second "Institute on Internet and Society" to be held in Yashada, Pune from February 11 to 17, 2014.

With financial support and visionary guidance from the Ford Foundation, this initiative represents an important opportunity to bring together various stakeholders in a neutral forum and share ideas.

This is a week-long residential institute which will cover topics surrounding and exploring the gamut of internet and society. Various topics that explore the ambit and the intersection between Internet and Society will be explored with guest speakers and experts in these fields anchoring the sessions. The lectures will be insightful and few, with interesting case studies and interactive modes of teaching. There will be breakout sessions where participants will get the chance to partake in interactive technology sessions and instructive demonstrations.

There will be off-site experiences where the participants can go on field trips and view the actual spaces that will be discussed.

The institute will feature:

  • Guest lectures by experts and CIS staff.
  • Interactive panel discussions.
  • Case studies.
  • Breakout sessions.
  • Interactive demonstrations.
  • Networking opportunities, field trips/off-site experience and much more...

At the end of the course, attendees will have:

  • Acquisition of knowledge on internet in the Indian society.
  • Appreciation of the role of community and other stakeholders in issues surrounding the internet.
  • Creation of a starting point for improved communication of research findings, innovations, information and new technologies in internet to evolve a community comprising academicians and policy makers.
  • Appreciation of the need to bridge the gap between policy and implementation.

Who can apply?

Any members from the civil society (students, research scholars, academicians, scientists, legal professionals, etc.) who engage in issues concerning Internet and Society.

How to apply?

The application form available at needs to completed in all respects and uploaded along with a brief bio and a 250-300 word abstract on why the applicant feels he/she must attend the Institute on Internet and Society.

Selection criteria

  • Originality of application.
  • Evidence of interest and/or prior engagement in Internet and Society related research and policies.
  • Gender, regional and stakeholder representation.

Twenty participants shall be chosen to attend the Institute on a first come, first served basis. Please ensure that your applications are submitted to CIS well before the closing date.


Attendance for the full duration of the Institute (February 11 to February 17, 2014) is mandatory. Please provide assurance that you will be able to commit to the full duration of the institute.

What costs will be covered?

CIS has a limited number of scholarships that will cover the course fees, travel, accommodation and food. Please note that scholarships will be given on a first come first serve basis to deserving applicants and is available for persons based within India.

Important Dates

  • Registrations Open: November 15, 2013
  • Registrations Close: December 6, 2013

About CIS India and Ford Foundation

CIS critically engages with concerns of digital pluralism, public accountability and pedagogic practices, in the field of Internet and Society, with particular emphasis on South-South dialogues and exchange.

Through multidisciplinary research, intervention, and collaboration, we seek to explore, understand, and affect the shape and form of the internet, and its relationship with the political, cultural, and social milieu of our times.

The Ford Foundation supports visionary leaders and organizations on the frontlines of social change worldwide. Their goals for more than half a century have been to:

  • Strengthen democratic values
  • Reduce poverty and injustice
  • Promote international cooperation
  • Advance human achievement

The Ford Foundation believes all people should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to society, and have voice in the decisions that affect them.


Further Details:

Friday, November 15, 2013

UNESCO releases "World Social Science Report 2013 – Changing Global Environments"

UNESCO Releases "World Social Science Report 2013 – Changing Global Environments"
published: November 15, 2013

UNESCO today announced the launch of its flagship publication World Social Science Report 2013 — Changing Global Environments.
The environmental challenges that confront society are unprecedented and staggering in their magnitude, scope, pace and complexity. They have potentially serious consequences for the wellbeing of people all over the world. The consequences of global environmental change are unfolding now; individuals and communities are already struggling to manage often precarious livelihoods; other social, economic and political crises – including persistent poverty, increasing inequalities and social discontent – are intricately linked to and exacerbated by environmental change. Global environmental change changes everything for everyone on this planet – our life support systems, our livelihoods, our ways of life, our actions and interactions with each other. It also changes demands for and on the social, including behavioural and economic sciences.
This is the third edition of the World Social Science Report. Based on a call for proposals, over 150 authors from all over the world have contributed articles. The Report issues an urgent call to action to the international social science community. Social scientists need to collaborate more effectively with colleagues from the natural, human and engineering sciences to deliver relevant, credible knowledge that can help to address the most pressing of today's environmental problems and sustainability challenges. And they need to do so in close collaboration with decision-makers, practitioners and the other users of their research.
A new kind of social science is needed, one that is bolder, better, bigger, different:
  • Bold enough to reframe and reinterpret global environmental change as a fundamentally social process
  • Better in terms of infusing social science insights into real-world problem-solving
  • Bigger in terms of the need for more social scientists to address the challenges of global environmental change directly
  • Different in the sense of changing the way the social sciences think about and do science – its theories, assumptions, methodologies, institutions, norms and incentives, to help meet the vexing interdisciplinary and cross-sector challenges society faces.

This report aims to engage social scientists working in all disciplines in academia, research institutes, think tanks, NGOs, and government agencies all over the world. The ISSC will use the report as a basis for critical discussion with its members and partners to sharpen the social science knowledge base on global environmental change and to support social science leadership in research for sustainability.

The 2013 World Social Science Report was prepared and edited by the International Social Science Council (ISSC) with the support of high level specialists from all the over the world. It is co-published by the ISSC, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UNESCO.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Paper "Agricultural Biotechnology, Intellectual Property Rights and Seed Industry in India" by Kunal Sinha of CSSP

Agricultural Biotechnology, Intellectual Property Rights and Seed Industry in India
by Vikas Kumar and Kunal Sinha
Asian Biotechnology and Development Review, Vol. 15 No.2, pp 61-79
Abstract: It is contended that while Green Revolution was led by public sector, Gene Revolution in agriculture is led by private sector. While increased emphasis on intellectual property rights protection over seeds and germplasm by the private sector, the seed industry dominated by private sector would deliver more of inputs like seeds and improved varieties that bring in more revenue. In this article we discuss the growth of agri-biotechnology in India and the changing profile of seed industry in cereal crops. We find that favourable policy frameworks and liberalisation have resulted in more investment by private sector in R&D for developing new varieties and seeds and this mirrors the trends elsewhere. While incentives are necessary for private sector to invest in R&D corresponding measures like effective competition policy are also required so that benefits of biotechnology reach small and medium farmers for whom affordability and accessibility of seed a key input is important. The challenge lies in harmonising commitments under WTO Agreements and Convention on Biological Diversity with effective measures that would make biotechnology based inputs affordable and accessible. Otherwise this may be a barrier in diffusion of agricultural biotechnology.

DTE Article "No room for recycling: Give waste pickers their due" by AP Jayanthi of CSSP

No room for recycling: Give waste pickers their due
By Jayanthi A Pushkaran
Down to Earth, Oct 15-31, 2013

A swarm of flies buzz on top of a trash mountain, dogs bark at the crows hovering above, while 11-year-old Salman gathers waste at Sector-18 Rohini in Delhi. Every day at 5 am, he rummages through the rubbish heap for plastic, metal, glass and other recyclable items. In nearby slums, women and children segregate waste with bare hands, without masks, gloves and boots. They earn Rs 100 to Rs 130 per day after selling the waste at recyclers' market.
Their lives have been captured by the lens and some of the images showcased at the recently concluded photo exhibition by Aman Trust at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. There is an old saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure. For Delhi's 350,000-odd waste pickers, trash is livelihood.
Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Rural Mission, a large chunk of Delhi's waste has been privatised. With the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) subcontracting big private players to collect waste, livelihood of waste pickers like Salman is increasingly jeopardised. For the past few years, MCD has also been trying to convert the city's trash to electricity. Despite evidence of technology failure and bitter opposition from residents and environment groups, four waste-to-energy incinerators have cropped up in the capital. Supported by UNFCCC's Clean Development Mechanism, these projects often receive climate subsidies and carbon credits according to the amount of methane captured from landfills (as a result of breakdown of organic waste) or the amount of waste they incinerate.
Such a regime favours waste disposal, not recycling. Technical solutions to the issue of waste, that often figure in official plans, favour bringing various processes of waste handling under a uniform system. This waste management regime calls for increased role of private sector, which further leads to displacement of the informal recycling sector.
World Bank estimates that waste pickers comprise 1 to 2 per cent of the world population. International Labour Organization reports there are six million waste pickers in India. Advocacy group Chintan states the informal sector picks 15-20 per cent of city waste. Pickers and collectors bring down the city government's waste disposal expenditure, argues A K Dikshit of Society of Economic and Social Research.
Every day, Delhi produces 8,500 tonnes of waste. Informal labour carries this waste from buildings and households to disposal sites. Pickers (kachrawalla) and itinerant waste collectors (kabadiwalla) constitute the lowest rung in the occupational ladder, for they collect waste directly from its origin. They are often the most marginalised and do not have alternative livelihood options. They are paid only for the waste they collect, and not for the benefits they create as the first in a chain of recyclers. Because they are self-employed and not recognised or recorded in formal sector, labour legislation or other policies do not apply to them.
Sociologist Kaveri Gill, in her book Of Poverty and Plastics: Scavenging and Scrap Trading Entrepreneurs in India's Urban Informal Economy, points out that waste pickers are mostly Dalits, Muslim minorities, Christian converts and Bangladeshi migrants who usually belong to castes that have historically been engaged in "unclean" and "polluting" livelihood. In socially segmented Delhi, their occupational mobility and access to waste is further mediated by negotiations, compromises and interaction with indifferent residents, suspicious gatekeepers of colonies, policemen and superior municipal sweepers.
As the world-class city marches towards its twin targets of cleanliness and power generation through so-called scientific waste management, invisible waste picker battles for his livelihood.
Jayanthi A Pushkaran is at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. The views expressed by the author are personal

Thursday, November 7, 2013

CfPs: Innovating India: National Workshop, 25-26 Nov, at NIT, Silchar

 National Workshop
25-26 Nov 2013

Jointly organised by


In the modern globalised world, the economic development of a country is premised by its ability to develop, adapt and harness its potential to innovate. Most of the governments in developing and emerging economies, including India are proactive in initiating policies that would promote a culture of innovation. The conference intends to identify the nature and extent of innovation activities in the country and the lacunae in its support mechanism. The workshop will explore suitable S&T interventions in the policy matrix in order to showcase India in the forefront of innovation activities.

The workshop will have following major themes & topics that range from  those related to S&T and human resources, Innovation and support system, S&T and Industry, S&T output and patents, Rural development and S&T strategies, Innovations in Different subject domains (Healthcare, Alternative energy, Green technology, ICT, Biotechnology, Life Sciences, General science, Library Science etc.)  & Grassroots Innovation in North East India.

  • The workshop aims to bring together leading-edge inventors, scholars, professionals, practitioners, educators, school & college students and participants from all over North-East India.
  • The workshop will facilitate presentations, on monetizing and trading of intellectual property through interaction with institutions and industries.
  • The principal objective of this workshop is to provide a platform for exchange of knowledge, ideas & learning experience among the researchers, teachers and scientists about innovations.
  • To identify emerging innovations in the field of Science & Technology.
  • To disseminate the relevant traditional knowledge system / grass root innovations of North-East Region.

Academicians, Scientists, Engineers, Students and Faculty Members, NGOs, Research Organisations.

The workshop invites research articles from scientists, research scholars, and students on the various aspects of the theme 'Innovating India'. The papers should be an original contribution covering theoretical research, empirical studies including case studies, realistic experiences.

An extended abstract with a word limit of 1000 words is required to be sent by 16 November, 2013 via email to any of the workshop coordinators Dr Kishor Satpathy ( / Prof Sujit Bhattacharya ( The abstract must be typed in MS-Word in 12 point Times New Roman with references properly tagged. The authors whose abstracts are accepted will be notified on 18th November, 2013. The authors whose extended abstracts are accepted are expected to submit full papers within three months for publication in the proceeding/edited Book.

Registration for persons interested to participate in the workshop will be on a first come first served basis with a maximum limit of 150 participants. No registration fee would be charged. Selected paper contributors from North-East Region will be given TA for Second Class Train/Bus Fare with local hospitality. Dully filled in registration forms should be submitted to Dr. Kishor Satpathy at on or before 18 Nov. 2013. Please note that there will be no telephonic or on-the-spot registration.

     Key Note Sessions
Panel Discussions
Presentations of Papers
Exhibition of Innovative Models,

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Scientific Writing & Publishing Workshop at JNU by Macmillan Science Communication; November 29

'Scientific Writing & Publishing Workshop' by Macmillan Science Communication

Venue: JNU Convention Centre, Delhi, India

Date: November 29, 2013

Macmillan Science communication (MSC), an exclusive partner of the Nature Publishing Group (NPG), is organising its maiden Scientific Writing and Publishing Workshop in India in association with the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi on November 29, 2013. This is the first in a series of similar workshops that MSC plans to organise across India in coming years.

The event will be conducted by Dr. James Butcher, Associate Director of Open Publishing at Nature Communications & Scientific Reports. Dr. Butcher is also the former Publishing Director of Nature Review Journals. He has been the publisher of 14 Nature Reviews Journals (clinical and life sciences) with management responsibility for a team of 70 editors.

Dr Butcher's all-day session at the JNU Convention Centre would include some of these key writing and publishing areas:

  • Taking Research from Bench to Paper
  • Creating Coherency and a Narrative in your Paper
  • Titles and Abstracts
  • Presenting and Discussing Results
  • Producing Effective Figures, Graphs and Tables
  • Choosing a Journal for Publication
  • Using Bibliometrics
  • Writing a Review Article
  • Submitting your Paper and Writing a Cover Letter
  • The Editorial Processes and Peer Review
  • Scientific Publication Ethics

Science faculty and PhD scholars interested in registering for the workshop may contact either of the two organisers:

Debashish Brahmachari
Director – NPG India
3A, 4th Floor, DLF Corporate Park
Gurgaon – 122002, India | Tel: 91 124 2881057
Mobile No: 9650969959

Dr. Atul Kumar Johri
Associate Professor
School of Life Sciences, JNU
New Delhi -110067, India
Mobile No: 9810336244


Issue Brief "Cusec-Megawatt River Can we fish in the troubled waters of the Ganga?" by Sonali Mittra and Rohan D'Souza of CSSP

Cusec-Megawatt River Can we fish in the troubled waters of the Ganga?

By Sonali Mittra and Rohan D'Souza

New Delhi: Observer Research Foundation and the Asia Foundation, September 2013.

(Transboundary Water Governance Issue Brief; Intra-Regional Ganga Initiative)

Abstract: Modern river management, in the South Asian subcontinent, is often characterised as being defined by reductionist engineering and comprehensive water control. In technological terms, this has meant the introduction of infrastructures such as weirs, barrages, canal systems and inevitably large dams. The hydraulic principle underlying these varied structural interventions, however, has remained disarmingly simple: regulate flows either through diversion or impoundment in order to then harness the volumes as cusecs or megawatts. That is, from its emergence in the nineteenth century, modern river management in the region has been overwhelmingly biased towards commandeering river flows for irrigation and hydro-electricity.

Download Full-text PDF

Paper "Generation of electronic waste in India: Current scenario, dilemmas and stakeholders" by Anwesha Borthakur and Kunal Sinha of CSSP

Generation of electronic waste in India: Current scenario, dilemmas and stakeholders
by Anwesha Borthakur and Kunal Sinha
African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 7(9), pp. 899-910, September 2013

This paper tries to quantify the amount of E-waste generated in India with the related stakeholder involvement. Electronic waste (E-waste) or waste electrical and electronic equipments (WEEE), which is relatively a recent addition to the hazardous waste stream, is drawing rapid attention across the globe as the quantity being generated is rising rapidly. All electrical and electronic equipments (EEE), on completion of their useful life, contribute to the E-waste stream. However, the current estimation of the amount of E-waste generated in India is extremely hazy. In this paper, an attempt has been made to formulate an inventory of E-waste in the country in terms of both internal or domestic generation and illegal import. Different methods of estimation of E-waste have been evaluated. Furthermore, the paper tries to identify the whole range of diverse stakeholders involved in the generation of E-waste in the country. It has been observed that actual and reliable data on the generation of E-waste, both domestic and import of E-waste, is currently unavailable in India. Few studies have been conducted to identify the involvement of different stakeholders in E-waste generation in the country. Urgent needs arise to document the issues related to E-waste generation and management in the country in order to deal with this important and toxic waste stream.

Download Full-text PDF:

Article "Formula 1 Schizophrenia" by Sarandha Jain of CSSP

Formula 1 Schizophrenia
By Sarandha
27 October, 2013

What do you call a country that acquires farm land to build a Formula 1 track for a sport that pollutes, furthering global warming; and also acquires farm land to build nuclear power plants, dams etc., claiming that 'clean energy' is an urgent necessity in the era of climate change? Forget climate change for a moment; what do you call a country that forcefully acquires land and livelihoods from poor farmers for opulence like Formula 1 racing? Schizophrenic.
Some say that it generates employment. This is far from the truth. All the staff during the race is flown from Europe – the chefs, waiters, sweepers, even the food is pure white. If at all the displaced farmers are given employment, then as construction workers, sweepers etc. So you turn a skilled farmer, an owner of her own land, into a daily-wage labourer. Besides, how many of them can be absorbed by this enterprise, and for how long?
Some others say that farmers are paid for their land, so how is it a problem? It is a problem because you cannot buy a livelihood. You may be able to buy land, but how do you buy a family's livelihood? Their displacement? The fragmentation of their community? The loss of their culture? The forceful overhauling of their life? A person's right to choice and self-determination? For those of you who do not understand sociological factors or think that they are of little value, let me not waste time convincing you that that they are in fact the back bone of any society. Let me just stick to the hard facts of livelihood and displacement. Can a paltry monetary compensation for land ever equal the lifelong earnings that land would yield? Often the farmers are not even legally entitled to it and if at all they are, they don't get it. If they get it, it simply isn't a fair compensation.
Given that millions of Indians live under a dollar a day, how do we justify the existence of such a sport in our country? Some people bought tickets or got free passes worth 2.5 lac rupees. Clearly there is a lot of money being pumped in to this sport from all quarters of the country, including the government. Often the government runs out of money and so cannot improve its Public Distribution System for food rations, cannot increase the pension for the poor by five rupees, cannot increase the wage in the Employment Guarantee Scheme, cannot build or maintain schools and hospitals, because apparently it is just too heavy on the government's pocket. Formula 1 racing however, is not. Step out of the track's premises and you are accosted by homelessness, hunger and unemployment.
It is baffling that year after year treaties are signed, COPs are deliberated, prices of oil are exaggerated, peak oil is mulled over, while here we are blowing up all this peak oil and warming up the climate for entertainment, with government support. The corporations involved probably bought the right to pollute via carbon credits, because they have so much money that they can even buy the right to pollute, while just outside the tracks a family does not have money to buy bread.
Oil and gas, whether peaking or not, are a finite resource. Prices are being hiked up almost on a monthly basis, preventing equitable access. It is now a luxury of the rich. There is much that suffers in the lives of the poor because they cannot access cheap energy for their daily necessities, agriculture, for growing food for the country. How do we reconcile that with its wasteful consumption in this fashion? The Sundarbans can keep drowning and Maldives can keep requesting countries to sell it land, but the violence on our people and ecosystems will continue unabated.
Let's not forget in another bout of amnesia (a disease we urban elite are severely afflicted by as, if it wasn't for this we wouldn't be so schizophrenic) that India is displacing millions of people every day to build clean energy alternatives. These 'clean energy solutions' constitute big dams (that eat up forests, villages and fertile land and in no way produce clean or green energy), nuclear power plants (that cause radiation, contaminating their surroundings, diseasing and displacing many) and other such 'solutions'. The price for 'clean energy' that Indians are paying is of gargantuan proportions. Evidently, one would think that it must be extremely important for countries to come up with energy alternatives to oil and gas, to be able to undertake such violent and hazardous displacement activities. But hold on. Is it? If India can afford to pollute the environment, add to global warming and waste fuel via racing, then clearly there is no pollution and there is no shortage of fuels and all this climate change and peak oil is just hogwash! Then why are we undertaking these environmentally harmful and politically undemocratic energy solutions with such urgency and determination?
The formula 1 experience may be thrilling, the technology of the game may be fascinating. The context within which all of it is unfolding however, is not. A sport is no longer a game when it begins to play with the lives of those on whom it thrives. Losing sight of the larger picture is no longer forgetfulness; it is a dangerous kind of amnesia. This contradiction is no longer a mere incongruity; it is schizophrenia.
Sarandha is the author of In Search of Yamuna: Reflections on a River Lost (Vitasta, 2011). After working with the Centre for Science and Environment, she is currently a research scholar at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Email:

Article "Damming Politics: India, China, and a Trans-Border River" by R. D'Souza, CSSP

Damming Politics: India, China, and a Trans-Border River
by Rohan D'Souza
November 4, 2013
In this issue of India in Transition, Rohan D'Souza, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and CASI Fall 2013 Visiting Scholar, reviews and discusses the political frictions and tensions between India and China over sharing flows of the trans-border river, the Yaluzangbu-Brahmaputra-Jamuna.
Full Article

Damming Politics: India, China, and a Trans-Border River
In recent years, whenever India and China have met at the highest level, the issue of water has been prominently put on the negotiating table. Much of the unease has been over a truculent temperamental trans-border river, the Yaluzangbu-Brahmaputra-Jamuna (YBJ) system, which exhausts its full watery course only after having traversed three sovereign nations: China, India, and Bangladesh.
In part, India's exasperation follows from the latter's inability to commit China to a river treaty or even a water-sharing agreement. Additionally, all efforts for a water commission or even an institutional arrangement for an inter-governmental dialogue on rivers has similarly come to grief. Meanwhile, as India sits troubled on a slippery slope of anticipation, it is only too aware that China, as the upper riparian to the Brahmaputra, also decides on the hydraulic facts. In effect, getting regular and reliable information on flows is another active cause for such liquid worries. Not surprisingly, the Indian side pursues with robust urgency even the half-light afforded by the existing "flood data agreement" with China.
In the first ever visit of the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to New Delhi on May 20, 2013, the previous arrangement on river data sharing was renewed with China restating its decision to provide hydrological data twice a day during the flood season between June and October. Another Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between the Indian Ministry of Water Resources and China's National Development and Reform Commission to enhance bilateral cooperation by "ensuring water-efficient irrigation," with a focus on agriculture. In the same spirit of bilateralism, the MoU also committed the Indian side to informing China about how the latter's "data" served India's own flood forecasting and mitigation abilities. Lastly, the icing on the cake: the MoU would be followed up with the signing of an Implementation Plan of Hydrological Information (IPHI) under which China would inform of any abnormal rise or fall in water levels or discharge which might lead to a sudden flood in the Brahmaputra. These varied understandings, wrestled in a spirit of cooperation, were further tweaked following Dr. Manmohan Singh's official visit to China in October 2013. The concession this time around in the MoU was an even more gracious extension of the reporting/sharing period which henceforth involved sending hydraulic data from May 15th (instead of June 1st) to October 15th.
But lurking in the shadows of the handshaking, bonhomie, and general sense of goodwill are the many dark and real fears that easily defeat Indian half smiles. China allegedly plans to build and put into commission up to eleven dams across the main stem of the Yaluzangbu. In one estimate, nine of these will be cascade dams and the remaining two will have reservoirs. By this infrastructural reckoning, with all the structures placed just before the Namcha Barwa bend (The Great Bend), the Chinese aim to generate 40,000 Megawatts (MW) of electricity even while claiming that they will only temporarily impound before releasing flows.  
However, the Indian government's expected alarm is somewhat stifled by the latter's own half-mentioned but detailed strategy for turning the mighty Brahmaputra stretch into a hydro-dollar power house. By some estimates, close to 168 potential hydro-electric projects have been identified within the folds of the region's innumerable hills and mountainous drops. According to the Central Electric Authority of India's estimates, this region could potentially yield as much as 58,971 MW of hydropower. The state of Arunachal Pradesh alone has been marked for generating 50,328 MW of this hydro-electric hope. This eastern arm of the Himalayas, for many of India's hopeful planners, has thus become a giant electric socket from which the rest of the country's energy needs can be drawn. Put differently, the regions many mountains, rolling hills, and thick, lush vegetation are to be turned into an interrupted geography: a crossed-over-topography made intermittent with sequenced pylons smoothly humming away while transferring captured fluvial energy to the densely populated and energy starved flat flood plains of the Ganga region. But even before these voltage and megawatt desires have been fully dreamt up, the hard troubling realities of dissent and challenge have already set in.
Loud anti-dam protests have reverberated across a previously inconspicuous corner of India's north east region. The Lower Subansiri district, straddling the border of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, has become the site of a dramatic and unprecedented popular upsurge against the under construction run-of-the-river Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP). Such has been the intensity of the opposition that the government of Assam was compelled to set up an expert committee in December 2006 and tasked to "study the downstream impacts" of the LSHEP. The expert committee was made up of professors of civil engineering, environmental science, geography, geology, life sciences, and zoology and all drawn from three of Assam's most prestigious academic institutions: Guwahati University, Dibrugarh University, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati. In their report, which was submitted in June 2010, these experts unexpectedly concluded that what worried them was not the absence of data but the dangers from ignoring existing knowledges about the river and its people.
Findings of the detailed report observed that the Brahmaputra river system was not characterized chiefly by quantities and volumes, but that the river's ecological integrity actually rested on variable flows and fluctuating pulses. The communities dependent on the Brahmaputra system based their livelihood strategies on harnessing the river through a mix of fishing, flood recession agriculture, drawing upon diverse resources from surrounding wetlands, and harvesting a vast array of aquatic flora and fauna. In effect, they crafted their livelihood strategies around the river's many different fluvial moods and temperamental currents.
By seeing the Brahmaputra through the eyes and interests of these innumerable riverine communities who populate the region, the expert committee was in fact acknowledging the fresh scholarly turn, since the late 1980s, that argued for a paradigm shift in how rivers were to be understood and managed. Notably, by focussing on the centrality of the "flood pulse" and flow variability, the river could be grasped as a set of critical ecological relationships and interactions between floodplains, wetlands, swamps, and estuarine zones. Put differently, the river and the floodplain, through a flooding regime, create and sustain a living ecosystem.
This living-ecosystem-river can conceptually be posed as the dissimilar other to the engineering metaphor of treating the river as merely the sum total of standardized volumes, data sets, and statistical averages. Herein lies the crux of what afflicts and weakens India's difficult hydraulic bargains with China. By refusing to acknowledge the YBJ as the critical source for millions of subsistence livelihoods, Indian negotiations have instead opted to be embroiled in the narrow politics of damming. As a lower riparian, the dice is overwhelmingly stacked against those who choose to simply pursue a singular quest for data. Rather, a new and brave compact to save the YBJ is possible by foregrounding the significance of the riverine communities and in particular, their unique livelihoods strategies for the ecology and sustainability of the region.
Rohan D'Souza is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is a CASI Fall 2013 Visiting Scholar.
India in Transition (IiT) is published by the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) of the University of Pennsylvania and partially funded by the Nand and Jeet Khemka Foundation. All viewpoints, positions, and conclusions expressed in IiT are solely those of the author(s) and not specifically those of CASI and the Khemka Foundation.
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