People First, Planet Second, Profit Third

As said by Gandhi, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”, when I opened the issue of sustainable development (People+Planet+Profit) approach to development during KEPA training, I was ridiculed. After a month, one of the KEPA members have called for a public debate on the issue. Today, most of the participants though not openly but silently laughed at me. As per the opening quote, most probably they will fight against the philosophy of outcome mapping. Whether I will succeed for change or not–it is to be seen. For us entrepreneurs, failure is accepted but for sure we would like to understand why we failed so that the success is beaconing sooner or later!

Any cases you have gone through on sustainable development (Trade for development vs. Aid for Development) discourse, please share!


Innovating Social Change by Doug Reeler

In my quest for social science, I attended a three day training facilitated by Doug Reeler organized by KEPA.
I started with a question: What is the current understanding on ‘Innovating Social Change’?

There has been various innovations from Grameen Bank to Mahila Milan. The approach to experimentation is at the highest level. What mesmerized me the most is the ‘U’ form of change process, an individual or team undertakes three activities or movements: Sensing the
current reality of the system of which they are part, carefully and in depth; Presencing and reflecting to allow their “inner knowing”to emerge, about
what is going on and what they have to do; and then Realizing, acting swiftly to bring forth a new reality. For more.

The most interesting part comes to the notion that Practice beats Theory approach. From need-based development to rights-based development and the huge understanding gap between North and South were vivid in each examples and cases we touched upon! Whether it is in environmental challenges created by mega projects or urban slum housing, those issues were relevant. One concrete case taught the notion of incubating leaders and enabling solidarity among groups and then to organizations and later to various networks through exchange programs. Even having strategic funds for such activities were mentioned though our group was reluctant to accept that in Finnish context.

Over breaks we even tested the Outcome Mapping rolled by donors! Not a single participants was ready to accept that approach but they were mostly going with snail pace with the practice taught by Mr. Reeler which demonstrates that practice beats theory!

After listening three days, I ended my quest with a new question: Why social science and business world cannot learn from each other? Is there a possibility for cross-fertilization of research and practice? From creative capitalism to conscious capitalism social science is crying for help to solve the poverty and violence related problems? Is there a better way out? Please leave your comments below:

ECONOMICS Lessons Learned: Global Crisis and the Impact on Emerging Economies by Kaushik Basu, World Bank

By invitation, I attended today’s UNU-WIDER Seminar: Global Crisis and the Impact on Emerging Economies by Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Development Economics of the World Bank in Helsinki, Finland.

After an overview of shocks and aftershocks in global economy Basu emphasized that a lot will depend on what happens in the eurozone and EU countries. In his view the biggest DELIBERATE experiment in human history was communism, second one building the eurozone. What does that imply, the reader has to deduct their own conclusion! In addition, Kaushik argued that there are various debt cliffs similar to USA ‘fiscal cliff’ looming on the eurozone horizon that we ought to take early note of. In his view EU ‘debt cliff’ similar to USA ‘fiscal cliff’ are the challenges. ECB just bought time by injecting trillions! Do structural changes on fiscal union as soon as possible!

Global crisis can explode developing countries because of poverty and vulnerability: malnutrition, hunger and disease to be the least! On the other hand, changes in the world can be surprising and deep: India can become as punctual as Japan or Korea.

Another discussion focused on the values in the society and hence the sustainability, equality. In his view, trust based societies which respect people’s integrity are the best ones. He argued that economic growth depends on sociology – not economics alone. He thinks innovation & entrepreneurship might be a good option above dollar 1 per day income level not before that.

A question started to emerge now after all discussions: EMERGENT economic behavior vs. DELIBERATE human attempts? Which direction are we taking?

Kaushik Basu is Senior Vice President for Development Economist and World Bank Chief Economist. See his bio here
Kaushik Basu gave the WIDER Annual Lecture in 2003 on the topic of ‘Global Labour Standards and Local Freedoms’. His association with UNU-WIDER goes back to the institute’s very earliest years in the 1980s when he published a series of UNU-WIDER working papers on globalization and poverty, international debt, surplus labour, share tenancy, and land tenure.

PEACE Lessons Learned from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President Martti Ahtisaari Day (Friday 9 November, 2012)

PEACE Lessons Learned from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President Martti Ahtisaari Day (Friday 9 November, 2012) I had a very inspiring experience listening to the President Martti Ahitsaari day discussions on “Building Peace and Preventing Conflicts during Economic Turmoil” Friday 9 November 2012, at 09:00-12:30.

Helsinki city hall was full beyond capacity! After Laura Räty, Deputy Mayor of Helsinki welcomed the gathering, Tuija Talvitie, Executive Director, Crisis Management Initiative welcomed the august gathering with the message from Sauli Ninisto, President of Finland. Prime Minster of Finland emphasized that President Ahtisaari is an inspiration for Finland in Finland’s continuing and developing peace mediation efforts.

Ahtisaari Day Panel Discussions on PEACE curtsey Saila Huusko, CMI

Chaired by Teija Tiilikainen, Director, the Finnish Institute of International Affairs keynote speakers focused on the following:

President Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and United Nations diplomat and mediator highlighted the following keynotes:

A ceasefire agreement is not enough, one needs to know what is the process after it in Syria.
All conflicts can be resolved, it is a question of political will. There are no excuses.
Arab spring proved democracy and human rights are universal values
Now is the time for US President Obama to earn his Nobel Peace Prize
Post war Syria would need min 10k peacekeepers. Is Finland ready to contribute 1000s of it
Security council permanent members can sit in closed door negotiation and solve Syrian crisis
A mediator cannot work alone, s/he does not have all the answers. Good colleagues are vital.

Lyse Doucet, Canadian journalist, presenter and special correspondent, BBC World Service radio and BBC World News television presented the BBC report highlighting the current deteriorating situation in Syria. Robert Mood, Major General, Head of the United Nation’s Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) until 20 July 2012 was more against the use of external force.

George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management and Chairman of the Open Society Institute suggested some tips on prevention rather than cure! Some wisdom I have gathered:

“Complicated conflicts don’t have simple solutions.”
“Principle of solidarity is the solution for major conflicts e.g. Syria”
Invitation for CMI to participate on Humanitarian Effort in Greece!

What mesmerized me the most is the concluding question from Silja Lehtinen, Olympic medalist and World Champion in sailing. She asked the following question to George Soros:

In 70’s hippies talked about Peace and Love. Shall we add economics to this? Then Soros replied affirmatively. This notion generated a thesis to explore further:

So far the successful billionaires after having only profit oriented success started to realize that it is not sustainable one. Because the prosperity earned through all means have disturbed the fabric of dignity and hence the PEACE. My case in point is CMI which has reversed the logic completely. First PEACE. Then Dignity. And last but not the least PROSPERITY. This approach will be sustainable! In conclusion: first peace then dignity and prosperity. The World has done so far just the opposite! Case in point: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation! I look forward to have a healthy discussion on this PEACE Lessons Learned!

DEMAND DIGNITY: The message from the book: The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Right

During my travel I CHOSE to read the book by Irene Khan : The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Right. I could not sleep over a week while reading this book. I made some notes out of this reading and thought of sharing with my readers.

She has used World Bank statistics in her book but she is vocal on the issue of human rights violations by the development discourse of the World Bank. Her message to the readers and follower alike is : DEMAND DIGNITY. There has been many tools and institutions to work on the supply of justice but the poorest of the poor do not have access to that. The keyword is ACCESS. Irene cites her own case of having access to education vs his own childhood friend without the access to education.

Based on the data of a billion people living on the slums she exposed the mockery of the development discourse of the 21st century. In order to solve this challene she suggests that the housing policies need to be built by listening to the target groups.

Though she believes on the Market Mechanism but she has a view that Government must ensure equal access for the population these basic rights: health, education and security. The far cry of the data on maternity and assoicated mortality in the range of half a million– she demands Right to safe motherhood. And the tool is to have access to health. According to her maternity is not an illness but still we have not been able to solve this crisis.

She quotes President Roosevelt in saying ‘Freedom from want not only from fear’. Freedom from want and freedom from fear go side by side. She believes in empowerment rather than enrichment of the people. I think she has turned the coin towards poverty where Human Right was an isolated notion in the past. According to her they are the two sides of the same coin…

Innovation through Failing Forward

I have been interacting and observing with Finnish Innovation system and the country culture with reference to the entrepreneurship.
In my view this country does not tolerate failure as it is prevalent in Japan where people committ suicided if they fail in theri new venture development. In my view failing forward is the only way to succeed
which makes Silicon Valley the most innovative centre of the world. In Finland, various technology parks and state money
has been pumped including the state funded venture arm Veraventure but without satisfactory result. In various discussions with innovation experts they pinpoint the culture of the country as a challenge.
They ask the questions as following:

1. Do we nurture diversity or despise it?

2. Do we celebrate failure as next success path or reject the failed entrepreneurs?

3. Are we run by the market economics or state subsidies?

4. Are we just creating patents or commercializing it?

Answers to the above mentioned questions suggest that just copying the models from Silicon Valley without building the culture to appreciate failing forward–success is a distant future. Recently Russia has initiated this copycat models of Silicon Valley without understanding the need to build educational systems and country culture.

Japan has initiated such top-down innovation experiments without a real breakthrough for decades. The after war success stories of multinationals faded away. On the other hand China has invested heavily on the R&D and patenting has evolved pretty well but the innovation has faltered.

Let us look at US innovation system on the other hand. This country thrives in innovation when there is recession is there. More than half of all Silicon Valley start-ups created in the past recession turned out to be a great success. Innovation experts are betting that the same history will be repeated in the
future as well.

According to Vivek Wadhwa, the lesson that other regions need to learn from Silicon Valley is to glorify and embrace their failed entrepreneurs. Countries such as Germany, Japan, France, and India need to change their laws to allow high-tech companies to be started and shut down more easily. Their leaders need to work toward removing the stigma associated with failure. Their public needs to be educated to understand that, in the high-tech world at least, experimentation and risk-taking are the paths to success; that success is often preceded by one or more failures. This must be discussed frequently by political leaders and taught in schools. They should establish venture funds for entrepreneurs who are starting their second or third businesses after failing.

Vivek’s conclusions generates a compelling hypothesis for Finnish start-up ecosystem to embark into and making the future success stories from the Finnish garages.

नेपालमा खुला विश्वविद्यालय स्थापनाका ला गि सहयोग गर्न एनआरएनहरु प्रतिवद्ध

Dear All,

गैरआवासीय नेपाली दिवसको पूर्व सन्ध्यामा नेपाल सरकार शिक्षा मन्त्रालय र
गैरआवासीय नेपाली संघको संयुक्त तत्वाधानमा नेपालमा खुल्ला विश्व
विद्यालयका विषयमा आज काठमाडौंमा एक वृहद अन्तरक्रिया कार्यक्रम सम्पन्न भयो ।

नेपालमा खुल्ला विश्व विद्यालय स्थापनाका लागि नेपाल सरकारको प्रयासलाई
साकार रुप दिन सरकार तथा गैरआवासीय नेपाली संघ बीच यस सम्बन्धमा सहकार्य
गर्ने सम्बन्धी सहमती पनि भएको छ ।

सहमतीपत्रमा आपसी सहकार्यका माध्यमबाट खुल्ला विश्व विद्यालय स्थापनाका
लागि एनआरएनका तर्फबाट सम्भावित सवै प्रकारको सहयोग गर्ने उल्लेख छ ।
नेपाल सरकार शिक्षा मन्त्रालयले खुल्ला विश्वविद्यालय सम्बन्धी प्रस्ताव
बनाई मन्त्रिपरिषदमा पेश गर्ने तयारी गरेको छ ।

आर्थिक-सामाजिक अवस्था, भौगोलिक विकटता जस्ता अवरोधहरुका कारण आजसम्म पनि
उच्चशिक्षाको पहुंचबाट टाढा रहन वंचित नेपाली जनताको लागि खुल्ला
विश्वविद्यालय उच्च शिक्षा हासिल गर्ने एक प्रभावकारी माध्यम हुने सो अन्तरक्रियामा जोड दिइयो ।

विभिन्न ५६ भन्दा बढी देशहरुमा रहेर खासगरि शैक्षिक एवं
विज्ञान/प्रविधिका क्षेत्रमा कार्यरत गैरआवासीय नेपालीहरुले आर्जन गरेको
ज्ञान, शीप, पूंजी, अनुभव र अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय शैक्षिक सम्बन्ध नेपालमा
उच्च शिक्षाको विकासमा निकै प्रभावकारी हुने सो अवसरमा बताइयो ।

यो सहमतीले खुला विश्वविद्यालयको स्थापनाका लागि सरकारले अगाडी बढाएको
योजनालाई साकार रुप दिन एनआरएन एउटा वलियो साझेदारको रुपमा अगाडी आएको विश्वास गरिएको छ ।

शिक्षा मन्त्री सर्वेन्द्रनाथ शुक्ल, खुला तथा दुर शिक्षाका लागि
अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय परिषद तथा अथवास्का विश्वविद्यालय अष्ट्रेलियका अध्यक्ष
डा. फ्रीट्स प्यानीकोइक (Dr. Frits Pannekoek, President of International Council for Open and Distance Education and President of
Athabasca University, Australia ) को समुपस्थितिमा सहमतीपत्रमा शिक्षा
मन्त्रालयका सहसचिव जनार्दन नेपाल र एनआरएनका तर्फबाट संघका अध्यक्ष
देवमान हिराचनले हस्ताक्षर गर्नुभयो । सहमतीपत्र एनआरएनका कार्यकारी
निर्देशक होमराज आचार्यले पढेर सुनाउनुका साथै स्टेरिङ कमिटिका
सदस्यहरुको नाम पनि पढेर सुनाउनु भएको थियो ।

सो अन्तरक्रिया कार्यक्रमका मुख्य वक्ता डा. फ्रीट्सले खासगरी विकासशिल
तथा विकासोन्मुख देशहरुमा खुला विश्वविद्यालयले उच्चशिक्षाको राम्रो सेवा
दिइरहेका र एशियाली मुलुकहरुमा पनि यस्ता विश्वविद्यालय स्थापना गर्ने
क्रम बढ्दै गएकाले, भौगोलिक एवं आर्थिक सामाजिक परिवेशका कारण पनि
नेपालमा यो अवधारणा अझ बढी प्रभावकारी हुने विश्वास प्रकट गर्नुभयो ।
उहांले खुला विश्वविद्यालयले प्रदान गर्ने शिक्षाको गुणस्तरमापनका लागि
भने वलियो संयन्त्र निर्माण हुनुपर्नेमा जोड दिंदै नेपालमा खुला
विश्वविद्यालय स्थापनाको परिकल्पनालाई सफल पार्न आफनो ज्ञान र शीप अनि
आफ्नो विश्वविद्यालयको तर्फबाट एनआरएनका माध्यमबाट सहयोग गर्ने विश्वास दिलाउनु भयो ।

सो अवसरमा मन्त्री शुक्लले खुला विश्वविद्यालय स्थापना र संचालनका लागि
शिक्षा मन्त्रालय निकै अगाडी बढी सकेको र यसमा सहकार्य गर्न एनआरएनबाट
देखाइएको प्रतिवद्धताले अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय अनुभव समेत भित्र्याई यसलाई
प्रतिफलमुखी बनाउन सघाउ पुग्ने विश्वास प्रकट गर्नुभयो ।

एनआरएनका अध्यक्ष देवमान हिराचनले शिक्षा, विज्ञान तथा प्रविधिका
क्षेत्रमा देशले प्रगति गर्न नसकेसम्म देशको विकास नहुने अनुभव सवै
एनआरएनहरुले गरेकाले देशको शिक्षा, विज्ञान प्रविधिको विकासमा नेपाल
सरकार शिक्षा, मन्त्रालय र नेपाल विज्ञान तथा प्रविधि प्रतिष्ठान (नाष्ट)
संग सहकार्यका लागि एनआरएनले हातेमालो गरेको जानकारी गराउनु भयो ।

कार्यक्रममा नेपालमा खुल्ला विश्वविद्यालय स्थापनाका लागि विदेशमा रहेर
प्रभावकारी भूमिका निर्वाह गरिरहनु भएका डा. प्रमोद ढकाल लगायतले
हालसम्मको प्रगति, अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय अनुभव आदान प्रदान गर्नुभएको थियो ।
कार्यक्रममा त्रिभुवन विश्वविद्यालय, काठमाडौं विश्वविद्यालयका
उपकुलपतिहरु, शिक्षा मन्त्रालयका वरिष्ठ पदाधिकारीहरु, एनआरएनहरु, शिक्षा
विद्हरु तथा विद्यार्थीहरुको सहभागिता रहेको थियो ।

२०६७ असोज २१