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Collaboration, Education, Livelihoods and Development in a Changing World

vijay's blog

Learning About Solar Power at India's Barefoot College

Tagged with : Pamelamclean

Hi Pam, I decided to put up this post since there is an Africa angle to it.

The much-acclaimed Barefoot College in Rajasthan (North India)has been empowering rural men and women by teaching them skills that help them get a livelihood. 

This news link was interesting since it talks about three women from Africa getting trained in making and installing solar lamps.

The news items says: "The three, who have been here for two months, will train another 16 weeks, learning about charge controllers, inverters, core-winding, deciphering of printed circuit boards, testing, wiring, installation, and repair and maintenance of solar panels. After six months of hands-on training, they will return home to install solar units in their villages, dispelling the darkness forever."

The Barefoot College began in 1972 with the belief that “solutions to rural problems lie within the community”. The college, which has bagged many international awards for its innovative approach to empowering poor and rural women, encourages practical knowledge and skills rather than paper qualifications.

It would be good if to find out if Barefoot College would like to invite a few women from FF for training in solar engineering.

Thanks,

Learning Twitter Lessons in a Chat Room

Tagged with : Pamelamclean

Hi Pam, I don't hate technology, but I also don't have a craving fascination for it.

Social media, of course, is a different arena. I love the idea of connecting to people and exhanging ideas and thoughts--and as you would say, rubbing minds with those who would like to share their wisdom with me on a range of topics of interest to me.

But here too, I am not a person who plunges headlong into anything new unless I am truly convinced that I need it for 'building bridges' with the community around the world. I take my time to explore, play and understand the technology and its bigger impact.

Facebook (FB) was the platform that I began to use since last year. I liked the idea of being able to instantly share interesting stories, thoughts, links, audios and videos to friends and acquaintances. Of course, I kept believing that the catch here was that my friends had to be online to be able to read the stuff that I had put up. To my pleasant surprise, I found out that many of them had mobile internet connectivity which allowed them instant access and reaction time to the latest posts on FB.

What Should First Thursday Aim to Do?

Tagged with : Teacherstalking, Vijay-Pam

Hi Pam,

It feels good to be back on Dadamac after a long time. The other day, you asked me about my views on the latest First Thursday, in which I tried to participate but could not do much. And I wrote the reason for that in a recent blog comment. Here goes:

"For one, I was having a problem with the Net connection on the First Thursday. And also, to be frank, I just could not connect with the agenda. I felt like a total stranger, groping in the dark.

This is not to belittle the thought and efforts behind First Thursday, but I would ideally like to participate in a lively interaction and exchange of ideas, where I get enriched by the knowledge flow and (try to) enlighten somebody else with whatever little I know.

This time, I felt things were getting quite listless. And I hope I am wrong. For the next chat, can we talk on a couple of topics or more, so that there are enough talking points.

A lot of time gets wasted on pleasantries--and before one gets to focus on the topic, the discussion veers off in some other direction. So as an anchor, you might have to take the tough line, and make participants tow the line.

Africa on the Rebound

Tagged with : Pamelamclean

Hi Pam,  

Hope all of you are doing fine.

It has been a long, long time. I have been quite busy with my work.  

Here is something that might be on interest to Dadamac readers. It is an infographic from the Economist magazine which says that sub-Saharan Africa's economy is forecast to grow overall by 4.5% this year. In comparison, economies of countries south of the Sahara together grew by less than 2% in 2009. 

As much as the infographic, it is interesting to read the comments by readers on what this news would mean for Africa. While some have responded that the rate of growth should be higher, others have said that even faster pace of growth would mean nothing for Africa unless it controls its growing population and tackles issues like health and education.

Thanks and regards,

Vijay

 

Pushing up Farm Productivity

Tagged with : Agriculture, Dadamac Learners, Pamelamclean

Dear Pam,

Here is an interesting piece on the role that pulses and oilseeds play in nutritional security. Though the article talks about the state of Indian agriculture, it has some interesting points on increasing agricultural productivity.

In order to progress, the mindset with regard to the following two factors needs to change, says Dr Lux Lakshmanan, Director, California Agriculture Consulting Service. Factor no 1: It is not the farmer who makes the food: he is only a facilitator. Food is actually made by plants. Since plants do not talk, their needs are understood through research and experimentation. Factor no 2: The mindset that assumes that breeding is the solution to all maladies has to change. Nurturing of plants is several times more important in crop productivity improvement than hybrid seeds per se.

The Truth About Climate Change

Tagged with : Climatechange, Vijay-Pam

Hi Pam,

I don't know if the Copenhagen Summit will end in some kind of a climate deal. But even if it does mark the first decisive step to do something about saving the planet, there are some who think it will amount to nothing, even if nations reach an agreement.

The reason being that reducing carbon emissions by 80% from the 1990 levels - the target for 2050 for rich countries - depends on technological breakthroughs, not political pledges at Copenhagen. Without technological breakthroughs, reducing carbon emissions by 80% will erode living standards in the countries concerned, says leading Indian economics journalist Swaminathan Aiyar.

In his latest column, Aiyar argues that through history, treaties have been junked if they become politically inconvenient. Not only that, he debunks climate science too by calling the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections as "just intelligent guesstimates". His parting shot: IPCC scientists may be the best in the world, yet they cannot predict the weather more than five days ahead.

The Way Out of Undernutrition

Tagged with : Agriculture, Pamelamclean

Hi Pam,

When I began discussing about a learning group on food security, I was only thinking of agriculture and farmers. But over this week, I began to realise that food security is a far bigger area than that: it also encompasses issues like availability and access, and most importantly, nutrition.

Now, I don't how many people will agree with me that nutrition also forms a part of food security. But to me, the circle of food security is incomplete if a huge chunk of a country's population continues to wallow in hunger, despite high agricultural productivity and foodgrain output.

A case in point is India. Despite being a booming economy and one of the food baskets of the world, nutrition deprivation is widespread among India's children.

According to India’s third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) of 2005-06, 20 per cent of Indian children under five-years-old are wasted due to acute undernutrition and 48 per cent are stunted due to chronic undernutrition.

The Urge to See and Know Africa

Tagged with : Pamelamclean

Hi Pam,

Sometimes, I have the great urge to push off to the rural heartland of an African country and spend some months understanding people and development.

Although India itself offers a great variety of developmental challenges and learnings, I find Africa a more fascinating place to be in for understanding the interplay of development and anthropology in a cultural context different from mine.

By going there, I hope to get a closer feel of people belonging to ancient cultures and traditions, and a land rich in pristine biodiversity.

I would also like to see whether development is going to change the lives of these people-- for the better or worse.

Even spending two months on the ground there would be a better learning experience than doing a two-year course in a top league university.

For me, nothing compares to learning on my feet, taking in the real sights and sounds, hearing stories from the people about their changing needs and expectations, and then trying to find out with them what kind of development will work best for them, and then go about empowering their lives on their terms.  

Can Dadamac Become a Virtual Organisation?

Tagged with : Dadamac, Vijay-Pam

Hi Pam,

Some months ago, in one of your initial E-conversations with me, you gave me a detailed description about your plan and vision for Dadamac. We also talked about building a roadmap for the future.

This week, as I was reading an interesting piece about the virtual organisation on the Economist website, it struck me that Dadamac probably has all the makings of becoming one. 

In the coming years, Dadamac will be driven primarily by mobile assets like people, knowledge and information. I call people mobile assets since those working for Dadamac (either as full time workers or consultants) won't be stationed in one place. They will be spread out across the world, trying to pitch in with their intellectual capital, ideas, solutions, and networking and fund-raising potential .

Open Source Mobile Phone Solution for Surveys

Tagged with : Ictd, Vijay-Pam

Hi Pam,

Here is something that might be of interest to Dadamac and FF. I am pasting a press release that I got from my friend, who is a doctor in the US. Here goes:

Researchers from Makerere University and their collaborators from Norway, India, Ethiopia, South Africa, the United States and Pakistan unveiled openXdata at Kampala on November 12.

OpenXdata is a community-developed, open-source, enterprise end-to-end software solution that revolutionizes surveys and studies by changing the way in which data collection, data management, and data analysis is carried out. Computer scientists and experts in public health, education and development from these countries gathered for the launch event in Kampala, which will be followed by similar events in Karachi, Bangalore, Bergen and Cape Town in 2010.

OpenXdata eliminates bulky paper forms and subsequent data entry as well as costly errors related to manual data entry and lack of data validation at the time of data collection.