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Asia Pacific Workshop on "Leadership, Land and Local Resources at the eve of the MDG deadline of 2015"

Recently in June (20-22), administrators, academia and practitioners from the Asia Pacific region came together to discuss "Leadership, Land and Local Resources at the eve of the MDG deadline of 2015". Interestingly, the international scholars did not converge at a five star hotel but at a modest Ecoashram in the midst of forest villages adjoining Rajaji National Park at Medawala in Dehradun. The workshop was organized by the Network of Asia Pacific Schools and Institutes of Public Administration and Governance (NAPSIPAG), located at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance at Jawaharlal Nehru University. It was supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).

Discourse on leadership, land and local resources has been big city centric. The voices from the periphery have not made sufficient impact upon the core policy formulations which drastically affect the way poor people live in the Asia Pacific. The mismanagement of land as a primary resource of self-governance and poverty reduction has been further exacerbated by the lack of leadership in the Asia Pacific countries and there inability of leaders to synchronize and coordinate many constructs of history with local development such as cultural norms with scientific progress, customary institutions with land management and equity as a sacrosanct theme for progress across communities, regions, sex and species. This lack of firm, knowledgeable and effective leadership has created a vested interest in the continuation of poverty, divisiveness, capacity deficits and deepening divides between the rich and the poor. In such a fundamentally flawed governance system the achievement of MDGs may remain difficult and therefore the goals of poverty reduction, health and well – being may not be achieved as desired.Through this workshop an effort is being made to transcend the mainstream discourses on well – being.

The workshop made efforts to generate capacity of decision makers to answer three fundamental questions:
How much land does a man need? How much could he consume? How greed is translated into laws?
The IMG (Trivendrum) Director General, Dr. Nivedita P. Haran (IAS) in her keynote, highlighted that every administrator starts his career with land and gradually gets completely distanced from it. Environmental lawyer, M.C.Mehta brought out the gaps in the land acquisition policies which has allowed its exploitation in defiance of the value of ecosystems and the species which it nurtures. The land based ecological economics has developed as a discipline in USA but Asian institutions including the judiciary has not taken sufficient cognizance of all assets such as local knowledge, community bonding which is required to implement welfare policies, ecosystem nourishment, exclusion of inhabitants and a subsequent rise of land mafia in the form of developers and realty traders which then onwards become drivers of development.

Scholars and administrators from nine Asian countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines besides countries of South Asia reiterated that the rise of consumerism has been pushed by the arbitrary sale and acquisition of land irrespective of the ecosystem vulnerability and consideration of high risk zones. As cash income is generated, more earned income is lost for rebuilding lives and environment which, despite the public investment, never resuscitates the dead ecology. Prof. Shree Krishna Shrestha (Nepal), Mr. Sutarto Mochtar (administrator from Indonesia) Mr. KD Chitrapala and Mr.Kamal Pathmasiri (Administrators from Sri Lanka) reiterated that the practices across the Asian countries has been similar as all these countries are now locked in a very consumeristic pattern of growth which need to be replaced with the vision of Asiatic philosophy of conservation and co-existence.

The Philippine scholar, Prof. Isiaih Sealz linked the misuse of land to the rise of freebee welfare NGOs or militant groups. Sri Lanka's Prof. Lalitha Fernando and Prof. Neena Joseph found a link of gender violence and subjugation with land mismanagement. Bangladesh scholar Prof. Shamsur Rahman suggested a grassroot decentralized developmental planning which would be more inclusive and open to indigenous wisdom and challenges. Prof. Akmal Wasim from Pakistan insisted that patterns of growth are becoming more and more segregated and fragmented despite the fact that interdisciplinarity and convergence is now being practiced in planning across South Asia. Much of this distancing is taking place as vested interests create opaque boundaries to conceal corrupt transactions as change of land use takes place through laws and ordinances.

The session on land was held in the midst of the village forest area in Medawala where issues could be seen as they were being discussed. The trail of wild elephants sometimes blocking movement of delegates exposed the thoughtless building of roads and railway tracks through habitats which were supposed to be pristine and free of human interference. The man-animal conflict is also man created through land mismanagement. The session on river management was held at a steep river turning point of the Ganges catchment in Rishikesh valley where high-rise hotels and dense habitation has been allowed to grow to encourage tourism and realty rates. The devastation across the catchment zone was self-explanatory for participating stakeholders and delegates that the laws to protect river ecology have been dotted with greed inspired local planning. A large number of local ecologists, river conservators, activists and scholars from IIT Roorkee Ganga Projest and Forest Officers joined hands with administrators to make 'convergence bottom up planning' a reality in the whole of Asia as the land, rivers and ecosystem prosperity of which human beings are a fragment, observe no boundaries.

Sylvia Yambem & Manika Kamthan
Centre for the Study of Law and Governance

Asian Conference on Innovation and Policy: Innovation for Development

The Centre for Studies in Science Policy (CSSP) of Jawaharlal Nehru University, jointly with the Asian Society for Innovation and Policy (ASIP) and National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies (CSIR-NISTADS), organized a two-day Asian Conference on Innovation and Policy 2013 (ASIP-2013) from 29 to 30 July 2013 at the India International Centre, New Delhi. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) under Government of India, Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) and National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) were co-sponsors for the event.

The two-day event was started with an opening session on 29 July. Professor Sung-Soo Seol of ASIP introduced the 3rd ASIP Conference and its theme Innovation for Development. He also introduced this Conference as an opportunity to hear Asian voices on contemporary issues of science, technology and innovation (STI) studies. Dr. Se-Jung Oh, President of Institute for Basic Science of Korea, briefly introduced the contributions and dedications of Asian STI researchers and think-tanks made during the period of shaping up of this interdisciplinary research area in the last fifty years. In his keynote address titled "Emerging Space for Science, Technology and Innovation in the New Global Economy", Dr. T. Ramasami, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST) touched upon the formation of India's new "Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013". This Policy was an outcome of a yearlong open consultation process with various stakeholders including national science academies, industry associations, think tanks, civil societies, public policy analysts, and national and international expert groups. New STI policy addresses sustainable and inclusive growth in the country, while nurturing India's demographic dividend and huge talent pool. It has also captured aspirations of new global opportunities available with emerging economies such as India. New STI policy is also promoting excellence and relevance in R&D. It has also tried to link systems of grassroots innovation and open innovation with national systems of innovation. In this session Prof. V.V. Krishna of CSSP and Dr. Pradosh Nath of NISTADS introduced different facets of STI studies being carried out in India.

In this conference about thirty papers were presented in ten sessions, including a few parallel sessions with sub-themes such as STI Policy, Intellectual Properties & Standards, Innovation, SME (Small and Medium Enterprises), Collaboration & Network, and Analysis.

In the closing session, a roundtable discussion on Innovation in Asia was held. Some panellists spoke about innovation policymaking and documenting best practices in different areas of innovation, and more particularly in the areas of open innovation, grassroots innovation, and strengthening academia-industry linkages. In this session, a high level participation was seen from the audience commenting on the present practices of interdisciplinary STI research. This session concluded with vibrant discussion and information flow from the audience.

Anup Kumar Das
Documentation Officer
Centre for Studies in Science Policy, SSS

National Convention on Ethics in Research on Human Subjects: Problems of implementing International Guidelines in Indian Context organized by IERB-JNU, 30-31st July 2013

The inaugural session on 30 July 2013 was chaired by Dr Shiv K. Sarin, and attended by the Vice Chancellor, Dr. S.K. Sopory, Chancellor, Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Emeritus Scientist, Dr Ranjit Roychaudhury, Prof GK Chadha, President, South Asian University, and Prof Vaishna Narang, Member Secretary, IERB-JNU and Convenor of the conference.

Prof. Vaishna Narang, convenor of the conference introduced and welcomed everyone and introduced the theme of the conference by reporting a behavioural study on emotional deprivation in orphaned babies. Through this shocking study on orphaned infants conducted by Rene Spitz in the 40's, Prof Narang drew the attention of the audience to the major concerns and ethical issues that confront us today.

Prof. S. K. Sopory, Vice Chancellor, JNU highlighted the Ethical Concerns in Human Research in Universities and Institutions of Higher Learning across the Country. He pointed that the present convention was the first national level meeting of this nature and dimension on Ethics ever organized by any University and thanked the organizers for making it relevant and functional IERB. The institutional ethics committees play a critical role, as an appropriate regulatory mechanism, as an advisory body, with an educative and academic function, capacity building and preparing future generations of researchers for research of highest ethical standards. Every institute or university should have an independent body or a committee on Ethics. Such committees should take into account the dignity, rights and welfare of the participants taking care to bring in a protected environment. We live in a globalised and competitive world. Knowledge is being patented and one overlooks the moral ethical and scientific value.

JNU is a research University, leading in many ways, including a properly constituted body called Institutional Ethics Review Board for research on Human subjects, which not only reviews the research proposals, plays an advisory role and conducts regular orientation and awareness programs for the research community of JNU, thus preparing future generations of researchers for ethical approaches to research.

Chancellor of JNU, Dr. Kasturirangan, delivered the inaugural address. Giving the example of ISRO as a complex functioning system where thousands of people were looking after thousands of complex subsystems, he said Ethics is something that has been made possible invoking the basic principles of life and its internalization of value system and culture which is the operative system of human activities. JNU has always tried to maintain the highest ethical standards so it is important to formulate a pioneering research board. IERB not only reviews but has an advisory role in preparing future researchers. He also talked about robust regulations to be established and the fact that JNU is serious about maintaining highest ethical standards in research. UGC does not provide any norms and guidelines, does not even suggest that research in the country should follow certain ethical norms, but JNU, 1st in many other ways, also leads in this.

The keynote address-I was delivered by Dr. Ranjit Roychaudhury who spoke on clinical research in India and evolving India specific norms for clinical research. Prof. Ranjit Roy Chaudhury said that Clinical research has come to a path where it can be used as a model to study what went wrong. The only gatekeeper between the unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies and the people would be the ethical committee to determine the course of action. Last year where there were 164 clinical trials, this year the number has come down to 6. The pharma companies are going to other countries for drug trials. 44 clinical trial centres have closed down. Ethics Committees in the world of clinical research are not like the one in JNU. There is no oversight, the conflict of interest galore, blatant collusion amongst companies and scientists, erratic drug policies, unscrupulous investigations. There is no transparent system. There are over 200 ethics committees in India and there are no records, no funds and no meetings are held. I am glad to recognize that JNU has taken a lead.

The four pillars in this are Accreditation, Transparency, Empowerment, Balance and in the end we have to find our own solutions and recommend setting up an organisation like NICE- National Institute of Clinical Excellence UK, ensuring that our people are not taken advantage of. Ethical committees should also monitor norms of "informed consent" and to formulate simple understandable consent language.

Prof. GK Chadha, former VC of JNU and current President of South Asian University delivered the second keynote address on "Evolving India Specific Norms for Ethics in Social Science Research" and giving examples from economics and social and political science studies showed how ethics were important. He said that scientist worked for the people and social scientist worked with the people.

Dr. Shiv K. Sarin, Chairperson, IERB-JNU who is the Director, ILBS and who chaired the inaugural session shared what a doctor goes through. Doctors of medicine have to take the most complicated decisions in the shortest of all times. The goal of Clinical Research is to generate useful knowledge about health & illness using human subjects. He cited ethical problems in Clinical Research. Benefits to participants are not the purpose of research. There is always a risk of exploitation. There is a need to minimize possibility of exploitation. The job of EC is to be progressive, permissive and to facilitate and certify people only to do clinical trials. Prof. Amita Singh, Professor at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance at JNU delivered the vote of thanks and pointed out that this first national convention on ethics in human research was successful and sustainable; as can be seen from the participating institutions, and the range of papers from the disciplines like clinical and basic life sciences, philosophy, psychology, legal studies, education, language and linguistics etc. were being presented.

The inaugural session was followed by plenary session on "Science and Ethics: Case of Climate Change" by Dr Raghunandan from Delhi Science Society, chaired by Prof Arun K.Agarwal from MAMC, which was followed by parallel sessions in the afternoon and on the second day. 31st July there were parallel sessions and two plenary sessions, one on "Linking Research and Clinical Service- Challenges and Opportunities" by Prof. Shivashankar N, from NIMHANS, Bangalore and the other on "Informed Consent" by Prof. S. C. Malik, former Professor of Psychiatry, LHMC.

In the panel discussion and valedictory session on 31 July 2013, the panelists included Dr V.N.Katoch, Secretary, Ministry of Health and also DG, ICMR as the chief guest, and Dr. Ranjit Roychaudhury, India-WHO head on Rational Use of Drugs in India, Prof. Madhuri Behari, Head, Department of Neurology, AIIMS, and Dr. Shiv K Sarin, Chairperson, IERB-JNU and Director, ILBS who moderated the panel discussion and Prof. Vaishna Narang, Member- Secretary, IERB-JNU.

Prof. Narang presented a brief summary of the previous sessions mentioning that more than 300 participants registered for the conference and close to 160 were present until the last and concluding session. There were three plenary sessions as mentioned above. More than 65 papers were presented in the other sessions by delegates from a number of institutions like AIIMS, IHBAS, MAMC, AIISH- Mysore, ICMR, universities like DU, JNU, South Asian University, IGNOU, IP University and a number of law schools in the country. The range of disciplines people covered in these sessions included philosophy, language and linguistics, psychology, social sciences, medical and clinical research, speech and audiology, autism and neuro-psychological studies, deaf studies, social medicine and community health, issues of compensation, environmental sciences, NMR studies and radiological investigations etc.

The most important part is that the issues identified and discussed again and again in various sessions included : Scientific validity vs ethical concerns; process of ethical review for behavioural, medical, clinical, socio-psychological or any other study on human beings; role of EC's, to facilitate, to educate and to play an advisory role; must be progressive and permissive; vulnerability issues; clinical experience, clinical practice and the ethics rule book: where to draw the line, when, where and how much can you compromise?; review process for university research of students, and General ethical principles of the civil society like the questions of individual identity, vulnerability, autonomy, voluntariness, beneficence, risk and justice, compensation and reimbursements, insurance etc were discussed.

In the panel discussion a number of issues arising out of the two day deliberations were discussed by the panelists. Dr. VM Katoch talked about the issue of marginalized populations and changing ethos of the society; changing norms and standards of ethics in society and its acceptance as well. On a positive note he said the system has improved year after year, harmonizing the marginalized; changes in the rules which make the EC's more accountable; public participation is important and civil society is taking charge and there is change for the better.

Recommendations emerging out of various sessions including the inaugural and the valedictory sessions are the following:

  1. Ethical guidelines should be common for various types of research involving human participants including medical and clinical research, behavioural and sociopsychological, social sciences and humanities.
  2. No. 1 above would entail that practically every possible research proposal involving human subjects should be reviewed/examined/scrutinized using the same principals of respect for individual identity, autonomy, voluntariness and procedures for informed consent to be adhered to; principles of justice and beneficence; consideration for public health and risk and benefits, confidentiality and issues of compensations/ reimbursement/ incentives/insurance; and last but not the least, special consideration for vulnerable populations in every research involving human participants.
  3. India specific, rather culture specific implications and interpretation of each one of the basic principles may be provided.
  4. Advisory (and guidelines) to be framed in such a manner that they are understood and applied by different researchers working in different disciplines using different tools and different approaches.
  5. Advisory/ guidelines to include specific detailed recommendations for specific tools/approaches/methodologies wherever necessary.
  6. Ethical and legal issues arising out of various kinds of human research/es may be presented as case studies to underline the important concerns.
  7. It was observed that research institutions in general and clinical research institution in particular are not a priority in the country. It was also observed that properly streamlined sustained efforts by individuals and various institutions needed to get the requisite political will which may eventually yield results for future research.
  8. Language of every document that highlights ethical issues must be simple, absolutely clear to people from different disciplines, Legal/semi legal discourse may be the best to communicate the legal issues which may confront a researcher or a research institution. Dissemination of information, awareness programs and orientation programs/also training programs may be conducted from time to time involving multi institutional/ multidisciplinary expertise.
  9. Universities and medical /clinical research and educational institutions to take it up as a collective responsibility.
  10. Universities may also take up the responsibility of educating the future generations of researchers and students from various disciplines preparing them for ethical and only ethical research.
  11. Online courses on bioethics to be developed jointly by various institutions (joining hands with JNU)
  12. National and international conferences and conventions such as this one may be made an annual feature, to be supported/hosted by various other institutions as well.

Vaishna Narang
Member Secretary, IERB Convener, NCERHS

Talk on Cloud Computing

The School of Computer and Systems Sciences organized a lecture on "Cloud Computing: The Next Revolution in Information Technology" on 19 August, 2013 in SSS-I auditorium. Professor Rajkumar Buyya, Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering, Future Fellow of the Australian Research Council, and Director of the Cloud Computing and Distributed Systems (CLOUDS) Laboratory at the University of Melbourne, Australia delivered the lecture.

Prof. Buyya introduced the concepts in Cloud Computing and the way Computing is being transformed to a model consisting of services that are commoditized and delivered in a manner similar to utilities such as water, electricity, gas, and telephony. In such a model, users access services based on their requirements without regard to where the services are hosted. Several computing paradigms have promised to deliver this utility computing vision. Cloud computing is the most recent emerging paradigm promising to turn the vision of "computing utilities" into a reality. Cloud computing has emerged as one of the buzzwords in the IT industry. Several IT vendors are promising to offer storage, computation and application hosting services, and provide coverage in several continents, offering Service-Level Agreements (SLA) backed performance and uptime promises for their services.

The keynote/ seminar presentation comprised of (a) 21st century vision of computing and identifies various IT paradigms promising to deliver the vision of computing utilities; (b) opportunities and challenges for utility and market-oriented Cloud computing, (c) innovative architecture for creating market-oriented and elastic Clouds by harnessing virtualization technologies; (d) Aneka, a Cloud Application Platform, for rapid development of Cloud applications and their deployment on private/public Clouds with resource provisioning driven by SLAs; (e) experimental results on deploying Cloud applications in engineering, gaming, and health care domains (integrating sensors networks, mobile devices), ISRO satellite image processing on elastic Clouds, and (f) directions for delivering our 21st century vision along with pathways for future research.

Audience for the talk comprised faculty and students of many schools of JNU as well as IIT Delhi, Jamia Milia Islamia, IGNOU and IP University, Delhi.

D. P. Vidyarthi, Professor &
T. V. Vijay Kumar, Assistant Professor
School of Computer and Systems Sciences


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