Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Frugal Innovation by the Small and the Marginal: An Alternative Discourse on Innovation and Development | by Dr Saradindu Bhaduri, CSSP

Frugal Innovation by the Small and the Marginal: An Alternative Discourse on Innovation and Development 

by Dr Saradindu Bhaduri, CSSP, JNU, India
Prince Claus Chair Inaugural Lecture delivered at ISS, The Hague, the Netherlands on 23rd May 2016.

Download Full-text PDF:

[Apologies for the cross-postings]

Why We Need To Reveal the Hidden Connections at the Heart of Cities| Steps Centre Blog


Posted on 23 May 2016 by 

By Fiona Marshall and Ritu Priya, STEPS Urbanisation theme

Urban areas are intense meeting points of people and cultures, but they're also places where more or less visible interactions happen: between the infrastructures and systems of water, energy, food and other resources. These connections pose a big challenge for how researchers understand cities – but they throw up opportunities too.

Urban researchers and planners increasingly look at the 'nexuses' between different things in the urban space. For example, producing food and making sure people can buy it relies on water, energy and transport systems working well; if you reduce the quality of or access to one of these things, the others will suffer. These are also underpinned by social and economic systems, arrangements of land, urban planning, engineering, and architecture; and shaped by politics, power and social movements. Because of this variety, urban researchers increasingly need to work with other disciplines and make new alliances.

A recent workshop on the 'nexuses of the urban', convened by the Nexus Network, explored how these transdisciplinary alliances could understand and work for urban sustainability. Many of the themes are very much in tune with a conference on sustainable urbanization we held in Delhi in January of this year.

Despite the interest in the 'nexus' from policy makers, some kinds of connections are more obvious and recognized than others. In our research, focusing on South Asian cities, we have found that the 'water-food-energy nexus' is itself linked to at least four other dimensions – waste, land use, vulnerability and livelihoods, with health spanning all.  Many important urban decisions affect not just one, but many parts of the nexus: for example, choosing to reduce landfill by building a waste-to-energy plant can undermine the livelihoods of wastepickers, as well as adding to local air pollution. But the environmental and health consequences are often not anticipated or recognized.

Engines of growth

Contemporary cities in south Asia are being promoted as engines of economic growth. Huge investments in infrastructure are often based on imported technologies and systems that have been deemed successful in entirely different contexts.  The suitability and quality of the infrastructure, and social and geographical access to it, have enormous implications for social and environmental justice and for long term environmental integrity.

As cities strive to compete as 'world class', an increasing number of policies and plans come under a banner of 'greening of cities', developing 'sustainable resource management' plans or making 'resilient' urban infrastructures.  But these initiatives are often skewed to benefit certain groups over others, or exclude some people altogether. There can also be unintended environmental consequences.


Part of an online brochure for the City Forest in Ghaziabad.

Examples of such projects are:

  • green spaces that provide leisure facilities for the rich, but can displace or exclude the poor. These include initiatives such as  'city forests', which can use large amounts of land and water to establish new tree species, whilst displacing urban and peri-urban farmers. This land could alternatively be used for city farms, working in ways that havemultiple environmental and health benefits.
  • projects aimed at 'resilientcities (eg attempting to secure the urban supply of water, or fresh urban produce in the context of uncertain climate events, price volatility and other expected shocks and stresses). These plans seem to disengage with nature (and the rural-urban continuum) and take little account of the need for resilient urban communities as the foundation of resilient cities.

Our research has looked how initiatives such as these might be recast to contribute to enhanced environmental integrity and social justice.

Opening up alternatives

To examine alternatives, we need to ask how and why urban policies are adopted and carried out. Over the past few years, our research has looked at why particular mainstream technological interventions, which are presented as improvements to basic service provision or the environmental management of cities (eg waste management, water supply and food systems) were chosen, how they are unfolding and what their implications are in terms of environmental integrity and social justice.

Often the picture for poor communities can be bleak: from unreliable and poor quality water, to losses of land and housing, as commercial interests are prioritized over social equity.

In many cases, there are pro-poor alternatives. Pursuing them means looking at the complex relationships between poverty, equality and environmental management and environmental sustainability. It also means asking why alternative visions for managing urban service provision and environmental improvement are often sidelined. In India, through a series of STEPS and related initiatives we have worked with diverse stakeholders (including poor peri-urban farming communitieswaste pickers, local and national NGOs, and government institutes).

Policy change

There is no single reason why urban policies disadvantage poor communities and create environmental problems. At multiple levels of the policy process, there are drivers, dynamics, politics and power relations which influence the setting of agendas and the winners and losers that emerge as dominant development pathways unfold.

So to raise the profile of possible alternative pathways for urban water and waste management, and most recently urban agriculture, we have worked with local partners in Delhi who are highly experienced in policy advocacy. Our involvement is only part of long-running debates and efforts to get a better deal for Delhi's poorer citizens, whose huge contributions to the city's economy and life are often underestimated.


The women of Gitanjali co-operative, an organisation working for rights of waste pickers in India. (Photo: Pritpal Randhawa)

Our aim now is to move from 'appreciating' alternative pathways to actively building pathways to sustainability. This means exploring how sustainability transformations could take place in cities and the mechanisms through which they can they be realised.  We are focusing our attention on how environmental research, undertaken with poor communities, is able to influence sustainability transformations. We will also explore how to achieve a wider systemic change through engagement with urban social movements.

Delhi: how elite agendas create environmental injustice

Currently, urban environmental plans and policies in India are being heavily influenced or captured by elite agendas. They often ignore the links between environmental change, and the health and livelihoods of citizens across the urban-rural continuum. Many mainstream urban environmental management interventions have 'hidden' impacts on ecosystems and health, undermining the potential for profound sustainability transformations.

A series of interventions in Delhi over the years have temporarily shifted pollution hazards to the margins of the city and to the poor, but with multiple unforeseen impacts.

  • In the early 1970s, the movement of poorer communities out of the city centre, into slums in the periphery, led to a widespread cholera outbreak.
  • In the 1990s, small-scale polluting industries were moved outwards to the city margins, resulting in pollution flowing back to the wider urban population in food and water.
  • Now, urban farmers are being displaced on the basis of their 'polluting' activity without regard for the major causes of pollution or the wider benefits of urban agriculture.

These kinds of environmental injustice could be partly addressed by deeper, sustained knowledge exchange between researchers and communities of the poor. These interactions provide the insights, reflection, real time evaluation and the basis for community empowerment and political leverage that are crucial to urban sustainability transformations as a whole. We believe that there is real potential for wider systemic change if such coalitions can work with wider social movements in India.

We are looking at the sorts of alliances which will bridge the gap between the current focus of elite environmental movements and hidden nexus challenges being faced by communities of the urban and peri-urban poor. We are concerned with how to facilitate learning across different forms of knowledge, and create a political space to address the adverse consequences of urban policies for environment and health.

Going global

Beyond Delhi and its surroundings, we are seeking a deeper understanding of the politics involved in opening up and closing down alternative pathways for transformations worldwide. For the STEPS urbanization theme, we particularly want to know how urban actors can form coalitions for pursuing these pathways (across the blurred boundaries between systems). We will examine the types of knowledge co-production (between formal and informal, researchers and grassroots organizations, elite actors and social movements), how they emerge, are sustained, and what knowledge politics are they subject to.

We have a firm foundation for this work in South Asia and some excellent entry points into topical policy debates.Work by the hubs in the STEPS global consortium also provides some fantastic opportunities for comparative perspectives. We are extending our networks through multiple routes – eg the establishment of a 'friends of sustainability network' in south Asia (largely involving civil society groups and academics working together, with a focus on sustainable urbanization); and exciting links with a group working at Arizona State University and Mexico city on similar challenges of coalition building to realise pathways to sustainability for urban water.

Find out more

Browse our Hot Topic on urbanization to learn more about STEPS projects and resources on this theme.

Main image: Illustration from the Water Cookbook by Bhagwati Prasad (STEPS Centre/Sarai)


Monday, May 23, 2016

Call for Papers on STI for SDGs | UNU-MERIT Workshop in New Delhi, India | 19-20 November 2016

[Apologies for cross postings]
Call for Papers on STI for SDGs

United Nations University (UNU-MERIT) Workshop in New Delhi, India

November 19-20, 2016

Please find attached a call for papers for a conference on the role of science, technology and innovation for the attainment of the SDGs. This call concerns a two day conference. The first day focuses on the perspectives of practitioners, while the second day concerns academic research.

Day 2: November 20, 2016

Technology, Innovation and Governance for attainment of the SDGs

Call for Papers

In a general sense, technology refers to a practical application of science to address a particular product or manufacturing need in the form of a specific process that produces a product or service. Innovation refers to novelty in terms of quality, product, design, process or organizational routine.

Exploiting technology and promoting innovation for economic growth as well as socioeconomic development is a challenge for all developing countries. Here governance is key. The national system of innovation of any country comprises a complex mesh of actors such as the State, firms, public laboratories, institutions, NGOs, civil society and consumers and even nature. Governance involves setting the rules of the game, with monitoring and incentives – so that collective welfare may be maximized. As with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for astute exploitation of existing technologies, promotions of useful innovations and efficient governance designs for attainment.

Thus, we call for papers addressing any issues related to the following that touch upon attainment of one or more SDGs:

  • Technology usage or redesign
  • Innovation creation, adoption, diffusion
  • Governance of delivery platforms, multi-stakeholder consortiums, public private partnerships, sanitation drives, government programmes

Papers must validate their arguments through evidence. Qualitative, quantitative or theoretical methodology can be deployed but final arguments must be validated by evidence. Please send your papers to Rushva Parihar Attendance is free but registration is required. To register – click on this link – fill the form and submit:

  • Deadline for submission: September 30.
  • Email confirmation of result: October 15.
  • Title Page should include full contact details. Selected Papers will be published as part of the UNU-MERIT working paper series and/or as a Special Issue of an international journal.

Organization Committee: Prof. Shyama V. Ramani and Rushva Parihar, UNU-MERIT (Netherlands). 

Friday, May 20, 2016

[UNESCO CI News] CI highlights

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Science, cornerstone of sustainable development

UNESCO Media Advisory N°2016-17

Science, cornerstone of sustainable development

Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General meets in Trieste

Paris, 18 May- The 25 leading scientists of the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General will meet in Trieste, Italy, on 24 and 25 May to provide insights and recommendations on the crucial role of science in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted by the United Nations in the late 2015.

The Board will also focus on the following topics: climate change and climate induced risks, local and indigenous knowledge systems as enablers of sustainable development as well as food security and health. The meeting will provide an opportunity to initiate a process of reflection on science consultation mechanisms for the United Nations system.

The members of the Board will participate in an open high-level Session on Strengthening scientific human capacity in developing countries, together with high level representatives of the Italian Government, UNESCO and top international science organizations based in Italy. This session will be livestreamed.

The Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General seeks to inform the United Nations' work by providing advice on science, technology and innovation for sustainable development. The Board brings together 26 eminent scientists from all regions of the world and aims to provide a complete picture of scientific needs to face global challenges. It will present its conclusions by the end of the year. UNESCO hosts the Secretariat of the Board.

This 5th meeting is hosted by the Government of Italy, the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of sciences in the developing world (TWAS), the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the International Centre for Genetic, Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).

The preliminary conclusions of the meeting will be shared at a press conference on 25 May 2016 at 9.45 a.m. in the Leonardo building of ICTP*. It will bring together Board members and the co-chairs of the meeting: Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for the Natural Sciences, and Fabiola Gianotti, Director-General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Media who are unable to join in person can access the press conference via online streaming; they will be able to ask questions remotely.

More information:

Media contact: Isabelle Brugnon, +33 (0) 664 148 494,

* Strada Costiera, 11. Trieste, Italy

If you would rather not receive future communications from UNESCO, let us know by clicking here.
UNESCO, 7, place de Fontenoy, PARIS, NA FRANCE France

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

UNESCO Launches GO-SPIN country profiles in science, technology and Innovation policy on Africa and Israel [open access]

[Apologies for cross-posting]

UNESCO Launches
GO-SPIN country profiles in science, technology and Innovation policy on Africa and Israel
  • Mapping Research and Innovation in the State of Israel | GO-SPIN country profiles in science, technology and Innovation policy # 5, UNESCO, Paris, 2016. Open Access Download.
  • Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Rwanda | GO-SPIN country profiles in science, technology and Innovation policy # 4, UNESCO, Paris, 2015. Open Access Download.
  • Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Malawi | GO-SPIN country profiles in science, technology and Innovation policy # 3, UNESCO, Paris, 2014. Open Access Download.
  • Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Zimbabwe | GO-SPIN country profiles in science, technology and Innovation policy # 2, UNESCO, Paris, 2014. Open Access Download.
  • Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Botswana | GO-SPIN country profiles in science, technology and Innovation policy # 1, UNESCO, Paris, 2013. Open Access Download.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

RIS Summer School on International Trade Theory and Practices| 6-10 June 2016 | New Delhi, India

RIS Summer School on International Trade Theory and Practices| 6-10 June 2016 | New Delhi, India

Deadline: 7May 2016

Spotting #Predatory 'Scholarly' Conferences in the Wild >> Eight Points to Remember

Spotting predatory events in the wild

So how can you know if a conference is predatory? Here are a few questions worth asking:

1) Is a single group organizing conferences in completely different fields? Similarly, is the scope of a conference too wide or are a variety of conferences held together in the same hotel on the same weekend? For example, an "International Conference on Arts and the Humanities" would be little use to most serious academics but great for maximizing revenues.

2) Are submissions accepted too soon? Getting accepted to legitimately peer-reviewed conferences takes time. If a proposal gets accepted in a matter of days, or before the call for papers has closed, it's worth investigating further before paying the registration fee.

3) Is the conference marketed like a holiday in the sun? Predatory conferences are often held in tourist destinations, advertised through spam and websites resembling travel brochures, and offer tours.

4) Does the conference fee seem high? Do presenters have to pay more than attendees? Forcing presenters to pay extra to make a speech should be a red flag.

5) Who and where are the organizers? Predatory conferences might not list names of all the people involved, or falsely claim the involvement of legitimate scholars. They may also list phone numbers and addresses that are either nonexistent, private homes or virtual offices. The name of the organization might imply they are based in a Western country when in fact they operate out of a developing country. Or their website fails to mention any address at all.

6) Do conference websites try too hard to give themselves a veneer of legitimacy? Look for websites plastered with a plethora of partner organizations and their logos, especially Google Scholar. Long lists of directors, international members, liaisons, advisory board members and so on should also be examined particularly carefully.

7) Has the organization or conference already been identified as suspicious? Online searches may reveal complaints or suspicions.

8) Are fees sent to a separate private company or an individual rather than the organizer itself? Unfortunately many predatory conference organizers use PayPal, which makes it harder to see where the money is really going.

Further Details: 'Predatory conferences' stalk Japan's groves of academia | by James Mccrostie | 11th May 2016

Friday, May 13, 2016

Indian Cabinet approves National Intellectual Property Rights Policy | "Creative India; Innovative India: रचनात्मक भारत; अभिनव भारत"

Cabinet approves National Intellectual Property Rights Policy

"Creative India; Innovative India: रचनात्मक भारत; अभिनव भारत"



The Union Cabinet yesterday approved the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy that will lay the future roadmap for intellectual property in India. The Policy recognises the abundance of creative and innovative energies that flow in India, and the need to tap into and channelise these energies towards a better and brighter future for all.


The National IPR Policy is a vision document that aims to create and exploit synergies between all forms of intellectual property (IP), concerned statutes and agencies. It sets in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review. It aims to incorporate and adapt global best practices to the Indian scenario. This policy shall weave in the strengths of the Government, research and development organizations, educational institutions, corporate entities including MSMEs, start-ups and other stakeholders in the creation of an innovation-conducive environment, which stimulates creativity and innovation across sectors, as also facilitates a stable, transparent and service-oriented IPR administration in the country.


The Policy recognizes that India has a well-established TRIPS-compliant legislative, administrative and judicial framework to safeguard IPRs, which meets its international obligations while utilizing the flexibilities provided in the international regime to address its developmental concerns.  It reiterates India's commitment to the Doha Development Agenda and the TRIPS agreement.


While IPRs are becoming increasingly important in the global arena, there is a need to increase awareness on IPRs in India, be it regarding the IPRs owned by oneself or respect for others' IPRs. The importance of IPRs as a marketable financial asset and economic tool also needs to be recognised. For this, domestic IP filings, as also commercialization of patents granted, need to increase. Innovation and sub-optimal spending on R&D too are issues to be addressed.


The broad contours of the National IPR Policy are as follows:


Vision Statement: An India where creativity and innovation are stimulated by Intellectual Property for the benefit of all; an India where intellectual property promotes advancement in science and technology, arts and culture, traditional knowledge and biodiversity resources; an India where knowledge is the main driver of development, and knowledge owned is transformed into knowledge shared.


Mission Statement:


Stimulate a dynamic, vibrant and balanced intellectual property rights system in India to:

  • foster creativity and innovation and thereby, promote entrepreneurship and enhance socio-economic and cultural development, and
  • focus on enhancing access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection, among other sectors of vital social, economic and technological importance.




The Policy lays down the following seven objectives:

  •         i. IPR Awareness: Outreach and Promotion - To create public awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society.
  •       ii. Generation of IPRs - To stimulate the generation of IPRs.
  •     iii. Legal and Legislative Framework - To have strong and effective IPR laws, which balance the interests of rights owners with larger public interest.
  •     iv. Administration and Management - To modernize and strengthen service-oriented IPR administration.
  •      v. Commercialization of IPRs - Get value for IPRs through commercialization.
  •     vi. Enforcement and Adjudication - To strengthen the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements.
  •   vii. Human Capital Development - To strengthen and expand human resources, institutions and capacities for teaching, training, research and skill building in IPRs.


These objectives are sought to be achieved through detailed action points. The action by different Ministries/ Departments shall be monitored by DIPP which shall be the nodal department to coordinate, guide and oversee implementation and future development of IPRs in India.


The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy will endeavor for a "Creative India; Innovative India: रचनात्मक भारत; अभिनव भारत".





Cabinet decision: Intellectual Property Rights policy cleared; sops for R&D, startups

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published: May 14, 2016 | India's IPR policies are WTO-compliant, FM said in reply to concerns by developed nations on Section 3(D). The policy suggests making the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) the nodal point coordinate for IPRs in India.

The government on Friday unveiled the national intellectual property rights (IPR) policy to create a larger institutional framework to strengthen the IPR regime, with the slogan "Creative India, Innovative India". While the policy focuses on issues like expediting approval processes involving patents or trademarks and consolidating institutional mechanisms to create a robust IPR ecosystem, it refrains from suggesting any change to contentious provisions in the Patents Act, 1970, including Section 3(d) and compulsory licensing, despite concerns expressed by the US and pharma companies.
Nevertheless, the policy provides for constructive engagement "in the negotiation of international treaties and agreements in consultation with stakeholders" and likely accession to some multilateral treaties that are in India's interest. It also suggests tax incentives to boost R&D and the creation of a loan guarantee scheme to encourage start-ups and cover the risk of genuine failures in commercialisation based on IPRs as mortgageable assets.
The policy suggests making the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) the nodal point coordinate for IPRs in India, even though the onus of actual implementation of the plans of action will be on the ministries/departments concerned in their sphere of work. So, for instance, the administration of the Copyright Act, 1957 (now under the department of higher education) and the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000 (under the department of electronics and information technology) will be brought under the DIPP.
This, it is believed, will lead "to synergetic linkage between various IP offices under one umbrella". Interestingly, it seeks to protect traditional systems like Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy — be it in oral or in codified form — from misappropriation, and also curb film piracy by suitably amending the Indian Cinematography Act, 1952.
Announcing the approval to the policy by the Cabinet, finance minister Arun Jaitley stressed that India's IPR policies are WTO-compliant. He added that one must encourage invention of life-saving drugs and at the same time "we must also be conscious of the need to make it available at a reasonable cost so that drug cost does not become prohibitive as has become in some parts of the world"
Responding to concerns expressed by developed countries like the US on Section 3(D) and compulsory licensing, Jaitley said: "We do believe that the balancing act which India has struck is responsible for lifesaving drugs available at a reasonable cost in India… So, our model seems to be both legal, equitable and WTO-compliant."
Section 3(d) prevents evergreening of drug patents. Apart from novelty and inventive step, the section provides for improvement in therapeutic efficacy a necessary condition for grant of patents when it comes to incremental inventions. Compulsory licensing allows domestic players to produce cheaper versions of patented drugs. The US and the EU have been pushing India to make appropriate changes to these provisions to boost innovation, R&D and foreign investment. Recently, releasing its annual 301 report, the US retained India on its priority watch list, citing "lack of sufficient measurable improvements" to the IP framework despite robust engagement and positive steps on intellectual property protection and enforcement by the Indian government in the last two years.
The finance minister said by 2017, trademarks can be registered within a month. Currently, in some cases, this process takes even a few years. FE