November 2007

MSP: India emerges as a trendsetter

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The Context
While the much understood public private partnership model has evolved to engage other active stakeholders in the field of the development, and especially when applications of ICTs for development is considered, the dynamics of conceptualising, building, sustaining and evolving them to multi-stakeholder partnerships is emerging as an important area of future way of working.

More and more institutions are adopting the model of MSP, and since this involves engaging not only the corporate partners but also the civil society agencies, international and national support agencies, the processes itself offer a unique example for the world to emulate. The key question to ask is, while evidently, MSPs can deliver, “Where does the value go?”  The governments begin to take on a more direct role in policy controls and delivery mechanisms, keeping a monitoring and supervisory role. They also undertake to provide the conducive environment for monitoring and evaluation, and ensuring that the mandate of good governance and citizen participation are ensured to further the democratic principles of equitable and sustainable development, addressing social, cultural and economic inequities.

MSP processes in motion promotes innovation
One of the strategic reasons for engaging various stakeholders in national level processes is to use efficiently the existing resources and institutions like schools, colleges, industrial training institutes etc. for building the capacity and improving access/ infrastructure. Corporate energies and efficient management practices, when applied to development sector could yield different kinds of results. Their potential can be harnessed not only for furthering emerging market opportunities and developing new and emerging technologies but also impacting the lives and livelihoods of the marginalized and impoverished communities who are otherwise outside the spectrum of “market clients”. The objective here is to build a development sensitive corporate ethics, and engaging leading technology developers in national development vision and programmes.

The issues of transparency, accountability and efficiency are current malaise in hugely bureaucratised governance structures and institutions. The efforts of bringing a National eGovernance Action Plan (NeGP) by the Government of India seeks to address the digital divide issues and access questions by focussing on creating ubiquitous and national grid telecommunications and information highway infrastructure through programmes like the 100,000 Common Service Centres planned across the country, the State Wide Area Network for broadband connectivity, and National and State level Data Centres for knowledge banking, besides 27 mission mode projects launched reflects the commitment of the government to improve access and services to the citizens across the country. This is affirmative action by the Government and other countries or regional associations like EU could learn from it.

Inclusive growth strategy ensures innovations
The affirmative action by the state includes building a class based instead of a caste-based strategy for development. ICTs can play a role in enabling robust beneficiary schemes to the poor and marginalized communities with a vision of building an inclusive society. The governments also have an important role to play to advocate and issue development perspective guidelines to ensure that the fruits of globalisation reach the masses, and are enjoyed by them as well. According positive incentives to corporate programmes that support development initiatives, innovations and applications development can be an important part of affirmative action by the State. Support informal and innovation centres that reflect different and alternative models of development.

What is exciting in India is that efforts are not only being made by the Government, but also by newly emerging alliances and networks. The Mission 2007 (recently renamed, as National Grameen Gyan Abhiyan (village knowledge campaign) is another example of how multi-stakeholder partnerships can be forged to build alliances with partners. The movement as an alliance has provided collaborative thinking and advocacy support to create policy changes to highlight the need for scaling up successful technology for development initiatives for poverty reduction.

These two initiatives must be reflected upon to build a stronger feedback mechanism for being inclusive to diversity and class/caster variance that is currently being pursued.

Reflecting on the past, envisaging a future
The following questions will be addressed during the panel discussions.

  • What are the structural and operational strategies of these programmes and how do they address the issue of diversity, class, caste and other variance?
  • How do they generate livelihoods opportunities?
  • How has India emerged as a leading player in the Business Process Outsourcing area, and created a niche for itself?
  • How does one truly build multi-disciplinarity to promote MSP?
  • How do we tackle the current and future challenges like energy needs for IT driven economy, global warming and e-wastes management?
  • How can tools like Community Radio, Mobiles for Development, and Telecentres give voice to the voiceless, focus on locally relevant content, and disseminate new and traditional knowledge and culture?
  • How do we engage the energies of the youth, and address gender issues?
  • How do we create more visibility to scalable projects?
  • What are the future perspectives and where should we focus our energies?

Four key questions

  • What is the key learning of the value of multi-stakeholder partnerships to link up technologies, resources and services for development?
  • How can we replicate the learning in one situation to another (transfer of knowledge and experience), how can we leverage on uniqueness and commonalities to build a network of practitioners – Similar to the model of Mission 2007?
  • How can we design ICT4D programmes that address the marginalised communities, and are gender sensitive keeping in mind the cultural ethos that can be inhibiting factors? What are some of the unique challenges that were overcome?
  • How does networking and knowledge sharing about similar programmes enable community of practitioners building a network for constant peer-to-peer learning? What other possibilities like South-South Exchanges exist?

Challenges:

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