Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Working with Policy-makers



At the heart of CCA is ‘praxis’, or ‘doing social change’, for a lack of better terminology. However in any given context, what kind of change we seek to make could differ on the basis of what the community we engage in wants or lacks. The oppressive conditions that CCA seeks to change, with the use of communication, are tied to the neoliberal processes that believe in free-market economy. In Communicating Social Change Dutta (2011) writes ‘The neoliberal logic is fundamentally an economic logic that operates on the basis of the idea that opening up markets to competitions among global corporations accompanied by minimum interventions by the state would ensure the most efficient and effective political economic system’ (p.1). How then do these neoliberal processes affect specific contexts is crucial in identifying the change a CCA-practitioner aims for. Below I discuss the example of agricultural crisis in India.

Kumar and Mittal (2009) in their article ‘Role of Agricultural R&D Policy in Managing Agrarian Crisis in India’ touch upon the investment in R&D in agriculture sector. The authors give a broad overview of the potential technologies developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), which include technology for crop improvement, such as hybrid rice and quality protein maize, technologies for crop management, such as integrated water management, integrated nutrient management, and diversified farming; other technologies include those for resource conservation, improved livestock methods, post-harvest processing etc. This shows that there is a lot of money being pumped into agricultural technology research. The authors then suggest that in fact technology is not a constraint in managing agricultural crisis, but it is the ‘poor and partial adoption on farmers’ fields due to various socio-economic and management problems’ (p.127). They suggest that there is a need to refine these technologies to make them area-specific. Secondly, there needs to be a ‘development of appropriate infrastructure to manage problems such as yield gap, post-harvest losses, depleting natural resources, changing climate, IPR issues, global competitiveness etc.’ (p.127). Their analysis suggests that in effective adoption of agricultural technologies, farmers need education and information to get benefits, because in the regimes of trade liberalization and IPR, the agriculture has become complex and knowledge intensive (p.128).

In this context then, the larger goal of CCA would be to empower the small farmer and women in the households caught in the agricultural crisis that are driving large number of farmers to suicides. The disenfranchisement of the small farmer is evident in the above discussion of R&D policy where the implementation of technologies is completely divorced from local contexts. The technologies then serve to further marginalize a small peasant who lacks any knowledge of adopting the new technologies.

Drawing from this example, I want to ask what change could a CCA project aim for in any particular case, since each scenario is complex and has multiple facets of oppression and therefore also numerous avenues for change?

References:

Dutta, M. J. (2011). Communicating social change: Structure, culture, and agency. Taylor & Francis.

Kumar, S., & Mittal, R. (2009). Role of Agricultural R&D Policy in Managing Agrarian Crisis in India. Agricultural Economics Research Review, 22(1), 121-128.


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