AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 727

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Session 727: Rural Development in China and India

Sustainable Development Through Human Interface Management in the Biosphere Reserves in India : Issues,Approaches, and Solutions
Samit Ghosal, Independent Scholar, India

The paper attempts to delineate a model for ecologically sustainable development programme for the management of the Biosphere Reserves in India. The very mandate of the UNESCO declaration on the Biosphere Reserves make them a special type of protected area incorporating the local people living inside the Biosphere Reserves as an equitable stack holder in the development process. Taking local people with their indigenous knowledge in the management process pertaining to the conservation of natural resources and its sustainable use is a paradigm shift in the approach to the environment management and policy. The paper using anthropological approach critically examines the workings of some selected Biosphere Reserves in India, citing cases from both terrestrial (Pachmarhi BR and Similipal Br) and Marine (Gulf of Mannar BR) eco-system, and showing human element as an integral part of nature. Biosphere Reserves in India, is unique in the sense, that in most of the cases we find human habitation inside the core zone. This creates man-animal and man-nature conflicts for the utilisation of natural resources. Conservation of forests is jeopardized due to the continuance of livelihood pattern by the local people living inside the core zone. The relocation of the primordially settled villages from the core area would seriously affect the economy of the local people, and the continuation of human habitation in the core zone would negatively affect the conservation of ecology in the Biosphere Reserves. This study tries to develop a model for the conservation of Indian Biosphere Reserves by keeping a balance between the interests of human and nature so that the goal of the conservation of environment could be achieved without compromising human interest by providing alternative means of livelihood for the local people using renewable forest resources in the buffer zone of the Biosphere reserves.

Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Grassroots in India: Beyond Microfinance
Lina Sonne, Independent Scholar, Netherlands

That innovation and entrepreneurship are vital for continued poverty alleviation is well established. In rural areas pro-poor innovation and productive entrepreneurship benefit the poor through improved livelihood opportunities and better goods and services. At the same time, microfinance has become the fashionable financing tool for rural poverty alleviation through the support of micro entrepreneurs. However, microfinance and in particular microcredit, are not providing support for pro-poor innovation and entrepreneurship. Instead, this paper highlights the importance of alternative financial and non-financial support of pro-poor entrepreneur-based innovation in rural areas, in India, and calls for a shift in focus away from microfinance, to a wider range of financial tools that are more suitable for such activities. The paper presents three case studies of Indian organizations supporting entrepreneurship and innovation benefitting the rural poor. BASIX is a livelihood financial services organisation, Aavishkaar provides micro venture capital, and S3IDF is a social merchant bank. They are, in different ways, supporting different kinds of rural innovation and entrepreneurship by using innovative financing tools and integrated financial and non-financial support models. The organisations are part of an emerging sector in India which is starting to fill the gap left between microfinance and more conventional bank finance. The focus of the paper is timely given the recent call by the G20 for improved SME finance initiatives in developing countries.

Chinese Rural Development and New Information and Communication Technologies
Elisa Oreglia, Nanyang Technological University, USA

China is pursuing an aggressive policy to develop its countryside through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs); first it extended its basic infrastructure (electricity, phone lines) to most of the country, and now it is currently investing heavily in the 'informatization' of rural areas. Mobile phones and computers are increasingly common among rural residents, who are also beginning to go online in significant numbers. This paper, based on extensive field work in Hebei and Shandong, looks at how mobile phones and computers are adopted and used in the countryside: who are the users, who are the non-users, what are the most common activities and goals of different types of users, what are the opportunities and challenges embodied by new technologies. It then situates this grassroot, personal use of ICT in the larger context of the State policies for the informatization of the countryside. Do rural residents agree on the necessity of ICT and 'informatization' to develop their economy and improve their living conditions? Are State and individuals' goals in using ICT compatible, or even complementary, or are they hinting at different ideas of development and social organization? Are ICTs a tool of economic development that will ultimately benefit the country as a whole, or a tool of personal development that will change rural residents' notion of their role in society?