Pre-conference Workshops

Introduction to Commons in India


General Description
Commons in India are diverse in nature and varied in spread; across different agro-ecological regions. The National Sample Survey Organization 54th Round estimates that about 15% of the total geographical area in India is under Common Property Resources; with about 48% of the households reporting that they collected some produce or the other from CPRs. This is not to mention the critical ecological functions like energy and nutrient cycles; maintaining robust soil and moisture regimes and so on that are discharged by these resources. In this light, the current pre-conference workshop aims to give an oversight of the CPRs in India. The following specific topics will be covered as part of this workshop will try to cover-

Overview of Commons in India—to begin with, the workshop would give the participants an overview of commons in India. This includes-
  • Status of Commons in India
  • Benefits from Commons
  • Spatial and temporal changes in CPRs, in India.
  • Threats and Challenges confronting CPRs in India.
  • Opportunities

The workshop would then go on to explore the different types of commons in India, viz;

  • Forest and Grazing Lands - the state of forest and grazing lands, in India would be presented to the participants. The different policies and programs—JFM, Forest Rights Act, et.al—would also be covered in this segment.
  • Water Commons—here, the practices, policies and the challenges in governing different water commons like tanks, rivers, irrigation networks, groundwater, etc will be covered.
  • Coastal Commons - India has a vast coastline and coastal fishing is the mainstay of the livelihoods of millions of people. While for many generations, these communities have made efforts to fish in a sustainable manner; in the recent past advent of practices like deep sea trawling and the use of all-weather power boats has seriously impinged the interests of the small fishermen. Further, increasing pollution along the coastline has had a detrimental impact on the coastal ecosystem. Some of these issues will be discussed while dealing with the segment on coastal commons.
  • Knowledge Commons - This segment will look at issues pertaining to sovereignty over knowledge and media. Here, the ways in which communities across the country are asserting their sovereignty over traditional knowledge forms like that of seeds/agricultural practices; and over different media and the content therein would be presented.
  • Digital Commons - here, the growing cult of open source and free software; and the various initiatives being undertaken across the country; in order to promote the use of these packages instead of the monopolistic and expensive paid software will be looked. At the same time, the whole concept of piracy of software—programs, music, films, etc—will be looked into. 
Target Participants
Persons who is interested in gaining an overview of the state of commons in India, and the different issues and challenges confronting the same would be a potential participant.

Workshop Goals

  • Impart the participants with a broad understanding of the different issues pertaining to commons in India.
  • Give the participants an overview of the different types of Commons in India and of the relevant debates and challenges.
Duration: Full- Day Session (6 hours)

Size: 40 Participants

Workshop Methodology
This would include:
  • Lectures and presentations
  • Video and audio tools
  • Group discussions
Materials and Facilities
Conference organizers would provide the following facilities:
  • A well-appointed class-room
  • Stationery—notepads, charts, markers, etc
  • Equipment for making power point presentations.
  • Any others as may be indicated, subject to availability.
Workshop Leader/s: Chetan Agarwal, Shishir Jha, Purnendu Kavoori, NC Narayanan, V Vivekanandan

Supporting Organization/s: Foundation for Ecological Security, India

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