FIDC Regional Consultation on Development Cooperation
FIDC Regional Consultation on Development Cooperation
The Forum for Indian Development Cooperation (FIDC) was launched at a seminar held on 15 January 2013. The idea was to have a forum for exploring various facets of Indian development cooperation. The forum brings together academics, civil society, and policy makers. The FIDC aims to encourage detailed analysis of broad trends in South-South cooperation and contextualise Indian policies by facilitating discussions across various subject streams and stakeholders based on theoretical and empirical analysis, field work, perception surveys and capacity building needs.
The FIDC works towards raising the awareness about various dimensions of development cooperation policies through seminars, discussion meetings and publications including policy briefs. A directory with profile of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has also been published by the FIDC. It focuses on sectoral engagement of CSOs in the areas of agriculture, rural development, health, education, human resource development, infrastructure projects, environment, science and technology and other social areas including gender and humanitarian assistance.
However, as most of the FIDC seminars and conferences have been organised in New Delhi, there have been suggestions that FIDC as a platform should be expanded and the Page 2 outreach of FIDC as a forum should be spread out to other cities as well Taking this idea forward, we have decided to hold regional consultations during 10th and 11th February, 2015 in Pune and during 11th and 12th March, 2015 in Kolkata. Partner institutions identified for the regional consultations are Symbiosis International University and University of Calcutta for Pune and Kolkata respectively.
The regional consultations are being planned with the objective of evolving a dialogue among various stakeholders on issues associated with Indian development cooperation policy. With the setting up of DPA, there are new expectations across civil society and academics. This seminar series would provide an opportunity to discuss scope, objectives and modalities in the realm of development partnerships. Efforts would be made to collectively explore nuances of various narratives on South-South cooperation (SSC) and in that context deliberate on Indian policy framework and various bilateral and multilateral programmes being administered by the Ministry of External Affairs, EXIM Bank and other line Ministries. In this context, the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) assumes great significance. Several of them have successfully established remarkable linkages across different developing countries.
The dynamics of development cooperation has significantly changed over the last few years. The role of civil society has also evolved in the discourse. Engagement of CSOs is now viewed as a voluntary partnership which is now maturing over the years. CSOs are now being considered as effective channels of providing support at the grassroots levels. It is now evident that vibrant civil society organisations are increasing their footprint in the development cooperation landscape. CSOs have utilized their high quality expertise in diverse sectors ranging from health, water and sanitation, microfinance to capacity building.
In the past, two of the FIDC seminars were solely focused on the role and experiences of CSOs in development cooperation. The Department for International Development (DFID), UK, and International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, shared their experiences working with the CSOs. At another event, Action for Food Production and Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shared their experiences in working outside India.
FIDC is exploring ways of evolving mechanisms for strengthening communication across various actors. The key objectives may be summarised as follows:
- To hold consultations in different parts of India other than Delhi for enhancing awareness about SSC. In Western part of India we intend to carry out consultation in Symbiosis International University, Pune and the consultation in the Eastern region will be convened at the University of Calcutta in Kolkata.
- There are several actors that play an important role in the policy formulation. They include CSOs, chambers of commerce and industry, media among many others. The endeavour would be to engage them in the work of FIDC.
- This would also strengthen the FIDC publication, Profile of Indian Voluntary Organisations that was prepared in 2013 which majorly focussed on CSOs based in New Delhi. This would increase the outreach of the publication by including Southern and Eastern CSOs working in Global South including Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka etc. among many other nations.
- If this exercise is successful, one may think of hosting such events more frequently and in other locations as well.
Effort shall be made at the two regional consultations to identify key partners so as to enhance the sense of partnership at local level. The spirit of India’s approach to development cooperation involves providing demand driven inputs to partner countries. CSOs can potentially play an effective role in such an endeavour given the tremendous knowledge base that they have created in terms of the interventions in various sector. However, generally observed phenomenon regarding the activities of Indian CSOs are that they have been suffering from either capacity constraints and/or policy constraints to extend their activities beyond India. Thus, the suggested point of discussion during the CSO consultation in the Technical Session IV would be on:
- The capacities of CSOs in working for SSC,
- Various capacity and policy constraints and
- Documentation of some of the CSOs best practices and sharing of the ideas.
We endeavour the consultations to last for one and half days. Agenda will capture broad policy directions and roles being played by the line ministries like Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Page 4 Women and Child Development, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment and etc. A presentation on India’s flagship programme, viz. ITEC would also be organised. Successful case studies from CSOs along with the impediments that they face would also be taken up in a session.
- The consultation intends to initiate a dialogue with Non-State stakeholders on a regional level.
- Publication of an updated version of the Profile of Indian Voluntary Organizations that was prepared in 2013.
- An enhanced understanding on development cooperation and its operational components.
- Compilation of CSO success stories.
Symbiosis International University (SIU) is partnering with RIS for the two day regional consultation planned in Pune for 10th and 11th February 2015. Dr. S.B. Mujumdar, Founder President and Chancellor established Symbiosis on the principles of Vedic thought of “World as One Family” and is resplendent of the activities and students of several countries. The students come from more than 75 countries and find this to be a home away from home. Under the aegis of SIU, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences have two of the schools – Symbiosis School of Economics (SSE) and Symbiosis Institute for International Studies (SIIS) – who are academically involved in exploring the dynamics of development cooperation. At SSE, students are exposed to international economic cooperation, trade aid and development, development experiences and international organizations and regional cooperation through the curriculum. SIIS, in Dec 2013, hosted a two-day conference on International Relations with the theme of India and Development Partnerships in Asia and Africa: Towards a New Paradigm with the support of the Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of External Affairs, and Government of India. This was followed by another successful conference in Dec 2014 on the theme of India’s Look East Page 5 Policy: A Bridge to the Asian Neighbourhood which also focussed on India’s development cooperation efforts in the East.
With this backdrop, SIU in collaboration with RIS will be hosting the FIDC Regional Consultation on Development Cooperation, engaging in deliberations over the course of development cooperation in India’s foreign policy and the increasingly significant role being played by the CSOs as well as the critical role played by institutions of higher education.
Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), a New Delhi based autonomous think-tank under the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, is an organization that specializes in policy research on international economic issues and development cooperation. RIS is envisioned as a forum for fostering effective policy dialogue and capacity-building among developing countries on international economic issues. The focus of the work programme of RIS is to promote South- South Cooperation and assist developing countries in multilateral negotiations in various forums. RIS is engaged in the Track II process of several regional initiatives. RIS is providing analytical support to the Government of India in the negotiations for concluding comprehensive economic cooperation agreements with partner countries. Through its intensive network of policy think tanks, RIS seeks to strengthen policy coherence on international economic issues.