With the support of International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada, LIRNEasia in partnership with Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and Vihara Innovation Network studied Online Freelancing: Challenges, Opportunities and Impact in India. The dissemination workshop of the findings of this research was held on 27th of December 2017 at the India Habitat Centre, India. Government and private sector officials of skill development and employment generation organizations participated at this workshop. Dr. K.
LIRNEasia has been working on agriculture since 2006. Most recently, in the context of the Inclusive Information Society project that is being wrapped up, I was talking about GAP compliance with an agri-producer connected to global supply chains standing in a paddy field in Kandy on which he was growing bitter gourd for export to Europe, where among other things, he described the various authorizations he had to obtain because he was cultivating on land designated as being for rice. I recalled a conversation with Helani Galpaya several years ago upon her return from a field visit connected to our agriculture research. She said, we’re looking to solve information and knowledge problems, but the biggest barriers the farmers face is with regard to land. The 2018 Budget Speech proposes to relax the constraints that have been artificially imposed on what farmers can do with their land.
As people live longer and elder dependency (ratio of adults to working population) increases. How to give the elderly a productive life without imposing a heavy burden on the taxpayer will be one of the most important public policy challenges. The Economist examines the issues, looking, among other things at, ICTs: Encouragingly, in every centre for seniors visited for this report, from New York to Seoul, the most popular classes were in the use of smartphones and tablets, often sponsored by telecoms companies who spotted an opportunity. If insurers and health-care providers do not come up with a funding model, tech and telecoms companies may eat their lunch.
Professor Gregg Vanderheiden has a record of achievements in enabling the differently abled to use technology such as personal computers and automated teller machines. Through Raising the Floor, an international organization that he established, Professor Vanderheiden is working on an ambitious initiative to create a platform that will make it possible for various interfaces to “morph” into forms accessible to users with disabilities (which includes many people who are not so identified ordinarily). For the interfaces to be fully responsive to the unique needs of each of the users, the platform would have to know about their preferences and behaviors. Raising the Floor is taking the issues of putting in place strong safeguards for these data and to ensure that harms are avoided. For this purpose, they convened expert groups in Geneva and Washington DC.
I always thought that composite indexes were unfair to India. However much India tried and whatever were its ICT achievements, they would all be diluted by the sheer number of Indians. The e Readiness Index that used to be published by the Economist Intelligence Unit used to be one exception. But then they stopped publishing it. Now the EIU is back with the new index and unsurprisingly, India does well in it too: 36th out of 75.
We’ve been very happy we succeeded in disseminating the results of the online freelancing research in both Sinhala and Tamil. Here is an interview that was broadcast on a cable/satellite only news channel on multiple occasions, now on Youtube:
The only platforms LIRNEasia is currently studying are those used for micro work in the IT and ITES sector. There our focus is on inclusion. But, this article shows we should consider looking at more platforms. Deepthi, the single mother of a teenager, says she has tried other types of self-employment. She worked as a goldsmith, nursing home careperson and, sometimes still makes shoes and bags at home.
The IDRC workshop at which I spent the last two days was on the subject of Universities and Intermediaries in Innovation for Inclusive Development. I’ve been thinking about inclusive development in the context of the summative paper on agricultural supply chains work we’re doing. But then I’ve been thinking about universities much, much longer. Are they the appropriate vehicles for driving innovation in emerging economies, let alone inclusive innovation? The answers would be different if the question were asked about the American model of the university?
We’ve been seen as an ICT shop, wrongly. To us ICT is a domain. We apply the tools of economics, law and public-policy analysis to various domains. In the past it has been primarily ICTs. But agriculture is a domain we have been active in for some time, with the engagement increasing qualitatively in recent times.