[TC-I Call to Action]: Rewarding Good Governance through Gram Panchayat Puruskar

Calling all gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka – Google.org‘s Inform and Empower Initiative wants to know the top five panchayats in each of these two states that are using innovation and good governance. According to the Google.org blog,

The prize will be awarded in one of six areas: education, health and nutrition, water supply, rural infrastructure, rural electrification, and resource mobilization. The winning panchayat must include a wide variety of social and income groups, share information with villagers, respond to citizen feedback, and track the quality of programs.

The competition is an opportunity to recognize good, effective governance and encourage quality public services. And if that’s not reason enough, the winning panchayats will receive a cash prize of Rs.5 lakhs (approximately $10,000 USD).

The contest is open for entries from December 12, 2008 through January 25, 2009. For more information, please see the FAQs and Rules.

Thumbs up, thumbs down

A thoroughly inspiring story reminding us that the most important examples of innovation occur where we least expect them to.

Farmers who visit Amai Mahalinga Naik’s two-acre plot on the hilltop near Adyanadka in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka return spellbound. Irrigated farming at this height is very surprising. This 58-year-old illiterate farm labourer has developed this with his own labour. His hard work, vision and never-say-die attitude have turned around destiny in his favour.

You can read the entire article here.

On the other side, the state of Punjab must finally come to terms with its production focused approach to agriculture and how it has wreaked havoc on the once fertile ecosystem.

Punjab’s grand narrative, a success story of bumper harvests, conceals dangerous sub-plots of pesticide poisoning, water shortages, soil salinity, fertilizer runoff, skyrocketing cancer rates, farmer indebtedness and drug addiction.

The full article is here.

Evening Edition

  • Water from Narmada to travel to the parched lands of Rajasthan. In related news, one Mangalore institution of learning has taken an innovative approach to enlist the use of rainwater to make sure that they have supply even in drier months.
  • Would you like some genes with that? Case to allow genetically modified brinjal moves up to the HC towards a path for widespread avaialability.
  • In Karnataka, workers may now be required to sign in and out every time they want to take a break. George Orwell would be proud.
  • Although at time overly-cautious, the Dalai Lama said that India has historically been sympathetic to the plight of Tibetans in the country
  • Human interest story: girl rescued after falling into a well
  • It could be worse: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been rumored to have forced his political opponents to eat their election posters!

Deshpande Foundation Fellowship in NW Karnataka

The Deshpande Foundation is a Boston based philanthropic foundation focused on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and International Development. They recently launched three unique fellowship opportunities, where fellows can get grassroots experience working in Northwest region of Karnataka

  • Sandbox Fellow: This is a year-long program for young professionals or post-graduate school candidates who seek an extended experience working in on-the-ground development and/or social entrepreneurship.
  • Innovation Fellow: This is a shorter term opportunity (up to six months) for an entrepreneur who would like to test a product or idea in a development lab setting.
  • Junior Fellow: This short term (three to six months) opportunity is designed for mid-degree graduate students or experienced undergraduates who want to make an impact through field experience

More details are here