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Sage of a Star Fish: Participative Design of Sustainable Institutions for Natural Resource Management


  • Gupta, Anil K.


Management of natural resources requires reconciliation in the conflicting world views of different stake holders. The conflicts emerge because of the variation in (a) the perception of nature, (b) associated socio-ecological interactions and (c) the ethical values generating respect for non voting members of our society. It is not easy to design institutions for collective action such that resources are managed not only for the current generation but also in a manner that options of future generations are not compromised. An organization becomes an institution when its members use internal commands (i.e. the directions for action emanating from within one self) instead of external demands (i.e. external regulation or direction for individual action). The cultural conditions in both the cases are very different. The paper provides discussion on the issues which affect ‘Our’ participation in ‘Peoples’ organizations and institutions in part one. Much of the literature on participation deals with the opposite, i.e. how people participate in the organizations designed by us. The eco-sociological perspective for survival of households over space, season and sector is given in part two. The nature of risks and the strategies for coping with the same are described. The relationship between culture and ecology is discussed in the light of eco-specificity of social interactions in part three. The problem of collective action, the role of risk and redundancy, and resource diversification are discussed in part four. The Eco-Institutional model dealing with interactions between access, assurances, ability and attitudes of the households with ecological resources, institutions, technology and culture and described in part five. How local creativity and innovative potential can become the building block of future development is discussed in part six. How institutions designed on the basis of alternative eco-ethics generate accountability to people and encourage people to people learning is illustrated with the help of the case of Honey Bee network. This global network of innovators at grassroots level builds upon the local excellence, and urge to experiment and evolve technology and institutions for sustainable resource use. The role played by the process of monitoring the collective action by different stake holders is given in part seven. In part eight, the linkages for lateral learning with particular reference to biodiversity are outline. In part nine, the lessons and issues for becoming accountable to people are summarized. The ethical issues in farmer participatory research and implications of scaling up the peoples’ organization are brought out in part ten. In the annexure, a discussion on the philosophy of sustainability is presented.

Suggested Citation

  • Gupta, Anil K., 1992. "Sage of a Star Fish: Participative Design of Sustainable Institutions for Natural Resource Management," IIMA Working Papers WP1992-12-01_01153, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:iim:iimawp:wp01153

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