Final discussion Global Workshop

Final discussion at

SASNET’s Workshop about Global Networking

in Lund on 27-28 August 2001.

Full list of participants in the workshop and the discussions.

Final discussion chaired by Dr Staffan Lindberg

Staffan Lindberg introduction:

As you all know, the purpose of this workshop is to prepare a common plan of action for SASNET. That is what we would like to brainstorm about in this final session. Now that we have an organisation, what are we going to do? I am sure that we, after two days of discussions, know a little bit more about what SASNET is and is trying to do, and that there are situations in which we have to make certain choices. I will just make two observations before I leave the word to you.
First thing, there is a greeting from Willis Forsling from Luleå.

He said ”We are so happy about SASNET, but please do not involve us in politics. We have very good relationships in South Asia. If we are supported by you, and you get into difficulties what will then happen to us and our programme?” As far as I can see, the only sound conclusion from this is that SASNET is a big network with a lot a of smaller networks within the network. We will have different relationships to different networks within the network. Each network of researchers will have its own set of problems, politically and otherwise, and there has to be decentralisation. Each network, that is, each programme must handle their political relations in a particular way. It is very difficult for SASNET to have a general policy for all networks. This is one very important thing.

Secondly, we have to keep in mind that we are not only an association of South Asian scholars in Sweden, or South Asia related researchers, but in a way we are also a 'mediator' between government money, university money and researchers. So our first task is to help, promote, initiate, stimulate, and that means we are getting involved with people and try to help. But sometimes we will face the situation that for various reasons we can not give any money for a particular project. Then we all have to learn how to collectively handle a situation where there is frustration, in order to become stronger in the future.

But where are we standing now? Are we in a situation where we have to pick one out of 100 alternatives, or are we in a situation where we can pick many different alternatives. Just take the good old story about the meeting between the old presidents Bush, Gorbachov and Mitterand 10 years ago. It was a top conference, and they gathered in a separate room to have a private conversation. After a while Bush said to the two others: ”I have a terrible problem, that is among my 100 security guards one of them is supposed to be a terrorist, but the problem is I do not which one of them it is”. Mitterand said something similar, and then finally Gorbatchov looked at the other presidents and said ”I do not think you really have any problem at all. I have 100 economic advisers, they are more or less useless, but one of them is supposed to be very good. The problem is I do not know who it is.”

I do not know if SASNET is in Gorbachov´s or Bush´s position; maybe we are somewhere in between. But we need the intellectual input and continued interaction from all of you, to collectively make it a success. And we need to be very efficient in connecting people to each other, and creating harmonious relationships in a number of ways.

So now I leave the word open for comments. It means reflecting upon SASNET given the experiences of these two days.

Kjell Härenstam:

About connecting people: I feel very strongly for doing studies for different purposes. If I take our project in Karlstad, it is very much a learning project, where we learn to get better information for teaching in Swedish schools. We rely very much upon our Indian friends, that is very essential. If SASNET could be this network connecting people, and also as Graham Chapman said making informal connections, it would mean a lot. You can meet people by chance and we can make something out of it.

Pamela Price:

I have one question. What are the long-term goals of SASNET? One might say that one long-term goal of SASNET is to stay funded. But apart from that, is SASNET oriented mainly towards staying as it is now, facilitating people who are already in positions, or is it trying to build a base for strong South Asian studies/research in the future.

Rana P B Singh:

I can add two more words on what Pamela mentioned. Let us also add the concepts of understanding – a mutual understanding, in a wider sense than just research, and help to South Asian scholars.

Staffan Lindberg:

It is worth to think about. The idea is that there are already a lot of activities going on in Sweden, very competent research in many different places. That is why we suggested the idea of a network supporting all if possible, rather than concentrating all efforts to Lund, Göteborg or Uppsala, and recruiting new people from Lund and Uppsala to Göteborg for example, or the other way round. The idea is instead to support people in their disciplinary environments, but connecting them in different kinds of networks.

But we must also think about the future. There is a proposition that we should organise a conference for PhD candidates next year, and I think this will be very important, because of the demographic change that is going on in Sweden, Eastern Europe and other places. There are less students at the universities than a few years ago. Now the universities are running around, of course they can not get help from police, to catch students. Please come and study at Lund, Växjö or whatever university. There is a shortage of students, and if there is a shortage of students they will go for the best offers. It is not the best good offer to start learn a new language or travel to another continent. It takes much more time to become a good scholar in let say Indian studies or Sri Lankan studies, because of a number of additional things you have to learn and you have to do. So in that sense we are in a disadvantaged position.

We have only one very strong advantage, at least in the field of Development studies, and that is that SAREC for many years has given about 50 per cent of its funding to doctoral students. That is unique. It has not been possible for many years, for example in the Swedish research councils to get funding for doctoral students. They have just been seen as an appendix to senior research projects, they have not been allowed to have their own independent research projects.
There is going to be a lot of competition to attract students. We have to be very conscious about this and promote masters and doctoral studies. As I said already last night, there has been a development of new courses. The masters' course developed in Uppsala will start this semester, and the Centre for Asian Studies in Göteborg now also covers South Asian content in their courses at the under-graduate level. And Lund University has started an undergraduate course in Indian and South Asian studies at Österlen Folk High School, a course which surely would not have come about had it not been for SASNET. Many things happen as a result of collecting people together.

Hans Blomquist:

I want to add a few things to what you told about the masters course starting at Uppsala, including one year of Hindi studies, which I am quite proud of. The students will get the capacity to speak an Indian language to an extent that my generation does not have. That is very important. The second point I want to make is about the choices that Staffan emphasised. It is important which choices we make. SASNET has after all a very limited budget, so out of the many good suggestions that has come up during these last two days on what SASNET should do it is important to make choices, now and not after six years. Otherwise we may end up in a situation where a majority of people involved are frustrated because they expected more than was possible to realise.

Staffan Lindberg:

In order to avoid frustration, what do we prefer – a ”njet” immediately, or that a decision is being tried in a reference group or some other form to find out what kind of help is needed. There are other ways of getting help than from SASNET, other funding sources to link up with if you have some knowledge about the context in which funding of research takes place. Maybe there are not enough SASNET funds, but there are other funds to be found.

SASNET has been invited to a conference in Brussels, the ”India–EU Think Tank Conference”, on 15–16 October, in which I will take part. I have written to researchers in Sweden dealing with the four topics we are going to discuss – Federalism and decentralisation; Energy policy; Security; and State and civil society. Among those I have written to are Hans Blomquist, Björn Hettne, Rajni Hatti Kaul and Gunnar Jacks. I have asked them to come up with ideas, and I have sent their views to the Think Tank in Brussels. That could mean a new way of funding and getting new resources, because they are prepared to fund a number of activities over the coming years. So SASNET is not confined to a very limited sum of money, but can also build up a store of knowledge in its network on how to find other funds for projects, and collaborative partners.

Piet Terhal:

It strikes me that this kind of network which you are talking about is different from the network in which I am involved (the Indo Dutch Programme on Alternative Development, IDPAD). I feel that the choice which you are pleading for can’t be escaped from. Somehow you have to make priorities and choices, and eventually be very clear about for what specific purposes the choices are made. In addition to that, you have also a certain position from which you can get additional channels of information; access to funding, etc. But that is a spin-off effect of the situation, and not more than that in my view.

Staffan Lindberg:

Both things are very important. As Hans said, we have to be very clear and give early answers. But the other option is that we develop contacts with different research funding agencies, this is not a zero sum game. There may be an expansion of sums allocated for South Asian research within Sweden, the Nordic countries or the European Union. It is my hope that it could be like this.

Ron Herring:

These are my hunches as practitioner working as political scientist that the activities which you have been talking about are very valuable in connecting people with research opportunities, serving as a hub on the web, and all these things. It is a very important function, that all of us who use networks find invaluable. But it will not be very appreciated by the funding agencies or by people looking at you from the outside. They will just ask ”Tell us concretely what you have done?”

I draw this experience from the Social Science Research Council in the U S and the South Asian Council of the Association for Asian studies. There are a number of institutions in the U S, which have tried this networking. For Sida people: I think it would be useful for you politically, in the funding agencies, to be associated with a very innovating project. That is, this new network has created a new possibility, a new research project or new combinations of disciplines, that are clearly associated with SASNET, and which did not exist before SASNET. Because, concerning other functions, people will say, ”yes, yes, we understand you are doing this, but you need something that is clearly yours, which did not happen without your intervention.” It would be good for you in the long term that you do both of these things, and the second thing might be important for your stability, in your growing of strength over time.

Hans Blomquist:

It would be interesting to hear the reaction on this proposition from Tomas Kjellqvist, Sida.

Tomas Kjellqvist:

Of course we are expecting something new and glorious coming out of SASNET. But what else could I say?

Pamela Price:

I just want to make a comment on this. In a sense you kill two birds with one stone. Certainly my impression from Norway is that, even though we are not in the EU, we have brought in all their educational programmes, but people are quite disillusioned, because they feel it is extremely difficult to get funding, especially for social sciences and humanities. The bureaucracy is dreadful; the old boy, old girl networking is appalling, but if SASNET could, because it has a concentrated leadership, take a role in having a project put together to the EU through the EU-India connection and it would be funded, that would be marvellous.

Hans Blomquist:

I think Ron´s suggestion to promote the project of SASNET is a superb idea, especially in combination with Pamela´s idea of promoting PhD students. If we do it on that level it will probably be easier to get away from the top politics going on between nuts. And if we can also try to do it as interdisciplinary as possible. If we can succeed, I think this could be vital for a continuation of SASNET

Graham Chapman:

I am reminded of two things. First about a book, ”Living on Thin Air: The New Economy”, by a rather lively, modern economist Charles Leadbeater, who is looking at the value of the new economy. The other thing is an association in Britain, to which I subscribe, called Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences. To belong you must prove that your organisation fulfils the mission, the aspirations and some other conditions of learned associations as such.
In the book by Leadbeater is thought about what the value in the networking society is. The example taken is about NIKE shoes in Scotland. NIKE shoes do not really exist, except as a string of different production functions around the World, which ends up somewhere in a box where you buy your shoes. Quite as franchising. The point is that the value is in the brand.

I am just sort of brainstorming here, but maybe I think in a way you might have to do nothing. Spend no money. Do not accept established brands. You have established a brand called SASNET, and then you value it. It could be a fantastic idea, to spread SASNET over the globe. The people in South Asia, who might subscribe to the ideal meat-balls standard, you then invite them to apply for the SASNET logo, and also with institutions in Sweden, if you find a programme in Sweden that looks good enough to meet your standards. You could say, you may apply for the SASNET logo. Then in the end, in a sense, you create value by getting other people subscribe to your ideals and getting validated by them. It is something we are trying to do at Lancaster university: there is no central control saying what is going to happen, but the condition is to be a member, to wear the badge, to have the logo and you have to subscribe to the values. That is the condition. If you break the values you get kicked out, but it is a sort of un-centred network.

Staffan Lindberg:

We have been in contact with people in the IT sector while developing this idea, and they said exactly the same thing. The main point is that everybody is led to you on the Net, they should end up with SASNET. There should be pointers everywhere.

Bo Lindblad:

This relates to what you spoke about the PhD students, and the fact that SAREC now actually has realised the value of them, which we appreciate very much. Because if you want quality research you need young investigators, and a category which is often forgotten is the post-docs. There are two things about them. I know, both in Pakistan and in Sweden, that there are many fine post-docs, who suddenly see that they lack a real goal for their future work, and that they certainly do not have the money. The other thing about the post-docs, is that if you support them the result will be much faster than by starting research training from scratch First of all, let us look at the cadre of post-docs floating around that we have. It is worth looking around, and I have actually in the project we are planning for around 7–8 names here in Sweden, and we certainly have them in Pakistan. But it is really sad to see people who have a very fine training in Western countries, and in spite of going back to their country find themselves so isolated. To promote such research done by post-docs is, in my opinion, one thing that SASNET can do in a very short time.

Staffan Lindberg:

PhD students are engaged in training programmes, and can be connected in a number of ways. The problem concerning post-docs is that so many talented young researchers receive their PhD, and then they are recruited to teach as lecturers. And then, at least in the Swedish system, there has never been any research time for lecturers. Many of them have been going on for 15–20 years, delivering 400 lectures a year. Either they are worn down by this, ending up with more and more yellow manuscripts as times go by; or otherwise by some fortunate circumstance, they are getting some research grant, can take some leave and do some work. They then qualify for associate professors. But it is a very difficult group to reach because they are scattered and to help them all would take require a lot of new funding.

Tomas Kjellqvist:

One experience from the SAREC programme for Swedish researchers is, as Staffan mentioned, that 50 per cent of the grants go to PhD students. The rest goes mostly to senior researchers – not to the young researchers. The reason is that we often get applications from PhD students in their final year, just before their dissertation. They are writing the application at the same time as they are writing their dissertation. This is not very good, it is rarely a good application, and it fails to get funding. The young researchers get discouraged and never come back to SAREC. This is something we have noticed from our side, the problem is we have to do something, some special things for the post-docs. But we are not quite sure about what it should look like. One idea, that has been going through my mind for some time, is that maybe, what you need as a young researcher is the possibility to get out of your department. Just like ordinary post-docs going to USA or Australia, you should spend some time in let us say India, in an international organisation, or wherever is relevant for your research. Maybe this is one thing SASNET could consider, what kind of such linkages could be made.

Staffan Lindberg:

Somebody in this conference said that he or she got a STINT scholarship to India, and it was fairly easy because all the people who ask for STINT grants want to go to Western Europe or the United States. Was it you, Christer?

Christer Norström:

I did not say I got it, but it has, at least in the anthropology department in Stockholm, for the last two years been quite common to get STINT scholarship to a university outside Sweden. What STINT people said, when they presented their programme in a meeting this year, was that for those who apply for a third world country they would get it much easier, because most of us apply for a university in the US, UK or Australia. They want to put more money into that way.
Can I also add one thing. One problem here is if we do not get that money after bringing out your thesis. It is in a sense a very formative year, because many of us are, at that point of time, usually in a very tricky situation. We know that the money from research funds is usually not enough, so we have already started working, teaching, and so on. So there is a tendency to grab whatever is available, and then you lose that person to another subject where there are more opportunities.

Staffan Lindberg:

But there is an opening, with STINT and the Linnaeus Palme money, which should not be under-estimated. Exactly because they are interested in non-American, non-Western environments, or for going there.

Björn Hettne:

Regarding STINT I think they have a bias against South Asia, so one long term project should be to change the STINT consciousness of the World, so that they realise that South Asia is a very important area of the World. And regarding promoting research it is important that SASNET is a not an ordinary council of research panel, saying this is good, this is not. It is important to follow up even those who are not supported, because they may have good ideas and they can come back later on. It is very important for SASNET to promote research that is different.

Staffan Lindberg:

Help and promote! Not just sitting there and saying no.

Björn Hettne:

Yes, that is the difference between SASNET and other organisations.
Then Pamela and I discussed the Nordic connection. In Peace studies, in Development studies, South Asian studies, etc, I have always said that the natural borders are Nordic. You have colleagues in Oslo, Copenhagen, Roskilde, etc, and I think it is very artificial to have just a Swedish network. Somehow we have to overcome that particular apporach, that the money can not be used for Norwegian purposes and so on. We should try to promote the Nordic process.
When we had a conference with research students I reminded you of the training centres in South East Asia, they have a very intensive one-week supervision, where they present their plans, and then there are some senior people to comment on these. South Asian researchers need to get out of their quite isolated environments.

Finally in the long term STINT now also funds this South East Asia programme for research training. The next step could be to get it connected with a South Asia programme of a similar kind. So we have a number of long term objectives for SASNET.

Staffan Lindberg:

I have been networking a lot with Jon Sigurdsen, who has built up this new programme on East and South East Asia. He came to me to discuss how to go about this, how to network. We have met several times, exchanged our plans and I thought the best thing I could do was to help him as much as possible. If he is successful, maybe he can also be generous enough to give some support to us later. We could have a meeting with the Tercentenary Foundation and STINT, backed by let us say the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sida/SAREC and the Swedish Research councils, and discuss the development of a similar programmes for South Asia.

I will ask the SASNET board tomorrow if I should spend some time on this during the fall. I would very much like to do it, because this is something I have been thinking of ever since the day Jon Sigurdsen called me more than one year ago. So I think we have the chance. It might be difficult for various reasons, but we have a good chance in the future. And that could be very important for promoting area studies, and maybe even post-docs.

Pamela Price:

With reference to what both Bo and Björn have said about post-docs, it is important to see that in human terms they have put a powerful investment in a long project but now they see that it is maybe coming to an end. They do not know if they will ever get any tenured job, and if they have a lecturer's positions they do not get any opportunity to do research. Also in terms of society to use the resources, the skills they have developed, to encourage them and try to continue in some fashion. It think it would be a very perfect idea to keep track of post-docs, who do not get funding and try to plan workshops for them, as a way for them to maintain their morale, and keep them encouraged. Even in terms of say writing one article out of their material, just to keep alive with the possibility of keeping this very special part of their lives actual for them. Maybe, if they can publish themselves regularly, perhaps they will be able to find jobs later on, when the rest of us are all retiring and there are more positions available. Putting energy and focus to try and help maintain them and keep their skills going is a very important thing to do.

Zulfiqar Bhutta:

It has been very interesting to have the perspective from Swedish academics in terms of how you use SASNET or to work. It may also be helpful to take the converse view; what would be the usefulness of a network like this, for academicians based in South Asia. What role would SASNET be able to fulfil and offer for people involved within either the public of private sector or in a variety of disciplines. I do not think just being able to display a logo on your web site or on your department, you know badges attractive or not. The whole variety of options from what you display has to be more substantial than that. I look upon this as there are maybe three opportunities for which SASNET could be able to provide a useful role.

First as a repository of information, and a link to people involved in South Asian studies that may be relevant for your area of work. That would be an extremely important role. There is not a whole lot of information under a single umbrella or within one platform available now. Just to be able to access that in a Swedish or Scandinavian context would be very useful.

Secondly the unique nature of SASNET, as I understood, was the opportunity for multi-disciplinarity within it. Which again is unique. Certainly it is, speaking from a public health point of view, very rare to find groups of such a multi-disciplinarity nature, and I think that if you can capitalise upon that in terms of linkages and opportunities for research within South Asia, that would be extremely attractive option for people to reach out to you.

Lastly, there is no question that a project, and certainly a multi-disciplinary project, is an attractive way of not only getting credibility in a relatively short term, but also on building upon something solid with a possibility of an impact globally. Speaking about South Asia very broadly, there is a real need for that, in terms of doing something visible, important in the short term, which is truly of a multi-disciplinary nature. First rate research requires linkages with academic organisations within South Asia. If you can come up with a cogent list of projects that can be developed in the next few years, for which you may not necessarily have funding, you can certainly reach out and get funding from organisations that are willing to give such. That would be extremely useful.

As a last point, I think that from a academic centre point of view, while it is important that post-docs and doctoral students get involved, the general need in South Asia is to have academicians of a higher standing and experience, who have been involved in different disciplines such as social sciences and humanities, also to link up with academic centres out there. It is not that every role and need is going to be filled with young doctoral students. There is a need for academic centres and experience, not only for those who got mud on their shoes, to be involved or linked to people out there. So there is an enormous window of opportunity here and SASNET can provide that.

Jan Lundquist:

A comment on multi-disciplinarity. Obviously it is an attractive, and in some cases, a new thing. But we have to go one step further, and ask ourselves: To what purpose? It is logical to start with the question: What are the issues that we want to do research on or deal with? And based on that we define which combination of disciplinary competence that would be required in order to deal with it most efficiently. Because inter-disciplinarity or multi-disciplinarity, as I see it, is not something which has its right on its own. But there are issues, both in society as well as in the natural world, which fall between the disciplinary chairs, so to speak. We should identify those which we have an interest in, develop policy arenas. If you want to combine people with that type of competence you could really make a contribution to attack rather important issues. So I think it is how you start with the problems in a way, then you define what are the additional competence or combination of competence needed. It might take one year or three months, but a lot of different combinations. Then you must decide how to organise, which are the meeting-places, what are the logistics?

Another thing, which has been discussed during the last two days, concerns the question of how to communicate. What is the output, to whom are we addressing the results that are coming out of the work. This is for me an interesting question. We could have a dialogue both in terms of the combination of the questions as well as regarding the communication of the results. We talked yesterday briefly about the media for instance, the different channels of bringing the message across. It might broaden the discussion. To me inter-disciplinarity is not something in its own right. It has a right if it can deal with the central problems, which are not dealt with in the confines of established mono-disciplines.

Boel Billgren:

A few small remarks. First on the question of education. If we in 5–6 years from now want to have a number of PhD students who choose the more difficult part of South Asian studies, it means a radical change. We must also remember to introduce a South Asia awareness in under-graduate education, at the very latest when the students are in the mid-part of their studies. They should be exposed to the different aspects of South Asia, in the subjects that they are majoring in or in some special seminars or groups. It is too late to recruit excellent PhD students in larger numbers if we do not think of under-graduate education. It is very important that the students gets exposed to this.

What you are doing in Karlstad with regard to school teachers is very important. That is why Swedish school-children know more about India than about some African countries, because there is a tradition in the Swedish schools to bring in some of the countries in the Third world, into the awareness of young children. We have to think in the same way, with regard to our students' education. That will give results with regard to the tendency to choose or include South Asia in PhD studies, and create some kind of identity. SASNET, and every university, can support the keeping and sustaining of an identity of a person committed to this even if you are not lucky enough to study this for a while, but then you can come back more easily. Of course you should use the Linnaeus Palme programme much more than has been the case regarding to India. We have only one out of 15 applications at Lund university which is about exchange with India, and it is rather similar to the situation all over. Something that SASNET can do to is to stimulate and support teachers who are interested to go into this field.

I want to connect this to the question of visibility. In many respects this is very important for the development of SASNET, to be visible not only in the traditional ways, that you as researchers are used to make yourselves understood, but also in new and different ways. I think about how we reach the students to encourage interest in the future, but also for the money-givers. I doubt this logo idea - we have covered that far in the marketing of universities in Sweden, I do not know about Norway. We are mature, if you want to call it that, with regard to visibility and the mechanisms of outside society, we are quite used to it. Maybe the links to the teachers, both with regard to students, information and to the visibility and creation of opportunities should be strengthened.

Regarding the EU funding. I think it is worth thinking about, because right now the commission is formulating EU-India projects, etc, so Staffan will really have an opportunity to find out what is going to be there in the programmes. And it will probably be more than once. We also have some very good contacts through the head of International Office who has been working with the EU–China programme. So we should use these available channels at different universities and we should also remember that, although, there is a certain amount of bureaucracy in the EU applications, Sweden is now bringing in much more money from the EU than we as a state are putting into the European Union funds for research. Swedish researchers are very good at taking home funding from the EU. In our group we have Rajni who has been successful in being involved in several EU projects. Learn from your colleagues who have been successful.

Staffan Lindberg:

We are coming to a close in the discussion in a few minutes. There are many things we have not been able to cover in this discussion. But we have covered a lot over two days, like this balancing of outsider and insider views, for example, things that are very important, about a dialogue, and also how to relate to different universities in different countries on different topics and political ideologies, in a situation of conflict. If you can think of something, which should have been said, it would be nice to round up with that, but now I give the word to Zulfiqar.

Zulfiqar Bhutta:

I want to very specifically address the issue that Jan raised. In terms of being specific in projects – and I give you a very concrete example – where an approach such as the one you have heard about during the last two days is extremely important. Micronutrient malnutrition is a hugely important issue in a South Asian context. As I briefly pointed out yesterday childhood malnutrition is widely prevalent, and that is a situation that has not changed over the years.

The additional answer from development agencies involved in health has been largely to go in with a quick fix, single magic bullet solution; take a pill and that takes care of it, or take a supplement and that takes care of it. Whereas if you go at a community level, particularly in agrarian rural societies, they are more interested in terms of what you can offer them in the form of solutions, which are largely agricultural, within theie own eco-system. It also requires communication, strategies and educational opportunities for communities that development agencies do not necessarily have an answer for. So it is a wonderful example of where the multi-disciplinarity of approaches, both classic public health, agriculture, water conservation, communication and behavioural sciences would come together with an intervention that would eventually make an impact in an area where there has been absolutely no change at all for three decades.

Staffan Lindberg:

In a sense I think you can formulate this in relation to what Jan Lundqvist said. It is quite obvious that the people who are now making SASNET here, also those who have built it and those who are active, they all would like to promote good research in exactly these fields. We would like to break this tendency or habit of giving pills against poverty, in favour of programmes – in agriculture, industry, services – which together will work to reduce poverty. Now there is a very clear mandate in this network, and that is to promote South Asian studies, and I would think that several groups of people can think out the best themes. The best themes will be defined by our best researchers. We have a good competence in Water, with Jan Lundqvist and his associates. We have a very good competence in Luleå, in metallurgical studies and education, that is why they can develop a programme. We have this fantastic experience from the Pakistani project, in which you Zulfiqar have been involved along with your colleague in Göteborg, Lars Å Hansson.

Somebody told me the other day, you should think about what will happen in South Asia in the next 10-20 years, and then you should come up with some programmes that fit this scenario. But I think we should trust our very competent researchers in common property analysis, in social capital, in political science, economics and so many other fields, with a lot of experience and skills in doing research. They can best formulate the research programmes to promote South Asian studies here. So build on what we have and develop that first, before we try to promote new things.

Anders Närman:

What I am going to say is partly related to undergraduate studies, but also relevant to research. Why do we make these tours going down to countries in the South with courses and so on? I have during 20 years sent somewhere between 350–400 students to Africa, and I have also had 200 MFS students during the years on projects. Why are we doing this? Is it only because we want to teach about Africa or about India? I think that is not the right answer, because to do this also means learning something about Sweden and the European society, our part in a global society. Just like the courses in international medicine in Göteborg are not planned because they want to train doctors to go to India or Africa, but because they want to be better doctors at home.

This kind of aspect has possibly not come through in that way before. We take students to Africa, they get a better understanding when they come home about what goes on in Sweden, from an African or Indian perspective with another way of thinking. It is quite a valuable thing to be there, maybe not because you have a purpose of going back to India, to Africa, etc, even if many of them do it. I do not know how many of them are around in the corridors of Sida, of the 350–400 students I sent out.

The purpose is also to get a better understanding, that is the internationalisation aspect considered to be extremely important in Sweden. Somehow I think this can also very much be related to the research side, that we can have this kind of exchange. One thing that struck me when Rana P B Singh brought up democracy, you reacted against what he said. It clearly shows that there is a difference in the understanding of what the word democracy stands for. It would be an important research project, how do we understand the concept of democracy compared to how Rana understands it and what he puts into the concept. Such a thing could be very well developed into a research project, just how we understand words. And the network is probably the best way of working with it, you do not need so much field work as networking, and we should try to understand certain concepts that are central to development in various parts of the World.

Bo Lindblad:

It is interesting that we have just started at Karolinska a global medical course, which is optional. Still around 75 per cent of the students take that course, and some of the students later on come back to us as teachers. In at least two cases we have been able to organise Minor Field studies for them. So there is a great interest among Swedish students to get this knowledge.

Anders Närman:

Just one thing more: The University of Oslo has got something that I do not think we have anywhere in Sweden. That is an international summer school, for students combining Norwegian students and students from Third world countries. They have got NORAD scholarships for this. This mix of students for a six-weeks programme, which is not very expensive apart from the fact that the cost of living in Norway is very high. That is a kind of course that could be promoted if you want to support doctoral students from the South, or even post-doctoral students. This course in Oslo has been going on for the last 13 years, and I have had students there (as the course leader for international development studies) who are at the level just before or just after their PhD. I think that mixture of understanding is very good.

Peter B Andersen:

I want to tell you about something, which is not directly about research but more indirect, a research base creation, which is also part of SASNET since it is supported by SASNET. A Nordic Centre is now being established in India, we have got a flat in Delhi and a director appointed. Still we have not got the final permission, so we can not advertise about it on the Internet but you can approach Gunilla Gren-Eklund or Björn Hettne here in Sweden, who are members of the board, and let them put you in contact with the centre. Gunilla and Stig Toft-Madsen will on a SASNET grant go to India in November and try to identify mostly language courses and other kinds of university courses which could be used for Swedish and Nordic scholars. One thing to study will be Hindi.

Staffan Lindberg:

This should of course be mentioned. It is a typical example of connecting people. If we can connect researchers and teachers with this Nordic Centre it can be filled with a content, both from here and from the Indian/South Asian side.