Reflections on Faircoin in Nepal and India
04/09/2015 at 12:02 #8758GuyKeymaster
Having just come back from 6 weeks in Nepal and India I wanted to say a few things about the possibility of FairCoop achieving mass (or indeed any) adoption over there (or in similar ‘developing’ countries).
There are two main problems – most of the areas I visited only had electricity some of the time – in some rural areas in Ladakh they only had electricity between 7pm and 11pm in the evening. In Kathmandu they do have electricity most of the time in theory, but in practice it goes off very often, sometimes for several hours. Of course without electricity they can’t use computers and internet routers go off. Some people and businesses have generators but often will only turn them on in the evening for electric light. So everything has to be paper and pen based – the hotel or restaurant will write your bill by hand on a piece of paper for example.
Smartphones are fairly widely adopted (mostly very cheap Android ones) and there is coverage in the most unlikely places, like in some tiny village between two massive mountains. However the coverage is very slow GPRS (same as 56k modem) so internet usage is more or less out of the question for most people on their phone. You can get your phone filled up with the latest music (all pirated of course) at some phone shops for a few rupees.
Obviously this means people will not easily be able to use the Faircoin wallet, although it’s not impossible. The other main obstacle to adoption would be the fact that people would have no idea what you are talking about if you mention ‘cryptocurrency’, ‘bitcoin’ etc. Even quite educated people seem to have no idea about these things. We went to an open day of the Ladakh Ecological Development Group and they were mostly talking about clean water and rubbish collection. Things are not at a stage where the underlying causes of problems are really being seen. There was no mention of ‘the commons’ at all. Some people were talking about new roads and more television channels as part of the ‘development’ they wanted to see.
There is seemingly a confusion over what ‘development’ really means – in fact there is an opportunity in rural areas to jump straight over the ‘industrial’ phase of development and go straight to a situation where renewable energy is dominant and people can be connected by the internet and possibly have less need to leave their villages and go to the city (where they will inevitably be exploited and perhaps homeless).
I did see some signs that MPesa, the alternative currency that can be sent by SMS, is starting to be known there, but I don’t get a sense that people realise the benefits that alternative currencies can bring. A lot of people seem to have the attitude that ‘the government ought to ban this or that’, without realising that it can be a slippery slope to start imposing top-down solutions on society.
Obviously these are just initial impressions and I’m sure there are people who are starting to catch on to alternative currencies and so on, just that the awareness of this sort of thing is so far way behind what you would find in Europe for example.
So overall at this point I am not hopeful that Faircoin or other cryptocurrencies could catch on to any extent in these sorts of areas. I did make some contacts and will endeavour to introduce people to this sort of thing, but realistically until there is wider understanding of the role of banks and money creation in society, and also either improvement in the infrastructure there, or a way of using paper notes or SMS messages to transfer Faircoins, I don’t see it as a fertile area for the adoption of any sort of alternative currency.
21/09/2015 at 16:33 #8901Antonio Hueso DiazParticipant
Thanks, Guy for your article. It is very important to know the local reality, the background where people are living. Anyway, perhaps we could start by getting knowlage of how people and groups are already working. For example, pay attention to this: https://www.seedfreedom.info/
24/09/2015 at 14:22 #8912Enric DuranKeymaster
Yes, is important to arrive to that places but very difficult. I has been noticed about a software for moving cryptocurrencies with sms messages, that could be important to adapt for faircoin. As soon as I get the full information about that, I will share!
13/02/2017 at 19:45 #12853
An Indian here.
India is highly conservative country with villagers even more close minded and not so open to new concepts. I think urban community, specially those between 15 to 35 yrs might be ideal group to spread cooperative ideas. Although most would not be interested even small percentage would be enough to get things started. We need to spread the word.
Cities like Delhi and Universities like JNU is left oriented and ready to adapt to latest tech and open minded to accept new ideas. Banglore can be the another city I can think of.
13/02/2017 at 21:53 #12855Enric DuranKeymaster
Thanks @josefantom for coming here! For us is very important to begin to create some faircoop infraestructure in Asia, and connects with realities there. And India on that seems a clear place to make it happe.
This points on Delhi, Jnu and Bangalore, seems very useful. Where are you based?
The Faircoop ecosystem is specially active in telegram right now. So if you can make it we can talk about much more details there.
14/02/2017 at 08:26 #12859
I am basically from western India and currently enjoying my sabbatical 🙂
I am a wanderer and lived and visited in many states. My experience is almost entire working class India is oblivious to the concept of Coops. Cooperatives here are mostly for poor class who works in weaving looms to create handicraft, handmade clothing and accessories. Honestly I am not aware of their working condition. So I am planning to visit one this weekend in nearby village.
To talk about urban India, hardly anyone knows what a cooperative is and one of the reason is how cooperative laws are formed ie too much government intervention. Coops here are basically hotbed for politics.
What I am positive about is the fleet of educated IT graduates in Urban region who are smart and skillful but unaware of an alternate to get out of the rut and politically reclusive to organize themselves (mostly are not even social which you can expect from geeks like us 😉 )
But if people come to know about it and understand the fundamental idea that cooperative like this can be a game changer, lot of people are likely to jump in.
14/02/2017 at 12:20 #12862GuyKeymaster
Thanks for the comments @josefantom – I agree with you that there is an enormous explosion of IT graduates coming out of India at the moment, and many of those seem to be familiar with Open Source/FOSS Libre concepts, so this would surely be the area to focus on as you say, then they could perhaps start introducing Fair payment systems into the cities and more rural areas. I think the new FairPay card which doesn’t require internet or immediate mains electricity (as long as the seller has some battery left on their smartphone) could be a big help in this area.
14/02/2017 at 17:58 #12874
@Guy Yes the youth IT community is well aware of open source softwares but not much about the basic principle behind the open source ideology. I talk my friends who are IT professional about open source movement and they simply scratch their head not knowing what it means. No knowledge of open source hardware too.
But my experience says it only needs a push to make them explore the topic and get involved. One of my friend thanked me for introducing to blockchain and world of cryptocurrency who is also exploring the cooperative models and platform coops with me.
I am looking for a means to spread the news and make people explore this domain. If there is any previous similar example in developing country I would like to know about how things can get started and more people from India can get involved.
16/02/2017 at 18:01 #12890Ashish KothariMember
Hello friends, interesting discussion. Pl. see at this link an article I wrote about this recently, in relation to the ‘demonetisation’ move by our Prime Minister:
https://scroll.in/article/823463/across-the-world-several-cities-have-embraced-the-opportunities-of-being-demonetised. I was surprised to read one comment about rural communities being unable to grasp such ideas. In fact there are several cooperatives and producer companies in rural areas (e.g. Dharani in Andhra), as also amongst the poor in cities (e.g. SWaCH in Pune, consisting of waste picker women); I am not talking about the ones initiated by govts but rather by workers themselves or with help from civil society. While all of these are set up to deal collectively with production and marketing, they also have many elements of non-monetised relations in their working. I have not yet seen the equivalent of an alternative or community currency, but the principles of localised exchange, of exchange based on caring and sharing, and so on, are not unknown to them. In fact it is often much harder getting the urban middle class to engage in these (though not impossible), given the kind of atomisation and anonymity of urban existence. I am not generalising, but simply saying that any generalised notion that fair coop kind of situations are harder in rural areas is also invalid. The two examples I mentioned above, and others, are available as stories or case studies at https://www.vikalpsangam.org (alias https://www.alternativesindia.org). In mid-March we have organised a meeting of some key groups working on localisation of economies and non-violent economics. I will report on that later.
16/02/2017 at 23:03 #12891
It’s great news that you are here. If I am not wrong, you are the Environmentalist (I guess president of greenpeace in India)
The articles and websites you shared were great resources and informed me about part of India I never knew. Thanks a lot
Would you want to start a something in India related to faircoop?
17/02/2017 at 09:05 #12892Ashish KothariMember
Thanks, yes, Jose, I am the same. I work with Kalpavriksh, an organisation we started in 1979. We are organising a small meeting on local/non-violent economies in mid-March, where we can take up the discussion on faircoop possibilities, I will get back to you subsequently. Meanwhile you could perhaps send me on firstname.lastname@example.org some background and guidelines if any, so we can assess suitability and feasibility. Thanks!
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