Talk about why I choose this topic

Time really flies. It have been eight days past, and I want to explain why I chose this topic. I think having a well-defined set of objective will give me a hand to complete this research program.

Firstly, many people work hard to earn money for their family’s living, and the house is one of the biggest expenditure in their living cost. My friends also strive to earn a living, who just have graduated from the university in these years, with the hopes for their future and happiness living and marriage. House is the indispensable things for their future. Because the house is the symbol of the stable life for our Chinese, and also linked with many social problems, such as household register system, medical care and child education, etc.

Secondly, In our Chinese traditional values, land and house are the best choice as a store of wealth. In the modern society, the land is strictly controlled by the government; But the house always is one of the best choice as a store of wealth. And in Kunming, lots of house are stockpiled for investment to have the sudden profiteering.

Thirdly, according to some surveys, 13.04% of China’s GDP today comes from the house market, and the house market have the huge influence for our country’s economy. Between 2009 to 2011, our Centre government has published many policies and regulations to protect the normal house market. Changing house price will be influenced the continuing development of china economic, and the normal life of citizens.

At last, I thought that it’s a critical problem for the huge rural country with 1.3 billion people and India will also face this problem in the future or maybe now. Because both China and India share similar national conditions, for instance, the rapid economic development, the huge population , the rapid urbanization and the emerging middle class. I am very interested in this topic, and I will try my best to complete this research program.

 

India China Conversations | Prosperity amidst Poverty & Inequality

Below are presentations from the third day of India China Conversations Conference: “Prosperity amidst Poverty & Inequality” (April 28, 2012)

Session I: Causes, Patterns, Consequences

Atul Kohli, Politics of inequality in India

Kellee S. Tsai, The Political Economy of Inequality in Reform-era China

Aziz Khan, The Disconnect Between Global Economic Power and Shared Domestic Prosperity in China

Vamsi Vakulabharanam, Inclusive Growth or Rising Inequalities? Indian economy in the Neoliberal Age

Session II: Reactions and Responses from State and Society

Vivienne Shue, Prosperity Amidst Poverty and Inequality: Reactions and Responses from State and Society in China

Ching Kwan Lee, The Power of Instability: How the Grassroots State Absorbs Popular Unrest in China

Devesh Kapur, The Capability Trap of the Indian State

Sanjay Ruparelia, Legislating Socioeconomic Rights in India: Origins, Promises, Risks

Neera Chandhoke, Compound Inequalities and Political Violence in India

India China Conversations | Prosperity amidst Poverty & Inequality

Below are presentations from the third day of India China Conversations Conference: “Prosperity amidst Poverty & Inequality” (April 28, 2012)

Session I: Causes, Patterns, Consequences

Atul Kohli, Politics of inequality in India

Kellee S. Tsai, The Political Economy of Inequality in Reform-era China

Aziz Khan, The Disconnect Between Global Economic Power and Shared Domestic Prosperity in China

Vamsi Vakulabharanam, Inclusive Growth or Rising Inequalities? Indian economy in the Neoliberal Age

Session II: Reactions and Responses from State and Society

Vivienne Shue, Prosperity Amidst Poverty and Inequality: Reactions and Responses from State and Society in China

Ching Kwan Lee, The Power of Instability: How the Grassroots State Absorbs Popular Unrest in China

Devesh Kapur, The Capability Trap of the Indian State

Sanjay Ruparelia, Legislating Socioeconomic Rights in India: Origins, Promises, Risks

Neera Chandhoke, Compound Inequalities and Political Violence in India

Solar Electrification

This summer I am researching sustainable development and renewable energy in rural communities as a means of creating resilience against climate change. I will be working at Avani, a chapter of Barefoot College located in Kumaon, Uttarakhand India. Recently I have been connecting my involvement this semester with the Solar Decathlon project and the research and work I will be doing over the summer. I recently joined the Solar Decathlon project and become part of the Empowerhouse Collective working with a solar cooperative in Ward 7 Deanwood DC, where the Parsons designed/built home was moved after the competition on the DC mall.

Something struck me yesterday when I went down to DC and met with a solar contractor, president of the Ward 7 Solar Cooperative and homeowner of PVC’s, and Georgetown student and member of Georgetown Energy, a non-profit formed by students to assist homeowners in the contracting and installation of solar panels. Discussing the benefits and financial savings of rooftop solar panel installation and the practicality in being trained as a solar engineer and installer, I realized this might be something I will be fortunate enough to learn and be trained on this summer as a volunteer at Avani.

This is incredibly exciting to think I could potentially learn how to be a solar engineer this summer. To learn something so practical, tangible and applicable to the life I want to lead sounds pretty great.

Spring 2012 Course: Rights and Activism in Modern China

Rights and Activism in Modern China NANT3570
Spring 2012 on Mondays from 4:00-5:50 PM

The language of human rights has become increasingly common in China today. Amid the economic and social upheavals of the late socialist period, ordinary Chinese have turned to human rights as both a political strategy and a new way of understanding themselves and their relationship to the state.

We use studies of current and prominent human rights cases to contemplate the following questions: What is the relationship between the international human rights movement and domestic grassroots activism? In what kinds of situations is the language of rights useful, and how are individuals interpreting and pressing human rights claims? What is the role of the state in promoting or suppressing human rights? What impact do China’s burgeoning capitalist markets have on human rights?

We discuss the growth of grassroots groups and the expansion of civil society in China, exploring the impact of technology, international funding, and domestic law. The course draws on scholarly texts, publications by nongovernmental human rights organizations, and Web-based academic projects and blogs.

My Project

My goal of my blog posts for the India China Institute’s website is to give some insight into the organizations that I came across during my research in Hong Kong.  I was fortunate enough meet with some very generous people who are doing really great work to promote social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong.

To give some background, my research was focused on examine social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong.  After I explain this, the first question asked is usually “What is social entrepreneurship?”  There are a million answers out there, but I usually just bring the conversation back to the general idea of entrepreneurship.  Entrepreneurs see an opportunity to create value.  Think of Pierre Omidyar wishing for an online marketplace and then starting eBay.  Bill Bowerman wasn’t happy with the shoes that Steve Prefontaine was wearing at the University of Oregon, so he made his own by melting rubber on a waffle iron – ultimately leading to Nike.

Now if you apply this same attitude toward social deficiencies that these people saw in market deficiencies, you get social entrepreneurship.  Wendy Kopp saw an opportunity to make a platform for young people to contribute to society and founded Teach For America.  Another great example is John Muir, whose advocacy for conservation eventually turned into the National Park system (which Ken Burns dubbed “America’s Greatest Idea”).  Social entrepreneurs are individuals whose innovative ideas and practices are seen through to address pressing social issues like Kopp and Muir did in addressing education and conservation, respectively.  This was also exhibited when Mohammed Yunus looked to address chornic poverty by providing a mechanism to give the poor access to credit.  Social entrepreneurs exist all over the world and offer a variety of products and services.  Social entrepreneurship is the platform in which they are enabled.

The approach I took in my research was modeled after a project I worked on during the spring semester of 2011, when a group of graduate students and I worked in a project for Synergos’ Arab World Social Innovators Program.  Our efforts focused on building a map of the ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in Jordan, Palestine, and Egypt.  I was assigned to focus on Jordan, and I spent several weeks making phone calls with social entrepreneurs, and various intermediaries that enable social entrepreneurs to create change.

It was the intermediaries that became of most interest to me.  Like it was described above, social entrepreneurs take all shapes and sizes.  The definition who is and is not a social entrepreneur is admittedly porous, but the intermediaries that offer critical consulting, financial, and support services to social entrepreneurs are much easier to identify and will most likely outlive the ventures they support (not all entrepreneurial efforts succeed, right?).

In Hong Kong, I was eager to apply my experience of mapping of the ecosystem of intermediaries as I did for the Synergos project to my experience as an intern at Echoing Green, a leading social entrepreneurship intermediary based in New York.  At Echoing Green I had more of a behind-the-scenes look at the types of support that social entrepreneurs need and the ways in which social entrepreneurs utilize the services offered by intermediaries.

My goal was to find the intermediaries in Hong Kong that offered support to social entrepreneurs and find out what kind of support they offered, and how the field at large was evolving.

Development and Migration and the initial "route" plan and what I have been doing!

Development and migration are often closely linked phenomena for obvious reasons- mainly people go where there is work. Global migration of which I had studied a bit about before coming to China is often and almost always, if it is labor migration, marked by the trend that ” developing countries” migrate to the ” developed countries” . In China the trend is people from the village migrate to the city but the ongoing and expansive development in China also means that the “village” and “countryside” is rapidly changing and now there are more and more cities and more and more developed towns as well. So migration happens on multiple levels and in multiple directions whereas the early migration was more often to mostly cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Yet now the patterns although still overwhelming to these cities are much more complex and diversified. Yet Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou remain the cities which maintain more stringent hukou- registration  status-  policies, more so than other cities, because of their large populations and the desire to control the impact of urbanization on these cities.

The growing development and complexity of current migration trends made my initial project, which had been to travel along a migration route more difficult than I had expected. The idea had come from a project I had done on a newly constructed road in nepal. In Nepal there had been only one route- one road and one direction (towards the city of Pokhara). No one who was from a small village in this region of Nepal was really “migrating” to another small village along the route or off the route or to anywhere besides the destination of the one road. In china, the question of studying the migrant population and the route was firstly how to define the route.  Would I define it by the existence of a road, which may eventually end up leading to Shanghai but may connect and lead and intersect with many other cities where people are migrating to as well? Or I do I define the route by people, because people may come from one place to Shanghai and then I would determine the route as the way they- a certain community- travels there. Therefore a series of roads, car rides, train rides etc. that connect their community and their destination city. So, this question was my initial challenge.

Yet, in china, migrants are coming from so many towns and villages and other cities even, I had no idea what community this could be and how to get in touch with people in that community. It is quite hard to just find villages or places off the beaten track as a foreigner without connections a community from my experience so I felt I would need to reinterpret my plan a bit. Also originally I had wanted to find a student to travel with me which I think would have made the original idea more possible but I originally didn’t find this while in the U.S. or once in China after looking through different connections I had here my first couple weeks. Therefore, I had made a connection with one organization working in different migrant schools and community centers in Shanghai, so I decided to reinterpret the initial plan and learn what I could from being involved in this way at least for the first five weeks.

So, I coordinated and volunteered with the organization at two community centers and two different schools in their summer programs pretty much all week long for the month of July. So through these experiences I had the opportunity to have many brief conversations and informal interviews with different families about their experiences moving into the city and also about the opportunities for their children in terms of accessing education in shanghai. One of the social services that is derived from ones’ hukou ( which is their place of origin)  status is access to public education. So for many years, it was nearly impossible for migrant children to attend school in Shanghai yet in recent years this has been reformed.

Therefore the schools I was volunteering in were both a mix of private migrant schools and newly government funded and legal migrant schools. Although now, most of the private migrant schools in the city have been shut down if they have not been registered and become funded through the government. The reform in many ways marks positive steps to improve the education opportunities for the children of migrant workers,  yet, there still remains very little, practically none from what I experienced, opportunity for migrant children to attend high school in Shanghai unless they have money to pay for private Shanghainese high schools.

So many 15 years old children, will either return back to their hometowns to take their exams in there to enter into high school in their hometown or will drop out and begin working in the city. Also, many kids will be sent to live in their hometowns when they are younger with their grandparents. Mainly the reason for this that I encountered is either that the parents believe the educational opportunity will be better for them because they may continue to high school more easily as the exam and the curriculum will be the same instead of having a different curriculum and exam in Shanghai and then returning home to try to take the hometown exam to enter high school. The other major reason that I found was just the cost of living was more expensive in Shanghai so it costs more to support a child there so it is easy for them to stay in their hometowns.  Mainly all of the families or people I spoke to were women either grandmothers or mothers themselves. Mostly the fathers were working and if it was the grandmother often both parents were working. This was another interesting thing was many grandmothers I met who migrated to the city to live with their children’s family. Most people who I have met plan to return home and say they just are there to make money. Most are from Anhui province but many from Sichuan, Henan, Hubei and others well. Everyone also said that there hometowns are changing rapidly and many said they could find work there but they wouldn’t make as much money as they can in Shanghai. This is also a new and interesting change in what defines the (actually too large to define in any way but still ..) the migrant population in Shanghai which is  there are definitely now more wealthy migrants, which I have understood was not at all the case in the past. A few people when I asked them about their traveling home now, they told me how they don’t take the bus or the train anymore because now they own their own cars so they can drive themselves. So this is another interesting new trend among the community but mainly I tried to remain focused on the education: their plans for their kids, were theirs kids in Shanghai or in the hometown and why etc.

Almost all of the research has been very qualitative. It has mainly been just speaking to who I could in the time that I could and asking them about their lives and organizing someone to help translate as well. The translation always made things feel a bit more formalized than I would have liked them to feel. I think it would of made a significant difference in this part of the experience If I could have been able to really speak the language and more casually understand the people I was around. One thing I have realized and been reflecting on in terms of translation is that a conversation never really carries on that well or naturally. I feel the translation kind of prepared or made people expect the next question and therefore they didn’t really elaborate. Of course they very kindly really tried to answer my questions but therefore, everything I knew about the lives and experiences of the people I met and spoke with has kind of been formed through my questions and what I maybe was understanding or finding important and interesting about their lives, hometowns or education.

Therefore, I think a great flaw of my research was that I don’t think in Shanghai I really understood the “issue” of education or the ideas of migration which I have been thinking over, in the deeper sense of  the way they interact as just a part of different people’s daily lives and thoughts etc. I think a large part of the challenge of this and the time spent in Shanghai was this distance from people’s daily lives. For most of my time, I stayed in a hostel in the center and daily commuted out the different communities. There was no place for me to stay in those communities. There were no hotels and there is very little space in most people’s homes in Shanghai so therefore I felt a great distance from understanding these issues and ideas with a greater understanding of the context of just their role in people’s everyday lives.  This was very big challenge for me in Shanghai but still I think the challenges still served to be important learning experience about how hard this whole “research” process is really . Yet still, the volunteering was wonderful and the kids were wonderful and everyone I spoke to was very kind and generous and so were all the organizations that allowed me to come and help and let me learn from what they do!!!!!

Development and Migration and the initial “route” plan and what I have been doing!

Development and migration are often closely linked phenomena for obvious reasons- mainly people go where there is work. Global migration of which I had studied a bit about before coming to China is often and almost always, if it is labor migration, marked by the trend that ” developing countries” migrate to the ” developed countries” . In China the trend is people from the village migrate to the city but the ongoing and expansive development in China also means that the “village” and “countryside” is rapidly changing and now there are more and more cities and more and more developed towns as well. So migration happens on multiple levels and in multiple directions whereas the early migration was more often to mostly cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Yet now the patterns although still overwhelming to these cities are much more complex and diversified. Yet Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou remain the cities which maintain more stringent hukou- registration  status-  policies, more so than other cities, because of their large populations and the desire to control the impact of urbanization on these cities.

The growing development and complexity of current migration trends made my initial project, which had been to travel along a migration route more difficult than I had expected. The idea had come from a project I had done on a newly constructed road in nepal. In Nepal there had been only one route- one road and one direction (towards the city of Pokhara). No one who was from a small village in this region of Nepal was really “migrating” to another small village along the route or off the route or to anywhere besides the destination of the one road. In china, the question of studying the migrant population and the route was firstly how to define the route.  Would I define it by the existence of a road, which may eventually end up leading to Shanghai but may connect and lead and intersect with many other cities where people are migrating to as well? Or I do I define the route by people, because people may come from one place to Shanghai and then I would determine the route as the way they- a certain community- travels there. Therefore a series of roads, car rides, train rides etc. that connect their community and their destination city. So, this question was my initial challenge.

Yet, in china, migrants are coming from so many towns and villages and other cities even, I had no idea what community this could be and how to get in touch with people in that community. It is quite hard to just find villages or places off the beaten track as a foreigner without connections a community from my experience so I felt I would need to reinterpret my plan a bit. Also originally I had wanted to find a student to travel with me which I think would have made the original idea more possible but I originally didn’t find this while in the U.S. or once in China after looking through different connections I had here my first couple weeks. Therefore, I had made a connection with one organization working in different migrant schools and community centers in Shanghai, so I decided to reinterpret the initial plan and learn what I could from being involved in this way at least for the first five weeks.

So, I coordinated and volunteered with the organization at two community centers and two different schools in their summer programs pretty much all week long for the month of July. So through these experiences I had the opportunity to have many brief conversations and informal interviews with different families about their experiences moving into the city and also about the opportunities for their children in terms of accessing education in shanghai. One of the social services that is derived from ones’ hukou ( which is their place of origin)  status is access to public education. So for many years, it was nearly impossible for migrant children to attend school in Shanghai yet in recent years this has been reformed.

Therefore the schools I was volunteering in were both a mix of private migrant schools and newly government funded and legal migrant schools. Although now, most of the private migrant schools in the city have been shut down if they have not been registered and become funded through the government. The reform in many ways marks positive steps to improve the education opportunities for the children of migrant workers,  yet, there still remains very little, practically none from what I experienced, opportunity for migrant children to attend high school in Shanghai unless they have money to pay for private Shanghainese high schools.

So many 15 years old children, will either return back to their hometowns to take their exams in there to enter into high school in their hometown or will drop out and begin working in the city. Also, many kids will be sent to live in their hometowns when they are younger with their grandparents. Mainly the reason for this that I encountered is either that the parents believe the educational opportunity will be better for them because they may continue to high school more easily as the exam and the curriculum will be the same instead of having a different curriculum and exam in Shanghai and then returning home to try to take the hometown exam to enter high school. The other major reason that I found was just the cost of living was more expensive in Shanghai so it costs more to support a child there so it is easy for them to stay in their hometowns.  Mainly all of the families or people I spoke to were women either grandmothers or mothers themselves. Mostly the fathers were working and if it was the grandmother often both parents were working. This was another interesting thing was many grandmothers I met who migrated to the city to live with their children’s family. Most people who I have met plan to return home and say they just are there to make money. Most are from Anhui province but many from Sichuan, Henan, Hubei and others well. Everyone also said that there hometowns are changing rapidly and many said they could find work there but they wouldn’t make as much money as they can in Shanghai. This is also a new and interesting change in what defines the (actually too large to define in any way but still ..) the migrant population in Shanghai which is  there are definitely now more wealthy migrants, which I have understood was not at all the case in the past. A few people when I asked them about their traveling home now, they told me how they don’t take the bus or the train anymore because now they own their own cars so they can drive themselves. So this is another interesting new trend among the community but mainly I tried to remain focused on the education: their plans for their kids, were theirs kids in Shanghai or in the hometown and why etc.

Almost all of the research has been very qualitative. It has mainly been just speaking to who I could in the time that I could and asking them about their lives and organizing someone to help translate as well. The translation always made things feel a bit more formalized than I would have liked them to feel. I think it would of made a significant difference in this part of the experience If I could have been able to really speak the language and more casually understand the people I was around. One thing I have realized and been reflecting on in terms of translation is that a conversation never really carries on that well or naturally. I feel the translation kind of prepared or made people expect the next question and therefore they didn’t really elaborate. Of course they very kindly really tried to answer my questions but therefore, everything I knew about the lives and experiences of the people I met and spoke with has kind of been formed through my questions and what I maybe was understanding or finding important and interesting about their lives, hometowns or education.

Therefore, I think a great flaw of my research was that I don’t think in Shanghai I really understood the “issue” of education or the ideas of migration which I have been thinking over, in the deeper sense of  the way they interact as just a part of different people’s daily lives and thoughts etc. I think a large part of the challenge of this and the time spent in Shanghai was this distance from people’s daily lives. For most of my time, I stayed in a hostel in the center and daily commuted out the different communities. There was no place for me to stay in those communities. There were no hotels and there is very little space in most people’s homes in Shanghai so therefore I felt a great distance from understanding these issues and ideas with a greater understanding of the context of just their role in people’s everyday lives.  This was very big challenge for me in Shanghai but still I think the challenges still served to be important learning experience about how hard this whole “research” process is really . Yet still, the volunteering was wonderful and the kids were wonderful and everyone I spoke to was very kind and generous and so were all the organizations that allowed me to come and help and let me learn from what they do!!!!!

Slideshow: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India

Below is the presentation for the March 10, 2011 event, Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India, by Pranab K. Bardhan.

Post-doc fellow position, Everyday Religion and Sustainable Environments in the Himalayas

The India China Institute is seeking a one-year post-doctoral fellow (with option of a one-year renewal) for Everyday Religion and Sustainable Environment in the Himalayas (ERSEH) project.

Supported by a grant from the Henry R. Luce Foundation, ERSEH is a multi-year research and curricular initiative that explores the complex role of religion in global affairs with particular emphasis on environmental issues.  The post-doc fellow would receive a salary of $50,000 per year plus university benefits.  Preferred start date for this position would be September 1, 2011.

The India China Institute, based at The New School in New York City, is the hub of an international network of scholars and institutions with the mission of identifying mutual concerns and developing areas of cooperation between India, China, and the United States in a global context.

The New School is committed to maintaining a diverse educational and creative community, a policy of equal opportunity in all its activities and programs, including employment.  Applications from members of historically underrepresented groups are welcome.  We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran or marital status.

Responsibilities:

  • Design and teach one undergraduate course per semester relevant to the ERSEH project at The New School’s Environmental Studies program
  • Work with ICI Senior Director Ashok Gurung to coordinate, develop and manage an international network of scholars for the ERSEH project, including but not limited to convening roundtable discussions and public events
  • Help develop, manage, and disseminate research materials for the ERSEH project

Requirements:

  • The ideal candidate would have a PhD (received within the last 5 years) in Religious Studies with strong interest in Environmental Studies
  • Expertise and language skills in the Himalayan region are strongly preferred
  • Candidates would also have strong interpersonal skills and comfort employing them in a variety of cultural contexts
  • Able to undertake international travel as needed
  • Open to US citizens and foreign scholars

Application Deadline: January 30, 2011

For more information, email indiachina@newschool.edu or call 212-229-6812

Applications are accepted online at: careers.newschool.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=52591

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