I read from the FAQ that the program plan from CIS would be shared with the
community shortly. However, let me just put in a quick question I've had.
I'm keen to know if there is any primary area of focus the CIS has in mind
while executing the partnership/grant - anything that was central in the
discussion running up to these changes. My specific concern is how the
Chapter would evolve going ahead from here, and given that CIS has helped
the Chapter activities in the past, what role CIS plans to play in
strengthening the Chapter - whether there would be efforts to strengthen
the organization or such.
From the FAQ:
The Indian chapter is young -- just over a year old. Since, and even
before, its founding, the Wikimedia Foundation has
worked on a regular
basis with it. We provided a grant to help jumpstart chapter activities,
and the India Program has collaborated with members of the chapter
Executive Committee on a number of activities. The chapter has yet to
complete its first grant, *is seeing significant turnover in its
Executive Committee and a decline in membership*. Like most chapters, it
needs time to develop into a mature organization with the governance setup
in place to manage a staff and larger budget. We are hopeful that they will
get there as other chapters have, but it will take time. *We believe
that, at this point in the chapter’s development, to give it responsibility
for a team of staff and a sizable budget would risk stressing and damaging
rather than helping it*. We would like there to be a change in approach
from competitive to cooperative with the Wikimedia Foundation and with
other groups in the community. This would serve the chapter well and the
Reading this, I wish and hope in future that the Chapter won't be isolated
or left to fend for itself.
There are good leaders in the Wikimedia community who would be willing to
take up responsibilities in the Chapter given there's more transparency,
more willingness from the WMF to involve long time volunteers, - those that
started during the early years of Wikipedia and had stayed on contributing
for several years, in key decision making w.r.t India programs (because
they understand the business of growing the community better, if not the
essentials of running an organization).
And so far, it seemed from outside that it has just been exorbitant amount
of pressure exerted on the chapter to deliver at a time when it was
supposed to be strengthening its base, which clearly hasn't helped.
For WikimediaIndia-l users, just a note that I had earlier posted a
response to Barry's email here:
On 30 July 2012 16:26, Sunil Abraham <sunil(a)mahiti.org> wrote:
On Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 4:18 PM, Barry Newstead (WMF)
> Hisham’s departure coincides with another change in the India Program.
pleased to announce that the Wikimedia Foundation has approved a
grant to the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) in Bangalore to expand
their Access to Knowledge programme to support the achievement of the
Wikimedia mission in India. CIS is a leading organization in India working
on Internet policy. They are part of the broad free and open community. CIS
is a long time friend of Wikimedia, our community in Bangalore, and the
Wikimedia India chapter.
I would like to first like to thank Wikimedia Foundation for giving us
a grant to expand our Access to Knowledge Programme with a greater
focus on Wikipedia. I look forward to working with colleagues from the
Foundation and serving the community in India.
A little bit about my self since I am posting for the first time on
this list, I was elected an Ashoka fellow in 1999. I was part of the
founding team of Mahiti.org
though no longer formally involved.
Between 2004 and 2007, I managed IOSN.net
, a project of APDIP-UNDP
that focussed on promoting FOSS, open standards and open content
policies in the Asia-Pacific region. Apart from the Government of
India, I have worked with the governments of Moldova, Tajikistan,
Saudi Arabia and Iraq on free software and open standards policies. I
currently serve on the boards of Samvada and Tactical Technology
Collective and also on the sub-board of Open Society Foundation's
Now a little about CIS that is not in the FAQ. We are most often in
the news for our work around Freedom of Expression under our Internet
Governance programme. But most of our budget is spent on the other
less controversial areas. As a research organisation CIS does not
enforce party positions across staff members and fellows, like the
Kamasutra we encourage a multiplicity of positions. CIS has hosted
in the past and is currently hosting hasgeek.in.
CIS's garage has been converted into a hacker space called The Lab. In
the past, we have had the privilege to useful in small ways to
individual Wikipedians, the Indian Wikipedia community and India
chapter. The whole team looks forward to stepping-up that dramatically
with this grant.
As a registered non-profit society, CIS will strive to maintain high
levels of transparency and accountability to the Wikipedia community
and the general public. We will make the budget and programme plan
publicly available shortly. We will be transparent about staff
remuneration and travel-related costs – as is the case with other CIS
staffers. We will setup a recruitment panel for the Programme Director
with hopefully participation from the community and the chapter as was
the case in Brazil. More on that soon.
For now, if there are any questions for me regarding CIS and this
particular grant – I would be happy to answer them.
Hari Prasad Nadig