“We want to follow the path suggested by our founding fathers, and the collaboration with ISB ensures that we are on the right path,” Prof. Najma Akhtar, Vice-Chancellor, Jamia
The Indian School of Business, in collaboration with MCRC, organised a workshop on the “Initiative on Forest Economy (IoFE)” for the students of the M.A. Development Communication (D.C.) program on the Jamia Milia Islamia Campus. The workshop was inaugurated in the presence of the Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Najma Akhtar. She welcomed Prof. Ashwini Chhatre, Executive Director of Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business, and the ISB team to Jamia AJKMRC Campus. The workshop commenced with a short screening of the legacy of Jamia University, followed by a brief introduction to the forest economy initiative. She emphasised having more collaborations with other departments of Jamia and ISB and said that the collaboration with MCRC is just the beginning of a long-term partnership. Quoting one of the founding fathers of Jamia, Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of society, she mentioned the need for students to experience the lives of forest communities closely to become responsible citizens of society.
Afterward, Prof. Ashwini Chhatre introduced the concept of the “Initiative of Forest Economy “(IoFE) to the students and professors, including Jamia Professors and community leaders of Malkangiri. Prof. Ashwini Chhatre explained the initiative’s design to convert forests into a space of wealth with a three-pronged approach. First, to create visibility by formalising the first-mile production system using digital technology. Second, to achieve economies of scale through community-based enterprises for aggregation. Third, to increase productivity by setting up processing systems for value-addition at the local level. He emphasised the uniqueness of this initiative as it represents a triple-win opportunity by reducing environmental threats, creating jobs at the bottom of the pyramid, and establishing sustainable forest management systems.
The speaker list includes prominent figures from the fields of academics, politics, and film activism and leaders from communities who will enrich students with their lifelong learnings. Prof. Manoj Kumar Jha, Prof. Nandini Sundar, Dr. S.Y. Quiraishi, and Amar Kanwar are a few names on the list. This six-day intensive workshop provided a detailed background of the IoFE and the path taken to design this initiative. The talks included detailed discussions from the historical perspective of the forest economy, the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the local governance, gender roles, success stories from the communities’ members, and the ways to tackle potential challenges ahead, along with interactive sessions. The workshop will be followed by the three weeks field visit of students to Malkangiri, one of the remotest landscapes of Odisha. They will document the ground reality as part of their course curriculum.
Earlier, the Bharti Institute of Public Policy at ISB and A. J. K. Mass Communication Research Centre (AJKMCRC) of Jamia Milia Islamia University signed a three-year MoU on April 20, 2023. This MoU fosters academic and knowledge collaboration to effectively implement a large-scale landscape-level “Initiative on the Forest Economy” (IoFE) project. The IoFE team aims to build a scalable and sustainable forest economy and livelihood anchored around Community Forest Resource Rights (CFRR) and Women-enterprises.