Thursday, May 31, 2012

A link to Geeta Roy/Dutt

Since I heard many of her songs when she was Geeta Roy, it is difficult for me to call her Geeta Dutt.  With many of the Hindi film singers, I luke some songs but there are many which I do not like. The voices are sometimes heavy or shrill. I think Geeta Roy is the only singer, most of whose songs I can listen to mostly with pleasure or at least without flinching. Here is a link to some articles about her which gives a quick list of some of her popular songs; most of the links to the songs do not seem to work but the lines are there so that one can fing them.
The Immotal Geeta Dutt

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More education links

A friend from USA responds to Sugata Mitra posts: "In the U.S. education reform is a code name for abolishing public education (which is after all a socialist enterprise). This is likely to have something to do with why Mitra would be welcome to TED, but it says nothing at all about his ideas - some good ideas are certainly needed as a smokescreen for bad ones." I was thinking of Mitra's ideas as a supplement in places where the infrastructure is poor and teacher absenteeism high.
related is a recent discussion on "unschooling" where Megan Erickson remarks "Dana Goldstein has already written at length about the economic infeasibility of unschooling as a national philosophy for education, and Taylor has responded that her essay is not meant to be prescriptive, but instructive." I think that Astra Taylor's response is worth looking at; her original article is now available only at Kindle. I myself had lot of problems with the rigidity of university educations and I hope that ideas such as Mitra's may help to slowly transform education while supplementing it for now.

What are they talking about?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More links to Sugata Mitra's work

Through relatives, I have heard of some relatively rich people in places like Vijayawada who want to help with primary education of the poor. Apparently one of them is a retired businessman without children who is prepared to spend over ten crores of rupees for the purpose and is not sure how to go about it. I think Sugata Mitra's programs might provide one possibility and am adding links to help them locate some nearby organizations that may provide more information.
From the Wikipedia article
"Minimally invasive education (MIE) is a term used to describe how children learn in unsupervised environments. It was derived from an experiment done by Sugata Mitra while at NIIT in 1999 often called The Hole in the Wall,[1][2] which has since gone on to become a significant project with the formation of Hole in the Wall Education Limited (HiWEL), a cooperative effort between NIIT and the International Finance Corporation, employed in some 300 'learning stations', covering some 300,000 children in India and several African countries. The programme has been feted with the digital opportunity award by WITSA,[2] and been extensively covered in the media."
According to Matt Ridley
"Everybody knows that the Internet will transform education, but nobody yet knows how. Most of the models sound like dull attempts to reproduce, at a distance, the medieval habit of schooling—one teacher telling a bunch of children what to think. Now, though, I think I have glimpsed a better idea: the self-organized learning environment (SOLE).

The credit for this approach belongs to Sugata Mitra, an Indian physicist who, a decade ago, began to install public "hole in the wall" computers in the streets of Indian slums."
Here is link to Sugata Mitra's page with links to some of his papers and a link to Hole-in-the-Wall publications
Here is a link to some of the work in Hyderabad

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Alternatives to austerity

Duncan Green links to a free online Oxfam publication Be Outraged which outlines alternatives to austerity. Interestingly some developing countries like India are given as examples to developed countries.

Learning in groups, a recent talk by Sugata Mitra

Sugata Mitra's recent Ted book 'Beyond the Hole in the Wall' synopsis
ans a write up about the same book in 'Inside Higher Education'
A more recent talk

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hindi film songs of yesteryears

Browsing about the period from thirties to fifties of Hindi film songs, there are six posts in Upperstall about the evolution during this period part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and one of the crucial figures seems to be Ghulam Haider . I could not appreciate the songs of some of the famous ones like Noor Jehan (perhaps too local and I am not much in to ghazals) and some of the excerpts seem to clarify my likings for me. Excerpts about Lata "She was even rejected by producer S Mukherji who vetoed music director Ghulam Haider from using her for his film Shaheed (1948) saying her voice was too thin and squeaky! Haider warned Mukherji that this girl would one day overtake Noor Jehan and helped her breakthrough withthe song Mera Dil Toda from Majboor (1948)......... Such was Lata Mangeshkar's impact that within a year she had changed the face of the playback singer as her highly trained high-pitched singing rendered the nasal, basy voices of the day totally obsolete. At least music directors had found the voice that could stretch their creative experiments to the fullest. The only two singers to survive the Lata onslaught were Geeta Roy and to a certain extent Shamshad Begum as Lata went on to conquer all and sundry with her magical voice!" That was from the last article in the series. I am more partial to Geeta's songs. From the second, "1941 saw the release of a film, Pancholi Pictures Khazanchi, which was to change the face of Hindi Film Music. By then Music Directors of the 1930s, who had embellished films with their exquisite compositions set in classical ragas, were beginning to sound commonplace. Khazanchi's refreshingly free wheeling music by Ghulam Haider not only took the audiences by storm but also made other music directors sit up and take notice. Khazanchi, combining popular ragas with the rich verve and rhythm of Punjabi folk music, ensured that the Indian film song would never be the same again. Saawan ke Nazaare with the hero and heroine and their groups on cycles was a trendsetter song not only for its liveliness but also for introducing the big bang meeting of the boy and girl as they bang into each other's cycles! Gradually Hindi Film Music also began drawing from other States of India - from Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh. Music forms like the Purabi or Pahadi also proved to be extremely popular." From the above article on Ghulam Haider "Just like the USA, where all diverse nationalities get into the grand melting pot and become Americans, Bombay creates a unique amalgam of film and music makers that make it Bollywood. If Ghulam Haider gave a new style to Bombay, he in turn gained a lot from the grand melting pot experience of the city. As music director S. Mohinder puts it, “Every music director hailing from any part of India and arriving in Bombay, gains immensely from the music directors representing other cultures and participates in the creation of a new amalgam called the composite music of India”. Ghulam Haider’s style also underwent a see change, it happened especially after most of the members of his orchestra went back to Lahore after an explosion in Bombay."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two songs of Shamshad Begum

which I came across in the last week, the first via 'Dances on the Footpath'. It is dance song from the Hindi film Himmat, 1941 sung by Shamshad Begum. The song without the dance
There is also a nice video but it not clear to me whether it is from the same film
Almost the same song but with different singers and dancers from a later film
This seems to be one of the first Hindi film songs by Shamshad Begum
one of the stars in the film is Ragini, whose original name was Shamshad Begum. I do not know whether the dance was picurized with her. A brief biography of Ragini
The second song is via Rajraj of the Hub forum and by Amirbai Karnataki
Apparently it was dropped from the film Naghma in favour of Shamshad Begum's version
I like both but like Amirbai's version a bit more

Peak child level

Monday, May 21, 2012

Recent progress in 3-manifolds

A survey article on the recent progress in 3-manifolds Many of the problems that we only dreamed about seem to have been solved by a bunch of relatively young mathematicians. I can only hope to get an idea of the achievement and do not expect to understand many of the proofs.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Two articles on Robert Spitzer

Robert Spitzer recently in the news for withdrawing his interpretation if a gay study is also the main person behind the controversial DSM-3 which has 'checklists' of symptoms for various mental diorders; the later DSMs are considered footnotes to DSM-3. A new one sccheduled for next year also controversial. According to the above article "Robert Spitzer’s achievement represents a Nobel-worthy leap forward in the history of psychiatry, but his DSM-III was only meant to be a first installment to a work-in-progress, not frozen in time as psychiatry’s diagnostic Bible. Its present incarnation as the DSM-IV-TR of 2000 is essentially the same old 1980 book in a new cover. There are many dangers to this. One of them is that the universal success of the DSM has entrenched its original errors. What may have started out in 1980 as a descriptive trial balloon by 1984 was unaccountably accepted as scientific fact, which by 1990 was regarded as wisdom of the ages. Now, in 2011 (and right up past 2030, no doubt), thanks to all the stake-holders invested in the status quo - insurance companies and so on - undoing these mistakes borders on the impossible. Indeed, the DSM-5, due out in 2013, guarantees psychiatry will be stuck in 1980 Groundhog Day forever - or until a new discipline renders it obsolete. But a pharmaceutical company with billions riding on a new antidepressant does not suddenly want to find out that depression no longer means what it used to mean, even if the term is no longer relevant to what we experience and how a new generation of clinicians may practice." This is also the view here which quotes from DSM-3 and worries about its use in litigations “The purpose of the DSM-III-R is to provide clear descriptions of diagnostic categories in order to enable clinicians and investigators to diagnose, communicate about, study, and treat the various mental disorders. It is to be understood that inclusion here, for clinical and research purposes, of a diagnostic category such as Pathological Gambling or Pedophilia does not imply that the conditions meets legal or other non-medical criteria for what constitutes mental disease, mental disorder, or mental disability. The clinical and scientific considerations involved in categorization of these conditions as mental disorders may not be wholly relevant to legal judgments, for example, that take into account such issues as individual responsibility, disability determination, and competency.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Edward Luce meets some military strategists in USA

Their vision as reported here: "It would not be easy. It may not even be possible, they conceded. But it should be the priority. “The number one threat facing America is its rising debt burden,” said the briefing officer. “Our number one goal should be to restore American prosperity.” Intrigued by the boldness of their vision, I was unprepared for what followed. The briefer said they had all agreed on the need to shrink the Pentagon budget by at least a fifth, partly by closing overseas bases, partly by reducing the number of those in uniform by 100,000, but also by cutting the number of “battle groups” – aircraft carriers – below its current level of 11. Most of the savings would be spent on civilian priorities such as infrastructure, education and foreign aid. None of this would be possible were the US at war, or even under threat of war, they said. It could be pulled off only if the country were, in effect, to cede – or “share” – its domination over large parts of the world. “We would need to persuade our friends on the Republican side that America has to share power if we want to free up resources to invest at home,” the briefer said. “We tried really hard to come up with alternatives. But we couldn’t find a better way to do this.”" Edwar Luce who wrote an excellent book about India has now written about USA “Time to Start Thinking: America and the Spectre of Decline” and the book is reviewd here and here. Interviews with Edward Luce at PBS and Foreign Policy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TRNN update on UNCTAD

The Struggle Over UNCTAD (and Why It Matters) ( via Naked Capitalism which seems to be one of the few main stream blogs featured in Economist's View which carries news of UNCTAD): "Some people see the Doha conference, therefore, as a draw. Others, because of the disproportionate power that the north has over the south, see this as a victory of the south, because it preserved the mandate of UNCTAD and it is allowing it now for the next five years or so to continue researching the question of finance, questions of economic development, as far as, you know, it being people-centered and not finance-centered. So because the mandate of the UNCTAD was not touched, there are people who say this is a major victory for the south,..........................There were two other points that were very important......One part of UNCTAD, you know, the division headed by Flassbeck, for instance, was producing reports critical of the way in which finance in particular had come to dominate social life. Another part was a pledge to helping investment capital enter the global south. And so there is—there was an imbalance at Doha, as there has been within UNCTAD for a long period. And this question has also been raised—you know, what is this double-headed nature of UNCTAD? And the third thing, very important thing, a preview of the rest of the summer's debates between north and south, this third thing was around the so-called new trade narrative.....we need to understand the new trade narrative as part of this supply chain, that every country in the world is linked into the supply chain; there is no real contradiction between north and south; there are no antagonisms in the world anymore; everybody just needs to find their place. In a way, this is the 21st century version of David Ricardo's comparative advantage theory.....But at the Doha meeting, the South African trade minister, Rob Davies, very strongly contested the story, and he said that, look, what you are trying to say is precisely why UNCTAD was created in the first place, because the first secretary-general of UNCTAD, Raúl Prebisch, critiqued this Ricardo kind of theory." Vijay Prashad goes on to explain the 'global supply chain': " I'll put it in the worst way. Malaysia will find the rubber. Singapore will produce certain kinds of technical equipment. This will be put together in Shenzhen in China. But the entire idea is created in the United States, and because of international property laws, the United States will protect its ability to make money off work done by people outside the United States. This is bad for U.S. workers, because it means there is no need to create jobs in America, and it's appalling for people in Malaysia and people in Shenzhen, because they make a very tiny part of the profit in the sale of whatever they're making. The bulk of that profit is going to be made by the so-called intellectual property holder, which is likely to be a major transnational corporation based in the north, and then it's going to be shared out to people who are lawyers, bankers, etc., whose job is to protect the copyright and to preserve the wealth accrued by this transnational firm. So if we get down to it, what Rob Davies said is this is a kind of new colonialism. It's not what we want." Vijay Prashad also thinks that China, Russia, India, Brazil oppsed the developed states not because of their opposition to neo-liberal economics but"....the section of this particular so-called new trade narrative that they are most upset by is something they've been upset by for 20-plus years, and that is the question of intellectual property rights. You know, if you look at the pyramid of profit, you know, it's actually a reverse pyramid of profit. If you look at it like that, you see that the country where the firms control intellectual property are able to make the most out of the global supply chain. You know, they are able to—because of so-called value added, they are able to make the most out of the sale of commodities. It's not the person who makes the Nike shoe in Indonesia that makes the money for Indonesia; it is still Nike in the United States who is reaping the—taking in the profits for Nike shoes, even though Nike doesn't actually make any shoes. You know, Nike is a design and brand firm. They don't actually manufacture shoes. But the design and brand section of the supply chain is where the real profits lie. So countries like Brazil, India, China, these countries are fighting to bring their own brands to market, to bring their own designs to market, and they are being held back by a global or international intellectual property regime that prevents many of them from pushing their brands forward. I mean, one of the real tricks in the 1980s that they are most upset by was the shift in intellectual property from where you copyright not the process by which you get to, say, a sneaker but the actual sneaker itself. That means that you cannot figure out a novel—your own way of making the same product, your own way of making, say, a drug that, you know, is antiretroviral. You can't do that, because now what is copyrighted isn't any longer the process but the product itself. And that is something that is holding back countries like China, India, Brazil. They are frustrated and angry about this one aspect of the global supply chain narrative."

A handbook on corruption

which a Hindu review says is an Antidote to World Bank prescription is currently available online here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Neurosceptic on labels

From Shyness By Any Other Name : "People think of "social anxiety disorder" as more serious than "social phobia" - even when they refer to exactly the same thing. Laura C . Bruce et al did a telephone survey of 806 residents of New York State. They gave people a brief description of someone who's uncomfortable in social situations and often avoids them. The question was: should they seek mental health treatment for this problem? When the symptoms were labelled as "social anxiety disorder", 83% of people recommended treatment. But when the same description was deemed "social phobia", it dropped to 75%, a statistically significant difference. OK, that's only an 8% gap. It's a small effect, but then the terminological difference was a small one. "Anxiety disorder" vs "Phobia" is about a subtle a distinction as I can think of actually. Imagine if one of the options had been a label that didn't imply anything pathological - "social anxiety" or "shyness". That would probably have had a much bigger impact." Neurosceptic goes on to discuss the terminological chsnges planned for DSM-5

Monday, May 14, 2012

Minai identifies Malavika from 'Ananda Bhairavi'

I have been learning about Indian films , dances and songs from the posts of Minai like Malavika's Dances and the film Ananda Bhairavi (1983, Telugu/Kannada) and Richard's Sai-Subbulaxmi. After an erudite discussion and links to several nice dances in Ananda Bhairavi, Minai wondered about the identity and background of Malavika who did some wonderful Kuhipudi dances in he film. I took interest since Kuchipudi is close to my father's village and I am familiar with the place where the film was made. We wondered why she sort of vanished from the scene after a stellar performance. It turned out that Malavika is a kathak dancer Malavika Sarkar from the Lucknow Gharana who specially trained in Kuchipudi dances for the film after the director Jandhyala saw a TV performance by her. Minai compltes the identification in her latest post Visual Proof of Malavika Sarkar - Kathak Dancerand Ananda Bhairavi Star! . It is wonderful to read Minai's carefully researched posts and links to wonderful dances which make some of the classical dances palatable to even somebody like me who was turned off early by much of the gymnastics in those dances.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"I'll manage it somehow"

Happy Mother's Day! From a Time magazine review of 'Boot Polish', now behind a paywall, quoted here "From her scrawny, seven-year-old frame, Actress Naaz somehow sums up the whole history of her sex, chattering happily as she works with her brother, huddling against him for warmth, patting his arm in a crisis and reassuring him, "I'll manage it somehow." " P.S. Sad to see that Baby Naaz had a terrible mother Her profile at Cineplot

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Two on armpits

From Our case against Manto By Mohammed Hanif "While describing Saughandi in your notorious short story Hatak you tell us: Her armpit looked as if a piece of plucked chicken skin had been placed there. Did it occur to you that you might be spoiling your reader’s dinner?" (There is also a nice article Ayesha Jalal on Manto From"The 'Cent per Cent' Gandhian" in Raga'n Josh: Richard Attenborough after being subjected to a dinner of 'bisibeleholianna' by Mohan Rao of the Publication Division of the Govt. of India "I will survive, but how do you chaps manage to eat this stuff? To me it tastes like stewed armpits!"

Arundhati Roy on Capitalism

Much of what Arundhati Roy says in Capitalism: A Ghost Story seems right to me, one instance is the recent efforts to curtail the mandate of UNCTAD Why would policymakers want to gag a past master of economic prophecy?. But it is not clear to me whether it forms a coherant narrative or gives hints of plans for action. Perhaps one hint is in her comment "But which of us sinners was going to cast the first stone? Not me, who lives off royalties from corporate publishing houses." It seems to me most of us are involved in making a living and try to ensure some security for our families and have to do with the existing conditions and opportunities. A recent report of Gabriel Parma's work by Duncan Green ‘It’s the share of the rich, stupid’: brilliant inequality stats + politics from Gabriel Palma reports "‘There are two opposite forces at work. One is ‘centrifugal’, and leads to an increased diversity in the shares appropriated by the top 10 and bottom 40 per cent. The other is ‘centripetal’, and leads to a growing uniformity in the income-share appropriated by deciles 5 to 9. Therefore, half of the world’s population (the middle and upper-middle classes) have acquired strong ‘property rights’ over half of their respective national incomes; the other half, however, is increasingly up for grabs between the very rich and the poor.........‘In Latin America the middle classes seek to defend their share of income with different forms of alliances with the élite (some more successfully than others). This is different to India, for example, where the administrative classes defend their position mostly via alliances with the poor (which gives them the political power to mediate in the different conflicts between the capitalist élite and the state)’. Vintage stuff." In other words, all of us outside the top ten and bottom 40 perecent are in some ways involved in maintaining the status quo.But this does not explain why many in the middle classes often both husband and wife (possibly except government employees)are working harder and longer than before or that change is not possible. It seems that with globalization and debt of poor countries, many are caught in a circle from which it is difficult to escape. Perhaps, cancellation of odious debts and considering alternaives like Is this the UN’s most powerful critique to date of finance-driven globalization? may be a start.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Odious Debt

Some of the stigma attached to debt seems to loose some sting with The Concept of Odious Debt: "Odious debt is an established legal principle. Legally, debt is to be considered odious if the government used the money for personal purposes or to oppress the people. Moreover, in cases where borrowed money was used in ways contrary to the people’s interest, with the knowledge of the creditors, the creditors may be said to have committed a hostile act against the people. Creditors cannot legitimately expect repayment of such debts. The United States set the first precedent of odious debt when it seized control of Cuba from Spain. Spain insisted that Cuba repay the loans made to them by Spain. The U.S. repudiated (refused to pay) that debt, arguing that the debt was imposed on Cuba by force of arms and served Spain’s interest rather than Cuba’s, and that the debt therefore ought not be repaid. This precedent was upheld by international law in Great Britain v. Costa Rica (1923) when money was put to use for illegitimate purposes with full knowledge of the lending institution; the resulting debt was annulled." It was formalized later(1927) by Alexander Nahum Sack and there is a widely quoted 2002 IMF paper by Michael Kremer and Seema Jayachandran in which they argue: "... if there were an institution that assessed, and announced, whether regimes were odious, this could create a new equilibrium (that is, market outcome) in which countries' reputations would not be hurt by refusal to repay illegitimate debts, just as individuals' credit ratings are not hurt by refusal to pay debts that others fraudulently incur in their name." In 2007, there were two papers commissioned by the Narvey Government UNCTAD and World Bank publish long-awaited papers on odious debt. As far as I can see, UNCTAD has some forums advising about handling debt and Jubilee Debt Campaign has been active in efforts to Cancelling Poor Countries' Debts: An Interview with Nick Dearden ( See also Review: Africa’s Odious Debt – How Foreign Loans and Capital Flight Bled A Continent.) Now that not-so-far countries are also suffering from odious debt Greece's Odious Debt, By Jason Manolopoulos , perhaps some of the principles advocated by Kremer, Jayachandran and others will be adopted.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Discussion of "Never Mind Europe, Worry About India"

in Economist's View. Paine's comment "india has the great disadvantage of too many world class anglo american school economists"

Blows to the head may unleash latent talent

Discussion Researcher profiles man’s savant syndrome on ABC’s ‘Nightline’ of Jason Padgett's fine art. Berit Brogaard discusses the case further in A Case of Acquired Savant Syndrome and Synesthesia Following a Brutal Assault. There are hints that most people may have unexpressed talents possibly suppressed by more dominant parts of the brain. It seems that in these discussions, mathematics is thought of either as number skills or as visual imagination or sometimes facility with formulae and/or computations. As mathematics is practiced today, these form some of the skills which some mathematicians have but not always. You often hear mathemticians saying that "it is too algebraic for me" or "it is too geomeric for me" or "I hate computations". It seems to me that analytical skills and a temperament for free flights of imagination without being restricted by too much reality is common to many mathematicians rather than any particular skill. Usually many have preference for geometry or algbra or analysis or abstract thought or a combination of these and sometimes even a dislike for some of these aspects. In any case even if there is some resemblance to mathematical pictures, Jason Padgett's work seems to be like print art to me and his comments quoted in this redditt discussion do not make much sense to me. But the ictures in Jason Padgett's fine art are very nice.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Leela Naidu about the poverty concerns of some

While reading about Balraj Sahni, I came across the "How is your dear wife?" story with Leela Naidu. She seemed an interesting person and I started looking for articles about her and came across something that I have been wondering about myself. From The Many Lives of Leela Naidu: "I must say I admire the way Arundhati has turned her status as celebrity author into a catalyst for the causes she cares about, but there was very little of the caring Ms Roy on the set of Electric Moon." Leela proceeds to describe in detail the utter mismanagement of the schedule, concluding with, "And so when I watch her pleading for the disenfranchised and the marginalised, I think back to the ruthless Ms Roy on that sun-drenched plateau in Madhya Pradesh and I wonder whether it is easier for us to sympathise with anonymous masses than with the actual people we are confronted with in real life? The poor are an abstraction for whom we can all feel an ambiguous benevolence… Perhaps I am misjudging all of them but I often feel that a production house can be judged by the way it treats those who have no voice: the extras, the dancers and the animals." She desrved a better end than this. .

Two recent science controversies

Ashutosh Jogalekar in The anatomy of peer review: Why airing dirty laundry in public is important (via Abi): "Perhaps the greatest message that the public can take home from such incidents is that even great scientists can make mistakes and remain great scientists, and that science continues to progress in one way or another. No matter how bad this kind of stuff sounds, it's actually business as usual for the scientific process, and there's nothing wrong with it."

Fascinating autobiography of Balraj Sahni

here via See also his 1972 convocation address at JNU. He is very frank about his shortcomings, compromises and seems to be asking Indian to think; he indicates that during the later part of his lihe he was too busy with films and did not have really time to cotinue with his earlier programs. There are many references to communism and Marx and at one stage, he says "In effect, Marxism is 1 philosophy which can analyse every aspect of worldly life from the scientific point of view." (I do not know what 1 signifies here). I heard about this 'scientific' bit before but always got stuck in my attempts to understand Marxism. I am either stuck at the 'thesis, antithesis' stage or find concets changing meaning as one proceeds. Everytime, I have to google and try to find what Marxism is. There seem to lots of insights as explained in this article by Peter Boyle,but sometimes it seems like a theory of every thing. More often, it seems to me to be a model which can explain some situations, for example some of the current struggles in Latin America, but generally there seems to attempts by some to explain everything in terms of some Marxism.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Reports on UNCTAD XIII

From Victory at UNCTAD XIII by Deborah James:

"The final Declaration provides support -- approved by the developing and developed countries alike -- for a strong mandate for UNCTAD's vital work on financial and related crises. Amazingly, this was the most contentious aspect of the text. Developed countries originally even opposed the inclusion of language recognizing the existence of the global financial and economic crisis. A red line for the U.S. was on language mandating UNCTAD to work on the "root causes" of the crisis -- probably because the implied culpability, since the U.S. was the epicenter of the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
The key contested paragraph calls for UNCTAD to "continue, as a contribution to the work of the UN, research and analysis on the prospects of, and impact on, developing countries in matters of trade and development, in light of the global economic and financial crisis." While this mandate could have been broader, negotiators in the G77 group of over 100 developing countries -- together with civil society support -- were able to push back and wouldn't back down.
Why would such seeming innocuous language be so controversial? This is because UNCTAD has been the source of some of the most accurate and comprehensive analyses of the causes and impacts of the global financial crisis and recession. And it has been proposing solutions that are anathema to those who wish to maintain "business as usual" in global economic and finance policies the aftermath of the crisis."

Vijay Prashad says in Draw at Doha:
"Raja Khalidi, a senior economist at UNCTAD, concurred. UNCTAD XIII "noted the global economic realities and UNCTAD's role in providing critical analysis of their implications." The Swiss Ambassador had a more measured response, telling Bloomberg that the agreement "gives more precision" to UNCTAD's mandate so they "can't just do anything".
But thus far UNCTAD has not been able to "just do anything". Despite its many achievements, sections of UNCTAD have been smitten with elements of neo-liberal policy, such as carbon trading as a response to climate change. The carbon-trading model avoids the core problem, namely the North's energy waste and the South's lack of seriousness about alternative energy. There has been little concern for how the UN's Clean Development Mechanism is destroying forests and livelihoods.
There is also little evaluation of the mandate of UNCTAD's Center for Transnational Corporations, whose original mandate - to monitor corporations and create a Code of Conduct for them - had been transformed to reflect "the changing times and become more focused on the positive, rather than the negative, effects of Foreign Direct Investment and Transnational Corporations".
These elements of UNCTAD require some more self-scrutiny. The fierce opposition to UNCTAD from the North makes any serious self-criticism far harder to tackle.
Bankers need not worry yet. UNCTAD's reports do not threaten them. They do, however, irritate their counterparts at the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD. Challenges to their empirical claims and their theoretical blindness shall continue to fly out of the UNCTAD offices."
According to Jayati Ghosh
Unctad is astute and progressive – so why don't developed countries like it?:
"Some explanations for the apparently surprising attitude of developed countries can be found from the informal statements made by certain negotiators. One such representative of an important developed country told his counterpart from a major emerging market economy that they "did not want Unctad to engage in intellectual competition with the IMF"!
Intriguing, isn't it? Such people are usually all for competition in everything (certainly in labour markets) – except, apparently, ideas. Even more surprising is that the IMF and the World Bank, with their massive resources and humongous research departments, are still scared of a rather small organisation with only a handful of people producing their flagship reports.
The perception of "northern" interests also plays a role. For example, in Doha the big fights about what would go into the final text concerned issues like whether Unctad can work on global financial issues (the US opposed this) or on technology transfer, or even on the protection of traditional knowledge.
In fact, this is not about north versus south, even though it may have seemed like that in Doha. As it happens, the content and results of the research produced by Unctad are very much in the interests not just of developing countries per se, but of ordinary citizens all over the world, the 99% of popular imagination. The rearguard action fought by some negotiators to control and limit Unctad's work was more about trying to create a single homogenous approach to economic analysis and policy to be accepted globally, even if that approach is increasingly being exposed as misleading and downright wrong.
The governments of the United States and other developed countries are keen to export what they see as democracy to different parts of the world, and to point out (with respect to countries that try to control information and freedom of speech) that it is impossible to control the spread of ideas. Clearly, they need to learn the same messages themselves, especially with respect to ideas and economic analysis.
Fortunately, the active engagement of some of the Brics and other emerging nations proved to be critical in shifting the balance and preserving the basic role of Unctad in the conference. But the messy negotiations showed that taking the progressive agenda forward is going to be constantly challenged even as it becomes ever more relevant and necessary."
Some more reactions
Unctad gets fresh mandate by Martin Khor
UNCTAD XIII: Not much to cheer about from Bangla Desh Financial Express.
and here
My impression is that though the final mandate seems to be a success considering the determined opposition of some of the developed countries, as Nicaragua constitutional fights show, declaration is not enough. Moreover some elements of developing countries are believers of neo-liberalism and some are keen to exploit the least developed countries as grabs of land and mineral resources by some of the developing countries line China and India show. Nevertheless, It seems to be some progress.