Centre for AlLTERNATIVES CA

South Asian University

One of the major objectives and activity areas of the CA is to work towards the creation of a South Asian University, with issue-based faculties spread throughout the region. The aim is to create a South Asian mind, which would look into the business of organizing cooperation in diverse fields within South Asia from the standpoint of people not from nation and national states. The students and researchers here will carry out their research and education free from the limitations imposed by the structures of national states. In an attempt to implement the above the CA in collaboration with Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi; Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad; Nepal Water Conservation Foundation (NWCF), Kathmandu; and the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS), Colombo has initiated the Fellowship in South Asian Alternatives (FISAA) with generous support from the Ford Foundation in 1996. Under the FISAA programme research in the following three areas have been undertaken so far:

Ethnicity and Violence: Under this project the CA in collaboration with CSDS, New Delhi and SDPI, Islamabad is studying violence from the standpoint of ethnicity and identity construction. The research is based on narratives of the victims, perpetrators and witnesses of violence of 1947 partition and the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. The objective is not only to gather a people's perspective on violence but also to explore as to how the same people have cooperated with and helped each other during those times of violence.

Life and Death of Nuclear Peace: Under this project the CA in collaboration with CSDS, New Delhi and SDPI, Islamabad are studying the implications of a post nuclear South Asia for the South Asian people. A public opinion survey was carried out in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to ascertain people's perception of the nuclear tests undertaken by India and Pakistan in 1998.

Water, Power and People: Under this project the CA in collaboration with CSDS, New Delhi and NWCF, Kathmandu is studying the politics and implications of water management in South Asia. The idea is to decentralize and denationalize the issue of water management in order to bring people to the fore of water management. The project also aims to develop an alternative water management curriculum for the school children of South Asia. To this effect a regional workshop on alternative water management for South Asian children was held in Dhaka on 3-4 June 2000. The workshop, first of its kind was attended by school children of Class IX and X, including teachers and scholars from Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The South Asian Univerity is now an Inter-Governmental Exercise and the "Main Campus" has started functioning in New Delhi in 2010. Centre for Alternatives, however would continue to work towards fulfilling the SAARC mandate of having "Regional Campuses" throughout South Asia.

CA - The Daily Star

CA in collaboration with The Daily Star brings out a two-page publication - ALTERNATIVES - in The Daily Star on a fortnightly basis. The page is being published since June 1998. Publications in Alternatives range from issues of daily concern to the common people to matters of 'high' politics. The objective is to promote alternative and critical thinking and to seek alternative solutions to the issues and problems that affect our lives almost on a day to day basis. The Alternatives offers a scope to people from all spheres of life to ... read more

Mainstreaming the rohingya refugee isuue in Bangladesh: the need for network and capacity

The outcome of the project was a book titled: The plight of the stateless Rohuingyas: Responses of the State, Society & The International Community.

Edited By: Imtiaz Ahmed

This study, carried out under the auspices of Centre for Alternatives involving students and faculty members of three public universities- Dhaka, Chittagong and Jahangirnagar, has examined the experiences of two groups of refugees: those residing as documented refugees. individuals who had requested official asylum in Bangladesh and were subsequently granted refugee status, and the undocumented refugees, individuals who are not entitled to the services of Bangladesh government or the UNHCR. As such, this study provides a comprehensive overs of ucturview of refugee experience of Bangkadesh.

State of Democracy in South Asia

A book on the same title was published by Oxford University Press in 2008.

This was a collaborative project headed by Centre for The Study of Developing Societies(CSDS),Delhi and partnered with Centre for Alternatives, Nepal Centre for Contemporary Studies, Social Sceintist's Association, Colombo and Lahore University og Management Sciences, Lahore.

This report seeks to shift the focus of discourse on democracy away from the global North to 'most of the world'. It does so by examining democratic experience in South Asia-a region marked by poverty, illiteracy, complex diversities, and multiple and overlapping structures of social hierarchy-and by daring to ask not just what democracy has done to South Asia but also but also what South Asia has done to democracy. Based on the first-ever social scientific survey of political opinions and attitude across the five countries in the region-Bangladesh, India, Nepal , Pakistan and Srilanka-the report offers a fresh analysis of the promise of democracy for the ordinary people, its institutional slippages, obsacles in its functioning, and its mixed outcomes. The report combines public opinion data with expert assessment, case studies, and dialogue with democracy activists to come up with some big ideas, such as:

  • South Asians have transformed the idea of democracy by infusing it with new meanings
  • The experience of democracy in this region defies conventional notions of preconditions and outcomes of democracy
  • Deviation from the received model of democracy is often a source of strengh
  • Politics is still vibrant and invites a high degree of interest and involvement
  • Political experience matters more than inherited identites like religion and ethnicity in shaping peoples' orientation to democracy

Lecture Series

CA LECTURE SERIES has been introduced to create awareness among the students, teachers and scholars on issues that are directly affecting the life and living of South Asian people.

Some of the lectures were delive by:

Mr Dan Mozena
Political Counsellor, Embassy of the United States of America, Dhaka
Topic: "Post Nuclear South Asia: US Perspectives"

Mr Debnath Shaw
Political Counsellor, High Commission of India, Dhaka
Topic: "Post Nuclear South Asia: Indian Perspectives"

Mr lqbal Ahmed Khan
Hon'ble High Commissioner, High Commission of Pakistan, Dhaka
Topic: "Post Nuclear South Asia: Pakistani Perspectives"

Dr. Irene Khan
Deputy Director, International Protection, UNHCR, Geneva
Currently the Secretary General of Amnesty International
Topic: "Refugees and International Protection Today"

Public Dialogues

PUBLIC DIALOGUES are organised by CA on a number of issues that are of direct concern and relevance to the society. These dialogues provide an opportunity for the general public to express their views and opinions to the policy makers. The forum also provides a platform to the policy makers to understand the public feeling directly from them. The dialogues are mostly organised in collaboration with other agencies/institutions like The Daily Star, Dhaka; The British Council, Dhaka; Fair Election Monitoring Alliance, Dhaka; Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Dhaka; and Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Colombo.

Some of the public dialogues organised in the past included issues like:

  • Public Toilet
  • Towards a Deterrorised Campus
  • The Economics of Muhammad Yunus
  • Coping with Floods
  • Women and Security
  • Political Protest
  • Children and Security
  • Power and Public Safety
  • Women in Politics
  • Peace-Building in the CHT
The most recent one was on - 'Sufis and Sufism, December 2010.'