Centre for Internet & Society

User:AshLin aka Col Ashwin Baindur (retd) gave a Plenary Speech(in absentia) on Strategy at the Wikimedia Movement Strategy Salon, held in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh on 27 August 2017. It is reproduced here with permission:

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and my dear Wikimedia friends and colleagues,

 I am deeply honoured to be asked to say the opening words for the Movement Strategy Salon being held today at Vijayawada. The problems of ill health prevent me from coming to be with you as I most dearly wish, but I do hope my few words and thoughts will make do instead. Let me introduce myself. I happen to be a retired army officer but I see myself as a citizen of the world, as a Wikipedian whose cherished dream is to make Jimmy Wales dream come true.

“Imagine a world where the sum of all knowledge is available to all mankind!”

 The occasion for this conclave or salon is timely. The twenty first century paradigm of Open Culture, of sharing and collective intelligence are well established. Crowdsourcing, Wikipedia, Creative Commons, Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive and so many other important global resources are proof.

 Education has received a huge fillip by the vastly increased amounts of data and knowledge on the Internet. Open sourcing has made its mark in the software side of the business world. Just as has open access publishing in Academia.  Society as a whole has gained by all these manifestations of open culture.

 And today, we are gathered here to begin thinking on the directions for the future of the Wikimedia movement in India.

 What does this mean in our case? India is a country of many languages, dialects, people, communities, religions, tribes. Along with this are the collective efforts of 1.3 billion people to make a secular, democratic, economically strong nation. The ability to share learning, understanding, experiences are key to this process. And for this, collaboration is a vital necessity.

 As of now the Wikimedia effort in India consists of a potpourri of projects, encyclopedia, quote, text repository and the use of Wikimedia Commons as a media repository. We have to grow this into a large, useful and versatile resource in each of our Indic languages.

 The Wikimedians, a small band of volunteers to date, must take along the entire society of India so that we have betterment as a nation by first creating and using these resources. And today’s conclave with kindred souls from society, academia, industry.. is a beginning in this regard.

 Now we are here to think what directions this Movement must take. I am envious that I can’t be part of this process with you. However, as a retired military person, let me say a few words on strategy and how it is decided.

 All planning occurs at three levels. The most basic of activities to be done are referred to as tactics. Tactics are governed by operational planning which comprises of a worked out plan of how to achieve the overall plan or the goal.

 The deciding of this overall plan or goal is referred to as strategy.

 To be more specific..

 “a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty..”

 And when we do this for a long period of the future, it is more appropriately termed as ‘grand strategy".

 For this we have to ponder - What is our aim? What are our strengths? What are our challenges? What are our opportunities? What are our resources and what are our constraints? What path should we take to achieve our aim?

 These are to be reduced into a few directions which are broad based, actionable and full of potential. A good strategy must open huge opportunities, new fields, new possibilities.

 The  is not easy to do or quick to make. It will take more than one session, more than one day, week or even a month to get our strategy right.

 Most important of all is that we learn to think in the new paradigm of sharing and open culture. We should leave behind the mindset of scarcity, possessiveness and personal benefit and embrace the values of the common good, creation of opportunities and innovation.

 On our success in making a good strategy, depends the fate of millions of our children and youth who will either benefit from our decisions or lose opportunities if we are not wise and generous. We have to believe in the future. We have to want to make that future great for our nation.

 I wish you the very best in this endeavour. I repeat, that I am envious that I can't be with you today. I pray that the things we decide from today onward in this process of grand strategy for the Wikimedia movement in the decades to come.

 At the very end, I would like to thank the Wikimedia movement in India, CIS-India, the organisers of this salon and of course, my young friend Krishna Chaitanya Velaga for this opportunity.

 Jai Hind!



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