Dear all,

Having intensively spent more than two years within the chapter and many
more years within one of the better performing communities, I would like to
input a few points:

1. *Despite its being a single large political entity, India is a diverse
heterogeneous  amalgam of umpteen cultures, thought schools, social habits
and community pride.*

2. The one statement above is the prime point to be considered when any
sort of plans and road maps are drawn for missions like Wikimedia projects. *It
is very very important that everyone, both within India and outside,
realize this.*

3. Due to this, any plans should have two such perspectives:
 (1) an overall national outlook that will take care of legal and other
governance or assistance that is collectively beneficial to the entire
country; and
 (2) a view that ensures and focus on each community with due
considerations onto its own Strengths, Weaknesses,  Opportunities and

4. A strong chapter (with a large number of members and strong
representation of the actual Wikimedia community volunteers) is a definite
instrument that can take care of the first goal.

The chapter can be strong only if it proves its value, worthiness, openness
and long term sustainability. The community should feel that the chapter is
not an authority over them, but only an assisting agency that is bound by
the might of the community at large and that does not cross its preset
limits towards the almost anarchic freedom the community enjoys.

5. However, own experience so far yields to me that despite the hard work
committed by many souls, the chapter has difficulty in (1) growing itself
up and (2) reaching out to the communities. Both these objectives are
mutually dependent and anything that can help either, will eventually help
and complement the other. In addition, every community member should be
able to develop trust and confidence in the chapter. This too, is an added
outcome of a large (populous) democracy.

6. Many user groups (each within a community of a particular language,
theme, interest, geography or occupation) is a very potential but missing

User groups can exist and flourish in numbers and individual strength,  at
a layer that is just midway between the Chapter and Communities. [Chapters
have high legal and administrative bindings, procedural obligations etc.
but they also enjoy representative authority, financial and logistic
resources and structured organizational and professional  efficiency; On
the other hand, communities are, as always, wild, uncontrollable,
unpredictable and untameable, yet  innovative and 'working' on their own.
They are the real juice of the mission, with no doubt ever.]

7. So, in brief, according to the lessons as I have learnt so far,

In India, we must have ONE very strong, populous, democratically just,
self-sustained chapter and many User Groups supported and built by
individual communities from the bottom side as well as by the Chapter and /
or WMF and other entities from the topside.

8. The Chapter can find its own active, efficient and inevitable role,
acting as a national umbrella organization, coordinating and
interconnecting the User Groups, communities and discrete community
members, in addition to acting as a gateway between them and the higher ups
(say WMF, Government and other institutions).

9. What if there is no chapter?

The Chapter is needed. Without an umbrella organizations, different
communities may have different rates of growth. While one community may be
vibrant, self-sustaining and growing wonderfully, another feeble one may be
left unattended and die all by itself. The chapter can see to it that every
baby gets its milk, to the fill of the bottle it deserves.

The chapter is also the most efficient way to work on tasks of a national
scale. As a significant institution, it may be able to influence the
factors that decide the fate of knowledge empowerment and emanicipation in
future India.

10. Should we desist from forming User Groups?

No! The user groups can be much more fun, efficient, communicative and
motivating to the communities. The user groups must be promoted in every
way that is possible, but still with very careful and tactical, but
minimal  controls ensuring basic compliance for purposes of financial
freedom and other benefits. However, their numbers may be limited into
convenient degrees to ensure good balance between mutual freedom and
quantitative sustenance.

Thank you.

*Viswanathan Prabhakaran*
Independent user from Malayalam Wikimedia Community,
Wikimedia India Chapter

On Sun, Sep 7, 2014 at 12:25 AM, Vikram Vincent <>

> Hi,
> On 3 September 2014 09:38, Pradeep Mohandas <>
> wrote:
>> It is perhaps worth considering a format of having multiple user groups
>> model in India rather than having one central Wikimedia India Chapter.
> Having user groups which function democratically also ensures that the
> chapter functions well. I don't think we need to discuss replacing the
> chapter cause that would be a retrograde move. The user groups can
> affiliate themselves with the chapter, which is the official body of
> Wikimedia India, if they want to.
> Regards
> Vikram
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