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This is an article written out as al paperfor the National Seminar of the NEICSSR, Shillong on the World Environment Day June 5, 2005

Human Resource Development In The North East For The Management Of The Natural Material Resources of Meghalaya

 S.Aravamudhan

 

 

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                    Introduction

It is by the day-to-day natural living that the inhabitants of a region or a locality learn about the materials around them. It is this experience, which makes them recognize the naturally occurring materials as the utilizable resource materials [Ref.1]. Recognizing the natural material resources this way need not be a sufficient-enough experience to manage the resource materials. This means it would not be appropriate to reckon them as accomplished resource persons capable of managing the resources efficiently. Managing of resources might include trying to look for natural materials even by out-of-the-way efforts based only on the data available for the trends of occurrences of materials till that time. When the region is developing [Ref.4], a comprehensive outlook on the development must include the Human Resources Development; this would be so, even if the strategy were to mainly manage the material resources.

For obvious reasons, it is the usual tendency to begin by modeling the region under consideration to be a closed system- without any external inputs into the system and, also letting no outputs from the system to the surroundings external to it. The exceptions would be when for realistic situation, the priorities demand that, the local (inside-) resources have to be made available for consumption outside the region (resource availability is ‘abundant’). However, certain materials required critically for consumption within the region may not be available as part of the internal natural resources for the purposes of management. Then, dependence on inputs from outside has to be counted as a factor (resource availability is ‘inadequate’ / ‘scarce’). How the activities, related to resource management, can become a transaction across regional borders should be appreciated from the sequences of the processes depicted in Figure-1. In this context one may refer to the internal resources of Meghalaya; but, the human resources situation would necessarily bring in the north-east regional situation as a factor to reckon with.

From the above point of view, the requirement of having to develop human resources while seeking the efficient management of the material resources is itself posing a complicated entanglement. It is so because the very same people, who would be consumers, should be improving themselves with the techniques of securing the resources for the people, adequately in quantity and quality for as much length of time that the people do not have to be concerned about having to reduce the consumption after getting used to it. Besides, use of one of the resources efficiently might upset the criteria for similar utilization of another resource material.

The above considerations are laid down in terms as the factors to be reckoned with as conditioning factors for the utilization. Then the interdependence of these factors would complicate the process of evolving a strategy specific to the region [Ref.2]. The strategic utilization could be either by a small-scale individualized venture or by a viable large-turn-over industrial venture. This type of utilization is a value addition stage before the original resource material reaches the ultimate consumer. By this it is meant that the consumption of natural resources through such ventures produces out of the original material something more price worthy than the raw material. Even better would be that these activities provide such experiences to turn out people who are much better qualified to regulate such activities.

The modern technique, for envisaging a regulatory pathway to disentangle dependences to promote and favor only the reinforcing interdependences [Ref.5], is to draw out a scheme of flow chart to include comprehensively the input-output correlations, indicating clearly where and how the envisaged output would have to become part of the input itself [Ref.6]. This aspect is the most crucial interdependence for the value addition process. The advanced stage of such interdependence of inputs on outputs can be envisaged from the flow-chart of Figure-1. The enterprises which thrive from the internal resource materials might build up experienced managerial teams which can become a valuable human resource potential. The occupation of such experienced personnel would propel such entrepreneur activity that gradually engulfs material possessions outside the region to let benefits flow into the region. Such a multiplicative activity where the internal resource management has fall outs to become capital investments outside the region cannot be termed as a banal import activity for reasons of paucity of internal resources. Such a turn can become an eventuality only by a broad based human resource development even with a liberal availability of internal material resources.

An attempt would be made in this paper to find out the possibility of such an optimization process and describe a scheme to provide a comparison with what is currently a prevailing strategy.

 

Global Awareness for Local Management

This is the perspective which essentially brings in the importance of Human Resource Development while managing the material resources available in a specified Location by the people who are resident in that locality. With regard to flow of materials and flight of people who migrate looking for greener pastures, there is a necessity to find an answer to the following question: namely, to what extent a specified location can be independent of other neighboring locations? This can be answered only with a wider awareness of the consequences of what is implemented locally. If it is a macro level monitoring and management, then a mere peripheral awareness about the location of site could probably bring in a rapport with other contiguous locations. But, this alone may not ensure a long-term, durable solutions because there can be micro level changes brought out by the macro level phenomenal changes, which must be considered for their necessary congeniality for the inhabitants’ requirements. This micro level monitoring of changes and the supervision of the micro level implementations must be synchronously tracked for the compatibility with the macro level manifestations. If the micro level operations require strict controls and regulations, then it is quite possible that this results in an engulfment of the micro from the macro. It would be as if a closed hard-shell forms around the on the spot movements, since all the people would be attentive and focus on to the micro spot. People do not turn outwards and the movements freeze soon after leaving the spot. Thus micro motivations would remain concealed, and  the micro level changes would not permeate through the Shell to surface out and become conspicuous to macro level manipulators. Then the voices from the on the spot supervisors would not be heard at the macro level dispensations. The situations contrary to the foregoing would be that there may be a euphoria created by the macro level indicators, but in reality not much advantage would be brought about at the level of individual well being. In either case the total management would be elusively a failure resulting in disgruntled population. The nature of data gathered and how the time dependent developments are related to the factual data requires a development of skillful management techniques. This is the Human Resource Development which calls for much broader potential than, what apparently seems to be only modest  requirements in certain curtailed contexts of management of local natural resources. The practical managers must be well aware of the Scope of the modern technologies on a broad based comprehension so that, for any specific task arising locally at a specific site, from the broad based awareness a specific direction becomes discernible, which pointedly leads to activities with certainty without much of trial and error approaches [Ref.3].

Thus an understanding of the micro level processes synchronized with the macro level homogeneous development requires a smooth transition from the micro level practical system through middle level operation to the macro level realities if the outcome is to be a comprehensive growth and development. Such a comprehensive integrated development must be envisaged at every location and this must be further synchronized for the regional processes encompassing all the constituent location. This is essentially to suggest a fractal design in which at any constituent level the management schemes are patterned as much similar to the pattern which is apparent for the integrated level. For the people involved to act cohesively in the development process, the management should be endowed with a skillful Human Resource which becomes available by conscientious initiatives of naturally talented people.

Hence, if it is a question of efficient management of resources of Meghalaya, it is imperative that it calls for a conscientious effort towards Human Resource Development in the North East. 

 

Prerequisites for Evolving a Strategy for Human Resource Development

In accordance with the reasons put forward in the previous section, it seems imperative that the people who are the on-the-spot managers for the local natural resources, must be all the time viewing the operations from a wider perspective including the fall-outs into the neighboring locations in the region and the refills from the neighborhood into the specified management location in the region. This is necessary in order to ensure that micro level regulatory exercises at no stage becomes a confrontation at macro level because of the inattentive disposition of the people on the spot, to certain slow and inconspicuous changes at micro level. Such negligence, if it persists over the continued operation, which could be over a considerable length of time, then there can be cumulatively built-up manifestations. Perceiving such subtle changes at any given time and, devising precautionary steps for the cumulative consequences is the skill that is aspired for while human interventions and initiatives are called for. The required skill can be acquired only by the experience gained under instructions and, by the practice of the precepts innovatively for the on the spot solutions. In the following sections an effort is made to elaborate on the documented materials on Meghalaya and North East for the available natural resources and what messages it carries for inferring about the management of resources. Also a simple simulated data would be enough to caution against the possible erroneous projections when such data are subjected to statistical treatments as can be seen from Table-1. In this Table-1 a case of income/revenue data on constituent states in a Region are used to calculate the corresponding gross regional level index which results in ambiguities in calculated numerical figures. If the treatment of data is not sensible then, the whole effort might result in such sets of numbers which sustains inconclusiveness and desperation while using this information.

 

Data and Documentation on Natural Resources of Meghalaya

When an effort is made to keep abreast with the management of natural resources, a beginning can be made by trying to pursue the data and documentation available on this matter. The convenient present day tool for documentation is the Web Sites published to the Internet. Accessing this source of information is the popular way and the simplest. This requires a well updated data base as maintained by the web masters by periodically posting the changes in data and new initiatives in the web pages. An attempt is made in this section to provide an appreciation of such data available for the resources of Meghalaya.

Two Web sites can be cited for retrieving information on the resources of Meghalaya:

1.                  North East India Regional Databank of the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited. [NER Data Bank]

       URL:  http://databank.nedfi.com/

2.                  Government of Meghalaya Official State Portal

       URL:  http://meghalaya.nic.in/                                                                                                              
the summaries below are as per the data documented in the above web sites printed out by this author on 4th Jan. 2005.

There are data documented in both the URL’s for the natural resources of Meghalaya. A cursory look through them seems to apparently differ marginally. But the numerical figures are reasonably comparable to a large extent. The resources covered in the documentation are: Land, water, Forest, Limestone, Coal, kaolin, Clay and Minerals, Handlooms, Handicrafts, Fisheries and Live stock.

The Land, Water & Forest resources have been found to be well detailed. A mineral map of Meghalaya documented in the Web Pages comprehensively indicates the availability of mineral resources. Meghalaya mineral resources include Kaolin, Iron, Copper, Glass sand, Granite, Bauxite, Phosphoric rock, Limestone, Gold, Uranium ore, Fire clay, Quartz, Gypsum etc.

The statements made on the growth & development indices as reported in the website are seemingly irreconcilable when the situation for Meghalaya as reported is fitted to the information given for Meghalaya as a constituent state of the North Eastern Region. For the sake of making the readers aware of the “factual state of affairs” when documenting and reporting “factual data” the following passages from the Web Page documents are quoted: at the NER Data Bank [Web site No 1 cited above] on Economy of Meghalaya the following statement was found:- “In case of per capita income, Meghalaya continues to lag behind from the national  average”. Again in the NER Data Bank on Economy of North East, the following could be readout:- “Growth in per capita income is almost stagnated in Assam since 90’s, was better than the national average in Meghalaya….”. What is stated later in the context of Meghalaya (in the context of North East region) seems to be contradicting with the earlier statement while commenting on Meghalaya exclusively? This probably can be resolved if one critically reads and find that there could be such apparent contradictions if proper distinction is not made between value of per capita income and the Growth in per capita income. But this is the source of contradiction and how it comes about is a matter that not many would be obviously aware. This warrants illustrating [as in Table-1] on such possibilities of conflicting interpretation of a given set of data even by the way simply the average values are calculated. As per documentations [Ref.8] detailed macro economic data for all seven states of the region are available from the year 1980-81 only. Through the entire period since then the per capita income in the region remained below India’s per capita income. In the post 1991 years the gap has widened further.

The comment on the situation of Human Resources i.e., ‘manpower availability’ in Meghalaya is modest as quoted here: “Meghalaya has a fairly large pool of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour”. This statement as found in the Government of Meghalaya official State Portal (Web Site No 2 cited above) is further studded with comments that there are a fair number of secretarial staff and a fair number of management and technical personnel with qualifications from recognized professional institutions. These are qualitative, and specifically do not point out the actual intensive efforts required in manpower training.

While perusing the web page contents for the situation on minerals the following data could be found documented: For the period 1997-98, the total coal ‘reserve’ was 640x106 tonnes and the ‘production’ during 1997-98 was 3.234x106 tonnes. This probably would indicate production rate capability in Meghalya for such a huge coal reserve. But an onlooker would start evaluating this data as to whether the production capability can be increased, at the given production rate the coal reserves would seem to last as long as 200 more years. Then where exactly is the need and the necessity for this coal (seemingly large compared to the annual rates of production) reserve and what is the policy that comprehensively projects the use of this reserve and where the readers can get hold of such information is not at this point in the web Site. This means the tendency would be to note this data and keep on quoting without much inference. Hence to kindle the curiosity, beyond the availability of facts, the documentation should include links on the texts where it becomes “clickable” to open the relevant pages where the further discussions and details are found readily documented. Similar look through the situation on Limestone in Meghalya accentuates the importance of the comments made before on the coal data. Limestone during 1997-98 total reserve was 5000x10tonnes while the annual production of Limestone during this period was 0.395x106 tonnes. While perusing the NER Data Bank web page on “Sectors having Investment Potential in Meghalaya” the quality of Limestone was specified with the CaO content of 53%, but the quality was not compared with any standards. Its utility could be in steel, fertilizer and chemical industries. But no mention was made on the actual places where this resource would be used; whether in Meghalaya State itself this potential can find an outlet or is it necessary to involve outside locations - outside the state or even outside the North Eastern Region. Thus the documentation of resource data must comprehensively cover all aspects of the resource management as envisaged in the Figure-2. Such documentation is possible with Internet Publications and this is the most convenient and compact way to document the data, inference and perspectives such that all are available at the same point only just a “click” away!

 

On the Scheme for Canalizing Human Resource Optimally for Material Resource Management

Either for ones awareness about ones own capabilities or to be leading others effectively [Ref.7], there may be an evaluation of the disposition of the individual for the particular task and an assessment of the aptitude for the task.

The disposition of an individual can be favorable for undertaking a task because of the awareness that individual possesses by the tendencies of getting interested in such problems and tasks by the exposure from media and people. Thus to systematically evaluate a person’s disposition would require collection of factual data provided by the respective the individuals on their educational career and experiences. These could be mostly objective data gathered by appropriate questionnaire which may be studded with a few subjective questions to know about their abilities to express the relevant facts with an inference on the on the purpose and content of the questionnaire. Probably no photo identity cards would be required to evaluate on this aspect much less a personal interview. The evaluation should be objectively carried out only on the basis of the comparison of facts documented in the papers by the tabulators as was gathered from the questionnaires. The dispositions should be appropriately categorized and an index be assigned for inclusion in the final assessment with appropriate weightings for the disposition aspects.

The second, the assessment of aptitude requires setting a subjective questionnaire which makes the candidates introspect about their own fitness for the purposes of a career in the management of resources. The answers must be in one word or phrase or at the most one sentence long to reveal their version of the view points.

Having gone through an assessment and evaluation in the beginning, a mechanism must be instilled to update the impressions as and when the candidates gain experiences. Being in an organization it is necessary to know how much of a global perspectives gets built-in while the persons solve and circumvent hurdles in the local on site situation. Thus as much as it is required to keep an updated data base on material resources, it is necessary to maintain data bases on the human resource capabilities with updates and upgrading properly weighted. It is precisely this aspect which becomes elusive; that is, how to handle the Human Resource data bases as much, as if they are on par with material resource management.

Comprehending the totality of the situation with a good grasp of the specific problem that has to be solved is the first and foremost criterion for effective management. Such a comprehension also enables the interpretation of the data by sensible statistical methods for realistic inferences. For example, the following kind of categorical understanding of words to use for describing the contexts with respect to materials management is a prerequisite. When we refer to consumption which does not seem to have harmful effects, but helpful for the present and produces good result, then it can be described as a “use” of material. When such a use has been accounted for properly from the economic point of view and sustainable growth and development, then such a conscientious consumption may be termed “utilization”. When the available material is put to use just for the sake of spending time because one does not have any other event to engage oneself with, it would be described as exploitation. In fact, when we have a material available in abundance but it is not known for consumption of any purposes, then trying to spend time to find out whether such an abundantly available material can anyway be useful, is an effort to exploit the material.

Unused and wasted materials should be exploited. But, it would be a crime trying to “exploit” in this sense materials whose value and worth are known and is also known to deplete because of demand for it. On such material if one tries to find some other use just for spending the time with it would be atrocious. Such materials should be put to careful utilization and should not be left for wasteful uses. Such categorical description with conventional meanings (even if it is not established definitions) would help people become better aware of the value of the resources. This is all coming within the realms of Human Resource Development, basically improving the educational standards and literacy levels. This has to be much more  broad based than the effort to focus only on the on-the-spot requirements.

Thus from the point of view of what has been described till now in this paper and viewing down the Schematic in Figure-1, one can list out the kind of training the personnel should have, category wise:

1.                  Collection of Data, inventory making, and generation of data bases on the Resource Materials.

2.                  How to assign ownerships and how to allocate the natural material resources.

3.                  How to take cognizance of the ownership transfers? Commercial aspects for the necessary business and trade related to the natural resource materials.

4.                  For item 3 and 4 one must know how to recognize the resource materials transformed as Commercial goods.

5.                  The policy matters related to the accountability of the available resource materials, where and how to put them to use: only to the local requirements or should the material be made available for global uses ?

6.                  How to be aware of the technological possibilities and trends for effective utilization of the resources. A very broad based technological awareness to be able to recognize the right technology that is required on the spot?

7.                  Can all these training be imparted at the very place where the materials are available in abundance where they have to be processed?

8.                  With all the data available, there must be manpower appropriately skilled in the statistical techniques to subject the data to analysis for inferences. As pointed out in Table-2, there can be traps at elementary levels while seeking a statistical analysis. It requires much more talent to be discretionary about which technique to adapt, over and above the skills at the techniques acquired assiduously. The criticalities of handling such data in the context of North East region and the State of Meghalaya are vindicated in the papers of (1) Subhendu Chakrabarti and Mousmi Majumdar entitled “The Coal Reserves of North East India” [Ref.9] and (2) K.Sarma, S.K.Barik and R.K.Rai entitled “Impact of Coal Mining on the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve of Meghalaya” [Ref.10].  In this context (particularly while pointing out the ambiguities of inferences as from Table-1) there is a revealing example [Ref.11] of how the statistical mathematical handling can reduce the data into compact forms of equations making the pages of source-tabular forms unnecessary, after such an analysis. Which means the inferences can be stored and transported with much ease and more effectively. This is discussed below:  The contribution was about the nutrient consumption pattern in North Eastern States of India. In the discussion below only the data for Meghalaya is copied and the consequences explained. The relevant data for the study consisted of data collected for the period from 1970-71to 1993-94. The categories were the different kind of food items namely pulses, cereals, milk etc. For each of this category (1) the per capita consumption value Y was gathered. And in that locality (2) the population X1 in thousand person (2) production of the food items X2 (in ten thousand tones) and (3) per capita state Gross Domestic product X3 are also obtained. Then these are fitted into a form of an equation  Y= b0 + b1 X1+ b2   X+ b3 ∙ X3   This is a procedure called regression analysis and the values of the b’s in the equation obtained by this analysis are tabulated.

                

Food item

Constant

Population

Production

Income

R2

Cereals

332.25

-0.2222

1.7378

0.0079

0.99

Pulses

2.15

-0.0012

1.7948

0.0001

0.67

Egg

0.04

0.00002

0.0002

0.0000

0.99

        

            From the table the b value for population is negative. This indicates  

            That consumption decreases when population decreases which is a

            consequence that is understandable. Similarly, as income increases

             the consumption would increase because of the corresponding

             positive b value. If the ‘b’ value were positive for population

             column this must be interpreted as that the production

             increases much more rapidly than the increase in population. A

             comparison of the numerical positive value would further

             substantiate these trends.

Finally in a developing region, with a multitude of race, religion, traditions, customs, and languages bringing a unity of approach would be upset since the Human Development will have to be ensured for Human Resource Development. This aspect is pointedly and for the north east region, appropriately elucidated in Ref.12. If one tries to resolve the conflicts of human development, it would be much longer before one can ever consider the Human Resources and hence in view of the Ref.12, in this paper the human resources have been emphasized. For example a community participation in the forest growth and maintenance like the “Sacred Groves” is a more sensitive and subjective matter and all consideration of economics and education would be relegated to a very low priorities in favor of the maintaining the sanctity of sacred groves. The ownership, access to visitors all becomes much less a subject which can be rationalized on the basis of humanitarian considerations but only the divine dispositions would be upheld. Then these kinds of activities and assets should be given an unquestionable exclusive status and trying to evolve logically continuative flow diagrams may not be possible covering these aspects. This is an aspect which is more on the part of Human development than the Human Resource Development. Complications of these “Human development” aspects are more than any kind of simplifications which people can aspire for on the basis of managerial techniques for the economic welfare. That people may have to reserve away a fertile land to be only for maintaining a few scared groves while the production of staple food items may be under severe shortage. Here it would be difficult to alter the conventional and traditional priorities even pointing out the incentives of more food for per capita consumption. 

 

 

State-1  [S1]

State-2  [S2]

Ratio  S1 : S2

Sum S1+S2 Region

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue      R

100

5000

1 : 50

5100

Population   P

20

200

1 : 10

220

Per capita  R/P

5

25

1 : 5

22.3

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue      R

2100

3000

1.05 : 1.5

5100

Population   P

20

200

1 : 10

220

Per capita  R/P

105

15

7 : 1

22.3

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue      R

1100

4000

1.1 : 4

5100

Population   P

110

110

1:1

220

Per capita  R/P

10

36.3

1 : 3.63

22.3

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue      R

2400

2700

1.2 : 1.35

5100

Population   P

110

110

1 :1

220

Per capita  R/P

21.8

24.5

1.09 : 1.225

22.3

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue      R

2550

2550

1 : 1

5100

Population   P

20

200

1 : 10

220

Per capita  R/P

127.5

12.75

10 : 1

22.3

 

 

 

 

 

 Table-1.The Columns for revenue and the Populations have been arbitrarily distributed only to keep the corresponding regional Index constant. However this simulated set of Data corresponds to a situation where the Regional Sums could have arisen from any of the combination of distributions in the columns for the states. The basic change that is brought out is in the Per Capita value which is calculated on the basis of the DATA for revenue and populations. Given the possibility that such varied revenue and population distributions can occur, what remained was a mere calculation by a machine from these figures the corresponding ratios and this row indicates a variation which may not be surprising. What could be surprising is that in spite of all arbitrariness and the varied ratios tabulated over the cells in the above table, The value calculated for the per capita value at the regional level is the same even though the corresponding cells in that row varies from one set of distribution to another. Thus if one concludes from the data for the regional value one may conclude there had been  no Change at all but looking into the details of the source data for the states there can be drastic changes reflected. How does one reconcile with such stunning contradictions and this if not properly appreciated can lead to a total demoralization because the source data gathered cannot yield anything conclusive. Thus for example such drastic variation at the independent state level source data is for a lapse of five years, then the variations at the state level from one year to another does not reflect at all at the regional level over that length of time.

Figure.1 A Flow-Chart for the way the resource materials reach out to consumers from where they are naturally available. This sketchy flow indicates the directions for activities and how the management of resources can be comprehended from source to outlets

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References:

 

  1. “Technological Strategies for Effective and Safe Mining Activity”, by S.Aravamudhan in Development and Environment, Editors: Zahid Husain and SK Barik. Page 33, Fig.1 Scheme 1. Regency Publications, New Delhi (2004)
  2. Page 37, Fig.2 in Ref. 1 cited above.
  3. Page 32, Para 2, in Ref. 1. cited above; the text reading : “It is in this context……………………..have

         been diluted”.

4.       Patterns of Development”, Chapter 6 , pages 205-252, in Human Geography, by Majid Husain, Rawat Publications, Jaipur and New Delhi (1994).

5.       Environmental Planning and management”, Chapter 19, pages 464-517, in Environmental Geography, by Savindra Singh, Prayag Pustak Bhavan, Allahabad, (1995).

  1. Force Field Analysis” Chapter on Techniques, Section #15, pages 158-166, Text  

        Reading “At any given moment, any situation in an organization is in a state of equilibrium” , [ pertains to

          Natures of the system] in Effective Change: Twenty ways to make it happen. By

         Andrew Leigh, University Press (India) Limited (1996).

  1. Team Building”, Chapter on Techniques, section #19, pages 190-199 (the subject

        matter relates to Human Resource Building) in Effective Change, as in reference 6  

        above.

  1. Dr. Bazbaruah, in the Journal of North East India Council for Social Sciences

Research, 13-14 Dec., 2004 page 14.

  1. The Coal Reserves of North East India” by S.Chakrabarti and M.Majumdar in Development and Environment Editors: Zahid Husain and SK Barik, Regency Publications, New Delhi. Pages 220-228 (2004).
  2. Impact of Coal Mining on Nokrek Biosphere Reserve of Meghalaya”, by K.Sarma, S.K. Barik and R.K.Rai, in Development and Environment Editors: Zahid Husain and SK Barik, Regency Publications, New Delhi. Pages 229-257 (2004).
  3. “Nutrient Consumption pattern in North Eastern States of India”, by S.B.Singh in Journal of North East India Council for Social Science Research, V.28, No.2, pages 1-7 (2004)
  4. “Human Development in North East India” by Purushottam Nayak in Journal of North East India Council for Social Sciences Research V.29, No.1, pages 1-9 (2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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