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Real People, Real Stories- Interview with Mr. Harshad Fad, Organizer, Human Library Hyderabad

By | Human Library, Life | 2 Comments




Arguendo has a tete-a-tete with Mr. Harshad Fad, Organizer of Human Library Hyderabad (HLH)






Sourya (S): What inspired you to start the Human Library movement in Hyderabad? Please tell us something about the history and origins of the Human Library movement.


Harshad Dinkar Fad (H): I have always believed in and experienced the power of meaningful conversation. The positive change it can bring to an individual. When I came across this meme on Facebook talking about Human Libraries the first thing I did was frantically search for one in India as I was intrigued by the concept and its potential. This was in 2016 when we had no Human Library in India which was quite surprising to me as I thought if there’s one country that needs Human Libraries most it is our plural democracy where lifestyle changes every 50 KM’s you travel. So I visited the Human Library Organisation’s website and applied to be an organizer. During this time, probably in November Mrs. Amrita Goel conducted the first Human Library event in India at IIM Indore. It was wonderful to see the concept finally being introduced in India and the positive reception it had there. Finally, it was in March this year that we had our first Human Library event conducted in Hyderabad with 10 wonderful human books and around 70 readers gracing the occasion.
You can read about the history of Human Library Organisation’s origins and how Ronnie Abergel, the inventor of Human Library concept took the concept across the globe here: humanlibrary.org


(S): Did you expect the kind of response you have received?


(H): I expected it to be received well by everyone but certainly did not expect it to become a national phenomenon.
It all started with a really nice article by TheBetterIndia on Human Library Hyderabad’s first event and the movement worldwide that went viral. I guess that gave us a very good reach and identity all over the world and not only India as there were calls from UK, Mexico, Columbia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many other countries. What it did in effect was that many people were willing to start a Human Library in their cities and today we see the number only growing every month.

(S): Which book/author would you say has had the most impact on your life?


(H): Jim Corbett. His writings made me fall in love with nature, people, and life. Unconventional choice but it’s in his writings that I found solace. 


(S): Can you tell us how does a Human Library work?


(H): Human Library works like any other standard library, the only difference is that the books are replaced by humans, reading is actually a conversation and you have to return the ‘books’ in half n’ hour. (borrowing time differs event to event)
A reader can walk in, check out the human libraries book catalog that has the titles and synopsis of the books and borrows one of those human books for a conversation session. 


(S): Is there any one story in Human Library Hyderabad which you consider special for you?


(H): There are many. One of our books was a domestic violence survivor and she told me how not very long ago she wanted to end her life but today after talking to so many strangers and feeling the care and warmth from them, she was glad to have lived for that day. Her smiling face has stuck in my memory forever now. 


(S): How do you think has the Human Library movement benefitted people or society so far?


(H): People after being a reader at the Human Library have been able to understand the differences in our society. When we don’t understand something we fear it, we have insecurity about it on our mind, Human Libraries have helped reduce that insecurity and people have become more compassionate and as a society at large more integrated. 

The Human Books at the Human Library Hyderabad
Second Edition



(S): Do you feel the HLH can help breakdown stereotypes?

(H): Yes, it is already doing that. The framework works. We have had people coming and telling us how deep the impact has been on them and they found themselves living with many misconceptions about a certain issue their entire lives until the time they actually met and spoke to someone representing that topic at the Human Library.






(S): Can anyone become a Human Book?


(H): People who have experienced prejudice due to issues such as race, sex, age, disability, sexual preference, gender identity, class, religion/belief, lifestyle choices, career choices or other aspects of who they are or represent can be a Book.

(S): How do you make sure that the “Human Books” are in a safe environment at Library?


(H): So far we have experienced that the readers who came to our library came with an open mind to listen and understand what the books wanted to say. We have been lucky to have a very disciplined and receptive crowd that way. However, on our side, we make sure the readers are informed that this framework is based on mutual respect. The books are informed to categorically deny questions that might be uncomfortable to answer. The librarians also try and talk to the books after every session to see if they are all right and need anything. 


(S): Do you have plans to see that the Human Libraries spread all over India?


(H): Yes, of course, there are Human Libraries in Hyderabad, Indore, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Chennai, Surat and now Banglore as well. In the next five years, I guess we will have a Human Library in every major city and town in India. 


(S): What is the story in the “Human Book” titled “Life of Harshad Dinkar Fad”?


(H): It’s a story of a perseverant and a tidsoptimist. A story of the best student and a dropout. A story of sincerity and rebel. The story of a genius and an idiot. 🙂


I Can Flyy – An Initiative which helps Special Needs Individuals in Kolkata

By | Esha Meher, Life | One Comment

“Some of the most wonderful people are the ones that don’t fit into boxes.”

~Tori Amos





The writer Gabriel Garcia Marques, had once woven a beautiful story called ‘I sell my Dreams’ about the prophetic Frau Freida who made a living by selling what happens to be the most innate part of one’s soul, she sold her dreams. And god, what a life she lived! Much sought after, as people flocked to know what unfolded in her last siesta. Some made a living out of dreaming, and for the rest of commoners like us, we find an antidote to the malaises within our dreams. When the reality appears too harsh to be accepted, we dream of a better future, a hopeful tomorrow. But then, what happens to the ones who haven’t learned to see a tomorrow for themselves?


They say that to rob someone of money is wrong, but to rob an individual of their dreams is probably a graver sin. In a hedonistic society, like ours, we commit such sins every day. Segregating and branding people ‘unworthy’ of an opportunity. Sometimes on class, sometimes on color, and sometimes on the way one is abled. I Can Flyy is an initiative, whose Founder refused to walk by the  ways of this world challenging society’s cruel ways of branding people. We are born with our destinies, and as humans, we all deserve an equal chance to shape it. 
We know that time, empathy and compassion is what we lack today. We do not stop by for the ones who might lag a step behind. Because well, we are all in a fight. Darwin led the way and we fight along to be the fittest.

Amazing goodies created by the I Can Flyy members.

However, there are places on this very planet which form a warm cradle of a comforting space and within the walls of one such warm cocoon, lies an initiative called I Can Flyy – a center for vocational training for Special Needs individuals. It aims to empower the young minds, arming them with an arsenal of know how in crafts, baking, data entry, launderette operations etc. The knowledge is not only intended to benefit them monetarily but instills in them a sense of vision in this competitive world. They are taught to create things fit for a demand in the market, the market of commoners. To say that it instills in them a sense of self-worth, may not be the best way to put it. So, we settle for saying that at I Can Flyy, we tell them of their right to dream, we remind them once again, that, while everyone may not be abled the same way, we’re all able nonetheless. And that’s the only factor that matters. Food and goodies made by Special Need Young Adults are sold and they are rightfully handed over what their creation fetched, ensuring a steady occupation on the lines of what their real calling was.
The facility’s latest addition is slated to open doors in August 2017. Watch this space for more on this brand new member of the I Can Flyy Family!

The Initiative houses itself on 4B Valmikee Street, Kolkata 700026.
Find them on Facebook


About the Author: 



Esha Meher is a post graduate student of the London School of Economics and Political Science. She nurtures a keen interest in feminism and human fights and can be found painting or reading when not engaged in matters of the day.

Carnival Music Festival in Hyderabad – 15th July, 2017 – Performances by Skrat, The Ragamuffins and Last Known Surroundings.

By | Life | No Comments
Carnival typically involves a public celebration and/or parade combining some elements of a circus, masks, and a public street party. People wear masks and costumes during many such celebrations, allowing them to lose their everyday individuality and experience a heightened sense of social unity.


Neon Black Productions and Infinite Cartwheels Hyderabad are organizing Hyderabad’s first ever Carnival Music Festival, called the Infinite Cartwheels, on the 15th of July, 2017.


The Line Up For the Music Performances include;


Skrat:

Having headlined stages like NH7 and CAD, Skrat is a 3 member powerhouse hailing from Chennai whose members individually play for already established acts like Jhanu, the movie score band who have scored for Rajnikanth’s movies, Sapta, the drum-electronic duo, etc.
This would be Skrat’s second time in Hyderabad after NH7 Hyderabad!
Listen to them here

The Ragamuffins:

Currently, the biggest band hailing from Hyderabad, the Ragamuffins will make their debut at the gig after a 4-month hiatus. They have played shows like the Red Bull Tour bus, NH7 Weekender, etc.
Listen to them here

Last Known Surroundings:
Currently based in Australia, LKS is a one man project turned into a band. They are post-rock oriented and have been the primary and sole post-rock band in Hyderabad for years.

Listen to them here



The Event shall also include multiple pre-show games including Air Guitar Competitions would goodies ranging from a free beer to an entire bottle of free Whiskey on the line! There shall also be a “BackYard Sale” where patrons can put up anything from an old guitar to an old hoodie for sale! 



The Event will take place at FUBar Live Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad and is powered by Bnjara and would be covered by Arguendo!

For more details and Tickets check HERE

For an opportunity to win free entry passes email shredder.india@gmail.com

Mr. Jairam Ramesh launches book on Indira Gandhi in Hyderabad

By | Life | No Comments
Hyderabad – The elite of the city, on the 7th of July, 2017, witnessed former Environment Minister, Mr. Jairam Ramesh discussed the launch of his book on Indira Gandhi, which showcased the former Prime Minister’s lesser known traits as a conservationist.
Mr. Ramesh stated that the World had known two Indira Gandhi’s. One as the “Durga”, as named by Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee,  who helped Bangladesh Independence, and brought about the Green Revolution and the other as the Indira of Emergency, who seized power and also let Sanjay Gandhi start a Maruti plant which never produced cars. 

Because of the presence of the two contradictory pictures of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Mr. Ramesh stated that he had attempted to write this book after going through numerous letters Mrs. Gandhi had written during her lifetime, to determine what kind of person she actually was. 
Mr. Rameshj went on to speak about how Mrs. Gandhi was essentially a reluctant politician, one who loved nature and its inhabitants and how the Green Revolution was an example of how she had converted a personal passion into public policy. Mr. Ramesh further shed some light on Mrs. Gandhi’s stay in Santiniketan and her admiration for the noted Bengali poet Sri Rabindranath Tagore, which led her to convert some of his poems to English. 


Noted author & columnist Mr. Sriram Karri discussed the latest book of Mr. Jairam Ramesh, ‘Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature’, after its launch in Hyderabad at Park Hyatt. The event was organized by TSR Foundation Hyderabad and saw many noted celebrities like Md. Azharuddin (Ex Indian Cricket Team Captain), Mr. T Subbaramireddy among others. 



Root Cause of Crime In India – Lack of Education

By | Blogging, Life, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
Lack of education is a fundamental problem, it marginalizes the people, forcing them to live in depravity. The poor are desperate to move out of depravity, they don’t have much of a choice as such when they decide to walk the criminal path. This becomes evident when one takes a look at the prison statistics provided by National Crime Records Bureau of India for the year 2015, which states that nearly 27% of the convicts are illiterate and 42% of the convicts have studied up till 10th class. While According to the report by Annual Survey of Education Report, a substantial number of students’ up till class 8th in government schools are devoid of skills expected of an average 2nd class child. Further, the infrastructural state and poor qualification of the school teachers is also highly worrisome. 40% of the schools were without electricity and 31% of the teachers not being graduates. All this creates a predicament for the socio-economically deprived groups, who can’t afford a private school to educate their child. While some children get involved in menial labor in order to earn a living, many of them get entrapped within the criminal world as the prison statistics show.


Despite of this the government continues to hold back on financing the education sector in the country, back in 1960s Kothari education commission had suggested that budget allocation for education should be 6%, but even now the budget allocation is just 3.8%, despite the promise made by the government to bring it up to 6%. Along with this right to education (RTE) a fundamental right as provided under Article 21-A of the Constitution of India has not been implemented effectively, presently only 9.5% of the schools being RTE compliant. RTE itself is not completely inclusive in nature, considering the fact that it provides only for children aged between 6-14 leaving the older children to fend for their own. Considering the current employment status, with forty percent of the people being unable to find a full-time job, where even post-graduates are finding it difficult to get a job it seems unfair to take away state-support when the child turns 14.

Children can be easily influenced, making it highly important for them to have positive vibes around them, but the failing education system of India pushes them into working small jobs where they come across agents of exploitation who use them for illegal purposes as depicted quite explicitly in movies like Salaam Bombay and Slumdog Millionaire. It is the responsibility of the state that its people should be provided with adequate support so that they become capable of leading a healthy life and it is the failure of the state if its people have to resort to criminal practices in order to survive. Thus, it becomes important that RTE should encompass all the children up to 18 years of age within its ambit. Although, presently this seems to be a far-fetched expectation, considering that substantial implementation has not been possible of the original program itself. 


Lastly, it is important that the criminal justice system should make attempts to incorporate the nuances of the life of the downtrodden while deciding their case. Considering the fact that most of the acts are born out of a desperate push to survive, it is important that the accused should not be further tormented by being incarcerated. Attempts should be made to maintain adequate rehabilitation centers for such people so that they can get another shot at life. As stated by Prof. Upendra Baxi in his work The Crisis of Indian Legal System, it is important that law should enforce morality of survival by not penalizing the crime born out of destitution and impose a morality of duty and aspiration on the people who are resourceful to protect the underprivileged people.
Works Cited:- 
1) Prison Statistics – 2015  – http://ncrb.nic.in/
2) TCA Sharad Raghavan, The poor state of school infrastructure 
3) Ambarish Rai, Extreme neglect of primary education in budget 2017 
4) Vivek Kaul, Book excerpt: The real story behind India’s low unemployment 
5) Rukmini S, In India, unemployment rate still high 
6) Roger Ebert, Salaam Bombay! 
7) Roger Ebert, Slumdog Millionaire 
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/slumdog-millionaire-2008#disqus_thread 
8) Thomas Wells, Sen’s Capability Approach 


About the Author:

Ananye Krishna is a third-year law student at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. He has been engaged in teaching underprivileged students since his first year at the University, both independently and as a part of an NGO by the name of IDIA (Increasing Diversity by Increasing Awareness).  

Student For Liberty Local Coordinator Program Applications NOW OPEN

By | Life, students for liberty; Coordinator; Libertarians | No Comments

Students For Liberty, is the the world’s largest Libertarian student organisation.

What is the Local Coordinator Program?


The Local Coordinator Program is a platform for young liberal individuals to meet other like-minded people, learn more about the philosophy of liberty and assume leadership positions in the global students’ movement for liberty. The Local Coordinator Program helps students explore relevant ideas and concepts that go beyond course textbooks, trains students in leadership and management and allows them to engage in fruitful activism.


The most engaged students will be invited to attend a fully-sponsored retreat in July to spend a weekend with other Local Coordinators! Retreats are a great time to make new friends but students take away a better understanding of ideas they learned in the summer. We host a couple of great speakers, organise Socratic seminars and discuss more advanced topics in political economy. To know more, visit SASFL.ORG/LCP


SASFL-LC17-site-slider.jpg

How to apply?

You can apply by filling out a simple form. Do apply if you’re interested in learning new ideas, meeting a fantastic bunch of new people and joining the largest student network of pro-liberty students in the world! Deadline for the application is 28th May so make sure you apply well before that to get a headstart on the academic training.

Click here to apply!

If you have additional questions, please email Shree Agnihotri, South Asia Programs Associate for Students For Liberty at sagnihotri@studentsforliberty.org


For More Details Check HERE and HERE

Feminism And What Really Begets It: A Personal Tribute to Carrie Fisher

By | Blogging, Life, YOUR VOICE | 2 Comments
              I probably wasn’t even fully 9 years old, when my Star Wars crazy mother meticulously produced VCDs from a dingy video library and made me watch Episode I, II and III, thereby effectively ruining the greatest cinematic plot twist of all time. In those days, the only summer problems I had, were questions about how and why Palpatine managed to turn Anakin rogue.Episode IV, V and VI followed and I remember being enamored by Han Solo and Luke Skywalker but most distinctly, I was in awe of the unapologetic and indomitable spirit of Princess Leia. Oh, I wanted to be her, and how! All with some developments of course, since I also wanted to be a Jedi Master, but those are just minor details.
So you can imagine my shock, denial, and the consequent pained acceptance, upon waking up that morning to bold headlines that declared, “ACTRESS CARRIE FISHER DIES AT 60” and a seemingly morose, unhappy mother who barked across the hall that I was to mix my own milk. In a first, both mother and daughter shared a common sorrow for a non-familial loss of someone that neither of us knew personally.
To be honest, post Star Wars, I’ve only ever seen/heard of Carrie Fisher in a smattering of other movies and so perhaps it is fair to say that for several million across the globe including myself, she went down as Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, who bravely fought off Vader’s forces, called out Han for being a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf herder“, wielded a gun better than Luke and was subjected to watch her planet and foster parents be decimated by the Death Star. To me, the star struck 9 year old, if this was not ceaseless bravery, then what was really?
I grew up in a women-only household, comprising of a fairly badass working mom with a Leia-esque temper and tongue, a reasonably competent (and I will always deny I said this) sister, an orthodox and determined grandmother and a decrepit yet surprisingly loud, perennially ill great-grandmother, who – as she reiterates – is three years older than the Queen herself! At this juncture, it is probably safe to say that a character like Leia, boded well in our lifestyle.
I don’t really know how to describe the way I am, at 20. What I do know is that I stubbornly don’t understand the difference between a man’s job and a woman’s job. I didn’t want a doll or a car, but books and being occasionally treated to a film with an already ruined plot twist. I didn’t dress in pink or blue, but clothes that I thought were comfortable. I did all the things I wanted to do, much against the behest of the mother-and-above units. I played tennis,swam and got tanned, ran, scraped my knees, roasted in the sunlight, picked up defunct pistols (licensed, I assure you) and rolled in the mud. As a happy consequence of my activities and much to their chagrin, the women in the house gave up on me, concluding that the dog and I were kindred spirits.
None of this came easy, of course. When you’re like that in a world that isn’t quite like that, you tend to get picked on. Everyone tried all possible avenues to dissuade me from being so socially contemptible. I’ve pretty much had it all in various permutations- cousins nagging me for keeping my hair too long and too boring, friends who’ve teased me for being “too much like a boy”, family that still goes on about how I need to dress better and the most prevalent and prominent one of them all – being a prude. Except, to this day, I absolutely do not understand what it is about my myriad of actions that is termed too un-ladylike for me. I’m not supposed to sweat and stink, nor wear shorts for tennis or wear comfortable clothes at a party instead of the oft chosen LBDs and am meant to keep my locks braided instead of choosing to flip them around in a layered cut, because of exactly what again? I’ve never known and I’m not sure that I ever will. That being said, I don’t think I’d actually blame anyone, given social conditioning en generale.
Now, to the point of why Carrie Fisher’s passing has begun this conversation in my head. In the 13 years since I first watched Return Of The Jedi, I’ve subconsciously strived to model myself into a personal interpretation of Leia. To me, Carrie Fisher did not just play Leia, she was Leia.  I’ve watched her repeatedly in endless interviews and found that she really was the embodiment of fierce independence, unfailing feminism and undiluted wit. She never once hesitated to call out the blatant misogyny or unfairness of anything and wasn’t afraid to apologize or accept her mistake whilst challenging the very archetype that catapulted her to fame. She had such a strong sense of right and wrong which, to me, was everything that Leia depicted on screen. She showed us,by example, how important it was that as women- and more generally as human beings – we take our position seriously and that cowing down to rampant patriarchy is not something any of us were born to do.
I’ve never been one who was very ostentatious about her opinions on the happenings of the world since, as a matter of principle, I think that everyone has the right to reserve their own relative thoughts and opinions of the same – unless of course, it is an actual travesty like the election of Donald Trump. In the same maverick fashion, I don’t believe in having to be loud about things that you do for the sake of humanity’s betterment. Much like I did in my childhood, I prefer the quiet, strong way of being a feminist – you stubbornly refuse to accept the patriarchal norm and keep going about while doing your own thing.
You don’t sit quiet when you see or hear something that is fundamentally wrong and you aren’t behoved into being nonchalant about it. I think that the most raucous, resounding way that you can assert your identity as a feminist is to act more than you speak. Fight for your worth, whoever you are – male, female, both, neither – and never forget to be gracious about it. Let nobody tell you what to do and what not to do since I can assure you that there are no diktats about what you “should” be doing because of how and where luck decided to place you. Nobody is any less or any more because of their sex, orientation, race, or anything of theirs, really -because, at the end of the day, all of us are humans.
Not ducks.
That is why we need more people who are as proud and brutally honest as Carrie was. She was an unending source of inspiration, in and out of her role as Leia and in the same breath, a beautiful human being. It is really purveyors of the cause like her, who should make us ask questions like that in the title (which I’m clearly very proud of).
This is a profound moment in my adult life because I’d like to think that I’ve succeeded in growing up to be my own version of Carrie/Leia. There’s a long way to go, but I’m fairly certain I’ll get there – to the mild distaste of a few generations of progenitors, I’m sure.
This one is for Carrie. The Force was strong with that one.


About The Author: 




Spandana Durga is a third year Mathematics Honors student at Miranda House, University Of Delhi. She is deeply interested in art history and public policy development (as utterly unrelated as they are), is a staunch feminist and is a devoted Federer fan.


Why We Need To Actively Involve Indian Citizens In Urban Planning

By | Blogging, Life, Policy;, YOUR VOICE | One Comment
            Over the years, governance structures in most Indian cities have followed a simple and traditional top-down approach with little or no room for citizen engagement. People rely on the good intentions of the mayor or the municipal corporation, who they trust will take decisions in the overall interest of its citizens. This system has worked fairly smoothly in most Indian cities as the focus of urban local bodies has essentially been on the provision of basic services. And while expectations may have remained low, in the situation that the unofficial trust code is broken and the citizenry are disenchanted with the local administration, there’s not much recourse available to remedy the situation in the short term, and the status quo prevails.

No real framework exists within local government structures to ensure participation of the citizens in developing a city’s agenda or plan.

However, this status quo in Indian cities is now being challenged by two key developments. The first is that cities are now confronted with newer challenges that were either irrelevant or considered unimportant in the past. Today, cities need to have plans in place to deal with climate change and its effects, develop resilient infrastructure systems, build and secure data network processes, ensure social cohesion etc.

The second and more important development is that India is getting younger by the day. Now, 761 million aspirational Indians are between the ages of 15-64. With estimates of 462 million now having some access to the internet and another 140 million to be added to the middle-class by 2025, there is a real chance to capitalise on the quickly changing demographic situation. In light of these changes, the idea of participative governance may well begin to be seen as the norm rather than the exception.
The challenge, though, is that no real framework exists within local government structures to ensure participation of the citizens in developing a city’s agenda or plan. Involving citizens is merely seen as just one of many boxes to be checked in the whole planning process. Till a decade ago, the easiest way to tick this box was to organise an essay-writing and painting competition calling for proposals and ideas. In the present day, some amount of money is invested in developing a website, an Android app or a Facebook page through which citizens can respond by providing their suggestions or uploading pictures of potholes and suchlike.
More recently, as part of the Smart Cities Competition, several cities sought to seek inputs from the citizens in order to be graded highly and make the final cut. However, as various reports have now emerged, most decisions with respect to the design and planning were already in place and these events were merely a façade to promote what had already been decided.
The current approach is far from participative. Cities hire international consultants like McKinsey, PwC, E&T etc. who then seek out technology vendors such as Cisco, Siemens, Tata, L&T, Microsoft that offer solutions like intelligent traffic management systems, smart street lighting solutions and a bouquet of IoT services. These projects are then incorporated into the overall plan. Some effort is made to show that the projects were a culmination of extensive consultation with the citizens and the community, which is far from the truth.

Some effort is made to show that projects were a culmination of extensive consultation with the citizens and the community, which is far from the truth.

When confronted about this phenomenon recently, an IAS officer was quick to point out to me that while having utopian notions of ensuring inclusivity in the planning process makes for great prose and intellectual debate, it was easier said than done in a complex and densely populated country like India. The top-down approach is so deeply embedded within our governance systems that the overall economic, political and social cost of charting a new pathway might in fact be counterproductive, particularly in the short term. Although cynical, it was a valid reservation. There’s potentially more to lose if citizen engagement only delays the planning process, owing to little or no organisational capacity within urban local bodies or the lack of interest among other stakeholders, including the citizenry

In the current paradigm, it’s become all about getting the ball rolling on the ground in the shortest possible time. The situation in our cities is already so bad that rapid prototyping and deployment of different technology solutions is seen as the only way out in the existing ecosystem. In this process filled with uncertainty, some projects may succeed and these may be scaled and implemented elsewhere. This method of constant trial and error is synonymous with a view held by noted American urban planner Robert Moses:
“You can draw any kind of pictures you like on a clean slate and indulge your every whim in the wilderness in laying out a New Delhi, Canberra and Brasilia, but when you operate in an overbuilt metropolis you have to hack your way with a meat axe.”

The top-down approach is so embedded… that the economic, political and social cost of charting a new pathway might in fact be counterproductive, particularly in the short term…

As we reimagine what our cities and public spaces could look like in the 21st century, there is an immediate need to support cultural pluralism while incorporating a spectrum of voices and histories that promote participation and engagement. In principle, the Union Minister for Urban Development, Venkaiah Naidu ranks citizen engagement very high on his priority list. While it is still left to be seen if this translates to an institutionalised change in mindset, several micro-initiatives championed by the local community and civil society are now taking shape independently in a number of cities. The government apparatus must assume an ethical obligation to work in a collaborative fashion to gather the voices of community members. It must advocate for this diversity of voices on their behalf as well as provide the necessary impetus to pilot, scale and institutionalise successful initiatives.
If done right, technology can play its part in citizen engagement. For example, the city of Nagpur has identified a 6-kilometre “smart strip” to be equipped with a range of state-of-the-art ICT interventions such as smart transport, solid waste management, smart lighting etc. As citizens go about their lives around this 6km strip, the government will be able to gauge the degree of success of each service through constant feedback gathered from users. Big data also can potentially reveal patterns, economic trends, and associations relating to human interaction with technology.
Small data, a concept pioneered by author Martin Lindtsrom, will also be critical. In the framework of the city, small data would refer to planners and designers relying on a mix of keen observations of small samples and applied intuition by spending time with real people in their own environments and understanding how they interact with the city. Both big and small data are equally vital and one cannot possibly work without the other. In the words of Lindstrom, if we want to glean real insights, big data and small data would have to be “partners in dance.”

[Republished with due permission of the Author. Originally published here]

About The Author:
Nandan Sharalaya is a German Chancellor Fellow and is sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung and the Institute for Industrial Organisation at WHU, Otto Beisheim School of Management. He is also the Founder & Editor of The Decent Neta.

Do Your Bit- Indian Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi launches Youth Campaign

By | Campaigns; Public Awareness; Your Voice, Life | No Comments
Every 6 minutes, a child goes missing in India. Every hour 2 children are sexually abused in our country. While education and technology area reaching great heights, 168 million children still toil as labourers. While children never create war, over 63 million children in conflict affected areas like Syria and others, are out-of- school.



Children – the future of humanity – are being exploited, despite mankind’s great advancements. Till when will this go on? This crisis calls for a concerted and compassionate effort, with utmost urgency.


To put an end to violence against children, the first Indian-born Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi is launching the 100 Million for 100 Million’campaign. It’s a youth campaign that will have young people from all across the word take onus of making the world child-friendly. Through the campaign, 100 million youth will stand up to be the voices of the voiceless 100 million children and youth.
The campaign is being launched from the Rashtrapati Bhavan on December 11, where the President along with Nobel Laureates and Leaders will flag it off. These Nobel Laureates and world leaders are coming together for the first time for the cause of children to join the Laureates and Leaders For Children Summit by Kailash Satyarthi.


As law students, we can utilize our strength and knowledge, to become the marshalls of this noble campaign. To join the launch of the campaign:

1. Join your voice for children

Be a part of an extraordinary moment, when the youth will come together to stand up and act for millions of left-out children of the world. Speak in one voice, one message for our children.


What you can do? Sign up on Thunderclap on the link via your social media handles on Facebook and/or Twitter. It will be launched at 1330h IST on 11th December 2016.

2. Let your friends know

Facebook is creating a special filter for the “100 Million for 100 Million” Campaign. Let your friends and family know that you will do your bit for children.
What you can do?Change your Facebook profile picture to pledge your support at 1530h IST on 11th December 2016. The frame would go LIVE at 1500h IST at www.facebook.com/KSCFIndia

3. Fist Bump for Freedom

A fist bump signifies friendship, equality and partnership. To show that you are a part of a campaign promotes equal participation of children, do a fist bump with a child and record it.
What you can do? Do a “fist bump boomerang” with a child to pledge your support for the campaign. Alternately, you can record a 4-second-long video. We ask that you do not undertake this activity with a child in a situation of exploitation i.e. children working at dhabas, begging on street etc. Kindly respect their dignity.

I will do my bit for children. (Tag/Nominate a friend) #DoYourBit. Join @k_satyarthi for 100millionfor100million.org” Suggested Twitter/Facebook Post



This campaign will harness the energy, enthusiasm and idealism of 100 million young people.It is Kailash Satyarthi’s belief that every young person is a changemaker, a champion and a leader. 

In his opinion we, as lawyers and law students have a particularly important to play in this Campaign in not only standing up for vulnerable children, but also bringing about a positive change in their lives. Thus, Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation and Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), the grassroots organisation run by Mr. Satyarthi, is reaching out to you to support the Campaign. Do your bit in help to build a better tomorrow for all.

Log on to http://100millionfor100million.org/ to become a part of this historic Campaign. Use the #DoYourBit to show your support.