CITIZEN JOURNALISM

In early January, Dahisar resident Pankati noticed garbage being thrown behind one of the electric junction boxes in Kandarpada, her neighbourhood. It had accumulated over a few weeks. This was not a garbage collection point and it used to be clean before. She decided to raise a civic complaint on that garbage issue using the ‘MyBMC Assist’ WhatsApp Chatbot, which is run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Pankati, a volunteer with the Blue Ribbon Movement, found garbage being dumped behind an electric junction box in Khandarpada. Pic: Aniruddha Gaonkar After waiting for over a month, the garbage was still…

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(This is part 1 of the interview with Lekha Adavi on the impact of climate change on Bengaluru's street vendors) On May 1st, while the world celebrated Labour Day, Bengaluru recorded its highest temperature in 40 years. With temperatures continually on the rise, one of the most affected groups are street and peripatetic vendors (vendors who operate on foot or with push carts). In this interview, Lekha Adavi, member of the All India Centre of Trade Unions (AICTU), talks about the effect of climate change on street vendors. Excerpts: Lekha Adavi, member of the All India Centre of Trade Unions…

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Recently, two pet Rottweiler dogs attacked a five-year-old child and her mother in a  Corporation park in Nungambakkam, Chennai. Based on a complaint following the incident, police arrested the owners of the dog for negligence and endangering the lives of others (IPC Section 289 and 336). As General Manager-Administration of the Blue Cross of India, I have seen several Rottweilers over the years. While there are laws to address such situations, there needs to be adequate awareness among pet owners that dogs like Rottweilers should be taken for a walk only on a leash. A major portion of the responsibility…

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(In part 1 of the series Srinivas Alavilli and Vikram Rai wrote about their experience of moderating the masterclass, 'Is there burnout in civic activism?’, at the India Civic Summit, organised by Oorvani Foundation. Part 2 covers the discussions and insights by the participants)  The 35 plus participants in the masterclass-'Is there burnout in civic activism?', at the India Civic Summit, organised by Oorvani Foundation, were divided into six groups, who shared their observations and solutions to civic activism apathy. While nine questions were put to vote, the following six got the maximum votes in the following order:  Is there…

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Taking morning walks and evening strolls on the beach shore near the Arupadai Veedu Murugan temple in Kalakshetra Colony, Besant Nagar used to be an enjoyable experience. But, it is not so anymore. In the last two years, this stretch of the seashore has gradually deteriorated because of open defection, indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste and construction debris, and other illegal activities. This has not just made the beach filthy, but also unsafe. Residents living nearby (Besant Nagar, Ward 179) have stopped frequenting this stretch, owing to a lack of patrolling. However, the situation worsened about six months ago, when…

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There is a sense in our city that civic activism, which was once thriving with street protests and events and mass mobilisations like #SteelFlyoverBeda, is disappearing, particularly post COVID. 'Is civic activism dying?' – when we were asked to moderate a masterclass on this topic at the India Civic Summit, organised by Oorvani Foundation on March 23rd, it led to an animated discussion. We agreed that while the masterclass title has to be provocative, the ultimate objective is to understand the trends, get more people to become active citizens by sensing citizens' motivations and fears, and understand the role of…

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The peepal (Ficus Religiosa) and banyan (Ficus Benghalensis) trees, both members of the Moraceae family, often have raised platforms around them for people to sit and rest under their cool shade. These trees are commonly found near temples and lakes. Believers sometimes place their religious waste under these trees. These include posters, paintings, idols of gods, pictures of ancestors, religious scriptures, clothes that have been used for prayer rituals, disused lamps etc. I spoke to my friend Ashwini who has some knowledge of the scriptures. She chanted a shloka in response to my question. mūlato brahmarūpāya madhyato viṣṇurūpiṇe .agrataḥ śivarūpāya…

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In the 4th phase of the Lok Sabha Elections, among other regions in India, six constituencies of Mumbai (city and suburban), Thane, Kalyan and Palghar will vote on May 20th. As the campaign peaks and promises fly from every leader and candidate, voters are getting ready to cast their precious vote. Making an informed choice, is the first step towards strengthening democracy and ensuring sustainable and equitable life for all. Mumbai Votes, a not-for-profit, independent info-bank, conducts research on election manifestos, party promises, their implementation over the years and sector wise performance of different political parties. In the run up…

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Recently, there’s been news that the new traffic challan system will mandate a Rs 10,000 penalty on old or new vehicles if owners don't acquire the Pollution Under Control (PUC) certification on time. To tackle expired certificates, the system will use CCTV surveillance to identify non-compliant vehicles and flag them for blacklisting from registration. The rule ultimately has several drawbacks, given the difficulty in acquiring PUC certificates in the first place. The number of PUC centres in Chennai has reduced drastically with only a handful still operational. Only the petrol bunk-owned PUC centres charge the customers based on the tariff…

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When I grew up in my home state, Ajmer, Rajasthan, I used to go to my grandparent’s place, a small town in Rajasthan, during summer vacations in the 1990s. This place was self- sufficient at waste disposal as I would think most of India was at that time. There were no plastic bags, plastic bottles, single use plastic cups, cutlery etc. Whatever little waste that was generated in the kitchen was diligently put in a street sink— a big stone bowl where people can throw their kitchen wet waste for cattle to eat or drink from. The cows would come…

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