HYPERLOCAL

When I moved to Mumbai in June 2023 for work, I found myself going for sight seeing to the city's tourist destinations. Though the city appeared to have consistent and wide footpaths almost everywhere, vehicular right of way seemed to be prioritised over the pedestrian right of way. This struck me as very strange, even as I continued to enjoy walking through lanes of Mumbai very much. On one hand, there is excellent footpath coverage, utilised by large crowds everywhere. On the other hand, speeding vehicles create obstacles for something as simple as crossing the road.  "Though Mumbai appeared to…

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The balcony in Cultured, a cafe in Humayunpur, Delhi, gives a good vantage point of the daily happenings in the streets -- women walking the streets in their chic winter coats, men in trendy hairstyles going to office in their formal attire and people coming out to buy their daily groceries. On the same street one can see the local men of the village sitting in front of their houses with a hookah and a bonfire. Most of the young tenants in this urban village in Delhi are from the North Eastern states. As I sat in the cafe with…

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A second time MP, Dr Naramalli Sivaprasad is a versatile personality. A theatre-artist, actor, film producer and two-time MP from the Chittoor Constituency, Sivaprasad is known for dressing up as various characters in Parliament to draw attention to issues. Dressed on various occasions as characters as diverse as Adolf Hitler, Chatrapathi Shivaji and MG Ramachandran, the MP staged protests demanding special packages for Andhra Pradesh. While his appearances as a theatre artist have hogged headlines, his recorded attendance and engagement as Member of Parliament on the floor of the House leave much to be desired.  In the 2014 elections, Sivaprasad…

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For many in Indian cities and towns, it is not unusual to open their doors to an unwarranted pitch by a salesman for a product or service newly launched. However the Dutta family, living in Eastern High, a multi-tower building complex in Newtown Kolkata, was in for a pleasant surprise when they answered the doorbell to find a group of 10-12 year olds, explaining ways of saving electricity at home as well as in the building premises and urging them to follow those steps. As you look around the building complex today, you find several creatively designed posters depicting easy…

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This Earth Day, on April 22 2018 (and the previous day), residents from the Lokhandwala Township of the western suburb of Mumbai, Kandivali East, got together to participate in the “Colour My Township” initiative, organised by We All Connect (wAc) with the support of Kansai Nerolac Paints Limited. wAc is a community group that was formed to promote bonding and oneness among residents of the township. A few months ago, the group painted a small wall together and members found that painting compound walls together with neighbours was a good way to get to know them. According to Mr Santosh Shetty, founder of…

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On December 22nd, a woman was forced to deliver her child at the Mangalore Railway Junction (MAJN), after an ambulance failed to reach the remote area due to the narrow roads leading up to it. The 26-year-old woman, identified as Lata, a migrant labourer from Madhya Pradesh, was waiting for the train at the station, when she started experiencing labour pain and repeatedly cried out for help. Abubakker, a local rickshaw driver, immediately called 108 emergency services and directed them to the location. However, though the nearest ambulance reached the spot, the vehicle could not drive up to the station…

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On December 3rd 2017, Pimple Saudagar, an upmarket suburb under the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (sister city of Pune) hosted a meeting of citizens, apartment associations, shop owners and not-for-profit organisations to commit themselves to a movement that could alter the ecological footprint of the entire area. Come January 1st and Pimple Saudagar has resolved to go plastic bag free, entirely! Today everyone is aware of the impact of plastic pollution; there have been enough campaigns, disincentives for usage (such as imposing additional charges for plastic carry bags), incentives for avoidance (such as distribution of free bags by NGOs ) and…

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"So have you heard this one?" said my brother. "The Stephanians put a board outside the college, saying 'Dogs and Hinduites not allowed.'" "And you know how the Hinduites responded?" he asked with a mischievous smile. "Dogs are allowed, but not Stephenians!" Back when we were students, stories like these went far and wide, carried by nothing more than word of mouth—we didn't need Facebook or Google to know about the rather ridiculous rivalry between St. Stephen's College and Hindu College. For the uninitiated, Hindu College and St. Stephen's College are a part of Delhi University's North Campus, and stand…

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Nirvana Country in Sector 50, Gurugram, Haryana. A sprawling 108-acre scenic and lush green community comprised of 1100 independent bungalows with independent gardens. When writer Chetan Mahajan and his wife Vanduta moved in here, they had perhaps never imagined that they would eventually be forced to move, and that too for environmental reasons. The vast acres flanking the community was dotted with strewn plastic bags and mounds of waste being burnt at odd times of the day. Pollution levels had risen to unbearable heights and families were moving out with their elderly and children. The Mahajans were among them, as…

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Every time I visited the Wazirabad Bundh site to watch a lush linear forest taking shape in the middle of our city, the dirty storm water drain would bother me no end. iamgurgaon – a citizens’ movement focused on improving every aspect of life in the Millennium City – had been working on the bundh for a year and a half and it was clear that the work would remain incomplete if this drain full of debris and plastic was not cleared. The drain was such an eye sore that I decided to seek permission to clean the 200 metres…

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