Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Are they really getting it right?

This is a little about my visit to Savda Ghevra:

Savda Ghevra is an upcoming resettlement colony. It is believed that it is the Chief Minister’s baby (“Shiela Dixit ji ne Savdha Ghevra ko apni godh mein le liya hai”). It seems that it is an effort by the Government of Delhi and the MCD to make ALL efforts to make sure that all goes right with this resettlement colony – given the blunders that they have committed with regard to other resettlement colonies around Delhi. (the Government of Delhi and the MCD is aiming at making Delhi slum-free by the 2010 – the year of the Commonwealth Games).

The following is a small observation:

While I was in Savda Ghevra; I happened to have the “privilege” to visit the same place at which our Mayor Arti Mehra had just been about an hour back. (She was supposed to arrive at 11:00 am, and so were we, but I guess both ‘parties’ got late and when we got off the DTC bus just outside the Savda Ghevra JJ Resettlement colony at 11:30 am, Arti Mehra’s motorcade zoomed past us). She had come to lay the foundation stone for a community centre in G – Block. The plot of land, at present, lies empty. In the middle of the plot of land I saw two grey bricks that had been laid down by the ‘lotus-like’ hands of Arti Mehra (as the granite stone said). Just a few metres beyond the ‘auspicious’ bricks was a whole row of the ‘cubicles’ built by the resettled people (these thatched cubicles - made with sticks and old plastic sheets or bamboo - are used by women and girls so that they have some 'privacy' while having a bath - only one of the Community Toilet Complexes - CTCs - I visited has an arrangement to bathe - charging Rs. 2 for each bath and the remaining CTCs had bathing cubicles but NO water supply in them!). So, we are to think that our Mayor comes to lay the foundation stone for something as important as the community centre, and due to the poor maintenance of the CTCs, the cubicles that have been set up by the residents for the women folk to bathe (and maybe go to the toilet as well) are NOT NOTICED by this woman (our respected Mayor), nor by any of her ‘supporters’ (?)

There is NO water supply in people’s houses. Some residents have dug up and installed hand pumps but many of them are lying dry and rusted now, as whatever water they could have extracted from the ground, they have already extracted! The DJB tanker is their lifeline in every sense. The water that they fill from the DJB tanker has to used by them for everything - drinking, washing clothes, washing utensils, cooking, having a bath and going to the toilet (often they go to the open fields to go to the toilet, carrying water in jerry cans/bottles as the 'functional' toilets require them to pay for usage of the toilet).


Thanks Tvara for that 'special mention' - I am happy someone is reading what I am writing.. :)

ALL THE BEST to everyone!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

wel finally heres something from me!!

hello.. i guess i wud be the last one to be posting their first 'kinda hello' blog but then well am lazy (even the rather sketchy weekly updates are a pain!!) so here goes the formal bit.
hello ppl.. i am tvara misra, currently (hopefully!!) completed my 2nd yr B.A.(H) in Geography at Miranda House and over the summer am desperately trying to prove that the performance, both academic and non academic for the students who enter an institute through a reserved criteria is not at par with the general candidates therefore there exists a basic flaw in this affirmative action policy of the government (ofcourse everyone knows its more vote bank oriented than for social justice) and something needs to be done to improve it so as to make it more viable and effective. it really does not help much if half the students who are admitted into an institute are thrown out as they do not perform up to the mark and the other half is dying of the pressure to cope up. as per the analysis rite now, only a handful actually can actually perform at par with the average and slightly above average general candidates of their batch and none so far have been seen to excel. seeing this trend so far i am currently analysing the causitive factors to identify the reasons for this existing gap and perhpas come up with a alternative model or some suggestions to improve it(you guys are welcome to post your views on this!)
and this has been a mammoth task since i am doing this analysis by a case study at iitk and the academic offices are busy with summer courses, convocation details, admissions etc etc etc, students are home or slogging at some intern (ahem.. does that ring a bell ppl?!!) and even the campus is in a sluggish slow mode what with most ppl out for holidays (ofcourse the ahem ...lovely muggy weather here aids to the process)... but still am the optimistic sanguine sloth clinging on to the work and yes jyotika i am trying to get some useful work done.. sometimes i feel that jyotikas untiring efforts to patiently remind us of the work (the unassuming mails are rather threatning sometimes!!) we are supposed to do are the reason (well mine for sure) for the internship going on this wel(i believe am not being too presumptuous here).. its her egging emails which make me yes.. come out of my usual stupor and do some work so that i have something to write in the weekly progress report.
wel thats enough bout my work.. what i was wondering was how did the mid term presentaion go??? i didnt come across ne entry which addressed tht except for (well again) jyotika reminding the externs to take some tips from the interns.
and a special mention for sahanas topic.. man... thats really interesting.. and by the (length and) content of the frequent blogs i think thrs gr8 progress too.. cool.
neway... i think thats sufficient for now... ill (hopefully) post some more to keep you updated (and yes socialize!).. happy working ppl!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The politics of provision of a BASIC NEED

I met three sanitation inspectors from the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) last friday evening (and I must thank Nikhil for coming along and saying that filmy style 'main hoon na..' - which made me feel reassured (?))... The meeting was quite an interesting experience.. and all the interns know about it...
The following is an important point, they made, regarding the difference between how the MCD (under which, they claimed, there is about 95% of the Delhi area) and NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Corporation - which accounts for about 3% of Delhi area- according to them and Delhi Cantonment accounts for roughly 2% of the entire Delhi area) would deal with an issue as basic as building of toilets. “The work culture of the two and the mobility of funds for the MCD and NDMC cannot be compared”. If, the MCD asks for certain funds, then the MCD – which is BJP-led will first have to give the request to the Delhi Government – which is Congress-led, which, due to political repulsions and because they don’t want BJP to ‘get what they want’ as that will lead to implementation of some part of the BJP agenda and so BJP will score higher on the political report card and then, the Congress, is scared that next time around they ‘may be thrown out of power’ (!). And so, quite naturally, some ‘cuts’ are made by the Delhi Government in the request. Then the request goes to the Centre, which also is also Congress led; so, there will be further cuts there. ( it seems the more the hierarchy, the greater the chance of political repulsions and so BIGGER ‘cuts’)
On the other hand, an NDMC request for funds goes directly to the Central Government. The disbursal of funds for the NDMC can be expected overnight where as the amount of time that it would take for disbursal of funds for MCD cannot be predicted! Over and above this, the politically influential people live in the NDMC area, so a request which is ‘pushed’ by this ADDED political influence only gets returns much faster!
(This is probably what is responsible for the GREAT difference between the public toilets in the NDMC area and the MCD area – its sad that a BASIC NEED such as that of public toilets is getting neglected due to political reasons!)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blowing my cover.

Three email warnings from Jyotika and some pointed invitations to join the CCS blog have finally prodded me into action. I'm Naomi, i'm a certified lurker, its fun to read what everyone's getting upto in their respective parts of the country:).

I'm working on the impact of the NREGS on rural-urban migration. Its kind of a duh hypothesis, that in a region where the NREGS is implemented properly, migration will decrease. I'm assuming migration isn't good, because men get separated from their families-studies show most rural-urban migrants are men- and they migrate because of the lack of opportunities in their villages, and also they often dont have enough money to send back as remittances, so the theory that the remittances could help the village develop wouldn't really hold. If the NREGS provides a steady source of income for them, then they will have a strong economic incentive to remain in their villages. I'm linking migration with the spread of AIDS so am hypothesising that by decreasing rural-urban migration, the spread of AIDS-migrants are a high risk group- can be slowed down. The reason why i want to do this is to get actual empirical proof, that in some places where the act is implemented well, its doing a lot of good. I really believe that this act is one of the more worthwhile efforts to target poverty..Anyway am pretty excited because the field work will start from monday, and i'm crossing my fingers hoping i'll get up to date migration data.

Back to lurking:)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Some Interesting Links

Hey guys, I found some good articles at, and Mint:

An Artist's Freedom, The Tribune: ""

Road test for commuter etiquette: ""

Salil Tripathi on P. Sainath: ""

Matunga racket, Amit Varma :""

Even if you don't read all of them, do read the last one (it's sad & scary to say the least)!

Note that in this entry, Amit Varma says, "We can choose not to gamble or to do drugs, but sexual orientation, like the colour of our eyes, is something we’re born with." Or is it?

I am not too sure about that (that is not to say I have anything against gay men/women or find them weird though!).
What do you think?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Paying for toilets in a Slum/Resettlement area

I went to the JJ Resettlement colony in Bawana day before yesterday and here's something that I was just working out... may be you would like to read this....
Having found out about the monthly income of an average household (with a maximum of Rs. 3000 in a month) and the charges of using the public toilet (Re. 1 for using the toilet, Rs. 2 for bathing and Rs. 2 for washing clothes).. I was just trying to look at the income and expenditure of each family on this basic need. On an average the household size is 5, the man of the house being the only earning member of the family (as after being relocated from elsewhere to Bawana, the women who were earlier domestic helps in various houses, now don’t have close by ‘middle class’ or ‘upper middle class’ or rich households to work in and are not skilled enough to be employed in the close-by industrial area).So, there is the husband, wife and 3 kids – all of whom are above the age of 5 years. (the toilet usage is free only for children upto the age of 5) Each day, each of them would use the toilet about 5 times, each paying Re. 1 for each usage (the bias towards women in terms of a once a day payment was found only in one toilet – so, mostly everyone HAS to pay every time they use the toilet – and of course the NORM that women are not supposed to be charge for usage is completely forgotten), and they would be bathing also, at least once a day (each paying Rs. 2 for a bathing). And the woman of the house would also be washing clothes once in the day (paying Rs. 2 for washing clothes). So, the total expenditure on usage of the public toilet, by the family, would work out at about Rs.25 + Rs. 10 + Rs. 2 = Rs. 37. Assuming that the man is a daily wage worker and gets the LEGAL minimum wage i.e. Rs. 100; so one can say that about 37% of the earnings are being spent solely on the use of a public toilet by the family – which is, of course a large proportion of the entire income.

And, I was just search on the net and I found an article on th same issue in a slum area in South Delhi.

Here it is....

Will you spend Rs. 30 a day on using the toilet? – an article from the Satark Nagrik Sangathan (a NGO which works on the use of the RTI) Website

Can a person who earns Rs. 60 a day to support a family of 6 afford Rs. 30 a day for using the toilet? These seemingly absurd questions are everyday struggles for the residents of Jagdamba camp. Lack of a sewer system in this slum settlement makes it impossible for individual homes to have toilets, rendering the residents totally dependent on a public toilet run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). The MCD sub-contracts the operation and maintenance of this toilet to an NGO. The contractor (NGO) demanded Re.1 per person every time anyone used the toilet. Even small children, who need to use the toilet more frequently, were required to pay Re.1 every time. The prohibitive cost of this facility left most people with little option but to defecate openly, which became a health concern in the area. Asma, a slum resident, says, “Bachchon se kehta tha paise do nahi to maroonga. Dar ke bachche jate bhi nahi the. ” (He used to threaten to beat the children if they didn’t pay. The kids refused to go to the toilet out of fear). When the camp’s Mahila Mandal (women’s self help group) approached SNS with these issues, SNS volunteers used the Delhi RTI Act to ask for a copy of the contract awarded by MCD for the operation of the toilet. They also sought information regarding the penalty to be imposed on the contractor for violating the terms of the contract in addition to asking the name and designation of MCD officials responsible for ensuring proper functioning of the toilet. The information obtained in response to the RTI application clearly stated that as per the contract signed between the MCD and the contractor, children below 12 years of age are to avail the facility free of cost, and the toilet is to be maintained by the NGO on a no-profit no-loss basis. This information was publicised among residents of the camp and published in SNS’s newsletter Apna Panna, causing uproar. People were furious to know that for over ten years, they had been cheated into paying for the use of the toilet by children below 12 years; and that the non-governmental agency which was supposed to run the facility as service to society had been earning profits of about Rs.50,000 a month! Empowered with this information, residents approached the MCD Slum department which is responsible for the functioning of MCD toilets in slums and registered a complaint. The community’s pressure resulted in the contract being cancelled and given to another NGO which is now running the toilet properly. Residents, particularly members of the Mahila Mandal, are also insisting that the NGO display the terms of the contract on a board outside the toilet so that no one can be fooled again into paying more for the use of this essential service. Armed with information about their rights, people are not only better prepared but also more willing to stand up to defend them. Sabina, another resident, exemplifies this change, “Pehle aise mein hum dar jaate the, chup ho jate the. Par ab jab jankari ho gayi hai to hum bhi lad jate hain.” (Earlier we used to get intimidated and keep quiet. But now that we have information, we can also stand up for ourselves and put up a fight).

So the estimates aren't very different I guess!

third world rocker

I'm Pascal-I don't have a gmail account nor shall I get one ever,-avoiding being gregarious is my Irish pride- so I borrowed someone elses to talk about Nikhil Joseph my Research partner...

Now, not only does this guy seem to be born in the wrong Country, India and wrong region, Kerala but he seems to have got wrong somewhere on the time scale too. In a ideal world, he would have been born in 1960s-1970s America, tripping on LSD and talking about a revolution. He actually seems to live for Western Rock despite everything, he tries every morning to grow a ZZ Top-style beard in the mirror (chin forward in effort) but the result is disappointing, only a pre-pubescent shade appears.

So this rocker Research partner dreaming of his guitars in stead of tripping on Variable Tension Monocords from Rajasthan is really an ok guy but his hypocrisy leads him to doubt every day whether he is a closet socialist or a libertarian at heart. Even his studies ("development studies" whatever that may mean) seem to lead him to a confusion about Life on Earth and extraterrestrial spontaneous lifeforms.

In a few words,a weirdo,but a nice one to work with nevertheless. Oh and he's got a strange passion for USSR in the pure Janis Joplin/Jane Fonda style...

So yeah for the "hardcore libertarian who believes in blogs as being a communist threat" I certainly have my equal as a research partner.

This internship is getting ever weirder with him!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Hi I am Vishishta and I am one of the externs from Kerala.

As part of my individual project, I am looking at the implementation of the Vishakha guidelines in universities across Kerala.

The Vishakha guidelines are a set of guidelines that the Supreme Court of India laid down way back in 1997 to protect women from sexual harassement at workplaces. The guidelines are just a framework given by the Court and I feel that each university should frame individual guidelines keeping in mind the structure of the institution. Sadly enough little has been done about this issue.

I am trying to cover three universities in Kerala on geographical parameters they are as follows: Kerala University (south), Calicut University (north) and Mahatma Gandhi University (central).

I started the project in my own university. To my surprise the Kerala University framed fancy guidelines in 2001 (which I obviously had never heard of). They framed it for sure, put it down on paper for sure but somewhere down the line they just forgot to implement it properly. This is what I had jotted down in my blog at the end of the first week

“The first week has been crazy.

Going in search of the Kerala University guidelines on sexual harassment is not as easy as I had thought it to be. I’m not amazed at the reservations that the UniversityOfficials have expressed in handing over the documents, but you know, there is a world of a difference between foreseeing something and actuallyexperiencing it.

Bureaucracy and the subsequent paper works that followed it, managed to dampen my spirits a bit. By Thursday I almost felt like killing someone. In the middle of it all I kept thinking to myself as to how difficult it would be for anyone one to come forward and even register a complaint with the sexual harassment committee at this rate. Guidelines, circulars, notifications that are published by the University every year, these very documents that are put on every notice board only to be taken off with the passage of time when the ink runs off the paper, What is so classified about
these documents??? Sadly enough, for something that should be given maximum publicity, the university officials were just cringing at the idea of even handing over the files for a quick read.

And it didn’t really help when one particularly unrelenting committee member made a statement as follows
“we try to settle all the matters amicably otherwise people might end up losing their

I didn’t even know how to react to that statement
First rule of conducting an interview, never express your opinion. And I didn’t, atleast at that point in time

I need to keep a check on myself.

But it just took a toll on me, by the end of the week; I must have looked like someone on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I was partially lecturing another committee member but she was kind enough to give me a good hearing and STILL give me the history behind the formation of the committee and its functioning. We
talked about the social outlook on such issues and the reasons for the
ineffectiveness of the committee. But I won’t forget what she said as I
got up to leave
“we have to make the guidelines and the workings of the
committee more known. But we also have to shape the mindset of a whole
generation. There has to be a greater sense of civil society and greater
responsibility of consciousness in civil society, like witnesses should not turn
hostile when asked to testify a victim’s claim before a committee. And I feel
that the most responsive lot are the students themselves, we should make an
effort to start a change with them”
That was three weeks back, now with the questionnaire prepared and a few interviews conducted in the Kerala University I ventured into the Calicut University campus last Wednesday.

The university came under a lot of flak in 1999-2000 for mishandling P Usha’s case. (I hope you guys find this link interesting I had been warned before hand of hostile committee members but man were they rude.
One committee member asked me not to contact her at all. The other one got up half way through the interview on the pretext of urgent personal meeting. Yet another committee member refuses to speak to me till I get the registrars permission.... its insane but its true. I am presently dealing with a bunch of ********.

All this really helps considering the fact that the Calicut university does not have separate guidelines. Everything from the appointment of the committee members to the final outcome of the case is so arbitrary and stepped in political overtones.

The journey has just begun.

Friday, June 6, 2008



It goes for the externs specially....
We had a session today on " Making effective Presentations"
It would be great if you ask you friends( Interns) about their key learnings
from the session. And ask them as many questions as possible.......!!!!
I would just give you an introduction., What do you mean by Presentation?
A. It is a summary of ideas...................................................................................

Find the rest of the story from your dear Friends!!!!

keep blogging

How not to order Lunch

For all those who take it upon themselves to order lunch for everyone, a few pointers:
  1. Count the number of people.
  2. Count again.
  3. Write down the number.
  4. Count again.
  5. Confirm.
  6. Count again.
  7. For those who aren’t very vocal about their preferences, ask again. And again.
  8. Count one final time and write it down.
  9. Call any one dabba wallah.
  10. Place the order for the final figure that you wrote.
  11. Don’t call some other dabba wallah.
  12. Count when the order arrives.

On liberty and suchlike


I'll skip the irony in being 'forced' to post on a blog meant for a bunch of 'libertarians'. :) But I guess it's a good way of getting to know the externs. So hello externs, and hello people sitting across the room.

I'm Nikhil, and I'm doing my primary research project with Pascal, who's a hardcore libertarian from France who thinks blogs are a part of a global communist conspiracy and therefore doesn't fancy posting anything.

Our project is on how individuals can offer solutions in the provision of low cost housing to the urban poor. So far we've done quite a bit of reading on what sort of policies the Delhi govt. has implemented in this regard, and where they've failed. We've also talked to a prominent Architect & Urbanist who helped us understand the problems in the way cities have been planned in India, and the various drawbacks in the policies that aimed to provide housing for the urban poor, such as housing them in resettlement colonies. We've also visited a slum nearby to get a first hand perspective into life in a slum. We've also talked to people from NGOs who've worked in slums and with the urban poor in general. In the coming weeks we hope to visit more slums in areas around Delhi, and also visit the Slum and JJ Department at the MCD.

My other project is.... well... I'll get back to you on that.

In Liberty,

Hi everyone...!!

I'm Ujjwal, doing Economics honours at Ramjas College, DU. So far, it's been a wonderful experience interning at CCS.

My first topic (the major one) is the "Analysis of the loan waiver in the Union Budget 2008". I would be looking beyond the pros and cons of the issue and looking into the alternate use of government resources. The R Radhakrishnan committee report recommends that rural indebtedness is not the major cause of rural crisis and it is just a symptom, but the Finance Minister in his speech assumes indebtedness to be the major cause of this crisis. Also, he says that around 75-79% of the credit disbursed to farmers is by the commercial banks and rural banks but the committee report gives importance to the role of the moneylenders.

My other project is on the "Private outsourcing of monuments in Delhi". I started my project with the plan of giving recommendations for outsourcing the work at monuments in Delhi, but I realized that private outsourcing(for conservation) is already going on at some of the monuments and there are plans for extending it to other monuments as well. So maybe now I'll be looking at the outsourcing prospects of maintenance of monuments (which includes basic facilities) and even the cost analysis while we consider outsourcing as an option. I had a talk with the Superintendent Archaeological Engineer, Delhi circle and he said that outsourcing the work to private players would be like following the model of MCD, which is quite inefficient i guess!

So I guess its still a long way to go...!

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Hey! This is Vasundhara Sharma. I am doing Economics from Hans Raj College and the focus of my project is on exploring alternative market structures in the judiciary. The point of my project is not to highlight the causes and reasons behind the inefficiency prevailing in the judicial system, nor is it to emphasise the flaws in the system and recommend policy reforms. I want to question the rationale behind public provision of law.

There exists no market for justice as it is largely taken to be a public good. But in many cases such as commercial or trade disputes, and particularly Lok Adalats, where cases are amicably settled and decisions taken are consented by both the parties, adjudication is a private good. Asking the taxpayer to pay his hard earned money for mediating the conflict between two arbitrary parties, both of which agree on a common decision, which is tailor-made and hence sets no precedents for him or the rest of the country, is preposterous.

Of course, arguments in favour and against the entire idea are plenty. My focus is on how we can allow arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to come up in a big way so that there is lesser backlog of cases, less corruption in the judicial markets, and courts can focus on priority cases. I wanted to see if privatisation of some aspects of the judicial process is the solution, and if it is, is the idea feasible. Particularly I wanted to focus on the commercial, corporate and trade dispute aspects and see if we can allow arbitral tribunals to come up in a much bigger way in order to ease the current backlog.

I was also wondering if the idea of outsourcing Lok Adalats to private enterprises would help make justice accessible to the poor, and to those whose cases are strong, rather than the current system which tends to be biased towards those who are politically and financially strong.

Would love your feedback.


An Introduction

Hello there! I’m Sandhya Srinivasan, a first year student of Business Studies at the College of Business Studies.

My first project is about Futures Trading in Agricultural Commodities, where I’ll be studying whether or not the recent ban on futures trading in chickpeas, potatoes, rubber and soy oil makes sense.

My second project is on for-profit education. Vasundhara and I are working on it together. Basically we want to study the feasibility of a for-profit education model for FMS after studying the business model of comparable B-Schools that operate as for-profit educational institutions.
I'd like to begin writing on the blog by congratulating NIMIT on his highly audacious behavior, for which he surely might get kicked by Jyotika( I wish he does.. haha)

Okay now on a more serious note..
Hello, I am Joyeta, who like most others out here, has taken the horrendous second year examinations in Economics. I am from the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, Delhi University.
Initially I fumbled quite a bit with the topic of my project, which took almost 3 whole weeks to decide. I finally decided to go ahead with the question that was creating a menace in my head... After I met this particular psychologist, who was a complete elitist every possible way, my topic for research stood right it front of me, glaring at me for an answer.
What began, with trying to explore the External Support System and how it works at curbing the High Suicide Rates in Youth, by providing helplines, psychologists, counseling, rehab facilities,etc, finally came down to only one question, ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL and PSYCHIATRIC PROBLEMS, ONLY A RICH MAN'S DISEASE..??

Where each psychologist, or psychiatrist, charges nothing less than 1500 bucks for an appointment, and lakhs are spent on treating depression etc etc, can a person from the lower economic strata of society even think of affording such a lavish treatment??
On asking a few psychologists about whether they are catering to these sections of society, the only answer I got was, " there is a lack of demand for counselors, psychologists,etc in the lower economic strata of society". And why is that so, on further probing, these psychologists replied saying that the poor have a HIGH THRESHOLD OF TOLERANCE and therefore they do not require counseling, therapy and are strong enough to withstand 'alll" life's challenges...
What surprised me, further was that there was no mention of exceptional cases, are there facilities for those who do seek counseling and treatment.. Do they know helplines exist? and they can calll these helplines in times of need.. Apart from the 100 no, what effort have other made to reach out to these people..???

I, thus look for answers to the questions that shocked me..!
Please feel free to give suggestions on the same, I'd be very grateful!

On why I decided to do the project on Public Toilets from a Gender Perspective.

Hi! This is Shahana. I have just taken my second year Economics Hons. exams. I am studying at Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi.
I am doing one project on "Public Toilets in Delhi from a Gender Perspective- with an emphasis on 'facilities' in the slum/resettlement colonies".
The following is a little on why I decided to do this project. I hope it is interesting to read!

People often call me a feminist, I wonder why, because I am not very expressive about women’s issues, it is probably because I study at a "well known" girls’ college in Delhi which is often labeled as a feminist institution. I always wonder, what exactly does feminism mean (and further whether an institution can really be labeled as “feminist”)
The idea of the paper on “Public Toilets in Delhi from a Gender Perspective – with an emphasis on the ‘facilities’ for women in slum areas of Delhi” came up rather vividly. During our first few days with CCS, we “had to” come up with our topics for research. I could not think of what area to pick up which would require some interesting primary research. I was on my way back home from CCS, traveling in a bus on the Yusuf Sarai road and was looking out of the window. When an MCD public toilet caught my attention, it was one of those with old white tiles (many of them were broken!), it was divided into two equal sized cubicles. Though it had not rained that day, I observed that the toilet was full of filthy, mud-coloured water (the height of the water was probably one foot) A man was peeing just outside the toilet. And there was a woman – old, frail, she looked like a beggar; who had a ‘seek ki jharoo’ in her hand and was desperately trying to clean the toilet. What an irony I thought – “She’s cleaning the toilet for men who can anyways pee anywhere they like" (I must make it clear here that the width of the cubicles was only enough to stand and pee - clearly not-at-all female friendly) And further "She can't even use this toilet. What does she go when she wants to relieve herself?" Further down the same road, I saw one of the new, red-brick wall toilet ("jan suvidhaayein" / public convenience - it says).
A typical paid toilet which has a red brick wall charges Rs. 2 per usage of the toilet by a female and Re. 1 per usage by a male (both these for just peeing). However, men can pee virtually anywhere but women CANNOT! It is absolutely essential for them to use a closed area to urinate so they would definetely use a public toilet IF AVAILABLE CLOSE BY TO THEM! But a man has options! A woman, therefore will use and so will have to pay. What a contradiction - "public convenience" for a profit motive!
The issue of public toilets effects, I believe, the poorest women (who live in slum areas) the most. Other women (and of course all men) have options at their homes, workplace (and walls?!) but what about a woman in a slum area?
Further, I wonder; should I be branded as a 'feminist' because I believe that something as basic as a toilet NEEDS to be provided especially to those women in our society who are economically backward?
It is ironical that in Delhi where both, the Chief Minister and the Mayor are 'highly qualified' women who talk about women's empowerment.
And is the issue of public toilets for women isolated? No, there are issue of communicable diseases (one well knows that women are far more vulnerable to UTIs, RTIs and STIs), sexual harassment (women in slum areas, typically tend to relieve themselves at late hours of night or early hours of morning - which makes them all-the-more vulnerable to rape, molestation etc.). "Holding on" for most of the day in a tough task and must be very tough during menstruation.
So, why do we not discuss this issue of public toilets for women? Why are fancy malls (I am not denying that there are toilets in these malls where people like you and me can pee) far more important to us than the basic necessity of public toilets? Is there a policy issue involved? Lastly, we talk alot about "women's empowerment" and "feminism" (I think everyone has their own definition for these two terms!) but what is the worth of all this talk if you can't even provide basic sanitation facilities for the poorest of poor women?
Ok... so that's it!
ALL THE BEST to everyone!

A Report Less Ordinary: Part 1

Warning:This report may contain many offensive references to many offense-worthy people; so don't imagine submitting this to your Internship Coordinator, chances are she may kick your ass (yeah, even you get the same feeling when around her, huh?!)
Report: Field Trip- 27 May 2008

To: Jyotika Taneja Date: 27 May 2008

From: Nimit Kathuria

1. Visit the State Transport Authority office at Rajpur Road and/or Burari & find out the no. of buses at various routes, their owners & other related information.

I planned to just barge in to the State Transport Authority office at Rajpur Road and have a talk regarding the problem with the competent officer in charge of the Blueline buses & also ask him for the relevant statistics, while at it.

Actual Findings:
Every thing seemed to go according to the “plan”- I walked into the office, talked to a few people (bureaucrats by the way- but surprisingly very helpful!), who finally directed me to the Secretary-cum-Jt. Commissioner of Transport, Mr. S.S. Sodhi (Pascal, you are going to like this: he was/maybe still IS a Sardarjee btw; not that it matters. Much!). While waiting for him outside his office, my spirits were buoyed by the fact that a lady who was also waiting to meet him in relation to the extension of her bus permit (more on that later) told me something to the effect, “Oh! You’re here to meet Sodhi sir? Very sweet man, he’ll tell you all you need to know! Very sweet man!” Oh yeah! Thanking God (To picture me doing that, watch any of the Amitabh Bachchan movies where he talks to God. If you don't know where to begin: simply watch Deewar (salute to Salim-Javed) or Naastik), I read the sign at his office that announced “Visiting Hours: 12 pm (sic) to 1 pm”. I congratulated myself on reaching there at 12:30. But little did I know then that I’d be kept waiting for another half an hour, apparently because, “Saahab abhi chai pee rahe hain!” Chalo! Jaisi unki marzee! Afterall, pushing files all day long can get tiresome and even they need there chai (;sorry Mr. Vijay Mallya!). When finally allowed to go inside by the peon outside the room (who told a befuddled me, “Don’t tell saahab that I sent you in”), I found a meeting going on. Naturally he was annoyed to find me barging in like that, & needless to say I was embarrassed too! But then it was too late now (Murphy's law, anyone?)! When he had finished looking at me from head to toe & I had finished mumbling my purpose of visit, I got scared! Lol for all you want; you think you are invincible, eh? Try going to that sweet Sardarji Soddhi's office during a meeting; or at least don't make fun of me! Please.
End of Part 1
Keep watching this space for more...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Hi Everyone...

Its great to finally have this blog and I'm really excited to meet all of you. I'm an extern from Mumbai and I'm working on the issue of privatisation of water management systems here in Mumbai. I would really like to get to know all of you and your research areas. I do feel like I'm missing out on a lot of interaction with the interns in Delhi, but I'm sure that this blog will serve as a wonderful alternative. It has been 3 weeks into this internship already and I'm really looking forward to the remaining 6 weeks. Happy Researching !