Underprivileged children’s trials and tribulations of learning a new language

Before delving into the associated aspects, it is imperative to ascertain what “underprivileged” means. According to Merriam-Webster, the term underprivileged refers to the population deprived of their fundamental rights due to economic or social conditions. India is on a fast path to development. With the advent of new policies explicitly dealing with the issue of children’s education to ensure maximum participation and emphasis on local/regional language, India is bound to overcome the problem of the underprivileged being left out of the loop of education. (more…)

COVID-19 and Education: Impact and Future Preparedness

When Nelson Mandela famously said: “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world,” little did we know that a day would come when this essential weapon would be at a treacherous risk. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting people worldwide irrespective of nationality or race, the education system has faced the most significant blow the generation has ever witnessed. It has impacted about 80 percent of the young learners worldwide, with 1.53 billion learners out of school due to the massive interruption to access to education. As online education overthrew conventional school education, even the mere experience of an online classroom setup remains a distant dream for many. (more…)

Can individual behavioral change lead to transformation in Urban Waste Management?

The “Broken Window” theory is used in policing high crime neighborhoods. It can be used as a suitable analogy for tackling the issue of waste management in India. The concept behind the theory is that if one lets minor problems go unnoticed and unattended in a particular environment, over time, it causes a shift in the attitude of the people towards the said environment. They form a tendency to participate in causing such problems without fear of law and order. In the Indian context, one could look at the accumulation of the waste of two households at a given place as the first broken window. If no action was to be taken against them or no one was to reprimand their actions, not only them but also their neighbors would start piling up their waste at the same place. This would result in the area mentioned above becoming a site where people of the neighborhood dump their garbage regularly. The original theory postulates that by minimizing and keeping a check on the more minor crimes and acts of disorder, one can prevent more significant crimes from happening. Similarly, if one were to fix the “broken window,” that is, dumping of unsegregated waste in public areas, it might enable us to address more significant environmental issues caused due to poor waste management on our part. (more…)

Policy Advocacy: A collaborative and democratic approach to solving societal issues in India

Policies are clear plans about how a social, political, or economic vision will be achieved and how ideas will be implemented as actions. Policy advocacy can be defined as efforts taken by organizations or groups of individuals to promote a governmental policy and champion it with the help of resources such as groundwork, detailed research, social media marketing, public education, lobbying, and litigation. Policy advocacy can be symbolic and a representation of true democracy being practiced in a free nation. Policy advocacy is initiated by citizens, acting individually or as a collective (Reid, 2001) often represented by nonprofit organizations (Reed, 2006). To elaborate on the tools for policy advocacy, organizations can resort to building public favor by addressing the policy and whether it needs to be implemented, improved, or prevented. In a country like India where a myriad of marginalized groups exist, steering government policies towards the right direction becomes an important job for the Non-Governmental Organisations/Civil Society Organisations and various other organizations who work with the people on a grassroots level. The first step would be to detect the loopholes in a particular policy- this can be achieved by doing subsequent research and collecting data. The research would just not be limited to finding faults but it would also help generate solutions to bridge the gaps. The next and the most important step is to involve stakeholders of the society who are directly affected by the policy decisions and also the ones who would actively contribute to correct the policy to achieve its goals (for the betterment of the society). The final step lies in execution which requires lobbying and providing the decision makers with solutions through findings accompanied by the voices of the concerned citizens who were mobilized by the organizations.  (more…)

Deciphering the Status of the Electoral Bonds Scheme

As the country geared up for the State Assembly Elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry recently, a new wave of political rebuttal surfaced after the Supreme Court reserved its order on a plea that demanded a stay on the sale of electoral bonds. An electoral bond is a promissory note that can be anonymously bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of the State Bank of India to be donated to any eligible political party of their choice. Since its inception in 2018, the electoral bonds scheme has stirred a debate among the transparency activists who fear the scheme to turn into a scam; only this time it would be completely legitimized. (more…)

Gender Samvaad, 2021: A Step Towards Equity and Equality

Beena Paul, a trained mason and a part of the construction industry in Kerala and also the president of the Self Help Group [SHG] that undertakes construction work in the city of Ernakulam which includes renovating parking areas, construction of houses in the panchayat, and many other important construction activities, finds herself grateful to NRLM [National Rural Livelihood Mission] for providing her a platform which has helped her not only in terms of income but also in gaining confidence and in meeting more women like her. Just like her, Singampalli Durga from Andhra Pradesh works along with thirty-five women in the horticulture industry. Together, they were trained by the horticulture department and have grown a new variety of turmeric which is sold to the TATA Trust and the market, benefiting them financially as well as in becoming more confident. (more…)

Urban Slums in India: Improving Redevelopment and Relocation Policies

Overall 6.5 crore of India’s urban population resides in slums. Notably, the majority of the slum population comprises the informal sector labor force who are employed in low-paying jobs. Due to the migration of people to urban areas in search of employment, slums spring up in Indian cities within a matter of days. With an increase in population from the 1990s, growth in the slum areas is registered which implies that the proportion of slums is directly related to the population. According to the latest data, while the distribution of the slum dwellers in different States vary, 35.2 percent of India’s urban population live in slums. (more…)