The Guest Posts



Among the urban poor, I am specifically referring to those living in non-notified and unauthorized slums. To put it simply non-notified and unauthorized slums are those slums which are not recognized by the State. This means that residents have no claim on any service- water, sanitation, electricity etc.

These are people literally in a no man’s land. They do not own the houses they live in, the utensils are not theirs, nor the clothes, nor anything else. These can be razed, burnt, thrown, taken without any legal implications. Come monsoon, houses get washed away, and then plastic covers and mud houses emerge again out of the slush like sprouting mushrooms. Every monsoon. No sanitation either. So people defecate in the open and there is no way to clean the place either.




Post 2008, Gen X is grappling with the fall in fortune, precisely because it is a fall in fortune. Because their dreams were bigger, their life was larger than what it has turned out to be; and suddenly like cotton clothes not washed well, it has gone all out of size and shape. Entitlement is being shrunk by force and what is left is terms and conditions like washing instructions which no one quite understands too well.  More




 Women in Purulia, West Bengal, 2014, December

These women from Purulia attended night classes as part of the National Literacy Mission and learnt how to read, write and do basic math. Now they have turned entrepreneurs, investors, bread-winners and social workers.



As per 2012 data 2,100,000 people in India were living with HIV with 0.3% of Adult HIV prevalence.

These are our High Risk Groups  by population numbers; and what’s worked and what’s not for the AIDS prevention/sensitization campaign.

To see the complete and responsive Infographic on AIDS and India, created by Sharmila Ray please click here 

 Through the Looking Glass

I have been travelling through places I wouldn’t have put on my traveler’s map on a regular day. But circumstances twisted around in a way that yoked these places into my itinerary, memory and consciousness. In the last two months I have travelled through some of the most impoverished villages in India. These were villages in West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand.

Hollywood’s tag lines about the possibility of there being different universes, is true. And it is all contained in this one world of ours.

My  impressions of travel through rural India.



Valentines Day is so passé,

But it’s still Love, Luck and Lust today.

Three short format stories on three women and their brush with Love, Luck and Lust.

Disclaimer: No names have been changed during the writing of this blog.  It would be impossible to trace these ladies by their names alone. 

“By the ‘big nala’ near the party office, is the squatter colony.  No one there knows my name, so ask for so-and-so’s wife.

“Opposite the rail track, there is a market. Opposite that,  is a settlement. Near the hand pump is my house. I am so-and-so’s mother, if you ask them, they will tell you.” 

 8 Words in Google Images

‘Good Bosses’ = Mostly Men

god bosses

 But  of course ‘Bossy’ is… (Go on, take a wild guess!)


Last week’s campaign by ‘The Logical Indian’ against labelling women went viral on Facebook, and galloped my curiosity about the connotations words carry on their tiny poly-syllabic shoulders. Adjectives being ‘describing words’ were perfect candidates to be tried and tested, so I Googled 8 of them (admittedly all 8 are thrown around often in ‘engendered’ discussions) to see what kind of images commonly represent them; and the associated gender-prejudices around these words.


photo for blog

Amma is a 73-year old matriarch. A thorough dynamite, if there was ever one.

“Why am I not getting the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme? I am eligible for it.”

“Amma, we don’t know.”

“Find out and tell me. Get it done by next month”

“By next month?” we exclaimed incredulously.  “For that amma, you will have to speak with the prime minister,” we added jokingly.

“Okay. For that children, you will have to give me his number.”

 In Srikakulam District, February 2015

 Fan of Jugaad

Innovation 3

India’s famous ‘Jugaad’ spirit! In a village near Visakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India

The image you see above is indeed Jugaad ka Aashirwaad. Make no mistake! This is engineering on LSD, and imagination on innovation-steroids. 

Jugaad’s haphazardness bothers me most times. This time though I became a fan 🙂

The spirit of Jugaad is hailed by the world as the ‘Spirit of Indian Innovation’. Companies and colleges are now attempting to incubate this spirit of frugal innovation, but one wonders whether it can be made to sprout in pre-mediated ways. 

Without Make-Up: The RTE Act

teacher is harvesting

The complications of implementing an education policy like RTE in India rise high like yeast on Prozac. This blog is an attempt to understand the importance of accountability in RTE’s effective implementation, in the face of India’s infamous political will and institutional delivery of social schemes

 Netai’s Story


With no hospitals, no money, no insurance, dying becomes a more affordable option than cure.

We all know the story of the dismal state of rural health care. Our most recent blog- ‘Netai’s Story’ re-iterates it.



The Other India: A Reality Check

This blog is on the other India, and its realites so distant and different from our world of fast moving information and emerging awareness. Nimisha writes about the silent battles being fought by the women in the hinterlands of the country and how they are carrying on despite the odds!

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A Place to Call Home:

Kajal Iyer writes a moving blog on the brutal attacks on very young girls living with their families on streets in Mumbai last month. The parents grieving over their loss and pain end up dealing with an insensitive system with no choice on where to live and little time to mourn.



My War Diary: Gaza My Soul:

Laila’s 51 day war account of the how daily lives during the third war on Gaza unfolded one day to the next for its devastated and grieving citizens. This is a heartbreaking nightmare. War is not just the numbers nor the political rhetoric it often masks itself in. In the end, it is about people coming to an abrupt end; and the continuum of life stabbed in the heart. In the end, it is about fear; constant fear, till cease fire is declared.


The Humiliation of Food Poverty: Waste and Want in a Developed Country:

Social entrepreneur Amira Aleem writes about the issue of food poverty amongst the low income communities in a developed country such as the United Kingdom which co-exists with enormous waste of food from those higher in the social class and her start up Souplus that aims to address this.


ISIS fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul. (Source:

ISIS fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul. (Source:

The Ballad of Guns

Journalist Aditya Raj Kaul writes from the war zone of Iraq where stationed in Baghdad, he observes the way life is panning out and his impressions of violence and what it takes to survive the horror.  Amongst other, memorising “La tutlek. Ana sahafi.” (Don’t shoot. I’m a journalist)…


Don b angri Sharon

Megha Singh writes about her experiences with domestic help in India and in Singapore. She further elaborates on the life of a maid in Singapore through a creative piece – an email a maid writes to her daughter living in another country.  Like an independent reviewer of this post said, “This might be a fictionalised account, but every line is part of a conversation or a thought taking place right about now”.


Stuck between life &  livelihood! (Source: web)

Stuck between life & livelihood!

Living on a Prayer

Guest blogger and journalist Kajal Iyer, narrates the story of fishermen from Tamil Nadu. These fishermen fish close to the nautical borders between Sri Lanka and India in the Indian Ocean. Their tales of woes centre around an indifferent Indian and regional Government which watches in silence, while the Sri Lankan government pursues them either out of the waters or into lock ups. Currently there are no trade agreements or policy decisions over the issue. And the bi lateral talks havent been fruitful in formulating one either. Meanwhile this community suffers.

Living on a Prayer brings to sun, the lives of this Tamil fisherman community and the whimsical solidarity the government shares with it. It makes one question once more, the government’s defiant rhetoric during Devyani Khobragade‘s arrest.

To see photo credit and author profiles, please read the post.


Francis Newton Souza

The Good Indian Girl

Three young Indians write a slam poem ‘The Good Indian Girl’ on restrictions, rules, and intimidations imposed on women in India. 

Before some of you cry foul, there are exceptions of course. But in large part the dismal state is true- let’s accept it. There is a definite reason behind India being ranked the worst country among G20 nations for women’s safety.

To see photo credit and author profiles, please read the post.


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Most women displaced by the war reminisce about the times past, and the curse of this never ending war (Source: Unknown)

Bombs and Bells

“We try hard to make the best of the little of we have. But our dreams stand at the closed gates of Gaza Strip, they can’t come in and we can’t go to them.”

Bells and Bombs is a first-hand account of the lives and dreams displaced by the Palestine-Israel war.

In this post, our guest blogger this week, Laila Barhoum, narrates her life from the Gaza Strip and the despair with which her family continues to live war through three generations.

Guest Blogger Profile: Laila Barhoum from Gaza Strip-Palestine has worked as a teacher for two years. She is a graduate in Poverty and Development from the Institute of Development Studies, UK. Laila currently works as a Business Development specialist in a local NGO in the Gaza Strip and engages with issues such as conflict, agriculture, poverty reduction and business development for hardship cases in Palestine.

Pls refer to the blog post for photo credits


Soy Dominicano y tengo derecho


Our guest blog this week is about the travails of the many Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic (legal citizens as per the 2010 State policy) who’ve became Stateless one hapless day, as the aftermath of a recent constitutional court ruling.

Not citizens of the Dominican Republic, but Haitian neither.

Guest Blogger Profile:Their situation is narrated in this blog post, written by guest writer Quintijn Kat. Quintijn, currently lives in the Dominican Republic and works with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is interested in International Affairs.

Pls refer to the blog post for photo credits


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Thinking Clean and Green:

A photo blog on Earth Day where thousands worldwide are doing their bit to raise awareness on the issue of environmental protection. Here is a  photo-story by our guest blogger and avid photographer Ambuj Dixit who graphically narrates our contribution to civic pollution and recommends simple things that we can do to ensure  cleaner and greener environment.  Ambuj shares his concerns and unconventional insights on the causes of civic pollution. Through a series of photos he explores how we need to give up the spectator seat, and understand our own role as perpetrators of civic pollution.



Kinshasa’s Street Kids:

Our new blog post is about the abuse and negligence of street children in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a situation somewhat similar to that of India’s, the gap between stated government measures and the reality of street children is troubling. This blog post reiterates the need to focus again on the discourse of child rights and political will.

Guest Blogger profile: The author of this blog post is a development worker in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo and has been working with the rehabilitation of Kinshasa’s street children.

Pls refer to the blog post for photo credits



 Being a Single Dad:

A lot is said about single mothers, but not much about single fathers. This is unfortunate. Though an anomaly, the number of single fathers has been on the rise.

Guest Blogger profile: John Townend, a British citizen shares his experience, and tells his story as a single dad through this guest post. John currently lives in the U.K. 

Pls refer to the blog post for photo credits



Am I colour-blind or is it a grey street?

Domestic abuse or ‘physically disciplining’ your partner is a world-wide reality and is not limited to one geographic region or area. Adaobi Nkeokelonye from Lagos, Nigeria shares a fictionalised account of a real life story she witnessed.

Guest Blogger profile: Adaobi is from Lagos, Nigeria. She is a social development researcher with over 8 eight years of work experience on issues of HIV/AIDS, Environment, Agriculture, Climate Change, Gender Equality, Reproductive and Sexual Health. You can read more of her work on: Fiction & Development

Pls refer to the blog post for photo credits