The migrant arrives in his host country with hopes and dreams, often to be shattered due to the unfair information asymmetry between him and the recruiting ecosystem. The exploitation begins from his village, often perpetrated by family friends or distant relatives. The migrant is at the bottom rung of the social hierarchy in the host country. He is the 'subaltern' in this context.
The technocratic model of building a smart phone application for all developmental ends seems like a band-aid fix. The data needs to be acted upon, and big data needs thick data for the questions to make sense. Geographic information systems and information platforms may enable good decision-making, but will they tackle the landfill cartel in Mumbai? Will they simplify land acquisition for the next Metro Project expansion?
The subaltern who are erased from the mainstream discourse are often erased due to their inability to communicate in the language of power. Writers, although guilty of the "politics of representation" in text, lend a voice to the silenced and this is the essence of activism -- speaking up when all others are muted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ongoing visit to Singapore has already seen the signing of several bilateral pacts for increased cooperation in areas ranging from defence and cyber-security to culture and urban development. The visit has also created a lot of buzz in the Indian community, which is driving the logistics for his address at the Singapore Expo on 24 November, but how successful the event will be remains to be seen.
The well-informed cabbie with his finger firmly on the pulse on the ground is usually the person who knows exactly what's doing the rounds on the grapevine regarding everything from illicit activities to election trends to everyday activities in an area. I wonder sometimes, why don't the world's transport and urban planners elicit feedback from these smart men regarding traffic density and other factors while designing, evaluating and planning urban infrastructure?
No matter the distance and the time required, the Sunday ritual of travelling to Little India, to catch up with friends and buy weekly provisions, is a sacrosanct ritual for the South Asian migrant. It doesn't matter that it takes almost two hours one way on public transport to reach the Little India area from Tuas Industrial area where the dormitories are located.
Bangalore has recently been feted as one of the start-up capitals of the world. No doubt it is so. The Indian start up scene regarding e-commerce is damn hot. Yet, the everyday narrative of day to day urban living in India and its challenges seem to be disconnected from the start-up story. These new ventures seem to thrive in India in spite of the government rather than because of the state facilitating an ecosystem such as in Singapore.
In Singapore, one of the phrases you'll here most frequently from your friends is "have you eaten" or "<em>makan sudah</em>" in Bahasa Melayu. This exemplifies the value of eating out as a mode of socialising and community building in this nation.
Sustainability has transformed into a platform for communicating the corporate brand. Activist investors do ask for the social return on investment on their impact bonds but these do-gooders are a trickle in the avalanche of asset classes that global capital changes hands in everyday.