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I walked back from a friend's house after dinner on Diwali. It was about midnight. Smoke from firecrackers hung heavy on the air. So heavy that I was wheezing, being asthmatic, a few steps later. I ha...
Anindito Mukherjee / Reuters
There is a custom inherited from our forefathers, of paying tithes. This was a universal practice, that now pa es for bribes in some le enlightened countries of the 'emerging world' and cushy jobs in...
Adnan Abidi / Reuters
Water is a natural resource to be nurtured and managed, not just an input for life, agriculture or industry. It has life-giving and life-taking qualities; intelligent management can hone one and blunt...
We were driving to Jaipur. The highway was a single carriageway with two lanes and a narrow shoulder. It was for the most part, smooth. No tolls marred our journey. The only trolls were the trucks and the occasional kings of the road, state transport buses. Those you needed to watch for and speed up to outrun them or scurry out of their way. The trucks were gentler and tried to avoid crushing you. Dhabas were non-existent
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This is a story of caste, socio-economic class and plain fund-grabbing playing out in the smallest unit of execution -- the gram panchayat. It’s really time to look at villages and poverty differently.
DIPTENDU DUTTA via Getty Images
The Kerala government in this year's vote on account has set aside more than ₹90 crore for Mazhapolima, a rainwater-linked well recharge scheme. It has worked because it has been community-driven and participatory, planning is bottom-up and led by panchayats, while the state government facilitates. It is a process-oriented programme encouraging innovation and diversity. Setting up a household system is inexpensive. As a result, groundwater levels have improved significantly in Thrissur.
The tiny state of Sikkim in north-east India is the first to have provided toilets for all its citizens. In doing so, it has become the first to be free from open defecation. It did this by putting women first and strong leadership at all levels. Sikkim's achievement stands out in India, where about 600 million people continue to use open areas to defecate even if they have toilets. It shows how people can be convinced of the need to build and use toilets without financial support from the government.
In mid-August 2014, the Minister for Human Resources Development enthused that in one year all schools would have toilets for boys and girls. She was driven by Prime Minister Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. A year later, the Ministry's website shows a mark-sheet that would be the envy of any student. However, the evidence from non-MoHRD sources points in the direction opposite to what the Ministry would have us believe.