‘Make in India’ – Modi’s War on the Poor


Sigh! What can I say?

Originally posted on Kafila:

For some months now, I have been thinking of someone whom I saw on television during the parliamentary election campaign. The place was Benaras and Modi’s candidature from the seat had just been declared. The television journalist was interviewing a group of clearly poor people, taking their reactions on this new, though expected development. This person, fairly drunk in his Modi-elixir – and perhaps also a bit literally drunk – swaggered as he answered, affirming his support for Modi: Modi bhi chaiwala hai, hum bhi chaiwala hain (Modi is also a tea-seller and I am also a tea-seller). His words reflected the success of the remarkable gamble – that of projecting the new poster boy of corporate capital as a humble tea-seller. It was clear how so many of the poor had bought into this campaign.

What reminded me of this person initially, was that very soon after the election results were…

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Privileged citizenship!!


#citizenship in india is no joke!

Originally posted on sitanaiksblog:

Who am I? I thought I knew –  ‘an elderly woman  with short greying hair and wearing spectacles’  who looks back at me in the mirror!. But I am not so sure anymore! I am one of many me-s in my various ‘photo-ID’s – although my driving license (which I have lost) was without a photo, the me in the passport, PAN card, voter card, aadhaar card, bank pass book are all different me-s, depending on when it was made.

When I moved to Lucknow in 1987,  the local branch of SBI within our campus helped me to transfer my account from Mumbai. It was slow and through slow mail, but fairly painless.  I renewed my BRADMA (a system of  embossing letters on plastic, which younger people will not recognize)  made driving license with the local RTO.  The passport, possessed by a privileged few,  always had a photograph and I…

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Blood Swept Lands And Seas of Red


I had the same experience. Its a wonderful tribute!

Originally posted on joy loves travel:

Pictures of the poppies at the Tower of London have been sweeping the internet. Having been to the war graves and World War 1 battlefields in Belgium during the summer and then helping plant memorial snowdrops in Manchester, we couldn’t not see the poppies and this visual commemoration of the World War 1 centenary. A rainy day with howling winds greeted us as we arrived in London, we headed straight to the Tower.


Everywhere was busy – people had come from all over to see this – it is easy to see why. The red poppies stretch out before you – thousands and thousands of them, never-ending it seems. They bleed from the bastion window – designed to symbolise the infantrymen at the Somme. This is powerful imagery indeed.


The moat is almost saturated with crimson – by 11 November (Armistice Day) it will be. Volunteers will by then have…

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The Nobel season and some musings on science and women

Originally posted on sitanaiksblog:

This is the Nobel season – come the first week of October, there would be those who know they are on the nominated list, who will be anxiously keeping an ear open for the famous ring!!! There are the prizes for Peace,  Literature and Economics, all of which have had some element of political fine balancing, and the choices have  often led to much public debate. However, the  Science prizes  – Medicine or Physiology, Physics, Chemistry – have evoked less controversy and without question, these are the highest recognition of scientific excellence.

The average age of the Science Nobel recipients, being awarded since 1901,  is in the 50s,(55 for Physics and 58 for Chemistry and Medicine) and women have generally done poorly (11/105 in Medicine, 4 in /106 in Chemistry and 2/108 in Physics) for many obvious reasons. In the first half of the century , women featured only 4…

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In appreciation of the Mumbai taxis

Originally posted on sitanaiksblog:


I made a brief, official visit to Mumbai over the past week end – a city that I have been visiting off and on since the early 60s and where I lived for 5 years in the 80s.  And the sight of the local  cab has not changed much since then – the  black and yellow Fiat being as iconic and symbolic of the city as the orange Ambassadors of Kolkota or even the yellow cabs of New York.  In India, we have this luxury of hailing down cruising, ubiquitously available cabs (a common scene in New York based movies)  only Mumbai and Kolkota.

On the Saturday evening I walked through familiar streets of Dadar/ Matunga with no specific agenda, visited the temple and  flavored the market (less bustling and congested than as I remember it from 2 decades ago). When I decided that I should head back to the…

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One last post from Brazil


So much talent! I’ve feasted on these sketches…do check out her other posts if you love them too!

Originally posted on Sketch Away: Travels with my sketchbook:

One last post from Brazil. This one’s a little bit of a hodge-podge. Remembered bits and pieces, single-image memories, one long, sketch-filled day in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Rio and well, more bits and pieces…

Coming to Rio after a week in quiet Paraty is like taking the 6 train to Canal Street and getting spat out of the subway into the madness that is Chinatown. Rio was chaotic, frenzied and disorienting. I loved it.

This is the Church of Our Lady of the Candelaria, Centro, Rio. Sketched barely an hour after we arrived in Rio. The wobbly-lined, slightly crazy looking church sketch reflects how it felt to be in the city center after a week in Paraty.
rio_centro_church23combineEven crazier (if that is possible) was the Confeiteria Colombo, a pastry and tea shop near Centro. Packed with people, with an intricately patterned tiled floor and over-the-top architectural detailing, a wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors and liveried waiters…

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What do London Underground stops taste like?


So many ways to experience a city, but this is the whackiest I’ve seen so far! #London

Originally posted on AC:

(By Ben Riley-Smith/DailyTelegraph) Man who can ‘taste’ words creates flavour map of the Tube after visiting every stop during 49-year project.

THUMBThe London Underground map has inspired a range of spin-offs over the years, with everything from musical icons to popular restaurants plotted along its interweaving lines.

But now a 54-year-old systems analyst from Blackpool has created the most bizarre version to date – a map that shows what each station tastes like.

James Wannerton tastes words when he reads or hears them thanks to a neurological condition called synaesthesia that links senses which are normally experienced separately.

He first noticed each Underground station created a distinct taste aged four when travelling to school with his mother from the family home near Willesden, north London.

Since then Mr Wannerton has continued to keep notes and make special trips to London after leaving the city to complete his “taste map” of…

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Postcard From… Berlin


Good to be a part of Emily’s lovely blog again!

Originally posted on Emily Luxton Travel Blog:

Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. If you would like to take part please get in touch – eluxton@hotmail.co.uk or @em_luxton – I would love to hear from you!

This week, I’m welcoming back Mukta Naik, whose Postcard From Istanbul is still one of my most popular ones to date! An architect and urban Postcard From Berlinplanner based in India, Mukta says “I work to rid cities of problems (ha! Wishful thinking!)”. She also spends a lot of time blogging at Rambling in the City, passionately pursuing classical dance, travelling and dreaming about travelling, and she has “two adorable children who motivate me and keep my on my toes”.

Welcome back Mukta! Where have you been lately?

We visited Berlin this summer, by ‘we’ I mean my husband Rahul, me and our two children- Udai is a…

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Fraternising with geographers at the #RGSIBG14

Up until a few months ago, I didn’t consider my work or my research as geography. I had not realised that the boundaries of the discipline of geography had stretched here, there and seemingly everywhere. This has been driven home by my time at the Royal Geographical Society’s annual conference in London, where I’ve met geographers who theorise, practice, those who influence policy and many who work closely with communities. As an urban planner, I’ve been looked at as a part of the geography fraternity and not really outside it. I’ve wondered about how Indian academia works in silos, right at the other end of what I’m seeing here, which is frighteningly inclusive!

It’s not only the range of topics that has been interesting, but also the people. A young man from Slovenia is working on a PhD that looks at the interests of those who own small-scale forests. A woman from Jamaica is studying water security. A German bloke is looking at religion and city making in Ecuador. I’ve gathered a bunch of heavy theoretical terms that don’t roll off my tongue easily, but that I’m sure will help me anchor my often wandering thoughts.

I have been fascinated by the range of methodologies I’ve been exposed to and am thinking of dedicating a separate post to just that when I return. Especially the use of visual methods of data gathering and analysis were fascinating for me, with my architectural background.It has also been a good opportunity to bounce off my own experiences and ideas with people, find synergies but also alternative ways of looking at situations. I’ve found solace in the confusions and frustrations of fellow researchers and practitioners as well!I’m presenting tomorrow, on the final day of the conference on migration decisions of youth in the context of a small city and right now, I’m struggling to fit everything I want to say into 15 minutes! Not a nice way to spend my evening in London, but what can one say…you gotta do what you gotta do!