Getting design right makes everything much better
THERE is a lot of recent policy talk on preschool development. For the majority of India’s children the anganwadi is preschool. The country has some 1.4 million anganwadis, but they are in a sorry state. Run as they are, they lack the capacity to serve the needs of a child’s early development. It wasn’t meant to be like this. The anganwadi was envisioned in 1975 as a part of a bunch of services meant for the development of children.
Clearly, over the years this vision was not adequately implemented. Anganwadis have badly built and maintained buildings. They lack trained workers. The original idea of embedding them in the community was never fulfilled. As a result they fester as badly managed government institutions.
So, what can be done about them? Preeti and Kabir Vajpeyi are architects who have shown that redesigning the buildings so that they are more child-friendly, attractive and oriented to delivering the services of the anganwadi can make a whole big difference.
We bring you as this month’s cover story their efforts over the years in several states across the country. The Vajpeyis have shared their improvements with state governments, encouraging engineers and officials to implement them as also come up with innovations of their own. As architects, the Vajpeyis are a brilliant example of what public-spirited professionals can do for development.
Bunker Roy is no stranger to us and our readers. It comes as a happy milestone that the Barefoot College he founded has completed 50 years. What does Bunker think of his unconventional journey and how does he assess the achievements of the institution he founded so long ago? To find out, we interviewed him through an exchange of multiple questions and answers because Bunker was in Jaipur and ailing and we were in Gurugram and ailing too!
We all benefit from the gig economy. But, really, it is time to do something about its deleterious effects. The adverse conditions in which gig workers perform, enslaved, so to speak, by app-based companies, cries out for reform. A Rajasthan state law which not just gives them social benefits but also creates a record of the services they perform is clearly a major development with the promise of transforming the way these businesses are run.
Highlighting good causes and raising funds for them is a challenge most voluntary groups find difficult to measure up to. Pardada Pardadi has been holding a rural marathon to draw attention to its efforts for educating the girl child in Uttar Pradesh. The marathon is a unique event in which thousands, particularly women, participate. It hardly has sponsors, but it does much to create awareness about Pardada Pardadi and its cause.