Skip to main content

In India's Manchester, impoverished residents 'still forced to' defecate in the open

By Rachit Gupta* 
During a field visit to Shankar Bhawan in Shahpur, Ahmedabad, I was appalled by the dire conditions faced by impoverished residents. They were compelled to defecate in the open due to the absence of a proper sewage system and lack of water supply in the community washrooms. These purported washroom facilities seemed more like breeding grounds for diseases than conveniences for the residents.
As my fellow group members and I were on-site, we noticed curious stares from the locals. Presumably, our appearance marked us as outsiders. After about 10 minutes of interaction, a resident approached us, sharing their plight and urging us to document the situation. They suggested that we approach the commissioner to seek a resolution. While we had not explicitly revealed our purpose, our attire likely signaled that we were visitors evaluating the situation.
The hope in their eyes left me numb. Their lack of basic facilities, like running water, was evident. The person in charge of the washrooms illicitly collected money for maintenance, yet neglect persisted, despite a monthly government payment of Rs. 25,000.
The wall that divides privileged and underprivileged
Their hope underscored their dire need for support. Sadly, the government, meant to uplift them, exploits. Efforts focus on concealing flaws from outsiders, not bettering lives.
A poignant example of this was the construction of a concealing wall that shielded the area from the view of passersby on the riverfront. This attempt to create an illusion transformed the city into the purported "Manchester of India," camouflaging the underlying challenges faced by the people residing in this neglected community.
Another testament to the fact that social movements commence with a group of individuals who foster hope for effecting change and enhancing society is my encounter with social activist Parsottam Vaghela. He is a dedicated social worker affiliated with the Janvikas Association, Vastrapur, and he has been tirelessly combating open defecation and manual scavenging for 10+ years.
Upon meeting him, I was deeply inspired by the unwavering optimism and hope evident in his words and actions. He showed a genuine belief that positive transformation is imminent and that the conditions for these marginalized communities will indeed improve.
Parsottam Vaghela with IIM-A students
For those affected, hope serves as a means of coping. Envisioning a more promising future, they nurture resilience and uphold their motivation to confront exploitation. In summary, my experience and learnings have taught me that hope is a catalyst for driving change, forming the foundation of most social movements.
*PGP Batch of 2022-24, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad



'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

Growing stream of pollution infecting homes, bodies in US, Vietnam

By Erica Cirino*  Louisiana’s “River Parishes,” located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, shoulder some of the worst industry impacts in the United States. As a result, this region has acquired a grim reputation as “ Cancer Alley .” 

Desist from academic censorship, stop threatening scholars: Letter to ICMR

Counterview Desk  In a letter to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director, the Universal Health Organisation (UHO) which consists of prominent health experts, has insisted that the Government of India’s top medical research agency should lead high quality research on vaccine safety and “desist from academic censorship”.