New Year Wishes - "You've got to float all the boats."· In The Field
In this mini-episode, we revisit some of the conversations we've had over the course of the year. Every episode gives us the chance to meet some of the most committed people in the field and we've truly learnt a lot. There are many very interesting conversations that don't make it to the final cut of the show, and here, we bring to you two of them.We go back to our meeting with Dr Anura Kurpad, and he tells us about some of the challenges with the 'development' way of addressing complex issues like malnutrition. These are intergenerational problems that go far beyond the the time frames of typical development interventions. There are many windows of opportunity to tackle these problems, and we need collaborative solutions.In Episode 4, we spoke to Dr Gayathri Vasudevan, who runs Labournet, an organisation that works on enabling better livelihoods for the informal sector. The informal sector, the labour economy are difficult spaces to work in. Organisations like Labournet are caught between trying to ensure a long term commitment towards building the livelihoods of the people they support, and working with donors, companies and agencies. In this episode, we ask Labournet about their 'wishlist'. In the Field is working on new episodes during the holidays and will be back with a brand new episode in late January. Happy holidays everyone!
Episode 4 - "These are not considered to be 'good' jobs"· In The Field
In this episode of In the Field, we take a closer look at the informal economy in India - the workers that hold up our cities. These are the millions of street vendors, drivers, dhobis, vegetable sellers, domestic workers, electricians, construction workers and wastepickers that are very much a part of the urban landscape, but also an integral part of our lives. Informal workers are usually self-employed, work from home or make their living from contractual work. This means their livelihoods are fundamentally insecure. While many informal workers hover above the poverty line, one major illness in the family, for instance, can push them below it, into a crippling cycle of debt or poverty.Beyond learning about their struggles, we explore what really needs to happen to truly improve their lives - improve self esteem and skills, their chances of getting decent work, and lessen their vulnerability to economic shocks.Across India, many civil society organisations and NGOs have been set up to support the informal sector, to give these workers a leg up, or help them organise and fight for their rights. One significant example of an informal worker group that we learn about are the wastepickers, the men and women who play an essential role in managing city waste, but are still amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged. Most wastepickers have a deep knowledge of recyclable waste and perform a critical environmental service. Indian cities are bursting at the seams, with people and their waste, but some cities are finally integrating wastepickers into municipal solid waste management services.What more can be done to make the lives of informal workers secure? The state, the private sector, civil society and philanthropy can all play a role in moving the needle.
Episode 3 - "What difference did you make?"· In The Field
The word “development” implies progress - a forward, positive progression of processes, standards of living, and human behaviours. The crux of most development work is to affect change in some form, for the better, for those less fortunate. In this episode of In the Field, we attempt to look at change and what it means in the context of development work in India. In this episode, we talk to a range of people working on change in different ways and in different fields - a communicator, a researcher, an activist, and a singer. Each brings their unique perspective to the idea of change, particularly as it applies to human behaviour, action and culture. Through our conversations with them we find out how to change behaviours in individuals, how cultural change occurs in large scale interventions, how to raise the voices of the marginalised, and how to democratise artistic and cultural spaces.
Episode 2 - "Why do you have to tell us all this? Can't I just Google?"· In The Field
Do you remember the first time you were out in nature? Or the first time you saw a wild animal? Do you remember how it made you feel?Among the many things we have to be proud of, India’s rich heritage of biodiversity and fascinating history of conservation stand out. During the British rule, conservation was focused on specific species and geographic areas, and for a long time was based on the idea that protecting nature meant keeping humans out or away from it. The foundations for modern day conservation were established in post-independence India, with the passing of the Wildlife Act in 1972, and subsequently the formation of a national Wildlife Board. As a country, we’ve also been witness to some of the most powerful environmental movements that have fought to assert the deep and inextricable connection between human beings and nature.But how does nature fit into our everyday lives today? As the monsoon gets more erratic, as temperatures become more extreme, as our growing urban jungles redefine our natural environment, and as we, especially in cities, become increasingly ensconced in our individual lives, this episode reminds us that we should sometimes, just put away our phones and go out to experience nature. It’s a story about how an encounter with a wild creature, can transform us as individuals, and bring us closer to our natural environment, and even possibly inspire a career.In this episode, we take a look at a unique, citizen focused, conservation movement that's brought people and turtles together for over thirty years. The Student Sea Turtle Conservation Movement (SSTCN) is a voluntary group of mostly students and we hear from Arun, one of its coordinators. We also chat with Kartik Shanker and Madhuri Ramesh from Dakshin Foundation, and learn how the SSTCN has been inspirational to many in conservation, introducing young people to mentors and nurturing early experiences with wildlife.And we speak to the indefatigable Dinesh Goswami, a construction labourer turned whaleshark conservationist, whose story is a testimony to the fact that anyone - just about anyone - can be a conservationist, with just the right amount of passion and hard work. Below is a transcript of Dineshji’s interview, which is in Hindi:There was a small Ambuja Cement plant in Mundhwar, where I used to work as a daily wage earner for Rs. 20 at that time. I used to leave home with lunch in the morning... my work was to lay the big cables, etc. etc., and between 12 noon and 2 pm, which was lunch break, people would sleep. But I wouldn’t get sleep, so I used to walk along the sea coast.There was a time when people called me mad... That this man is taking on the fishermen who kill one shark and earn lakhs... He will surely get beaten up. But at some point they realised that I was doing good work and my family was so happy with me.When such a small spark resulted in such a bright flame, [as in my case] - my message to all children is that it doesn’t matter if one is educated or not. If you work hard on anything, with honesty, then one day you will get a big platform.CREDITS:Thanks to Kartik Shanker, Madhuri Ramesh, Dinesh Goswami and V. Arun.Photos: All photos by SSTCN except the turtle photos, which are by Adhith Swaminathan. Sounds/Music: Apple Loop; Ghatam sample from "Haseen Zindagi" by Indi Graffiti. Theme Music by Hollis Coats. Recorded at Third Eye Recording Studio, Bangalore.
Episode 1 - "If you eat egg, your child will be bald."· In The Field
In India, the high rate of stunting amongst children is alarming. With no easy policy solutions, a glut of expert views, and a collective anxiety about its high occurrence, we tried to wrap our heads around the problem to find out what we ought to be doing. Measured as a low height for age, stunting is known to hinder the growth of human capital and one’s early life circumstances are important determinants of future economic productivity and health. There are many factors that affect stunting: the health and age of the mother and child, the ease of pregnancy, the environmental risks we’re exposed to and the nutritional levels of the family. You may have heard of the Asian enigma - low levels of child health and nutrition that don’t match the high levels of economic growth of the country. South Asia is a hotspot for stunting. In India, around 39% of children are stunted, in Pakistan it is around 45%, 37% in Nepal and 36% in Bangladesh. One in three of the world’s stunted children under the age of five live in India. In this episode, we visit an anganwadi and speak to Dr Nirupama Shivshankar, a paediatrician who has set up a lab to understand how diet, culture and food affect women and children. As Suneetha Sapur a leading development nutritionist explains just how hard it is to make choices about diets and food, especially if you are a woman.But it isn’t all doom and gloom, as Dr Anura Kurpad, a doctor working at the forefront of nutritional research in India, tells us. If children miss out on the first few growth spurts, they still have every right to catch up, as long as we know how and when to deliver the best nutritional support. The one group that knows us better than ourselves, and sits on extensive data on food and nutrition, is the private sector. Rinka Banerjee from Thinking Forks, a consultancy that works with leading FMCGs on nutrition, tells us about the private sector’s role in shaping what we eat, and what they can and should do promote good nutrition. So where do we fit in? In the end, all our experts pointed out that by making choices that are ultimately better for ourselves we can all help to address the causes of stunting.NOTE: This episode was written and produced in March 2017. CREDITS: Thanks to Dr Anura Kurpad, Rinka Banerjee, Dr Suneetha Sapur, Dr Nirupama Shivkumar and the wonderful team at the Anganwadi we visited. Adithya Pradyumna, Avinash Krishnamurthy, Bhavya Reddy, Co-Media Lab, Gautam John, Karnataka Health Promotion Trust, Karthik Varma, Dr Kripa Ananth Pur, Oliver Cumming, Oorvani Foundation, Siri Bulusu, Dr Vijayendra Rao. Music by Hollis Coats. Recorded at Third Eye Studio. Photos: All photos by In the Field India. For more info: https://www.inthefieldindia.org/episode-1
Series 1 Trailer· In The Field
India has a large, vibrant community of development professionals working to improve the lives of its citizens. They are bureaucrats, philanthropists, activists, companies, academia, students, religious leaders, journalists, your neighbourhood do gooder... the list goes on. Despite our many problems, there has never been as much interest or as many players invested in India’s ‘development’ project as there are today. And every day seems to bring a new idea to the table.We, the hosts, have been ‘In the Field’ throughout our careers. While ‘the field’ is a term most commonly associated with the site of social work, it’s also the field of our work, the domain of social work. We know that some of the best ideas, projects and initiatives in the development sector are shared in closed rooms - through conversations that are not public and happen within small circles of practitioners, experts, and communities working their way through a problem. We want to bring these stories out into the light.‘In the Field’ takes listeners through different approaches to making a difference, showing how even the most complex development problems can be taken out of expert and practitioner spaces, to become part of a wider set of actions that implicate us all.