Monday, February 23, 2009

slums and dogs

An ad for milk and tea (chai), with a play on words "Chai ho" instead of "jai ho" from the song. I don't get the "hotdog" element though, especially as I have not seen them here. Sub says they are playing with now being "american" hotdogs, instead of slumdogs? I don't know.

Longer discussion about slums and Slumdog Millionaire will come at some point, but I want to make a few minor points and show some shots. We are working on some more academic work on slums (how they develop, sustain themselves, and rarely disappear), so I have visited some "slum upgradation" projects. I'm hesitant to take pictures in lots of places, but there are a few here.

Defining exactly what a slum is and isn't is quite hard. The definitions used, even in official documents around India, are inconsistent. No public services is a start, but then are entire villages where basic needs are met slums? Probably not. Is it many dwellings or must there be many? Here are some possible contenders, but each would fall short on some defs and qualify under others.
One dwelling, with a family living under a tarp.
Several dwellings, on the side of Bellary Road near the Agricultural University. These are relatively new. Below, a lane of "temporary" houses where the construction workers for the buildings in the background are living. This is down the street from us.

Now onto "upgradation". Below is a shot of a government-sponsored slum upgradation scheme. More discussion on it at some future point.
Slightly to the left.
Note the stove outside. Now, when I think of "slumdogs" I think of the dogs that inevitably are living around slums.
Lots of them.Men hanging around in the middle of day is something you find.
Note the water tanks. There is supposed to be running water in this project, but the pipes are all clogged up. Little markets and stores that sell essentials like tea, coffee, sugar, and the like in tiny packets that sell for less than 5 rupees ($0.20 in the US) are found throughout the lanes. You can also see that this project's houses have electric meters. Even the slum they moved from had metered electricity, even though the houses would get washed out when it rained (it was on the top of a hill).
Successfull "upgradation" -- clean, well tended, and if folks have time and money to decorate with rangolis in front of their doors, they have moved up somewhat. So much more to say, but I will post this for now, as I have to do some work.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Visit to a primary school

A primary school located on the side of a slum, in the Jayamahal section of Bangalore. One half of the school teaches in Telegu, one half in Kannada. The school goes from pre-school (the largest sections) through 7th grade. This is the 5th through 7th grade classroom.
Exercise class led by one of my co-researchers, who usually teaches graduate students in the School of Management at Yale. You will see that not all of the students have the uniform, nor shoes. In some schools, that would force these children out of classes. Luckily here all these kids are in school instead of on the street. Under a government food program, they are each provided with a warm lunch, for which the government provides about 16-2o cents (4-5 rupees per student). This school has been adopted by a civil society organization that helps provide things like a computer, additional tutoring, and additional teachers.
A classroom, with lots of posters. You can barely see the students, seated on wooden planks a few inches off the floor all around the walls. The pix I took of them with their slates didn't come out, but I think you can get the idea of the school from these.
We're in South India, so there are more girls in class than one would likely see in the north.

The billboards of the Air Show

Finally, as promised, some of the billboards around the air show, led by those vying for all those billions of rupees, dollars, and euros of contracts. First, the Swedes. I guess if Saab files for bankruptcy these guys are separate?
The Russians and their MIGs have lots of fans here.
Then there are the Indian support firms. Under the offset rules, foreign providers need to buy a certain percentage (up to 30%) of local inputs and support goods and services. Bell apparently ended a contract because it couldn't find enough reliable supporters to meet their offset obligations.
Many ads for the show were plastered all over Bangalore, like on the sides of buses. I don't see why they really needed to advertise, as over 150,000 "normal" visitors on the Saturday that I attended.
Sponsors, as well as a tourist ad.
Last of all, good old Lockheed-Martin, present at the air show in full force. Falcons, Vipers, and Hornets. A sign of the times is seen on the side -- an empty billboard with the name and number of the owner/manager, a more and more common site around town these days.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

AeroIndia 2009 - Air Show in Bangalore

Tired and sunburnt after many hours at the AeroIndia 2009 Air Show at the Yelahanka Air Force Station just up the road. The show showed some of the best and worst of India all together, with an emphasis on impressive gains in the aerospace sector. In addition, one could see all kinds of aircraft (and parts) and their makers/promoters from around with world eyeing India's huge aerospace market (both civil and defense) hungrily. As an American I got to see some of my first Russian cruise missiles and MIGs flying. Some of the shots below capture some of what I saw:

The entrance, looking pretty official and relatively organized.

One of the signs inside on a display pavillion. There were many many of them, and unfortunately I was too tired and they were too crowded to really see much.
Below is probably one of my favorite pictures of all: A billboard near the air base advertising the show, with many guys hanging all over it to see the air show itself rather than pay for tickets to see it. The tickets ranged from Rs. 400-800 today (US$ 8-16, quite expensive here given wage levels). Despite the expensive tickets, the place was mobbed. The roads were also packed with folks on hills watching the show, see below as well.

Along the road.We arrived around 9:20, and were quite impressed by the organization (at least by Indian standards). The parking lots had spaces with lines! Now, that would not be a big thing in many places, but here, it is a rarity.

Perhaps most surprisingly, there were two lines -- long lines -- corresponding to the two security guards. Again, this wouldn't be odd in most places, but here, it was a pleasant surprise.

But then, a few men and families started ignoring the line, moving forward to cut in front and get in "faster".
At that point, where the line was became difficult to figure out, and we had to push forward along with everyone else. It was miserable, and I understood how folks get trampled in stampedes. That was especially true as we got close to the fence, where I had to make sure that we were squished into it.
This poor organization, and folks not following guidelines can also be seen in the picture below. You can see the sign saying "out" (there was another door labeled "in"), and you can see some visitors leaving, but you can clearly say many people attempting to go in.

Once we got in, there was plenty to see, both above -- with the fighter jets from around the world impressing the crowd with tricks in the air, and many displays of aerospace related goods and services, both Indian and international. Everything was packed. Getting water and food was a nightmare. But the show was impressive.

People and planes on display.

India's pride in this sector, its light combat aircraft.
Amartya and the plane.

Photographers everywhere, able to shoot the jets, which I couldn't get.Tomorrow I'll try to get the attendance numbers and post some of the billboards around town advertising the fighter jets of the world.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

what about local news?

I mostly agree with Michael Kinsley's NYTimes column today  about the disappearance of hard copy newspapers, but it makes me wonder what happens in smaller cities where the newspaper still plays a key role for advertising local merchants, creating community (or often, division) through coverage of local events, and aggregrating local content such as obituaries, arrests, and weddings.  Where will citizens go for this information?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Some billboards around town - early Feb

Some shots from around town.

See all of India's ex-leaders in the reference to Congress India.
Transferring money from abroad. Below, an ad for a mobile phone service.

Some empty billboards, a more and more common site. The inevitable jewelry ad. And then the upcoming Iron Maiden concert.