Baghdad Burning

Posted In: . By Journalism student

Theatre is a powerful medium to communicate one’s voice and angst against the wrongdoings and contemporary ills. With United States being accused by pacifists the world over for their democratic experiments and civil war in Iraq, the play, Baghdad burning came in handy for all the theatre lovers in Jamia Millia Islamia.
The performance saw packed auditorium for the intensity and clarity it exhibited. Based on the script written by Anuradha Shukla and direction by Kirti Jain faculty at National School of Drama, Delhi), the play aimed at highlighting the plight of Iraqi civilians.
The play was a comment on democracy, imperialism, oil wars, religious strife and American foreign policy. This photo feature is an attempt towards capturing the varied emotions and strong performances delivered by the actors.

Shadows in the background. In this scene the prison trials of Abu ghraib was replicated by the actors.

Intense helplessness. Help ness was rightly showed by these two ladies across the age extremes.

Series of order. These actors played out pawns of American interests. With each voicing the American interests in different words.

Ultimate power corrupts. These actors enacted the role of American power holders. the emphatic dialogues completed the assertion of meaning.


Posted In: . By Journalism student

Remember you get noticed every time you shower the public places. Squalid corners on the pathways or be it a open places like bus stops, urinating in open is not only indecent but hazardous to environment too. Sometime it becomes a matter of embracement for the fairer sex and children. Under section 308(1) (a) (v) of Supreme Court it’s an offence to use public places as urinals and draws a fine of Rs. 50.

So, beware next time because some one is looking at you!
Photo Feature by Rozy Ibrahim

Already filthy….still making it nastier

Watering the wall

Pathway encroached by the urination

In the name of god

High rents for small rooms

Posted In: , , . By Journalism student

BY Neha Sethi, Nazia Jaffri and Kinley Tshering

In the alleys of the adjacent villages of Gurgaon, teeming numbers of migrant workers from across different States live in tiny, dingy rooms, that can barely fit in three people at a time. They pay rents that are humungous compared to the little space they are given.

Meena, 35, a migrant worker from Bihar, lives in a small room at Chakkarpur Village in Gurgaon. She works as a domestic help in one of the towering condominiums in the brighter lanes of the upcoming Gurgaon city. She pays Rs. 2,000 as monthly rent for the room.

“In addition, I pay another Rs. 300 as electricity bill every month. But during summers, the electricity bill goes up to Rs. 400,” Meena says.

This rent may look nominal, but it is atrocious if the space that is provided is taken into consideration. The space of the room is a little bigger than the size of a jhuggi. And for these people who have to manage with a minimal salary, every penny counts. Shelling out so much money on the rent means that they have less to save and send back home.

The development of Gurgaon has led to an upswing in the demand for domestic helps. While this has positive result of increased employment for many migrants, the expensive rents eat away a major chunk of their salary.

“Although we have jobs here, we have to pay almost more than a half of our salary for the rents,” says Maya, who works as a maid. “My husband and daughter, all of us work. Otherwise it would be hard to survive.”

The major beneficiaries however are the people who had been living in Gurgaon villages even before the new Gurgaon came up. Most of them have now built small rooms on the properties that they own and given them on rent to migrant labourers mostly from Bihar and Bengal.

“In most of the villages, the migrant population is a lot more than the people who used to live in the village traditionally,” says Ravinder Kumar, a resident of Sikanderpur village in Gurgaon.

Many of the traditional residents of villages have even built as many as 300 rooms of these kinds to rent out. “Our landlord takes around Rs. 2,000 from every tenant. So he has a monthly income of around Rs. 600,000 just from the rent that he collects from us,” says Meena.

A landlord, who didn’t want to be named, defended, “Why shouldn’t we take rent from them. This is our business. And moreover, these people also earn a lot from the people living in the costly condominiums in Gurgaon.”

A resident of a condominium justifies his point. She says, “We need someone to help us with the housework. I pay my maid around Rs. 2000 just for sweeping the house and cleaning the dishes every month. And she also works in three more houses apart from mine.”

So do the labourers mind shelling out this money? Tell them to move to Delhi, where rents are a little cheaper and pat comes the reply. “But in Delhi, the people don’t pay this much for our services. The people of Gurgaon have more money than the people living in Delhi,” justifies Parmila, a migrant from Bengal who stays in Sikanderpur.

‘Sustainability saves money’

Posted In: . By Journalism student

Photo Courtesy: Ashok B Lall Architects

Architect Ashok B Lall claims the construction of ecologically sustainable IRRAD building in Gurgaon was built at no extra cost and will save 25-30 per cent cost in 5 years. Kunal Majumder reports.

Architect Ashok B Lall’s construction of Institute Of Rural Research And Development (IRRAD) office in Gurgaon has proved that sustainable architecture can not only save the environment but also your money। Built on a cost of Rs 20,000-22,000 per square area, the building is expected to save at least 25-30 per cent less electricity and other costs in 5 years.

“About 90 per cent of any sustainable project requires no extra cost, may be even less. This notion about high cost is complete myth,” claims Lall, who has been in the business of architecture for a quarter of a century.

He feels 80 per cent of sustainable designing is about common sense and rest includes sophisticated technology। “Technology is required only to price down the energy consumed by air conditioners. With intelligent design like the IRRAD building, you can bring down the electricity cost by almost 50 per cent.”

SM Sehgal Foundation, the owners of the building, wanted to create a workspace that had a frugal appearance and spoke about its aim as a rural development NGO। They also wanted to addresses the looming dangers of global warming. “We wanted to use as much natural materials as possible and try to reduce the dependency on energy,” says a spokesperson, SM Sehgal Foundation.

Basics of light and air

Along with his client’s brief, Lall implemented few more principles of sustainable architecture like maximum use of daylight and minimum requirement of air conditioning। Daylight plays a very important role in the IRRAD building. The architect has tried to modulate the use of light through fixed blinds and positioning of the building. All functional spaces have daylight and require artificial lights only on a cloudy day. “Movable blinds are used only in classrooms to darken the room during film projection. Only one window faces west and uses blinds. Otherwise all are daylight modulated,” says Lall. The auditorium has an option of using both day light as well as artificial lighting with help of a simple pulley.

When it comes to air conditioning, the architect has gone completely green. He has used timbre for air conditioning grills instead of aluminium. Lall says he ensured most of the timbre was sourced from managed forest resources. Use of timbre has ensured less energy consumption and is also renewable as a material. Only about 20 per cent of the area has false ceiling as Lall has tried to contain air condition ducts in a certain space.

The building also has natural ventilation facility। This helps in minimising air condition use during pleasant sessions. Apart from the auditorium, most spaces have ceiling fans. “Apart from 60-70 days in the year, there is no requirement of air condition in this building,” claims Lall.

Courtyard has been turned into a semi indoor space with a huge photovoltaic solar roof। The building generates power from 35 kWP photovoltaic solar panels. A concrete jaali has ensured modulation of daylight as well as creates design out of sunrays.

Creating out of waste

He ensured that most of the materials used were sourced locally within 500 kms radius। The materials used required very little processing energy to make it suitable for the building. His team gave preference to bio-mass materials like bamboo, teak wood, timber and rubber wood. “These materials are quickly renewable and hold Carbon Dioxide in themselves. Conversely, we banned use of aluminium in the work because aluminium is a highly energy consuming material,” explains Lall.

Large numbers of stones including granite and sandstone have been used in the project based on their sustainability for particular purposes and locations। Another important principle was to ensure minimal wastage. The design team used stone patterns in various combinations without sticking to traditional geometrical shapes. Lall feels this helped to utilise the leftovers and gave a new design dimension to the project. “The key is No Wastage! Think creative and move beyond the conventional fixed pattern.” Apart from stones, the other waste materials like mirror, broken titles and waste plywood have been used creatively in backdrops of important parts of the building like the reception and the auditorium. Even leftover materials from lifts have been used at the entrance and benches. “If you use your imagination creatively, there is nothing called waste,” explains Lall.

The IRRAD is a self service office with pantry space at each floor. The dustbins in these areas are segregated as biodegradable and non biodegradable. This adds to the larger theme of environmental sustainability.

The bricks of the building are made from earth dug out for the basement. Lall has even left a portion of the wall uncovered to give the visitors an idea about what lies under the shinny surface!


Posted In: . By Journalism student

Report: Aqsa Anjum

Photo:Gargi Nim

In the recent years, Delhi has emerged as a hub of E-waste, according to a study conducted by MAIT

( Manufacturer Association of IT Industry ) and GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) . In 2007, four lakh tones of E-waste came annually to India. Delhi alone accounts for an estimated 12 thousand tons of computer waste। Priti Mahesh, senior programming officer of Toxic Link, claims that Mumbai and Chennai are on the top list of collecting e-waste and computers.

The dangers to Environment and health

Mohd.Shakeel, owner of spare parts shop at Turkman Gate, after taking out all the important parts, throws the leftover in the garbage. This is what he does everytime to dispose the remains of air conditioners, fridge, computers ,motors engines and other electronic goods. This is done by most of the spare parts shops in Turkman Gate area of Old Delhi .Burning leftover wires is a common practice to take out the metal and the leftover is dumped in the garbage or in the drains ।

The leftover flows through drains to ulimately go into the sea or rivers. " The effect will be felt by both humans and environment as acid bath and burning of wire are the common practice used by these people in the recovery of metal. This affects water bodies, agricultural land and the pollutants enter the food ultimately affecting human beings," asserts Preeti. About 95 percent of all e-waste in Delhi is handled by the informal sector where scrap dealers and recyclers work without safety equipment. This exposes them to harmful chemicals.

Professor Khalid Iftekar of Chemistry Department in Jamia Milia Islamia warns about the chemicals used in these electronic wastes as they may contain hydrocarbons that are hazardous for health.“Lead ,mercury, cadmium dioxide are the components which are used in electronic items until and unless cautiously used they can be proved fatal to the human body ।”

Dr Sanjay Gupta ,Senior Surgeon at ENT in Daryaganj warns ,“ Coming in contact with the fumes of hazardous chemicals can prove fatal in the long run . Respiratory diseases, itching of eyes etc are some common problems which people handling such waste generally face।"

Dr Parvez Akhtar who owns a private clinic at Seelampur , another area surrounded by scrap dealers, agrees that he come across a number of patients who either has respiratory problem or some allergies of skin । ''Most of the kabadiwalas who turn up to me usually suffer from respiratory diseases, cough, or allergies like fungal infection, lung infection, fungal election of skin etc.”

“Lead can damage nervous systems, blood systems, and kidneys in humans. Cadmium can cause various type of cancer in the long run too. Mercury can adversely affect and can damage organs." he adds.

Who is responsible for the leftover?

World is slowly realizing the hazards of the e-waste .Though Basel Convention looked into the control of hazardious waste but the super power USA has not signed it . Indian Supreme Court banned the import of hazardous waste in 1997but because lack of any stringent law the trade is still going on.

Shockingly no law exist and work for the disposal of E-waste . Krishan Lala, sanitation superintendent at MCD City Zone when asked about any special provision for the disposal of E- waste said that there is no separate body to pick up this waste and was clueless about its disposal. An MCD official on the bases of anonymity claims that garbage MCD picks before disposing never get segregated so there are 90% chances of those chemical infecting the soil and the rag pickers who would be picking them up.

One cannot avoid coming in contact with these chemicals but every possible precaution should be taken to avoid the harmful effects. Providing some precautionary measures professor Khalid adds, “ While working on spare parts of electronic goods wearing of mask and glows is a must .”

But this is not a case practically followed. Mohd. Shakeel says casually, “There is no time to think about the health hazards. I am working on these for 8 years now"