Five Amazing Things about The Ugly Indian

This post marks a “first” — reproduced almost entirely (with a few edits and formatting) from a comment I posted to this New York Times article on my favorite community organization (The Ugly Indian).

There are so many things amazing about The Ugly Indian that it behooves us to highlight the most important.

  1. Attitude Change: TUI is bringing about an attitude change among all stakeholders (shopkeepers, citizens, BBMP workers). So difficult to bring about a non-violent/non-candlelight-vigil/non-Anna-Movement day-to-day attitude change. Dr. BJ Fogg of Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab would be proud of them.
  2. Bottom-up-granular fix: Much like Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo (my favorite economists if you didn’t know already!) argue that the most effective way of combating poverty is NOT top-down sweeping policy changes but a granular bottom-up approach, TUI has triangulated on a Spot (30-40m stretch of road) as the most effective level of granularity for improving a city’s sanitation – brilliant!
  3. Kaam Chalu Mooh Bandh – need I say more? Heck, this should become Modern India’s anthem!
  4. Glimpses of Flickr: Yes – I’m likening TUI to that early Web 2.0 pioneer. Flickr, in its early days, had a reputation for being snotty, targeted to only the “serious”, “professional”, and “artsy” photographers. Eventually regular Joes with their digital cameras joined the site in droves but the bar for quality (both for pictures & community feedback) had been set high and the amateurs mimiced. By setting such a high bar on SpotFixes, by NOT having volunteer recruitment drives, by picking only those volunteers who want to Kaam Chalu Mooh Bandh rather than those who seek self-congratulation props on social networks & media, TUI is “doing a Flickr”. Respect!
  5. Inspiring a legion of supporters: The TUI Facebook page has7,000+ fans and that’s not even the main point. Through thought-provoking photo posts and gamification techniques, TUI carries their fans with questions, challenges & discussions. On the eve of their 1st year anniversary, they asked their supporters for a birthday gift – exhorting everyone to do their own version of Kaam Chalu Mooh Bandh”. Many (including me) did!

IMO, The Ugly Indian is doing more for democracy than India Against Corruption! There, I said it!

If you’re scratching your head wondering what a SpotFix, may I suggest this three-part series (anatomy of a SpotFix) starting with Part 1: The Ugly Indian’s Gift to Bangalore on the occasion of Namma Metro launch?

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