Why Bill Gates’s Toilet of the Future might be too First Worldy

Almost two years ago, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation declared Caltech as the winner of Reinvent the Toilet Challenge. A solar-powered toilet that disinfects waste and reuses wastewater to flush. Better yet, it pumps out hydrogen gas for use in fuel cells. Water flushing fixtures, which flushes the poop and pee into a septic holding tank …

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Less Jugaad, More Real Innovation

[Editor’s Note: The World Bank’s Development Marketplace (DM) is a competitive grants program that surfaces and funds innovative projects with high potential for development impact that are scalable and/or replicable. This is Part 3 of a 3-part series from my guest blogging in Bhopal (early May). Previous episodes here and here.] Sometime last year I was waiting at the …

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House of Dignity: Mighty Madiath’s Life Mission

Gram Vikas (GV) is my favorite Orissa organization. Heck, if I ever curated a Top 5 pan-India list, it would probably be in it. When I asked Bangalore’s rainwater harvesting guru for his Top 10 list of Indian NGOs, Gram Vikas inevitably made it there. I don’t wax eloquent about too many non-social enterprise organizations on this blog …

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Most Indian men are Cambridge Men

At some point in your school (or college) years, you might have heard of this joke. Following the annual debate competition between Oxford University and Cambridge University, a few male members of both contingents were ‘cracking the porcelain’ at the restroom. The Oxford man finished first. As he meticulously washed his hands, he noticed the Cambridge …

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Once upon a time in Seattle

B was born into an upper middle class family in Seattle. Born in the mid 1950s, B had two  sisters and showed early signs of competitiveness when he organized family athletic games at their summer house. B was a voracious reader as a child, spending many hours poring over reference books, and also relished playing board …

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Ragpicker Chronicles: how a cooperative transformed their lives

 [Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on a unique urban cooperative organization – an evolution from a ‘Convention of 800 Ragpickers’ to a registered trade union and finally to its current form. Part 1 was Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat.] In this post, I present 3 stories. Three stories (from KKPKP’s …

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Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP)

 [Editor’s Note: This is the first of a 3-part series on a unique urban cooperative organization – an evolution from a ‘Convention of 800 Ragpickers’ to a registered trade union and finally to its current form.] Panchayats and cooperatives are associated with rural India, right? Or so I thought until I started reading up on …

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WaterAid’s Review of Total Sanitation Campaign

[Possibly TechSangam’s 1st Oops moment: A friend/reader just alerted me to the fact that the WaterAid report, on which this post is based of, is from 2008 and not 2012 as I had assumed. Will hunt for more recent insights and update/link accordingly. Apologies!] WaterAid India is shortly expected to release a report on how …

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My thoughts on Bangalore’s First Water Hackathon

It’s not often that one is satisfied about an event even before it has occurred. As I drove to IIIT-B (host to Bangalore’s first water hackathon) on a Sunday afternoon, I felt precisely that. A hackathon on water and sanitation… Finally… in India. I allowed myself a goofy smile. Close on the heels of the …

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