The Change Collective: Social Initiatives Shaping India

The Change Collective: Social Initiatives Shaping India

Across the country there is a small sub-sector of non-profits, community developers and socially conscious private developers working towards enabling social development that could truly change the way we envisage our cities and communities.

Text: Nadine D’Souza

Aimed at improving people’s lives and making communities more prosperous, impact-driven development may represent one of the most significant new shifts shaping the landscape of Indian cities. Education, health and environment are prominent areas where the real estate is making major contributions for community upliftment by partnering with social organizations. Many well-known developers are also adopting neighborhood communities surrounding their projects, supporting providing health care, schools and skill training to the underprivileged.

Street-smart Solution

Often urban solutions are crafted in isolation with no integration among agencies and no feedback from the general public. Traffic problems are another bane for urban commuters. Gurugram, in particular, has closed intersections, new U-turns, missing service lanes, and jersey barriers, all of which add to the chaos. A program like Raahgiri can bring together planning agencies along with citizens which would help in more practical solutions. Launched in Gurugram five years ago this urban movement started as a small experiment and now has been replicated over 70 locations across the country. Modelled after Ciclovia (cycleway), in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1976, to promote non-motorised transport, Raahgiri has also shown some tangible changes on ground. Research by World Resources Institute (WRI), India, suggested that in Gurugram and Mumbai around 30% of people who participated actually bought bicycles.

Socially-Responsible Real Estate Development

In 1996, the government introduced the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Act, which stipulated that every builder with 50 female workers should provide a crèche with adequate accommodation for children under six. However, this law is often poorly implemented. Stepping in to help is Mumbai Mobile Creches (MMC), the day-care centre and preschool, which supports the children of construction workers. Among the centre’s staff are women from the construction workers’ community, each one trained in early childhood care and education. Developers that have MMC centres on their construction sites have reportedly noticed a vast difference in work outcomes when crèches are provided. “Workers are drastically less anxious about their children, enabling them to stay committed to work and be more productive,” according to the real estate governing body. Also add

In addition, there is an urgent need for investments in education and skills and break the low wage –low skill development syndrome. CREDAI in collaboration with National Skills Development Council is conducting regular on-site training programs for construction workers at construction sites through its member developers. NAREDCO’s MoU with the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) too aims to strengthen the skill training and employment opportunities in the construction sector for the urban poor.

Positive Urbanism

Millennial are well-educated, entrepreneurial, tech savvy and idealistic. They want to make the world a better place. One global example of this is the Favela Painting Foundation’s work in using art to rejuvenate Brazil’s slums. A similar movement Chal Rang De, a non-profit initiative, took its first steps in Mumbai with the aim to transform the city slums into a colorful amalgam of local stories and talent. By painting walls with vibrant colors, they aimed to change people’s perspective on slums and create positive emotions among residents. Chal Rang De received 1800 registrations online and deployed 750 willing volunteers on the ground. The team also comprised of 15 artists in the lead. Their aim is not just to beautify Mumbai but also provide sustainable living solutions, transforming lives of the residents in more ways than one way.

Likewise, the St+art India foundation is a not-for-profit organization that works on art projects in public spaces to make art accessible to a wider audience by embedding it within the cities. Indian cities lack public art and the impact of these public paintings is the sense of pride in the neighborhood, community building and will to keep the surroundings clean.

From citizen friendly urban planning, neighborhood rejuvenation & beautification to up skilling laborers and up lifting construction workers, public and private partnership is evident in many social initiatives. Hopefully, in the coming years such social programs will find even more support from the real estate industry.


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