About prathima

Prathima Manohar is the Founder & President of the Urbanism think tank “The Urban Vision” .Prathima is an architect, critic, writer and a TV Journalist. Prathima holds a bachelors degree in Architecture. She was awarded Stanford University’s prestigious Draper Hills Fellowship bestowed to rising international stars who work on issues related to Democracy and Development in 2011. She is a Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center Fellow where she researches & studies the use of ICT for Good Governance. She has been a contributing columnist on architecture, urban development and design with India’s Leading News daily – The Times of India. She has been a contributing TV Journalist with France24 and TF1 where she did news reports and several documentaries on Indian economy, Developmental and Cultural issues. She has also written for the opinion pages of the International Herald Tribune , The Wall Street Journal and has reviewed for the Architecture Record. She has authored a monograph on the works of one of India's leading architects. She has previously consulted on urban design & urban policy related subjects with architecture and large development firms. As an urbanist, she has worked on pilot projects and researched on issues such as affordable housing, participatory planning and green cities.

Community based Q & A fact-checking service

The community based Q & A fact-checking service helps journalist & bloggers corroborate the veracity of a quote / statement from a pool of certified experts. I have set up a pilot Q & A platform aimed at reporters or bloggers focused on climate change & sustainability in Cities & Built environment.

Ask your questions here & get your answers instantly from a domain expert: http://bit.ly/partnews

Populist Political Rhetoric & Actual Policy

Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission is a flagship city redevelopment program that was launched by the Government of India in 2006. The Mission is the largest initiative of Government of India for planned development of Indian cities.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had highlighted on the need to increase quality of life in India cities while launching the program “As we build infrastructure we must also improve the quality of living for all those who live in our cities. Our vision of urban development has so far been uni-dimensional. This must change. We have thus far focused more on space and less on people. We need to have an integrated framework, in which spatial development of cities goes hand-in-hand with improvement in the quality of living of ordinary people living there. ”. Kamal Nath , the new Union Cabinet Minister of Urban Development also recently highlighted that the JNNURM Program is focused on  improving the quality of life in our cities.

To corroborate the government’s assertions that the program is intended to increase the quality of life for most of the people in Indian cities, I analysed the program’s investments in the transport sector that intimately affects the quality of life of ­­­the community.

The total number of projects in the transport sector approved by the Government of India and related spending illustrates a focus on flyover & road related projects that aids car users.

Source: JNNURM

Source: JNNURM


Mapping the above  investments alongside current “modes of transport” in Indian Cities shows that even though car users are a minority in Indian Cities, they are arguably the biggest beneficiaries under the JNNURM Program.

Source: Traffic & Transportation Policies and Strategies in Urban Areas in India, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, New Delhi

Principles of urban planning based on dense, walkable, mass transit driven development are critical in ensuring a livable & inclusive city. Experts like Urbanist Enrique Penalosa have often argued that    ” In developing-world cities, most of people don’t have cars, so when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing equality. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality” .

The Indian Government’s declarations that JNNURM is aimed at increasing the quality of life for most of its people seems like a populist rhetoric given that their actual  investments show a penchant to serving elite needs. 


Video: Clay Johnson makes a case for conscious information consumption

Clay Johnson who co-founded Blue State Digital which is credited for U.S. President Barack Obama’s election campaign’s online success in 2008 speaks about his new book ” The Information Diet” in a Panel discussion at MIT Media Lab .

Four-hour challenge:
Start: 17:00 2/15/2012
Finished Editing & exporting media: 20:55 2/15/2012
I was unable to post the Video online within the 9 pm time frame. I managed to upload it by 9:20 pm.

Video Link:http://www.sparksforchange.com/?p=75

Information Diet

I view myself as somewhat of an information glutton.

There is a constant explosion of information from various avenues (Social Media, Listservs, Emails, and Meetings etc.) on any given day. I have been mindful of the some of the associated consequences of our current way of life – from being unproductive to not being completely “present” at our real-world interactions.

So tracking my information consumption was a way to comprehend some of my interactions with information.

For the purpose of this week -long study; I have only included information that I really read or watched. I did not include the Bollywood movie that I watched over the weekend.

The four main categories that I tracked my “information Diet” under included news themes, type of media, sources and origins of information

My Information Diet

As you can see, there are a lot of things going on here; but below are some insights on my information consumption habits and engineering solutions to potentially address some of my particularly knotty habits / practices:

Filter Bubbles
This Ted talk on “filter bubbles” by online organizer Eli Pariser explains how algorithm driven personalized curation of online data can lead to an information junk diet. This pattern of information consumption only reinforces our narrow view of the world which can be harmful to the society at large. He argues that we need to encounter opinions that could challenge and expand our worldview.

A large part of my news consumption seems to revolve around my work projects and other interests. It would be interesting to have a plugin or app on my computer that can create some random variety in my information diet.

Media Bias Review Tool

Having worked in Media over the last few years , I think I have become innately suspicious about every piece of news and the inherent biases within it. If I really care about a particular piece of news, I will view it from various sources. I would love to have a browser plugin that can automatically bring up the same story from various sources along with a social / collaborative notepad to discuss subtle differences in coverage of the news and representation of facts across different news agencies.

ps: I am unable to upload media.So I have a link to Slide Share for my Information Diet presentation . I am getting the following error- ” Unable to create directory /var/www/partnews/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02. Is its parent directory writable by the server?”