A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Petrol strike = no transport, no shops, no work!

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19th sept –

Interviews have been cancelled for today as there is a petrol strike so no vehicles are allowed on the roads!
The roads were completely deserted...

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We woke up realising we had no food so walked around 40 minutes into Thrissur. We hadn't anticipated that all the restaurants and shops would also be closed! We should take this approach in England, I think it would have a much greater impact.

On the way home some policemen randomly offered us a lift home in their jeep! Awesome! We arrived home to find we had a power cut which lasted for a number of hours so we couldn’t get much work done.

20th September –

Today George wasn't very well so we had to leave earlier to make our own way to yoga by rickshaw. Destin picked us up at 10:30am today and we went to Adat Block Panchayat where we interviewed 4 current reps including the president.

Tonight has been frustrating. Shreena’s laptop broke and Lauren took her laptop home so now we don’t have a functioning laptop. We therefore went to the internet cafe to complete our work and soon after we arrived there was a power cut! The computers were still working but we had to sit in the dark and it was really hot as the fans also weren’t working.

It's at times like these when I really appreciate certain things we have in the UK, such as a constant supply of electricity, which we take for granted.

Posted by laurandtheworld 14:56 Archived in India Comments (0)

Interview with The Hindu National Newspaper

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Today was an important day. We visited The Hindu newspaper office (a National English Newspaper) to be interviewed about our project. We spoke to a lovely lady called Mini, she was very interested in our project and is very knowledgeable on the issues we are covering. She asked us some thought-provoking questions, and I also learnt a lot from her. This has prompted me to do some of my own research into gender budgeting which is where money is allocated to programmes and policies to help improve gender equality. She was very down to earth and interested in hearing both the negative and positive answers we have found during our interviews.

The article we are featured in online can now be found at this link… Students from U.K. on study mission...

(There is a slight error in that the second papagraph which should begin with "Now, four law students from Nottingham Trent University...")

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Today is Sree Narayana Guru Samadhi day which means it is a public holiday as it is the anniversary of the death of Sree Narayana who was a saint, prophet and social reformer. Therefore we were only able to conduct a couple of interviews as most people were not available. We went to one of Destin’s advocate colleague’s house first; we had previously been here to interview her as she is a former woman representative. Today we interviewed two family members – a brother and a son. They were both very positive with regard to women empowerment, and one gave a humorous reason as to why women are more powerful than men "50% of men in Kerala are drunk six hours a day, so they are not normal!" Whilst using the bathroom at this house I came face to face with the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life! I didn’t think there were spiders that big in India!

The thought of writing this 15 page report on our project is becoming quite daunting as although I have already gained so much knowledge, I feel there is still a lot more research I would like to do about politics in Kerala. Just not enough hours in the day!

Posted by laurandtheworld 15:37 Archived in India Comments (0)

Kerala Institute for Local Administration

KILA

Today we had some interviews in the morning at the Corporation and district Panchayat then went to the Kerala Institute for Local Administration (KILA). We only found out we were going here an hour beforehand, and that we would be meeting the director to ask him questions about the organisation.

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We were quite nervous as we had not been given notice so that we could do research on the organisation beforehand. He gave us a lot of information about the organisation which prompted a number of questions from us. KILA aim to develop and strengthen local governments. One means of achieving this is through providing training programmes for women representatives. This special training for women elected members comprises of an initial induction training programme and a leadership development training programme. This was a useful meeting and I learnt a lot from it, some of this information will also be helpful for our final report.

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After this we went to Dr M Ratna Raj's office and he spoke to us about gender budgeting which is a tool that can be used to aid women’s empowerment. In order to do this the government is addressing gender issues through public expenditure. It must ensure it allocates certain amounts of the government’s budget to men, women and children to ensure gender equality. I now intend to do some further research on gender budgeting.

And these are the common types of spider in India (it looks a lot bigger in real life)…

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Posted by laurandtheworld 15:59 Archived in India Comments (0)

A difference in working environments...

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Today we visited the Municipality at Kunnakulam where we interviewed a number of current representatives including many committee chair persons. One lady in particular was really kind and helpful; Smitha. She took us on a tour of the building and introduced us to many people who worked in different departments. It was interesting to see the offices as their working environment is different to England in that they don’t have computers on every desk, instead they have many piles of books, folders and papers.

This evening we went out to meet with Malin and Mark as it is Malin’s last night before she leaves to travel India for a while. Malin is from Germany and has been in India for 3 months working on other projects at Jananeethi. Mark is an Irish guy who is volunteering for an NGO to do with HIV and Aids. It was nice to relax for an evening and talk to some other Europeans of our age.

Posted by laurandtheworld 09:03 Archived in India Comments (0)

My favourite day so far!

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Ponnani was our first stop today with Destin's and her friend Smitha. The first place we went was an advocate’s office where we interviewed a number of current and former representatives. After these interviews we had finally completed the categories of former and current representatives. We then caught another bus to the Ponnani Municipality. Here we interviewed the chairperson and stayed afterwards for coffee and biscuits. Our interviews also attracted a number of politicians, councillors and admin staff who were interested in finding out about us and our project. They took many pictures and videos, and one reporter filmed us for a local television channel.

Following this we went to the local court. The building was very old and run down. It was built by the British and this was noticeable from the architecture. Here we met a number of advocates, magistrates and interviewed three family members. We also spoke to a judge and one issue he raised to do with women in politics, which I agree with, is that education is the key; without being educated women will not be able to progress to higher levels in politics.

Two of the male advocates we met were called Sameer and Nikhil. They are the funniest Indians I’ve met so far. We sat chatting to them for a while and then they drove us to a nearby restaurant for lunch – singing and giving 'high-fives’ the whole way! After dinner we went to a very small place where classes for a form of marshal arts called kalari are held. There were around 20 male and female, young and old there and they showed us a variety of moves with and without weapons! It was amazing they were all so flexible, fast and strong, yet delicate at the same time. We also had the chance to participate and were taught some moves to use if we are attacked – although I still think I’d be pretty hopeless if someone were to attack me!

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Next we went back to the court and saw the end of a court case where Destin’s friend Sujeer, who is an advocate, was representing one of his clients and the case was in English. Once this was over we interviewed a senior advocate, he was a very highly educated man who has a positively strong opinion towards women’s empowerment. I found him to be a very wise and inspirational man. He is however one of the few participants who has been of the view that the reservation is not empowering women. I completely agree. Many women are only entering into politics because of the new 50% reservation law; in order to be empowered they need to have a presence in politics without the help from this legislation. Although this is a starting point, hopefully in the future it can be taken away and women will still have a prominent role in politics without relying on the act. We have now completed all 100 interviews!

Following this we went to the backwaters - Ponnani Pallikadavu. By this time it was too late to go on a boat trip. The waters were beautiful though and it was a really relaxing place. There were many local Indians sitting around taking in the wonderful views of the sunset across the water.

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To get here we had to walk through a small poor village with were lots of children playing in the street. On the way back we visited a communal Muslim house which had twenty family members living in it. The house wasn’t very large or clean but the people were all really friendly, talkative and happy. It was interesting to see how they live and that even though they may not live in the best conditions, they still maintain a positive outlook.

Today was a really insightful day, one of my favourite days so far! I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to experience everyday life in India from within different communities and meet such a diverse range of people, even in one day! I really appreciate getting to visit places normal tourists wouldn’t see. I have George, Destin and her advocate friends to thank for this :)

Posted by laurandtheworld 09:57 Archived in India Comments (0)

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