Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Ugly Indian Initiative

     I'm not new to dirty roads. I've shared my life with them for over two decades. I have managed to ignore all the potholes, the roadside garbage, the urinal-walls. I didn't think of these features as good or bad, I just accepted that they exist. I'm not alone in this, we (desi types) all have a chalta hai attitude. We are like this only - we tell each other. Even the television advertisements proudly glorify this nature as 'Indian'.

     In the midst of such rhetoric, I came across this website called The Ugly Indian which really caught my attention. It is actually trying to change things from a ground up level. Check it out for yourself. I really like their motto (from their Facebook page) -
Our motto: Kaam Chalu Mooh Bandh.
No activism, no lectures, no awareness drives, no moralising. Just go out and do it.

     Being in the USA now, there is not much I can do for this 'movement' happening in Bangalore and hopefully other Indian cities. I'm thinking of ways in which I can contribute to this movement. As a computer engineer the best way I can think of making a difference is by a commentary on their website. So here goes...

     The website seems to be very well designed. The first page of the site has just one question - Why are Indian Streets filthy? And the question has four choices that you have to answer before you can proceed. I like this because it makes you think and puts the onus on you, the reader to make a choice.

    The purpose of the site is clear, there are no distractions with a frugal yet tasteful background. While the website is clean and fresh looking, the pictures depicted are sometimes downright filthy. This brings a sense of contrast to the mind. It makes you feel like walking to the roads, cleaning the mess and putting up pictures of spotless roads.

     Most of the sentences are short and simple (especially in the second page) and hard to miss. For the thick skinned who still manage to miss, the really important points ones are in bold.

     The site reflects the take-action nature of this initiative. The photo examples of spot-fixing, with Before and After pictures demonstrate the impact these people are having. The examples are results-oriented with not a lot of preaching. The site clearly makes a call for action and makes you want to be involved.
      The website has a certain flowing structure and seems to be designed primarily for first time users - first you answer a poll question, then you see a summary, then look at practical examples of spot-fixing, and then the "I’ve seen enough. So, what’s the point? " link to convert you, the ugly Indian to a more caring person.

     I do feel that navigation of the website has some room for improvement. The structure the website can appear restrictive at times, especially if you are a returning visitor and you still need to go through the first few pages to reach a page you were actually interested in. For example I never discovered the About Us page until my 4-5th visit to the website - usually you would expect this page to be available very easily to a visitor.

     All-in-all, The Ugly Indian is a great initiative. I hope they are successful in changing the mindset of a majority of city-dwellers. I'll be following this group closely!

1 comment:

  1. surfer12:15 AM

    Good one, I think you should share their FB page too :)