Notes from the Field

IT for Change's teams for Education and Prakriye, regularly bring back insights and learnings from their time on the field. Notes from the Field documents these insights.


Recording the Unorganized Sector: Reflections on the e-Shram Database

Nayana Kirasur

Prakriye

On 24 March 2020, the Government of India announced one of the most stringent lockdowns to combat the spread of Covid-19. Overnight, workers in the unorganized sector — comprising over 90 % of the country’s population —  lost their jobs as projects that employed them came to a halt and supply chains got interrupted. The subsequent lockdowns triggered one of the worst migrant crisis India has ever seen. With no means of transport, workers were forced to return to their villages on foot and many of them lost their lives on their way back home. As 78% of the unorganized workers lost their livelihood during the pandemic, the need to strengthen safety nets became a pressing matter. In response to the Supreme Court’s suo moto order to address their needs, the Government of India launched the e-Shram portal — India’s national database of unorganized workers. 

Using field data from the villages in Hunsur and HD Kote blocks of Mysuru district, Karnataka, this essay reflects on the e-Shram database and asks what is left out from the database and what are its implications? 

Read it here


Wielding Informational Power as a Feminist Practice: Vignettes from Rural Mysuru

Nayana Kirasur

Prakriye

Mahiti’ (translates to ‘information’ in Kannada) is a term that reverberates through the villages of Mysuru district, Karnataka. The term resonates most with women who have a quest for knowledge and are keen to access information on health, agriculture, economic opportunities, and public schemes. Different women have different demands and expectations. Some want to know about the best parenting practices, while others want to learn about managing their finances. Needless to say, the term acquires different meanings depending on who enunciates it. This ethnographic essay attempts to understand the multiple iterations and meanings of ‘mahiti’, and how women and women’s collectives in Mysuru leverage the network of seven information centers set up by IT for Change to claim informational power in the community. 

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How Does Aadhaar-Enabled Welfare Delivery Exclude Women?

Nayana Kirasur

Prakriye

In the landmark case from 2018, Justice K. S. Puttaswamy vs Union Of India, the Supreme Court pitched Aadhaar-enabled welfare delivery as a promising move that can eliminate leakages in service delivery and address the “malaise” of ghost and duplicate beneficiaries. The court also cautioned the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) by flagging the possible exclusions due to failure in Aadhaar-seeding and biometric authentication, and suggested that the project will only be deemed constitutional “if it is responsive to deficiencies and accountable to the beneficiaries”. The bench explicitly placed  the “burden of ensuring that benefits reach the marginalized on the state and its agencies”.   
Despite the Supreme Court’s order to treat public benefits for the vulnerable as economic rights that are legally protected, the digitized welfare delivery infrastructure has continued to make it difficult for marginalized citizens  to claim rightful entitlements.

Using theoretical insights and case studies gathered by infomediaries from IT for Change’s information centers, this article elucidates how exclusions due to Aadhaar-enabled welfare delivery severely impact women in rural Mysuru. The article also pulls secondary data from across the country to emphasize the scale of the problem.

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How Has the Pandemic Deepened Inequalities in India’s School Education?

Nayana Kirasur

Prakriye

IT for Change’s field center, Prakriye, builds supportive techno-social systems to further socio-political empowerment of marginalized women and adolescent girls in rural areas of Mysuru district, Karnataka, India. The Prakriye team has been undertaking Covid relief work since the beginning of the pandemic and has gained on-field insights on the impact of school closures. This article weaves findings from Prakriye’s fieldwork with theoretical insights from academics and educators to elucidate the impact of school closures on students in rural Mysuru.

Read it here.

 

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