Public policy interns get a taste of grassroots

Our Public Policy interns with their mentor Shree

Here is the journal from our three MA Public Policy interns from Mt Carmel College about their first two weeks of internship (17 – 30 April 2017) with Co Media Lab.


The first week of the internship has been both exciting and exhausting. I learned quite a lot of things which would remain to be a plus point for my future career.

For this entire week, I along with my friends, Aishwarya and Lakshmi had worked on gathering ward reports of seven constituencies of Bengaluru.

The first day was a bit scary for me as it was the first official internship of my lifetime. But the day ended really well. I must say that I never expected that I would get to work with such friendly and down to earth mentors.

Since childhood, although I have written a handful of articles, stories and poems, I had never learnt journalism officially from any expert. Joining Co Media Lab gave me the opportunity to learn journalism from experts. I learnt the basics of journalism, especially the skills of reporting. At the end of the day, I received a small assignment to analyse and report on an article from India Today.

The second day was a day out on the field. Visited several wards of Gandhinagar Constituency and tried to gather as much possible information from the residents of respective wards about the various public issues they have been facing currently. Majorly, I was trying to collect primary data of the various problems of this ward. It was not a good day. Most people were refusing to answer my questions; they were staring at me with doubtful eyes. It was confusing for me at first till I realised that language was the barrier in my case.

Finally I managed to get a few people who were quite frank on answering my questions and that was helpful. At the end of the day, I was assigned to write a brief analysis on the expenses of BBMP’s council meetings. It was an interesting task because I came across some shocking statistics.

The third day’s work started from the office. At the office, we discussed about the previous day’s work and decided upon what to do next. Then I was out for Rajajinagar and Yeshwanthpur Constituencies and found out the various problems the local people face. It was a long and tiring day.

The fourth day was a day out to Nagarbhavi Constituency where I along with Aishwarya and Lakshmi interviewed Mr Mohan Kumar, Corporator of that constituency. We were trying to analysis whether or not their salary is justified for the work they do. At the end of the day I receive the third assignment for the week. The assignment was to take a story from the day’s newspaper and then look at the treatment of the same story by other news agencies. It was interesting to know how the same story gets interpreted by different authors.

The fifth day was a lot of learning at the office. First, we had a session on how to effectively use WordPress and then Meera took a brief session on the Urban Governance with special reference to Bengaluru. Post Meera’s session, all the interns were given the option to choose from various topics and do their own research which they would then have to present in front of all in the following week. I feel this is a great way of learning about new things.

On the sixth day, I was happy to get an opportunity to attend  Open Data Conference organised by Data Meet. This was the first time when I came across how to deal with large amount of data. The speakers there were absolutely great and used the easiest possible way to make the listeners understand. The seminar started with an interactive game session which helped us to understand how Public Health works in India. The seminar had the theme of data sharing in the Public Health sector of India. Public Health has always been in my list of interesting topics but after attending the seminar, data gathering and sharing also got added to my list! I do look forward to exploring more in this topic.

~~~

Week two has been exciting. Have had many new experiences.

For example, I was supposed to take appointment of Mr. Priyakrishna (MLA) and in spite of calling him for 8 to 10 times daily for 5 consecutive days, I couldn’t fix the appointment which delayed my project.

I have been to all the wards of Govindraj Nagar Constituency and have spoken to various citizen welfare associations and random local residents and got a hang of their day to day problems. It was good to know because now at least I can write about those problems in my report and hope that one day the authority concerned will do the needful to solve those problems.

There were few wards in Govindraj Nagar Constituency, especially Nagarbhavi area which was working quite well as compared to the other wards. It was nice to be there. People there were also friendly unlike the residents of the rest of the wards.

For me another interesting thing to learn in this week was the RTI (Right to Information). Akshata took a session on how to file a RTI. It seems to be a useful tool for a public policy student like me. The session was quite descriptive and helped me clear almost all the doubts I had regarding RTI. I also got two new ideas to write upon for the next week for which I already have started researching.

Other than writing a report on Govindraj Nagar Constituency, I have written a report (informative guide) on BangaloreOne. For this article, I have visited four BangaloreOne centres where I interviewed the customers and got their feedback on BangaloreOne services. While most of the feedbacks were negative but feedbacks for the BangaloreOne centre at MS Building was great. It seems that it is doing some really good job. My article on BangaloreOne is basically a guide to one and all who wants to use the BangaloreOne services.

Overall, as last week this one too flew away really fast. It was also a week full of enthusiasm, activities and work. It feels good to be such active. I hope that my contribution to the organisation is of some use at least.

  • Shilpi Sinha Ray

Working at Co Media Lab as an intern has been fun. My biggest take away was how to assess the outside world. My intention was to learn and gather primary data, in order to frame an article. The first opportunity I got was to meet people in the selected wards. Initial efforts were not very successful but as residents became cooperative in answering my questions patiently, it gave me confidence and enthusiasm to meet more people.

I could figure out many things when I went on field and spoken to people in person. There is always a disconnect between the government and people. Example, when I visited Konanakunte ward, residents were blaming BBMP for not clearing or collecting garbage on time which lead to open garbage disposal. A contradictory reply came from ex-corporator of that area that people are clean or their behaviour towards nature is the result of garbage dump.

Meeting corporators was also a memorable experience. Fixing appointment on our own and meeting them in person was an achievement, that too on time. Yet to learn the tactics of framing questions and getting the right answers.

Finally, a long time confusion in my mind was cleared with Shree’s help when she shared the tool – bcity.in, which shows a ward’s information in terms of population, area, representative’s name and the constituency. (While I was working on littering project as part of my course, finding area of malleswaram was a struggle and I submitted the assignment without filling that information, which I regret now).

  • Lakshmi Raghavan

This week I completed my work on four constituencies i.e . Malleswaram, Mahalakshmi layout, Shivaji Nagar and Vijay Nagar.

For an article on employment of transgenders, I did my research such that I don’t offend anyone. I also shared my interview questions with Shree and sought her advice on any changes to be incorporated.

I also wrote an article on below poverty line which covers the history of below poverty line in India.

  • Aishwarya Sontakke

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