From a Smart City to a Sustainable City? 

                       First Published on RESURJ , 13th Feb 2018 as part of Reflections.

City’s governing body’s plans are used to shape the work and infrastructure in the city over a period of time. When Bangalore Development Authority released the master plan for 2031, at Hidden Pockets Collective we saw this as an opportunity to look at the gendered needs in the city and highlight the same. As any new developing city, it had all the proponents of development. It had allocation for industries, it had allocation for roads, and it very much was based on a design of a concrete city. What seriously affected us was the lack of imagination employed by the urban designers in including vision of a young women living in this city?

Smart City has been one of the key visions of the present government which has allocated resources for designing 100 smart cities by the end of 2020. Several cities have been submitting proposals to be accepted by the government. Some of the features smart city mission are access to the open spaces, walkable localities and strong emphasis on tech based solutions.

There is a lack of gender lens employed in the smart city solutions, not reflecting the lived experiences of people from the marginalised communities living in these smart cities. For example, in Bangalore- The IT Capital of India, the latest Draft solution by the governing authority emphasised  more on developing lands for industries and technology, than concerns of women, persons from disabled community, migrant community, children and old persons.

This silence over including experiences of citizens in the draft model of smart cities results in lopsided development. As part of allocating resources, there was nothing mentioned about street lighting on the streets or footpaths for pedestrians to walk. There are so many cases of harassment in specific dense areas but this has not resulted in any allocation of resources concerning safety for people of different genders in these specific areas.

Cities are the future blocks of the sustainable economy and members states of international community have come to accept this in the form of Sustainable Development goals (SDG). SDG11 discusses about sustainable cities with a transformative agenda that believes everyone must have a dignified life and create preconditions that allow people to grow and flourish.Some of the targets of Goal 11 clearly provides for  accessible transportation and green and safe public spaces. which can be used by people with disabilities, older people,  women children.

Indian cities need to re-look at the some of these targets and have to understand the value of making sustainable cities over smart cities. Cities cant exist in vacuum and not including concerns of its citizens, further make the citizens of these cities prone to various harm in the future. The cities have to see value in making inclusive cities which are made sustainable using the right amount of balance of information from both the technology and its living beings.


Image Credit : Jasmine Lovely George

#makeyourcityinclusive Twitter interview of Kochi

Hidden Pockets presents #makeyourcityinclusive! We are in the second week in our second city Kochi and organised a tweetathon on Friday Sept 23, 2016 at 5pm.

We also had a bunch of cool people joining us this time.

Dept. of Communicative English, St. Teresa’a College (Autonomous), Ernakulam,
Kerala Comics Brotherhood
Nadir Najumal Hussain, Founder of Cosplay League India,
Cecil Johnson, Maker,
Aswin Nandakumar, Restauranter
Yadukrishnan Sethumadhavan, Kerala Startup Mision Fellow
Anantha, Student of Law

Here is the storify of the tweetathon.


Reach for the stars, rainbow and beyond! #makeyourcityinclusive goes to Kochi

Add some red

Some green

May be some yellow

A dash of blue

Definitely some orange

Don’t forget the violet

And finally make some room for some indigo

Mix it altogether and get the wildest, most colourful and happiest rainbow!

Rainbow is one of the most inclusive symbols and rightly so. It has room for all colours. You can be blue and yet be yellow. You can be any colour you want to be and you’d still find your space in a rainbow because that is how cool a rainbow is.

With #makeyourcityinclusive being in its next phase, it only made sense for us at Hidden Pockets to use a rainbow. But why use a rainbow while launching our campaign in Kochi?

As we all know Kerala is the most literate state in India. Often, education does not go beyond just literacy. It does not necessarily translate into any change in behaviour. It is true education when that shift in attitude happens. Kerala has truly pioneered in achieving that distinction by making its state inclusive of all going even beyond gender distinctions. It is the first state in the country to introduce a welfare policy for transgenders in 2015. In 2016, the government introduced free Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) and further allocated budgets for employment and skill training progress for the transgender community, introduced Gender Taxi’s driven by the transgenders, all in an effort to remove the social stigma around them.

With all this happening in Kerala, it only made sense for our campaign to move to this state in its next phase. Being alive, open and the hub for anything cultural, Kochi became our next destination to be. We’d like to capture life and stories around inclusivity in Kochi and the state of Kerala. Let’s make an example out of Kochi, an inspiration for others. Tell us about the Hidden Pockets in your  city. What is your safe spot? What makes it safe? Where should we go when we visit Kerala? What are your recommendations? Tell us all about your city and your state in the form below. We are listening!

Follow the hashtag #makeyourcityinclusive for other updates on our campaign. Coming soon to other cities too!

About #makeyourcityinclusive:

#makeyourcityinclusive is Hidden Pockets’ campaign on making all cities inclusive, making everyone more inclusive. Tell us about all the places in your city that are disabled-friendly, open to single women even late at night, safe for senior citizens or not homophobic. How do we talk openly about mental health? Is your city inclusive to all them and more?

Updated: Helplines and support for people in #Bangalore #makeyourcityinclusive

With all that is going on between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, life has been affected in Bangalore. Earlier yesterday, Section 144 was declared in the city. Transport has been affected. Shops have shut down. Life has come to a standstill in several parts of the city.

If you are in Bangalore and stuck some place or know of people who need help, then here’s a list of places that you can find help and also check before you venture outdoors:

Travel & traffic update

  • Bangalore City Police Facebook page at 12.56pm 13/9/2016:

Situation absolutely peaceful in city.bmtc,autos,cabs startd plying.BCP,BTP,RAF on high alert.144 still in force.No fresh protest/rd block

Map of affected areas:

You can find details of the affected areas and safe areas before venturing out on this map.


This data will not be publicly available keeping in mind the safety of these open establishments. However, Ashwath Nair and Jayanth Sridhar can be contacted on Facebook with request for details.

  • You can also whatsapp the phone numbers +917411557555 and +91959176674 if you need any help with transport, stay and help with getting picked up and dropped home.

Update: 2PM, 13/9/2016

  • Bangalore City Police:

Public are requested 2 use Karnataka Police Help Line 18004250100 or 155365 for any emergency/assistance/help

Update: 2:50PM 13/9/16

  • Bangalore City Police:

#CauveryProtests :Reach us on twitter @BlrCityPolice @blrcitytraffic @CPBlr ,FB & whatsAPP 9480801000 for any info!

Update: 3:41PM 13/9/16

Please contact @BLRAirport for any assistance related to Airport. Their WhatsApp number is +918884998888

Update: 4:14PM 13/9/16

Contact Ashwin Murali on Twitter (@cruisemaniac)  or Facebook to get information about a list of shops selling milk, vegetables, medicines that are reported by others to be OPEN.

Update: 4:27PM 13/9/16

The map with information on shops is now open for public viewing so you can pick up provisions from your nearest spot.

The legend for the map is as follows:

Green – Verified 
Blue – User Generated Data
Red – Shut at the moment

The link to the map –

If any of you still want to make a contribution, please fill out this simple form:

Update: 4:33PM 13/9/16

Please call 080-22942503 to check if the area you are travelling to is safe or has curfew!.

Update: 5:46PM 13/9/16

According to @BlrCityPolice:

: CrPC Is Imposed In Bengaluru City From 12-09-2016 to 14-09-2016. Strict action shall b initiated agnst miscreants

Update: 5:55PM 13/9/16

If anyone is in need of an ambulance and is finding it hard to get one, you can call on +919986618553 to get help.

Update: 6:02PM 13/9/16

Here’s a free helpline for parents looking to consult a Paediatrician for their child – 080-330-85805. Call this number and they will connect you to a doctor.

Update: 7:09PM 13/9/16

For flight status update, DM @BLRAirport using <flight name> or get updated using their app ‘BLR Airport’ available on Android / iOS

Update: 7:17PM 13/9/16

@BLRAirport says minimal bus services to & from the airport are operating currently. Route 10 to Satellite town continues to stay off road. Travel safe.

Update: 8:46PM 13/9/16


Announced by @BlrCityPolice

Update: 9:09PM 13/9/16

Send photos/videos regarding destruction of public/private property by miscreants to

We’ll keep updating this space. Also request you to let us know through message on Hidden Pockets Facebook page about other updates that you think would help people in Bangalore. We are all in this together! #makeyourcityinclusive

Colour should not define my Chennai! #makeyourcityinclusive

“But you are fair! Are you really from Chennai?”

Yes I’m fair and I’m from Chennai!

Frustrated by people’s problems with anyone and everyone, for either being fair or dark skinned, tall or short, thin or fat, straight or gay, young or old or actually being anything for that matter, I said let’s start our campaign, #makeyourcityinclusive on a powerful note.

What can be more powerful than the face of the man in this poster? Super Star Rajinikanth is probably the best icon that represents everything inclusive, after defying everything that is stereotypical. From his skin colour and his education to his language and roots, the list is endless. Ask any of his ardent fans and they’d probably give you a longer list of things that he has defied! Getting a fairness cream to sponsor his movie was the biggest insult to him and all that he represents. This is our ode to a man who has defied all that.

The answer to the question, which city do we start with, seemed rather obvious. Chennai! With Hidden Pockets being mostly based out of Delhi and with a few of us in Bangalore, it seemed absolutely necessary to start our campaign in a city that is in the other end of the country.  It is a campaign about being inclusive after all.

But that’s not all. After having a love and mostly hate relationship with Chennai for over twenty-five years, I realized that I don’t know so much about this city where I grew up. My experiences in Chennai have been limited by the areas that I frequented. I blame it on my limited experience with the city even through twenty years. But this began to change about nine months ago, during the Chennai floods. I was in Chennai, stuck and struggling to get to safety with my uncle who is physically disabled. The drama that unfolded and the help that found us is a complete miracle. What could be more inclusive than all that help that people gave each other going beyond their usual inhibitions?

But isn’t there more to Chennai than just saving people only during a flood? Wouldn’t you want the world to know about it? Are you from Chennai? Have a story to tell us about Chennai that hasn’t been told before? What are those hidden pockets in Chennai that people don’t know about? Or do you have places and people that you’d like others to visit and become a part of? Tell us here –

Follow the hashtag #makeyourcityinclusive for other updates on our campaign. Coming soon to other cities too!

About #makeyourcityinclusive:

#makeyourcityinclusive is Hidden Pockets’ campaign on making all cities inclusive, making everyone more inclusive. Tell us about all the places in your city that are disabled-friendly, open to single women even late at night, safe for senior citizens or not homophobic. How do we talk openly about mental health? Is your city inclusive to all them and more? Tell us by filling this form: