Car Safeness in India
The Supreme Court of India identified the growing number of car accidents as a “National Emergency.” About 12% of the world’s road accidents involve Indians. They own less than 3% of the globe’s vehicles. This created a decrease in car safeness in India. With over five lakh accidents recorded each year, India records the highest road fatalities, a lop-sided track record in comparison to countries with high motorization rates.

Jai Prakash Sharma, a taxi driver in Mumbai since 2008, believes the primary reason behind the increase in accidents is careless drivers. Despite the implementation of stringent rules and heftier fines, there is still a great deal of misconduct. “As far as taxi drivers are concerned, they try their best to drive with caution as the implications of a road fatality can be financially crippling, especially following a pandemic,” he said. Studies have found that road fatalities in India have a direct impact on poverty and low-income households. Moreover, they promote rural-urban inequality and impede India’s prosperity.

Road Crashes and Poverty

In India, the majority of accidents involve pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists who often belong to the low-middle income strata. According to Ashok Kumar Yadav, a 43-year-old cab driver in Mumbai, road fatalities will rise as people prefer personal vehicles or even walking over public transport due to safety and affordability issues.

A World Bank survey in India indicated that more than 75% of the low-income households experienced a sharp decline in living standards following a major accident. Yadav said the aftermath of the accidents drains four to five months of his salary. Data has shown that the impact of an accident can use seven months of earnings in low-income households, whereas high-income families use up only one month of earnings. Yadav said, “I involuntarily have to borrow to compensate for hefty medical and repair costs because my earnings and savings are not enough.”

Road Crashes and Rural-Urban Disparity

Statistics have pointed out that road fatalities have elevated inequality in India. The drop in income post-crash was highest in lower-income households (LIH) in rural areas (56%). High-income households (HIH) in rural areas (39.5%) and LIH in urban areas (29.5%) followed this statistic. Indian Union transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, released this report. The relationship between the drop in income at the place of the crash is, in part, representative of the rampant rural-urban disparity in India.

A World Bank and Save Life Foundation study has suggested that low-income households in rural areas are more prone to road fatalities. In fact, this number is four times more than low-income households in urban areas. The report also determined that low-income households reported twice the number of deaths in comparison to high-income families.

Jai Prakash explained the majority of the taxi drivers have only minimum health insurance coverage. Therefore, individuals sustaining major injuries pay medical bills out-of-pocket. Consequently, they arranged money to begin medical procedures.

Road Crashes and Women

Rajiv Manda, a veteran among other taxi drivers, worries about the consequences of a car accident. It would not only put him out of work but also burden his wife and kids to provide for the family. He said, “When a sole jobholder (typically a man) in a low-income household loses their job, the added load often is assumed by the women in the family.” In fact, about 11% of women from affected families take up extra work to mitigate the financial woes of the family. As a result, about 40% reported a change in working patterns, while 50% experienced a substantial drop in livelihoods.

Road Crashes and Prosperity

The latest findings by India’s government and the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal car accidents as the primary cause of death among the age group of five to 29. The lack of car safeness in India reflects this information. Rajiv Manda blames the recklessness and negligence of young drivers. He said, “Young vehicle users often drive in high spirits, which is a recipe for trouble.”

Such deaths prevent a dynamic pool of youth from having a productive impact on the country. The cost of loss in productivity, combined with the obligation on police, courts, healthcare and insurance systems, aggregates to a massive 3% of India’s GDP or 4.3 lakh crore annually. A World Bank study has shown that if India manages to halve road deaths and injuries between 2014 and 2038, it could uplift India’s GDP by 14%.


The Indian government has introduced a National Road Safety Policy and a Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill. This will improve safety requirements, law enforcement and victim assistance, and subsequently reduce road fatalities. Additionally, the government has launched a variety of initiatives to generate awareness about the issue.

Yadav is thankful for these measures but feels that the government should improve healthcare services and post-crash care. For example, he explained that the current car insurance procedures are counterproductive. Drivers frequently have to leave their taxis at the insurance office to undergo car inspection to claim car insurance, forcing them to forgo work.


Road accidents can have injurious effects on the financial stability of low-income families. They can also shove them into vicious depths of poverty, disproportionately impacting poor families and women. The lack of car safeness in India highlights the rural-urban divide in the country.

Prathamesh Mantri
Photo: Flickr

Digital Solutions for Poor Indian FarmersAccording to the World Bank, 44 percent of India’s population were employed as farmers in 2018. For many of these farmers, it is hard sustaining a living amid social, economic and environmental burdens. Smallholder farmers are often the poorest and most malnourished people despite their career. Digital Green is hoping to change that by connecting poor Indian farmers through its digital solutions to improve communication and earnings.

Digital Green

Digital Green is a global development organization that enables smallholder farmers to escape poverty through technology and collaboration. With this connection between farmers, individuals are likely to share their knowledge of farming. This collaborative effort not only improves the lives of one farming family but the lives of many. Digital Green began in 2006 as a project of Microsoft Research. Two years later, Digital Green became an independent nonprofit.

Digital Green’s life as a nonprofit began in India in 2008 when it broke off of Microsoft Research. Using participatory videos to teach smallholder farmers, Digital Green managed to help over 1.8 million farmers across 15,200 villages India. Of these farmers, an astounding 90 percent were women. Through Digital Green’s training videos, farmers learn how to use the system in order to properly and efficiently improve agriculture and nutrition.

Digital Green’s Knowledge Sharing

Digital Green builds technology tailored to communities for communities. Each video Digital Green creates focuses on the locals and their specific needs to improve their livelihoods. With more than 6,000 videos in more than 50 languages, Digital Green’s collaborative approach encourages farmers to share their knowledge. Digital Green supplies farmers with a data collection and analysis of production through its online and offline database, CoCo. CoCo displays data in near real-time, which supplies farmers with the most accurate information. When it comes time to harvest their crops, farmers have the option of using Digital Green’s app, Loop. Loop enables farmers to sell their produce in a more timely manner.

In 2011, Digital Green expanded into Ethiopia. Working with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Digital Green has produced 980 videos, which have reached nearly 375,000 families. With nearly 60 video screenings a day across the country, farmers can rely on Digital Green to answer any questions they might have. Through Digital Green’s platform, the nonprofit connects researchers, extension agents and farmers through videos, radio and mobile devices. These lines of communication aid farmers with knowledge from experts and their neighbors.

Digital Green’s Partnership with India and its Five-Year-Plan

In 2012, Digital Green partnered with the Government of India and introduced over 1.1 million farmers to the National Rural Livelihood Mission. This particular project focused on “improv[ing] the efficiency of agriculture and livelihood interventions.” Fifty-six percent of the farmers adopted one or more techniques they had learned during the program.

In 2017, Digital Green committed to a five-year plan to achieve a 25 percent increase in income for 1.1 million South Asian and African farmers. Digital Green’s mission is to expand beyond India and share its agriculture development programs with the world. Digital Green has reached nearly 700,000 people across India and Ethiopia. Through Loop, Digital Green has help farmers sell over 4,700 tonnes of vegetables.

Digital Green’s solutions for poor Indian farmers are changing the agriculture field not just for India but the world. Through technology and innovation, Digital Green continues to expand and improves the lives of smallholder farmers.

– Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation and Hygiene in India
There is a restricted amount of water, sanitation and hygiene in India on a daily basis. Therefore, the lack of these resources leads to disease and death.

Diseases, Defecation and Lack of Sanitation Facilities

India is one of the world’s most heavily populated countries with more than half residing in suburban neighborhoods. Due to the country’s vast population growth and its limited accessibility to water, people have limited access to sanitation and hygiene in India.

  • Nearly half of Indians defecate into the environment, which pollutes water and leads to the number one cause of diarrhea-associated deaths in children. Yearly, 117,000 children younger than five pass away due to diarrhea as a result of unsanitary environments and contaminated water.
  • Research indicates that a little over half of India’s population washes their hands after defecation. Only 38 percent of people wash their hands before eating and as little as 30 percent wash their hands prior to handling food. Young children are most susceptible to diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections; yet, using soap to wash hands can reduce the likelihood of contracting these illnesses.
  • Nearly 600 million people do not use toilets, and as a result, their waste enters the environment which leads to a higher likelihood of water contamination and diarrhea. Children who suffer from diarrhea are more susceptible to malnutrition and other illnesses, such as pneumonia. Malnutrition afflicts nearly 50 percent of children.
  • Nearly 10 percent of countryside households discard waste properly, while people leave more than half of the waste out in the environment or put it into the trash. As little as six percent of children under the age of five use sanitation facilities.
  • For adolescent females, it is necessary to provide the essential facilities, products and education to allow for proper menstrual hygiene. Many girls are likely to not attend school due to the lack of seclusion in the sanitation facilities. Other times, females feel discomfort when there is no facility available at home.

The Water Crisis

Nearly 200,000 Indians pass away each year as a result of insufficient accessibility to consumable water, while 600 million people are water-stressed due to the limited availability of 1,700 cubic meters of water yearly.

Research published in June 2018 predicts that India will undergo an acute lack of availability to water within two decades. The report approximates that the need for water will duplicate the obtainable supply by 2030.

The Government’s Partnerships to End Open Defecation and Increase Sanitation Efforts

In 2014, India’s Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, began advocating to enhance cleanliness efforts by October 2019. Since he announced this objective, there has been significant progress in making clean water and hygiene amenities available.

In 2014, the amount of people living in agricultural areas who defecate openly has decreased from 550 million to 320 million. Overall, clean drinking water and proper sewage disposal have improved from 39 percent in October 2014 to over 90 percent in August 2018.

UNICEF Action endorses the federal and local governments in providing water, sanitation and hygiene in India. UNICEF’s Child’s Environment Programme advocates for the government’s Total Sanitation Campaign, which has the goal to enhance the availability and utilization of sanitation facilities. The National Rural Drinking Water Programme works to implement clean water to each and every family in India; the Child’s Environment program collaborates with Integrated Child Development Services to ensure that proper hygiene facilities are present in schools.

USAID collaborates with India’s government to implement healthful towns by growing access to safe water and cleanliness. Together, USAID and the Government of India assess and distinguish various models to enable consumable water and toilets, which they can put into effect for various localities.

In order to eliminate defecation by 2019, India began the five-year Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission to cease open defecation. USAID promotes the commission by educating others about these matters and initiating action from the people and government officials.

The overall goal of USAID is to implement techniques to have safe, clean water access that is inexpensive. The organization also collaborates with civilians to compose sanitation facilities as well as encouraging hand washing along with refraining from defecating in the environment.

In 2017, 300,000 citizens had access to water, sanitation and hygiene in their homes. As a result of the community efforts, 25,000 communities have stopped defecating in the environment, while 175,000 people are able to obtain clean, consumable water.

– Diana Dopheide

Photo: Flickr

Though digital technology often seems out of reach in developing countries where some people are struggling to find clean water and food, one can look to Digital India—an initiative by the Government of India to integrate digital technology into society—to see how such technologies offer solutions toward ending global poverty.

The initiatives of Digital India include creating digital infrastructure, delivering government services to citizens digitally, improving digital literacy, and expanding high-speed internet access for rural areas.

According to news site DNA India, the Government of India hopes to reach nationwide information frames by March 2017. By 2020, the government has plans to train over 150,000 students to work in the IT sector. Wi-fi access will be digitally accessible by all universities, country-wide.

According to H.C. Hong, president and CEO of Samsung India, the popularity of smartphones and mobile social media has caused a large growth in online activity and technology adaptation of young people in India.

For digital technology to become a success in developing countries, a high-skilled workforce needs to exist in the sector. This opens up the job market, allows for professional training, and expands business growth that all help to reduce poverty.

This year, Burkina Faso became the first African nation to use cloud networking technology thanks to French telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent.

According to the African Media Agency (AMA), the Danish government will be funding the project with a $19.9 billion investment that will provide for digital public service development and the training of 100 employees.

In Burkina Faso, digital services for health, education, justice, services will be provided by the network and assist the country in facilitating economic growth. Danish Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Bo Jensen, explains the region’s digital technology solution to ending poverty:

He states, “The objectives pursued by the project are in line with the national development strategy and sectorial strategies. It is an innovative approach using state of the art technology to pursue poverty alleviation and good governance…We strongly believe that this project will lead to more transparency and improved public financial management.”

Cloud access in poor, rural areas offers information and services that may not have been accessible in certain regions of the world ever before. People have access to endless information, such as weather reports, research and stock market news—consumer information that can lead to market activity and stimulate the economy.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: African Media Agency, Alcatel-Lucent, DNA India
Photo: Flickr