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The Briton who is cleaning up India

“The first thing I saw were the beautiful mountains, but when I looked over the edge what I saw was — garbage,” says Jodie Underhill remembering her trek to Triund, near McLeodganj a few years ago.

After spending three months travelling through Mumbai, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, she had made her way to Dharamsala in 2008.

“India is such a beautiful country, but I haven’t seen filth on this scale. People just don’t care,” she continues talking about her battle with garbage in her office-cum-home in Dehradun; which is also a refuge to Bella, a donkey that broke its leg in a car accident across the road.

“I thought Dharamsala would be my salvation. It was the home of the Dalai Lama and would be clean, but I was wrong. I got off the tourist bus at 6 am to see a big pile of garbage at my feet. I couldn’t take it anymore.”

A native of England, Underhill, who had come to volunteer at a Tibetan school, then spent two weeks walking around McLeodganj with a placard saying ‘Volunteers Needed.’

Hundreds of people, mostly foreigners, turned up for her first clean up.

She and the volunteers went on to clean a children’s park that had been made into a dumping ground and started a waste collection system from home and shops in Triund so that people stopped throwing garbage down the mountains.

“With every piece of glass, plastic or trash you picked, it felt you were rescuing nature in a small way,” she says.

Since then waste is collected from 250 households and brought down on mules. Her NGO also maintains an 8-km-long popular trekking trail.

Underhill, who is often called ‘pagal (mad) for her passion for cleaning up and disposing off waste in the correct way, moved to Dehradun in 2012 to start Waste Warriors with funding from Max-India.

One of its projects was Gandhi Park, the only park in the city, which costs Rs 20,000 a month to maintain.

The organisation and its staff of 24 waste workers maintain certain shopping complexes, forest areas and localities in cooperation with shopkeepers and locals. She also conducts workshops in schools and has conducted a programme on waste management with the Indian Army.

“In India, people have a terrible attitude towards those who clear waste. They are the invisible people. Without them India would have disappeared under its garbage,” says the 38 year old, who won Times Now’s Amazing Indian Award in 2012 and a Rs 4 lakh (Rs 400,000) grant from the Mahindra Rise competition that supports new ideas.

In addition, Mahindra also gave Waste Warriors two pick-up trucks. It was the first time Waste Warriors moved on from the sole cycle rickshaw it had used till then to collect waste. Individual donations also help the organisation with funds — one of them being Telugu movie superstar Chiranjeevi’s contribution of Rs 5 lakhs (Rs 500,000).

When Underhill, a CEO without a salary, could not get a reduction in her visa extension fee of Rs 32,000 recently, Michael Dalvi, the former Ranji Trophy player, donated the amount to the NGO.

Waste Warriors charges Rs 100 from a chaiwallah to Rs 5,000 from a bank to collect and dispose the garbage responsibly. In a particular complex in Dehradun, the waste was earlier being dumped into a parking lot.

Struggling to raise funds and at times confronted with local governmental indifference, working with garbage hasn’t been easy for Underhill. It also elicits prejudice. She was once reported as a prostitute to the Foreigners Registration Office because residents disapproved of her living with two sweepers and her clean-up rounds in a cycle rickshaw.

“I shared their home. It was convenient as I worked with them,” she says and is grateful to have found the present space where Waste Warriors does waste segregation, composting and even provides shelter to cows, donkeys and dogs

Getting down on her knees as she goes through a pile of garbage her waste warriors had brought in, she picks up a plastic bag with rotting, smelly foodstuff.10jodie6

“This plastic will take hundreds of years to decompose,” she says, reiterating the 5 important things all of us MUST do:

  • Segregate dry and liquid waste.
  • Stop using plastic.
  • Recycle.
  • Compost food/ garden waste.
  • Stop LITTERING and PEEING anywhere you feel like!

“To change mindsets and habits is not impossible, but difficult. Stopping littering, dumping, burning is equivalent to giving up alcohol or drug addiction,” says Underhill, whose NGO is also working with six villages surrounding the Corbett National Park and aims to expand to 120 villages in the next five years.

With no awareness or mechanism, villagers have been dumping their waste into the Corbett tiger reserve. Funding for the first year has been provided by Mahindra. Waste Warriors has projects in Dharamsala, Dehradun, Corbett and has recently started work in Rishikesh. It aims at having similar projects around the country.

Underhill is quite obviously, excited about the Swachh Bharat initiative, and is eager to make a presentation to the prime minister. “I’d like to tell him what needs to be done because I work in the field,” she says.

“The PM is doing the right thing, but sweeping is not enough, it also has to be disposed properly. We need infrastructure, technology and mass scale awareness,” says Underhill.

“The municipal solid waste rules that came into being 14 years ago need to be enforced and read by every government official. This piece of legislation is the key to cleaning India.”

Yet she feels no government can work wonders unless the people bring about the transformation themselves.

Back in England, her parents think she has lost her mind to be working with garbage in India. But she feels India is home.

“English parents are like Indian parents. They want you to get married and have kids. I say I want to make a difference for other kids,” says Underhill who hasn’t been home for a couple of years.

“What are we leaving behind for them — a planet that has nothing left? Millions are going to die if we don’t change the way we live.”

Current Affairs

Delhi-Based Couple’s Wedding Invite Is Going Viral..Here’s Why

A Delhi-based couple has decided to invite people to their wedding with their hatke invitations and it’s going viral on Twitter.

Marriage is a union of two people, who begin a new lease of life by taking vows and making their way into a beautiful commitment! To celebrate the unison, an extravagant affair is planned that last for almost a week. And when it comes to Indian weddings, people sometimes go the extra mile to make their D-day memorable. A Delhi-based couple is the latest addition to the list, who decided to invite people to their wedding with their hatke invitations.

Twitter handle, @Stuprous_doctor, a short while ago tweeted the images of a trendy wedding invite, said to be that of Suresh Kumar and Vidhya Priyanka BD, and Twitterati just lost it. Molded in the form of an iPhone, allegedly created by Kumar’s cousin, the invites is generating a hype for its interesting design. In accordance to a BuzzFeed report, Kumar said that despite the fact that theirs was an arranged marriage, it was speedy to bloom into love and they wanted to publicize their big decision in a “weird, quirky way” to the world.

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Your Thoughts

Meet this lucky man who gets paid to have s3x with prostitutes

‘John’ is 60, divorced, and gets paid to have s3x with prostitutes. Well, “more often than not it’s just a handjob” he says.

He is one of several private investigators being hired in Australia as ‘brothel busters’, who pose as regular customers in order to unearth illegal s3x work.

“I’m pretty sure plenty of fellas would be a bit envious of how I’m earning a bit of pocket money from time to time,” he told news.com.au, replying when asked whether it was a good retirement gig: “Oh, most definitely.”

His job is necessary because authorities have little power to access premises without a court order, making it difficult to bust the brothels posing as massage parlours that are ubiquitous in New South Wales.

John can provide them with highly graphic detail about the services on offer however, filing reports that can run for up to three pages and include dates, times, people, places, who, what, when, where and how much.

“It’s a document that will be used in court, so it has to be pretty detailed and very accurate. It’s not something you can waddle off in a couple of minutes,” he said.

More often than not, he claims, the parlours are fronts.

“If you looked hard enough, you might be able to find a massage parlour that doesn’t offer s3xual services,” he said. “In my experience there have only been three premises where I have gone in and not been offered that service some time during the course of the treatment.”

John notes that while some offer intercourse which he obligingly accepts, “more often than not it’s just a handjob. They just want to get it over and done with and get the next one in.”

Lachlan Jarvis, managing director of private investigation firm Lyonswood, is in charge of hiring undercover s3x investigators.

“We prefer people who are single, and obviously they have to be willing to undertake s3xual activity,” he told news.com.au.

 “I’m not surprised that some people would say that spending ratepayers’ money on the services we provide is outrageous, but they don’t understand that we help stop s3x trafficking, for example.”
John counts himself lucky to have what is a fairly relaxed and flexible job.
“It’s not your typical nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday job,” he said. “There are no time constraints, and there’s never been a stage where I’ve felt threatened or worried about my safety.”
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Once She was a Shepherd Girl In Morocco, Now France’s Education Minister! Inspirational Story.

Once A Shepherd Girl In Morocco, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem Is Now France’s Education Minister!
Everybody dreams of making it big in life but very few determined souls really act upon it. The story of Najat Vallaud-Belkacem is a testament to this, who overcame all the obstacles life laid at her feet and carved her own destiny.
Once a shepherd girl of four – who fetched water from the well – Najat moved to France with her family and faced the real world full of opportunities as well as struggles. The Moroccan girl who had no proficiency in French learnt the language by the end of her first year in college.
“The fact of leaving one’s country, one’s family, one’s root can be painful, my father had already found his place, but for us, for my mother, it was very difficult to get our bearings.”

Najat inherited hard work and resourcefulness from her father who laid strict rules for his daughters – no boys and no nightclubs till the age of 18. As a result, the girls completely surrendered themselves to studies.
Najat’s sister, Fatiha, is a lawyer in Paris.
While studying at the University of Amiens, Najat got the opportunity to pursue higher education with the prestigious Institut d’études politiques de (also known as Sciences Po). This set her on the path winding the political landscape in France.

Najat worked two jobs to take the financial load off her parents while pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration. It is during this time she met Boris Vallaud, a fellow student, and the two married in 2005.


Najat’s political career began with her joining the Socialist Party as an adviser to the mayor of Lyon. She later ran for elections and won the seat of the Councillor. In 2012, she was appointed as the Minister of Women’s Affairs by François Hollande, the then Socialist president.
In 2014, she served as the Minister of Women’s Right, Minister of City Affairs, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. In a major cabinet shuffle, she was promoted to serve as the Minister of Education. While advising the youth who want to participate in the country’s politics, Najat said, “I have always advised the youths to get involved in politics. The best way to be happy with your future is by playing a part in it. If you’re just a spectator of collective fate, you’re bound to feel frustrated.”

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