Your weekly soapbox for

Urban Sustainability

Sathya Sankaran
with co-hosts
Knerav Kodolikar & Sonal Kulkarni

Featured Guests

OoruLabs | Talking Heads

Podcast Library

Coming Soon

Episode 36: Can apartment complexes create sustainable cities?

Talking Heads / 14 Oct 2023 / 00:00

Bangalore Apartments Federation or BAF is one of a kind collectivisation of more than 1250 apartment owners associations giving themselves bargaining power with city authorities. How have they used their power? Are such dense settlements a boon or bane to the city? Vikram Rai who is the serving secretary of BAF discusses this and more on this episode.

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Episode 35: Does citizen journalism have a future?

Talking Heads / 7 Oct 2023 / 00:00

Meera K runs Citizen Matters an online portal that aggregates citizen stories. With her experience in civic activism, open data and trying to get people to contribute to civic affairs, she unravels how we have changed as a society in talking about our urban issues.

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Episode 34: Is india ready for clean transportation?

Talking Heads / 30 Sep 2023 / 51:04

Pawan Mulukutla, Director of Integrated Transport, Electric Mobility & Hydrogen, WRI India, talks about the country's readiness to make the transition to clean fuels. While there is a market momentum in electric mobility, there are challenges as well. We explore the industry and product readiness in hydrogen and biofuels as well.

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Episode 33: Can cities fix the jobs shortage?

Talking Heads / 23 Sep 2023 / 50:33

18 million people turn 18 each year in India and we have over a 100 million people surplus in agriculture. Unless we create 20 million new jobs each year, India’s dream of a demographic dividend could easily turn into a nightmare! Listen to Sridhar Krishna Senior Scholar at Takshashila Institution as we tackle the role of cities in surmounting this problem. From skills gap to career impact bonds what do we need to do?

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Episode 32: Where is the money in our cities going?

Talking Heads / 16 Sep 2023 / 01:06:44

Srikanth Vishwanathan unpacks city finances. Why is infrastructure in our cities failing? Are cities mismanaging the finances? Are they unable to tap the right sources of funding? What is the impact of a dysfunctional city finance corporation? What are the reforms in municipal finances?

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Episode 31: Why are our cities dirty?

Talking Heads / 9 Sep 2023 / 1:00:15

Sandhya Narayanan of Solid Waste Management Round Table unpacks the biggest problem plauging our cities today: Trash, Litter, Waste. She lays blame squarely where it belong while walking us through the tremendous progress made over the past decade and the work that remains to be done.

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Episode 30: Is there a remedy for citizen complaints?

Talking Heads / 2 Sep 2023 / 55:31

Suryaprakash from Daksh Legal puts on a systems thinking hat to help us navigate the problems in judicial and non-judicial remedial landscape for civic apathy and low trust in our society. In a freewheeling discussion we look our ability to seek relief in the current political, bureaucratic and judicial system and our ability to seek relief in the appropriate forum. Wether its incomplete flyovers or concepts like tunnel roads or just bad footpath and roads, is there a way out to get proper services from the government?

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Episode 29: Is the newspaper dead?

Talking Heads / 26 Aug 2023 / 48:25

Rasheed Kappan a journalist with 3 decades of experience in print and digital media, talks us through the changing landscape of media and the city. Listen in to see how many years he gives the newspaper to survive and what will take its place in urban readership.

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Episode 28: Are our urban citizens healthy?

Talking Heads / 19 Aug 2023 / 49:06

Shama Karkal unpacks healthy cities. Why how we build our cities and how we live matters greatly to our individual and collective health. Why we are not measuring enough, how our departments coordinating better will make us healthier, how nutrition and movement will reduce our chances of becoming a basket case, how some people in the city are healthier because they are wealthier.

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Episode 27: Why we build our cities wrong?

Talking Heads / 12 Aug 2023 / 58:26

With breathtaking drone visuals Naresh Narasimhan talks about what building world class waterways and streets teach us about history, community engagement, government capacity, measuring outcomes, identity and branding of a city.

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Episode 26: How do we achieve liveability in cities?

Talking Heads / 5 Aug 2023 / 01:20:24

In an amazingly insightful conversation, Vinayak Bharne dives deep into the complex structures that underpin the definition of a liveable city. From cultural, informal nature of the cities to the role real estate developers and structural policies at play, we wrangle with the line we need to draw between these extremes.
“The answer dear friend is blowing in the wind.” - Bob Dylan

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Episode 25: Indian cyclist in the Tour de France?

Talking Heads / 29 July 2023 / 51:32

Venkateshwara Rao Navanasi or Bikey Venky founder of Bengaluru Amatuer Racing, Curator of the working athelete podcast and a well known cyclist in the country's amatuer circuitl for more than a decade speaks about what it takes to get an Indian into the pro peleton.

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Episode 24: Should Bengaluru be split?

Talking Heads / 22 July 2023 / 01:01:08

One city or many cities? Or is it both? What will it achieve? In this episode, V Ravichandar, member of the Bengaluru Restructuring committee, demystifies the proposal to split Bengaluru, the Greater Bengaluru Authority being created and the Bengaluru Governance Bill being drafted to give wings to this. Listen in.

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Episode 23: How to stop cities from drowning?

Talking Heads / 15 July 2023 / 51:39

Cities are drowning all across the country. In this episode, S Vishwanath, Popularly known as Zenrainman, tells us why. How do we stop this deluge? He lays bare the gaps in our existing water management and governance strategy. Listen in to find out more.

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Episode 22: China controlling Indian EV market?

Talking Heads / 08 July 2023 / 50:54

How do we get out of the Chinese stranglehold on the Indian EV market? What does it take for innovators in the EV space to succeed? What are the frictions in the space that suppliers can solve for the OEM’s? Is Make in India possible? This and more from Vivek Sharanappa of BuyMyEV a startup making electric two wheelers.

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Episode 21: City's future inscribed on a stone

Talking Heads / 01 July 2023 / 01:26:09

In this episode Udaya Kumar PL walks us through how the contemporary city was before you knew it, all documented on stones. These inscription stones can help enrich our understanding of how cities evolve and how the governed and the governors move the trajectory of how we got here and where we could go. These stones tell us everything from governance, language, finance, science to astronomy.

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Episode 20: Who is a Bicycle Mayor?

Talking Heads / 24 June 2023 / 47:05

In this episode, Bicycle Mayor Network Co-ordinator from BYCS, Netherlands, Simon Alvarez Belon speaks about the change maker network for cycling that has swept across many countries. He delves into who is a Bicycle Mayor, and the impact their work has been having. Listen in if you are curious and want to join the network.

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Episode 19: Will the bicycle survive the future?

Talking Heads / 17 June 2023 / 50:55

In this episode of the OoruLabs podcast, Sathya Sankaran and Sonal Kulkarni discuss the future of cycling as a commuting vehicle in cities with Professor Ruth Oldenziel. They delve into the history of the automobile industry and its impact on urban planning, as well as the factors needed for successful cycling infrastructure. Listen in to learn more about the role of cycling in sustainable transportation and the challenges faced in promoting it in different contexts.

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Episode 18: Should cities abandon Masterplans?

Talking Heads / 10 June 2023 / 01:05:39

In this episode of the OoruLabs podcast, Dr. Anjali Karol Mohan discusses the flaws in the urban planning process and the need for a bottom-up approach to fix the abysmal implementation rates. She explains how the current top-down approach by the Bangalore Development Authority is inadequate and how a comprehensive development plan is necessary. She emphasizes the importance of involving stakeholders and devolving planning to the municipal level. We dig deep into the organisational complexities and structural deficiencies that plagues our cities and planning. Listen to gain insights on how to better plan cities for the future.

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Episode 02: World Bicycle Day special

Commuter Series / 3 June 2023 / 01:03:25

In this Commuter Series, World Bicycle Day special episode of the OoruLabs podcast from Bengaluru, three commuters, Shilpi Sahu, Tandava Popuri, and Karthik Ranganathan, share their experiences of commuting to work by bicycle in Bengaluru. In a freewheeling conversation covering Individual, Corporate and Government contributions, they discuss the benefits and challenges of cycling, including road safety, the convenience of cycling, and how it can transform cities. Tune in to hear their stories and learn how cycling can be a sustainable solution to urban transportation.

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Episode 17: Does size matter for cities?

Talking Heads / 27 May 2023 / 54:43

In this episode of the OoruLabs podcast, Alok Prasanna from the Vidhi Center for Legal Policy talks to Sathya Sankaran about the challenges of urban governance in India's megacities. They discuss the history of municipal governance, the need for effective ward committees, and the limitations of the current system. Prasanna highlights the importance of right-sizing governance and active intervention to keep pace with the scale of growth in India's cities, why the 74th amendment is too weak to get us better cities and reveals how an alternate constitution considered a better devolution but was abandoned for unknown reasons.

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Episode 16: The problem with parking

Talking Heads / 20 May 2023 / 01:01:51

Discover the root causes of parking problems in cities and how to solve them in this episode of the OoruLabs podcast. Hear from Dr. Paul Barter, an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the host of the Reinventing parking podcast, as he discusses how the mindset towards parking has led to inefficiencies and explains the importance of managing on-street parking. Listen to learn how incentivizing motorists to look for off-street parking can help solve the issue.

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Episode 15: Will shared micro-mobility survive?

Talking Heads / 13 May 2023 / 54:21

In this episode of the OoruLabs podcast, CEO of Yulu, Amit Gupta, talks about micromobility and its potential in India. He explains how it's not just about the first and last mile, but also about short distance travel in an efficient and sustainable manner. Join us as we dive deeper into the future of mobility and how micromobility can play a crucial role in it.

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Episode 14: Are we measuring mobility right?

Talking Heads / 6 May 2023 / 54:05

In this episode Roshan Toshniwal of Ola Mobility Institute talks about how metrics used to measure mobility are yet to be standardised. The challenges in data collection measurement and reporting of qualitative metrics are next to non existent. In the last week of April he released the Ease of Moving index he worked on at OMI.

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Episode 13: Does governance decentralisation work?

Talking Heads / 29 April 2023 / 59:30

This episode is with Srinivas Alavilli of WRI India and Janagrahaa, who talks about how ward level decentralised ways of working can solve issues. He calls attention to the dangers in the existing civil society framework and his experiences with ward committees in Bengaluru.

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Episode 12: Policy education and public problem solving

Talking Heads / 22 April 2023 / 59:43

In this podcast Dr Ashwin Mahesh talks to us about public problem solving and the approach one should take to begin the journey. He also throws light on challenges within the interplay of state market and society in providing effective solutions. He provides valuable inputs for people on how to begin their journey in problem solving.

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Episode 11: Suburban Rail sidelined?

Talking Heads / 16 April 2023 / 37:59

In this podcast is Sanjeev Dymannavar. He played an instrumental role in the Namma Railu campaign for more than 12 years to bring Suburban Rail to Bengaluru. He was also awarded the Namma Bengaluru citizen of the year for his persistence in this campaign.

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Episode 10: How smart are our cities?

Talking Heads / 7 April 2023 / 42:26

In this podcast Venugopal AV of ITDP India talks about the journey of working with Smart City Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the many smart cities under it. He demystifies the smart cities, their structure, the challenges in their functioning and the way forward.

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Episode 09: Is ride sharing in trouble?

Talking Heads / 1 April 2023 / 39:02

In this podcast we speak with Shahed Hashmi, a Public Policy and Corporate Affairs professional who has spent the past few years in fast-growing shared mobility and last mile delivery startups. He addresses the various challenges they face in providing shared mobility in cities.

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Episode 08: Is this the end of App Aggregators?

Talking Heads / 26 March 2023 / 56:51

In this podcast we speak with Satya Arikuthram an Independent consultant, about the resurgence of Autorickshaws powered by ONDC. He has worked on the Namma Yatri app rollout with Auto drivers in Bengaluru. He speaks about the potentials and benefits of this new model.

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Episode 07: Will Bicycle Sharing work in India?

Talking Heads / 18 March 2023 / 55:53

We speak with Arjit Soni, who runs a bootstrapped Public Bicycle Sharing System called MYBYK across 6 cities in India, on the potential of bicycle sharing. Why he has been able to survive when the big guns with money failed in the bicycle sharing. The advantages of his model and his challenges.

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Episode 06: Is there an e-bus revolution in India?

Talking Heads / 12 March 2023 / 54:42

We speak with Ravi Gadepalli, a transport consultant with the World Bank, ADB, UITP and IFC, who has worked in the national e-bus procurement, about the India e-bus story. The challenges in moving our bus fleet to electric and what it will take to make that happen. The national e-bus procurement strategy bought benefits of scale to kick start the e-bus revolution but will it sustain?

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Episode 01: First urban liveability themed cartoons in India?

Commuter Series / 5 March 2023 / 32:41

We speak with Shilpi Sahu a runner and bicycle commuter in Bengaluru about her passion for illustrating contemporary urban issues with her pencil and canvas. She tells us why she chose to illustrate what she saw during her commute and the plight of citizens as we run through some of our favourite pieces of work.

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Episode 05: Should you wear a bicycle helmet in the city?

Hot Takes / 26 February 2023 / 35:06

Knerav and Sathya trash it out, on the first Hot Takes episode, the pros and cons of wearing a bicycle helmet for commute. We frankly put out points that might be difficult and counter intutive for most people to accept.

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Episode 04: What the Dutch!

Talking Heads / 19 February 2023 / 51:31

We speak with Dirk De Jager, former Dy Mayor of various Amsterdam districts and consultant who has helped cities in Iran and Turkey put up bicycle lanes. He tells us how "We are not Amsterdam" is a bad excuse because "Amsterdam was also us". The steps to transform can be hard but extremely doable, but only if we did a few things now.

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Episode 03: Did we miss the bus?

Talking Heads / 12 February 2023 / 41:22

We speak with Shreya Gadepalli of Urbanworks Institute about the story of the bus in India. Why in the race to plan Metros we dont know some very startling facts about the bus. We discuss models of operation, wether the bus should be free, how parking plays a role etc.

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