Indigenous Innovations – I (The Wall)


It is amazing to read about a phobia called Paruresis, how can someone have such a phobia which would not allow them to release themselves in public? Well it would be so good if this kind of a problem take roots in India.

But Indian philosophy teaches us “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which literally means the whole universe is our home, and I guess many of us have taken it to a next level….the next level where in logically every house will have a toilet ….. and ….. hence the whole world is our toilet!!!

Urban eyes see a wall in the city as a potential toilet. Well if we go by the walls in Delhi, there actually is no need to build them, walls in-between the roads, walls for public parks, walls for a traffic islands….walls and walls and walls….basically the policy is to build walls wherever nothing else can be built…and may be the people’s protest against these walls come in the form of the essential human liquid waste? though this has grown to a grave problem now.

As the rule goes, ‘for every problem there is a solution’, we too have developed numerous solutions for this problem.

The first and the basic solution was to put a statutory warning. But someone forgot that we are kings in breaking laws, for those who can break a traffic signal for fun, in the absence of a ‘thulla‘, how can you expect them to control the nature’s call with a mere warning!


Well the warning thing doesn’t seems working, so we came up with more innovative solution. The preliminary study for this solution revealed that Indians value their pride, so the language used in the warning has been slightly changed to a little more insulting format. This might have worked in a small town where people know each other, in cities like Delhi, who cares….“oh chad yaar ki farak penda hai”…..farak to nai penda, pur bund bund se hi to sagar banta hai….So still the problem persists….

SON OF A DONKEY DON’T PEE HERE (BY NDMC – New Delhi Municipal Council)


When everything failed, the final solution came. Someone suggested that the image of God is the most sacred image and hence “the innovative indigenous solution for an indigenous problem”.




It is so amazing that usage of religion in designing public spaces can solve such grave problems. We have always been using religion in politics, in having different laws even in imparting values in our younger ones….but rarely in Architecture and Urban Design. If religion plays such an important role in people’s life then why shouldn’t we utilize it in our designs….may be we are in the evolution to use this factor also…I do hope so…


Follow Ups

May be in this case Deepika is the catch to do it in open and not use the public toilet there?

May be in this case Deepika is the catch to do it in open and not use the public toilet there?

...and in some cases government incourages the dual usage of footpaths!!!

…and in some cases government incourages the dual usage of footpaths!!!

One of the corners of CP.....religion can do wonders!!!

One of the corners of CP…..religion can do wonders!!!


Interesting Links (viewed on 04 July’ 2009)



13 thoughts on “Indigenous Innovations – I (The Wall)

  1. Hi Nipesh,

    A very very interesting note…..probably a very relevant one though simple……even if we design beautiful landscapes for public…the concern is how they utilise it…and that is where the designer wins……..

    What u have found out is a very interesting fact………The situation is not different here in Chennai also…or probably more severe…… The corporate guys jump out of their company vehicle….cover their face with a handki….and run to their apartments on the other side of the street. As the social division between poor and rich become more and more evident , these issues are going to get even more complicated.

    ,,,,indigenous solutions always rule the roots ……And we should be ready to learn and analyse it……As u have rightly pointed out….. we have always misinterpreted religion…….now we need to have a re look at it……..

    ….but Rather than finding solutions to prevent these kind of acts, can we also parallely think about devising a proper solution for it. Does it sound very impractical…..I don’t kno….!!!!!

    • Hey! Harita,

      You have pointed a very nice thing to reduce the difference between the different social stratas….. may be designers should take the initiative….one thing I noticed this the most is in posh colonies…..they build lavish houses and each house have more than one servants….and these servants don’t have place to live…they can’t afford a stay near their work, and they can’t also commute long, as their work ends late at night …. so obviously there are slums around… may be we should rethink housing in a broader manner than to just calculate the living spaces and the quality of life for one strata……..Does it sound very impractical…..I don’t think so….!!!!! 🙂

  2. hi nippo…
    this time u deserve a round of Applause… this sometime usually we turn away and not interested to go into and look for ideas to avoid this…

  3. Hey Nippo
    As always and as usual u pick up the most interesting, simple yet relevant matters visible but ignored by the naked eye.

    As u rightly wrote, the problem lies with the mentality of people. Its because v cant see each other as a part of a larger unit. Its because v r selfish and lazy , “i dont live here, its none of my concern, it doesnt affect me.”, so on and on…. the same thng is applicable to garbage etc. “My house , my compound … it should be clean, what happens beyond is well … there is nothing i can do abt it. It is someone elses concern.”

    In certain cases it could also be the lack of facilities provided. ‘When it cant be done in a proper facility ,u do it where u can.’

    Religion … wow ! that is a powerful word… it can mean so many things to sooo many people. The uncertainity of the impact of consequences that arise in using it – might be the reason y, its still not used, especially for such a universal concept called architetcure.
    If u would see most of the problems v face has religion associated with it. It could be quite dangerous but try it … u might be the pioneer.

    With putting up Images of GOd , Govt. plays with human pshycology, I guess that’s were v need to concentrate.
    … We should start changing our mentalities …, that is where the salvation lies….
    ….. i donno how much sane or eutopic i sounded but…..

    • Today’s Utopia is tomorrow’s logic….may be we should involve more fields in design rather than just architects….we should think of collaboration with social scientists and others in designing public places,,,,and who knows if we can just strike at the right spot…..

      And by the way these tiles on the wall are not done by govt. ppl, its a local invention of people, with a little more sensitive nose !!! 🙂

  4. The very first sentence with vasudhaiva kutumbakam, the Sanskrit phrase does not mean ‘universe is our home’ it means that the whole world is one single family.
    —-urban eye is not just seeing a wall it also sees the meer exposed ground, it starts with just spitting on our vasudha(earth, dharti)… and after having many diabetics and drunkards around how can we expect ppl to control a nature’s call.
    i m sorry but actually v need to stop building and start educating people to how best can v use wat is built around us, wat is present.
    or rather if this seems very impossible then lets start making “sulabh shauchalaya” for needy guys after an interval of 2kms.
    Instead of putting photos of god on exposed blank walls, provide two urinals. Now why two and not one, it wud be just like that comment of son of donkeys and the reply… if u provide just one ppl will think its an insult and instead of peeing in the urinal they’ll pee AROUND it.
    using religious values to protect a part of wall or any property is an insult… which we never understand.
    urban spaces will be valued inside and outside only if it is valued by the user….
    stop throwing cigarettes, wrappers, gutkha covers…. bla blaa list goes on…
    i pity our railway tracks part of not just urban block but also rural, how dirty and v all contribute to it…
    your blog is good that u started pointing out and there you start changing things.
    i am sure u’ll never ask me to comment on any of ur next blogs.

    • “The very first sentence with vasudhaiva kutumbakam, the Sanskrit phrase does not mean ‘universe is our home’ it means that the whole world is one single family” ….. thats because I could not figure out the difference between home and family…. for me its still the same…:)

      Well your suggestion to built public toilets is a gud idea, but there are practical constraints in building it at every 2km, but Iam sure there will be other ways, as in one of the urban planners was proposing to have rules that ask all the gas stations to have toilet ….something like this can work….and ofcourse we need more awareness….

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