The Ugly Indians reclaiming the streets of India!

What makes a public place stand out? Is it the design, the functional use or the landscaping, or is it just the character of that place? There is no single answer. It is a combination of all these things and most importantly it is the users who add value to these places.

Unfortunately in India many public places, especially streets, are used to dump waste. There is an ongoing argument about whose responsibility it is to keep the streets clean; is it the government who does the maintenance or the citizens who continue throwing garbage?

The Ugly Indians (TUI) group has decided to get into action rather than playing the blame game. Their vision is to see a clean India and for this they have a very simple philosophy ‘Kaam chalu mooh bandh’ which means ‘Stop Talking, Start Doing’. TUI is a group of anonymous volunteers who decided to come together to fix a filthy spot. The group originated in Bangalore (officially known as Bengaluru) almost five years ago and now has volunteers in Chennai, Goa, New Delhi, Gurgan, Vizag and Kanpur. Social media has provided a platform for this group to connect with millions of Indians who share the same frustration. The group has a huge fan following of 100.9k (as at 19 May) on Facebook and growing fast (

Every project of TUI is treated differently so there is not one solution to fix a spot. But some of the basic actions taken are to clear up the garbage, remove posters, clean the stains, build footpaths, colour the walls or kerb, fix furniture and add landscaping (plants/shrubs). Once the project is complete it has to pass the 90 day test to be successful. The test is whether the community starts taking charge of these public places. In many projects the TUI volunteers start the work and the locals join in (mostly) to take charge of their streets and public places. As we all know if the local community is engaged in the process they realise the importance of maintaining a healthy and pleasant neighbourhood.

Take a look at the images of some of the transformations, where dump yards are replaced with small gardens, stains are replaced with traditional colours, broken seats are replaced with usable seats and uneven footpaths are replaced with pleasant and walkable paths. 


Source: The Ugly Indians Facebook page
Amazed to see how much can be done in less than an hour? So do you want to know how one can contribute? Just find an ugly spot (of course in India) which has issues like broken footpaths, pot holes, garbage, graffiti, stains, cigarette litter, etc and email the pictures to The TUI team will send you a list of volunteers from that city, a guide with different techniques and may fly to your city as well (if possible). 

So next time you travelling to India and want to be part of this group, just email them and get involved in reclaiming the public places of India. Namaste.


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