Welcome to the 7th edition of Wipro earthian!

Sustainability thinking and action is at the core of the Wipro earthian program. It encourages students to learn through collaborative projects.

The Wipro earthian program is meant to be an immersive experience for students, to bring the idea of sustainability to life. And in the process, hopefully, enable them to believe that change is indeed possible.

What the Wipro earthian 2017 edition is about

Wipro earthian 2017 will continue to be structured on the themes of Urban Mobility, Water and Waste.  The program welcomes and encourages students from all disciplines - whatever be your branch of study, we invite you to question and explore the nature of urban sustainability. It will help you gain a deeper understanding of urban sustainability challenges.

The sustainability discourse is constantly evolving with multiple perspectives and developments, and we have a new style and format for this year's project submission that will make you wear a journalist's hat!

This year's project for colleges requires you to report on important urban sustainability issues in your area or neighbourhood.

The project will involve a combination of research and field reporting. The submission should identify a key problem, and highlight the role of different stakeholders - government agencies, citizens and private agencies involved. You can also explore how environment, economics and people are interconnected in the context of the selected issue. The report should be based on current research that looks at these linkages.

This new journalistic format will require the best of your creative, analytical, systemic and communication capabilities - it will be a highly enriching learning experience!

Remember: The context is India and city centric. The three themes are Urban Mobility, Water and Waste.

Word limit for the essay : 1500-3000 words (Must include photographs. Data visualisation, audio and video clips are desired but not compulsory)

Participate in Urban Sustainability Reporting with Wipro earthian 2017!

Long queues for water, crowded buses that don't come on time or haggling with auto rickshaw drivers, all this, while negotiating stinking mounds of garbage and pothole-ridden roads - this is the reality of our cities today. Is there a way out?

Join students from across India's colleges to learn, analyse, understand and explore how India's sustainability challenges can be overcome through this project.

This is what is required from you in this programme:

Get to know your neighbourhood (this could be a part of the city, town, residential layout or even your own college campus).

  • Identify a key problem area. Who are the stakeholders?
  • What is the historical background or context of the issue?
  • How are citizens responding and coping with it?
  • What are the existing government programmes (decision making, budgets, implementation) related to the issue? Any budgets allocated to solve them?
  • Are citizens involved in decision making?
  • Are there any civil society organisations or corporates involved?
  • What are the economic, social and environmental impact of these problems?
  • Who are the key individuals or organisations working to solve such problems? How successful have they been? What are the learnings from those initiatives?
  • What else can be done to improve the situation?

Once you have a reasonable understanding, time to start putting it together. We encourage you to peg the story around people and happenings substantiated by facts and analysis.

An in depth piece, presented with creativity is sure to get the jury's attention. Go ahead, click pictures that augment the story beautifully. If audio and video content is your thing, add them too. These stories also require you to gather data, think about how you can present them to the reader and help him/her appreciate the various dimensions of the chosen urban sustainability topic.

How to Participate

  • Form a team with a minimum of TWO students and maximum of FOUR. Remember the team members should all be from the same college or educational institution.
  • Pick one of the topics (Urban Mobility, Water and Waste) that you’d like to explore in this project.
  • Register on our website
  • During registration, you will be asked to provide a short pitch of about 100-150 words for the report you will be writing. While this is not mandatory, it will help you consolidate the idea.
  • Check what is expected in the article: Click here
  • You can learn more about the domain topics here: Click here
  • Join the Facebook community here Click here. You can look out for informative reading material and webinars that can help you in your research, analyse and write the article.

Click here to Register


What makes it journalism?

Your story is meant to inform the public; it should be timely, and include inputs from decision makers, experts, affected people and other stakeholders. Your writing should be accurate, objective and independent. For help getting started with writing, see:

  • Make it newsy
  • Do not mix facts and opinions
  • Use simple language, and short paragraphs
  • Use direct speech
  • Always attribute sources of information, with full names and their designations
  • Verify claims to the extent possible
  • Avoid digressions and keep personal reflections towards the end
Urban sustainability and environmental journalism

This project involves telling compelling stories about sustainability and environmental issues and current developments in the space. The topics are those that affect people and the planet and our collective future; reporting on these topics helps inform the larger public, which can then take better decisions for our common good.

The focus is on urban sustainability - the intersection of environment, economy and social equity in our cities.

  • Environmental reporting can be a large and complex area and may require multiple skillsets and inter-disciplinary knowledge. So we urge participants to identify a focus area and explore it in the context of their own city and neighbourhood. This will provide the context and observations that can be used in your writeup.
  • Identify a problem area and individuals or teams working to solve those.  Observe how they are going about resolving the issues. What are their challenges? Collect data and analyse research in that space. Explore policies, budgets, impacts, alternatives, citizen engagement in the issue etc.
  • Good journalism can leverage different types of media. For example a long form narrative on the issue of water scarcity can get significantly enriched when combined with videos of live conversations with people who are at the centre of action.

In the theme sections, we have shared areas of exploration and research that will enable you to understand and appreciate the specific themes - you could draw ideas from this too. We do urge you to highlight and find systemic connections where possible, that enable a multi-disciplinary approach.

Key objectives

  • Present a compelling story!  You can report on a hard news topic (to communicate about some new development) or make it a human interest feature (that explores how people are affected).
  • Pick a study area in your proximity. The study area could be either a stretch of road, locality, residential or industrial belt, or even larger  unit like a zone, town or city.
  • Try to find a group or individuals who are working in the space, who are working to solve the problem; you could look at pegging the story around their work. However look at it from the angle of the what the problem is and their response to solving it. Look at the effectiveness of the solution, and discuss its limitations and alternatives.
  • Draw from experiences and examples of cities across India while writing your article.
  • Research. Analyse current and historical trends as well as and emerging needs and patterns
  • Highlight and analyse current challenges, bottlenecks that hamper implementation and the measures to address them.



With an increasing population and a fast growing economy, the demand for water is increasing. However, issues of distribution, access, pricing and quality, plague our urban water management. The problem of water management in the urban context is essentially centered on assessing needs, managing demand, ensuring equitable and quality access.      

Traditional water systems like open wells in most places have fallen into a state of disuse and disrepair. Pollution of water sources, inadequate sanitation and sewage systems, rampant encroachment and destruction of water bodies in the cities adversely impacts use of local surface and groundwater sources. Inadequate understanding and implementation of rainwater harvesting in a changing urban context has meant that rainwater is not being tapped effectively as a source.

Many cities are increasingly relying on water sources hundreds of kilometers away for municipal supply. Inefficient provisioning by municipal authorities has led to increasing reliance on groundwater for all uses across sectors. Private tankers have emerged as de-facto suppliers in underserved areas and their exorbitant pricing has resulted in the urban poor paying more for water than the privileged sections. Most people in the city, especially the less affluent sections, do not receive the WHO mandated per capita daily entitlement of water for basic needs.

The nature of use of water is also changing significantly in cities. Domestic use has exponentially grown with modern day appliances, sanitation and amenities requiring higher water consumption. Consumption in other sectors such as industry, agriculture and even sectors such as hospitality and leisure have dramatically increased, competing with the same water sources.

Wastewater from different uses in turn impacts availability of good quality water. Industrial and commercial effluents continue to pollute water bodies through direct discharge or dump their waste and effluents on land sites, leading to ground water contamination through drainage and leaching. The story of domestic effluents is no different. With most households lacking adequate or effective sewage systems, untreated waste water is emptied into water bodies. As per some estimates, 70% of India's surface and groundwater resources are contaminated. Despite laws and regulations and monitoring bodies like pollution control boards in place, this situation continues unabated.

Click on the ‘+’ to view the following details for this theme
Context in an infographic | Suggested areas of exploration| Example
  • Integrating design thinking for water efficiency and water aware habitats
  • Water distribution
  • Water use and quality
  • Groundwater management. Regulation of groundwater extraction by authorities, and limitations in enforcement. Is it possible for individuals and communities to sustain traditional groundwater management systems in cities now?
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Water for all – equity and access. Impact on rural areas when water is drawn into cities. Inequitable supply within cities as slums receive less water compared to higher income neighbourhoods. Access to water bodies reduced for traditional farming and fishing communities with urbanisation.
  • Water as urban commons. Economic services provided by water bodies, efforts for quantification of this, and cases where such quantification has helped influence govt policy.
  • Water pollution. Has it been affecting crop yield in urban agriculture. How cities deal with their wastewater.
  • Legislative interventions


With municipal bodies facing severe logistical and financial issues, inadequate public awareness, as well as reducing support for the informal waste economy; the garbage crisis is nowhere seen to be ending.  There is a need to understand the key drivers at the root of this issue before a feasible waste management model can be developed.

Estimates indicate that around 68.5 percent of generated waste is organic, 21 percent is dry or recyclable waste and 10.5 percent is sanitary and reject waste. Around 70 per cent of the waste generated is collected. But only a small percentage, around 12%, consisting mainly of organic waste is processed or treated.

There are 'waste-to-energy' plants in states like Punjab and Haryana. Due to the quality and thermal content of input waste, most of them are unable to operate efficiently. These generates toxic laden fume and the process is energy intensive too.

Waste management in India involves a large scale informal economy. Recyclers- i.e. waste pickers, scrap-dealers, itinerant buyers and sorters are the bottom of the pyramid of informal economy. Through their efforts, discarded inorganic materials like plastic, paper, pet bottles, glass, cartons, poly-bags become useful raw materials for some industries. Informal estimates suggest that there are more than 1.5 Million waste pickers in India.

According to the recent Solid Waste Management rules, segregation at source is a must. Appropriate handling of different waste streams is also required. Just a miniscule proportion of the population segregate their waste, and a smaller number compost organic waste in situ.

However over the last few years, many cities have initiated sustainable waste management initiatives, and awareness is growing slowly but steadily; in parallel the government is also pushing for cleaner cities with the Swaccha Bharat campaigns.

Click on the ‘+’ to view the following details for this theme
Context in an infographic | Suggested areas of exploration | Example
  • Understanding models of waste management in urban space
  • Budget allocation and usage of funds for waste management projects by the municipalities, and in Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)
  • Participatory models for waste management
  • Infrastructural support for waste management and disposal platforms
  • Recycling solutions for waste- eg. reuse, composting, waste to energy. The extent to which recycling and reuse is happening in Indian cities at the government/community/individual levels, why these are at low scales, solutions and positive examples.
  • Institutional reforms in municipal and other bodies
  • Skilling of sanitation workers. Training given to sanitation workers, qualifications for them to be hired, selection process, pay etc, and whether these factors impact quality of waste management.
  • Privatisation of waste management services. Extent of privatisation. How do cities fix responsibility for these companies, and take action in case of non-compliance?
  • Environmental and other regulatory compliances
  • The informal waste picking economy, and its share in waste management in cities.
  • Legislative interventions. Why aren't waste generators complying with segregation at source? What measures have been effective in ensuring compliance?
  • E-waste. E-waste processing is a largely informal sector, with only a few formal players. Why is this sector neglected in government policy, and how does it affect cities?


The urban population relies on a variety of transport modes to serve their mobility needs ranging from walking and cycling, public transport services, para-transit options such as auto-rickshaws and cabs, and private vehicles. Though urban mobility is multi modal in its composition, all these systems work in isolation or in competition rather than complementing each other.

With public transport systems in most cities unable to respond swiftly enough to the changing mobility needs and the rise in private vehicles, the modal share of public transport has been decreasing. The increasing usage of private motorized modes of transport has large implications. With the per vehicle passenger ratios being much lower for private modes when compared to public transport, it leads to disproportionate and inequitable use of road space by private vehicles, traffic congestion and increased commuting time for all, higher energy consumption and higher levels of pollution and associated health issues. Reliance on private modes of transport also has a higher carbon footprint due to CO2 and other emissions.

There are examples from metropolises around the world where even the affluent sections of society use public transport for regular commute. The biggest challenge for India is to make that shift happen in its cities. Factors like last-mile connectivity, predictability, flexibility of services as well as a comfortable travel experience can make that transition happen. Unless urban mobility strategies are able to respond to these challenges, cities would increasingly become unlivable.

Urban India is in a transition, moving from regular cities to sprawling metropolis. As things stand today, India's urban strategies have failed to deal with this change. An effective urban mobility strategy will be the key driver behind this transformation, moving people, goods and services and keeping pace with changing social dynamics. Ensuring a more sustainable future requires a transition to an urban mobility strategy that is reliable, efficient, environmentally sound and inclusive.

Click on the ‘+’ to view the following details for this theme
Context in an infographic | Suggested areas of exploration | Example
  • How has the local government planned for people's commute? Is there design thinking in this space for mobility.
  • Are cities providing multimodal transport options? Is it easy for commuters to cycle down and hop into a metro or suburban train?
  • How do cities plan their neighbourhoods, are schools and shop close by so people can minimise commute? Is its residential or commercial zonal planning effective?
  • How much budget to cities allocate for mobility and transport? What does it get used for?
  • Rights of pedestrians. Are there sufficient overbridges, walkways etc? Enforcing of zebra crossings etc.
  • Energy economics and emissions management. Do cities have policies for reducing vehicle emissions such as improving public transport, restricting vehicles based on data etc? Effectiveness of such policies, positive examples.
  • Equity. Changes in bus fares over the years for ordinary and pricier buses, basis for fare hikes, if these are affordable for middle and low income groups.
  • Access. Are there enough buses to all parts of the city? Does transport corporations have effective complaints redressal mechanism to address erratic bus schedules, buses not stopping at bus stops etc?
  • Stakeholder engagement and advocacy. How are the different agencies and groups involved in mobility - city government, traffic police, transport department, residents - involved in the issue.
  • Land acquisition policies and enforcement. Do roads need to be widened? How are land owners affected?
  • Environmental and other regulatory compliances
  • Implications of mobility as a commons (clean air, green spaces etc)
  • Parking spaces. As a central government bill contemplates multiplying fines for parking and other traffic violations, do cities have adequate parking spaces? Currently enforcement is high while parking spaces are low
  • How does car pooling, ride sharing etc happen in cities currently? Is government planning to formally facilitate car-pooling? Any positive examples of government facilitation from other countries.
  • Functioning and effectiveness of automated traffic-management systems. Sometimes in busy junctions, signal is switched off and police manage traffic. Why is this needed?

College FAQs

  • The awards are open to any college across India.
  • For the college category, students in graduate programs (post completing the equivalent of 12th class/ Pre-university Course) and above are eligible to participate.
  • Minimum team size is 2 and maximum number of participants in each team is 4 students. All members should be part of the same education institution.
  • Any number of entries can be sent from each institution.
  • Entries should be submitted in English.
  • Word limit for the article : 1500-3000 words (Must include photographs. Data visualisation, audio and video clips are desired but not compulsory)
  • Additional material may be requested from shortlisted teams and/or the institute they represent.
  • The submission should be made as a Word document or a PDF document , with embedded images, video etc. The total file size limit is 25 MB per entry.
  • Upload media on the cloud (YouTube, Google drives, Flickr etc.)
  • Last date for submission is 31st October 2017.
Evaluation criteria

The submissions to Wipro-earthian 2017 will be judged based on a broad approach as deemed appropriate by the jury. This will be based on the breadth and depth of coverage and your understanding (comprehensiveness) of the scenario or selected topic, its context and interrelatedness the originality, relevance of the content. Some of the aspects the jury may consider are:

  • Breadth and depth of coverage
  • Information, context and perspective
  • Language, presentation and creativity
  • Rigor in understanding
  • Narrative and story value
  • Originality

Important Note on Plagiarism

*All entries submitted will undergo a plagiarism check. Plagiarism is copying, close imitation and publication of someone else’s material (written and/or electronic source like Wikipedia, internet articles etc.) and passing it off as one’s own.

*Entries resorting to any form of plagiarism will be rejected and not be considered for assessment.

*All sources and quotes have to be attributed.

Awards & Recognition
  • 10 teams will be selected as winners across the country
  • Each winning team will receive a cash award of 1.5 lakhs to be equally distributed among team members.
  • The winning teams will be hosted at the annual Wipro earthian awards event, where they will be felicitated by Wipro Chairman, Mr. Azim Premji.
  • Certificates and Cash prize will be distributed at the awards event.

Register for Wipro earthian 2017

Please register your team for further details, regular updates, and participation.

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