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SmartCart- Here’s Something To Make A “Thela” Vendor’s Life Easier

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By Ayushi Sareen:

There is no doubt that the GenX is indeed a talented generation. They have been excelling in every walk of life. One such example is of Antardhvani 2013- DU’s Annual Festival. The Innovation Centre was probably the best part of the entire fest that went on for three consecutive days. All colleges of the university came up with mind-boggling and smart innovations that not only benefited the society, but the environment as well.


One such innovation was Jesus and Mary College’s SmartCart, in collaboration with Henri Fanthome Office for Architecture. A team of 10 students and 3 teacher-in-charges’ started working on a project titled “Street Vendors: Traffic Hazards or Service Providers?” in June 2012. They surveyed about 1200 vendors in 10 markets of Delhi, asking them about their economic, social and legal aspects. They zeroed in on 6 problems faced by the current “thela” vendors:

– Lack of space for storage
– Lack of security for the goods sold
– No mechanism for garbage disposal
– Short shelf life
– No area for displaying the goods
– No shelter

This led to one of their four innovations taking the form of SmartCart. This SmartCart has a lot of features that make it a better design than the existing carts. These features are:

– Space for storage
– Facility for locking
– Eco friendly
– Long shelf life of 20 years
– Not product specific
– Space for display
– Dismantling possible
– Adjustable height

smart cart

The design will also incorporate the feature of solar panels for energy provision. The “long shelf life” feature does stand out. Questions about its long term feasibility are raised. The team answered, “Bamboo mats are extremely resilient, and the metal frame gives it the permanent structure which helps guarantee its long life. Moreover, we have ensured that all material that we use in the cart is such that it can survive the harsh weather conditions- be it the sweltering heat of Delhi or the unending rainfall experienced in the months of July and August.”

The team is also working on making this cart more compact. Currently, the cart uses a lot of space horizontally. In a manner analogical to the way you see skyscrapers in Hong Kong and New York, the team is planning to vertically enhance the space that a cart has and reduce the physical space occupied on land. They are trying to utilize the vertical space by adding more shelves to the initial design. “We plan to add more features like a seat which is attached to the cart, a money box where one can store money during a working day, a locking system for wheels and a bulb working on rechargeable batteries or a turbine like system.” the team said.

smart cart

However some of these plans are expected to increase the cost of the cart too much and they prefer it to be an affordable model and hence are still searching for alternatives that can serve the purpose and not lead to escalation of costs.

The cost? Yes, many of you will say that this is going to be an expensive innovation if the idea is adopted. But, you’ll be amazed to know this is not so. The materials used in this cart are such that they are cheap and yet durable. The main components of the cart are bamboo mats. The bamboo mats are cheaply available and bamboo has a long shelf life besides being eco friendly. The material used for holding together the structure is metallic but hollow which makes it strong and yet light-weight. Hence, taking all factors into account, such a cart will cost strictly under Rs. 9000.

Initially, the thought that this innovation is more ideal than realistic, did come to my mind, but then again, every innovation is first looked upon as ideal and a little unbelievable. “Our cart is an innovation that aims to benefit all parts of society. It helps urban planning much better as it standardizes size and the kind of space an average vendor would occupy. Plus, our innovation is a first step along a path that requires much innovation, more improvement, many more ideas and a lot of adaption. We are working on that as well. This, however, is the first step that shall work as a guide for future work in this arena.” the team said, justifying their creation.

The team of Jesus and Mary College is in talks with Ajay Makan, Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA). They have sent him a brief about the basic features of the cart and plan to send him the blue prints and possibly invite him over for the inauguration of the cart once it is patented. It is expected to happen within the month of March.

You must be to comment.
  1. Alok Panda

    A very nice and innovative idea… Keep up the good work

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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