What is How India Lives?

How India Lives is an Internet-based application that aims to organise a massive amount of public data on India, and make it available in a searchable, comparable and visual format. The idea is to offer something of value to everyone who uses public data, be it for decision-making—like the company executive, the government official, the researcher—or for information-seeking.

How much public data will it have?

Infinite really. Our aim is to be the definitive repository of public data and present it through a user-friendly interface. We have started with Census, the definitive socio-economic enumeration survey of all 1.2 billion Indians, done once in 10 years. This data is presented at four levels: 35 states, 640 districts, 5,924 sub-districts and 641,000 villages.

But this is all available in the public domain. Why should I access it through How India Lives?

Although all this data is available in the public domain, it is inaccessible on many counts. Data resides in different places, and it has to be found, fetched and cleaned. And it is unidirectional—one set of data does not talk to another set.

Our search engine, How India Lives, addresses all these limitations at one go. It collates and organises disparate public data into a large Web-based repository. It makes it available to users in a form that is simple to access, and is also searchable, comparable and visual.

Who is this useful for?

Everyone. Especially company executives, researchers, government officials and students. For example, a company executive can use it to plan a regional expansion or map a distribution network. A government policymaker can use it to figure out the geographical targeting of a new welfare scheme. A researcher can use it to compare geographies on multiple counts. A layperson can use it to seek several pieces of information about any geography in India.

How is it funded?

So far, grant money, partner capital and service revenues. In 2012, one of the partners, John Samuel Raja, was a Tow-Knight Fellow in the entrepreneurial journalism program of the City University of New York. It’s here he crystallised this idea of making available public data in a searchable and visual format into How India Lives, and was awarded a $16,000 grant from the Tow-Knight Foundation.

To scale up, we are looking for funding from like-minded individuals and institutions. If the premise of How India Lives appeals to you, please send an email to

What else does this company do?

We are a Delhi-based startup, comprising eight full-time and part-time employees, and a technology partner. Along with creating this search engine, we do data stories, both in interactive and infographic forms, on a regular basis for Mint, India’s second-largest business daily. We see take up assignments related to data—gathering, organisation, analysis visualisation, dashboards and training—with companies, non-profits and research outfits.