“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven”

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Swathi Subramaniam, PRIA

Education is an important aspect for the foundation of growing children. Education is also important for any country to develop. We need to ask ourselves whether every child in the country has access to quality education. Does the education of poor urban children get equal importance? Just as a country gives measures its development through construction of buildings, roads, bridges etc there has to be equal emphasis on education of poor urban children as well.

What is the present situation of schooling in India for the urban poor? The options available are government schools, municipality schools, aided schools. The quality of education needs drastic improvement in all these schools.

The infant (0-6 years) age group among urban poor gets very little attention. As many of the urban poor women are work for their livelihoods their children get very little attention due to poor support system. They stay back on situations only on days when there is no work. While the children of middle class households go to pre schools and play schools. But the children of informal urban poor stay in the Anganwadis. Before Anganwadis came there were Jhoola Ghar for the infants.

The children are the easy prey for many social evils when they are not taken care of. In secure environment gives rise to such social evils such as sexual abuse, trafficking etc. The fear of eviction of slums affects mostly children.

Here comes the demand and need for affordable crèches. Every slum should have the facility for a crèche. The urban poor have big families and hence the need for crèches is even greater. As per information available: there are 12.52 lakhs Anganwadi Centres (AWCs)/mini-AWCs. Out of these 6.30 lakh (50.28%) AWCs are reported to have toilet facilities, 8.90 lakh (71.05%) AWCs have drinking water facilities within the premises and 3.55 lakh (28.34%) AWCs have separate kitchen as on 31.12.2012.[1]

A regular monitoring and reporting of their functioning must be carried out to know how effectively they are serving their purpose.


Stories from Delhi Slums

Sheela, Khanpur

Sheela has 4 daughters. The eldest one is 8 years old and does not go to school as she has to take care of her younger sisters. This responsibility to baby sit her younger sister has been forced on the elder daughter despite her tender age. Ideally the elder sister should be going to a regular school and the younger on to a crèche. There was an unfortunate situation once when the elder sister was away for sometime (answering nature’s call) and the younger sister fell into a runnel.


People in slums feel that private crèches are better than Anganwadis. Many Anganwadis have been opened but they are not running efficiently due to various limitations. For example the Anganwadi Kendra should be opened longer durations as poor laborers may be working for long hours or odd hours. The Anganwadis should have sufficient infrastructure and know how to take care of handicapped infants also.

In Delhi, kidnapping among children is another issue of concern. Large number of kidnapping are reported from slums. According to a recent RTI, 14 children every day are kidnapped from Delhi. This shows the need for a more secure environment for the protection of children.

According to Jawahar Singh, JJEM. Whenever a slum rehabilitation takes place children face huge problem due to relocation as the family falls back into the trap of poverty. In the slum settlements the urban poor organized their living according to things available around. But after the allotment of homes to far off places every aspect of life such as livelihood, transportation, schools, crèches etc need to be rearranged. And many of these facilities are not existing in the new locations.  For examples urban poor are allotted homes in Bawana which is 20 kms away from the city. Now since Bawana is less developed urban slum dwellers are being made to shift to that place. At present the place lacks sufficient infrastructure and hence difficulties for the relocated people. As the place starts developing there will be schools, hospitals, roads, education institutes etc then the land prices of Bawana will rise and slums will again be evicted and made to put in a place with least development. This is the cycle of slums in Delhi which the slum dwellers permanently fear. Slums are always formed in the process of urbanization and their sustainability is only possible their livelihood and other social facilities are nearby.

Another thing which has come to notice is less nutritious food among urban poor pregnant women. The poor pregnant women do not get adequate Ante Natal Care and required nutrition supplement.

Right to Food is another issue to be addressed towards specifically urban poor infant and urban poor pregnant ladies.

Many of the private big hospitals have made promise to the Government that 10% of patients will be poor. However its implementation can never be monitored in the present form. Ideally these hospitals can adopt nearby poor slums and reach out to them through mobile units regularly.

It is the responsibility of the Government of India to provide poor people with the opportunities of education at all levels. The poor who are able and willing to send their children to the schools and colleges should be provided with the opportunities pursue their education.


The four important aspects for every child are:


First and foremost Government should ensure that no child should be deprived of the above due to their social and economic condition.



Rajiv Awas Yojana: A RAY of flickering hope for settlements in Patna

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Abhishek Jha, PRIA

It’s quite known by now that Government of India’s one of the most ambitious projects Rajiv Awas Yojana (launched in the year 2011) to make India slum free could not live up to people’s expectation.  Though there were some considerable progress under this scheme in some of the states but largely it faltered at most of the places, (it seems so at least in the initial phase).  If we take the case of Bihar the progress of RAY was even more dismal, in fact it never started because of the reasons which were more political than technical.  RAY was a casualty to political demands for declaring Bihar a special category state, since this scheme had different provisions of fund sharing for special category and general states. Nonetheless, this status was never given to Bihar and there was no progress under the scheme. Notably, when the RAY was launched in the country, Government of Bihar prepared a half-baked ‘Bihar State Slum Policy’ in the end of the year 2011 and proudly announced that it is the first state in the county to get a state slum policy passed through its cabinet, but there was (is) no mention of time bound quantified targets and approaches that would be taken in the policy for addressing the needs of urban poor in the state.

Subsequently this political tussle between the state and central government virtually shelved RAY for almost two years in the state, but off late when the political climate across the country changed (thanks to Lok Sabha elections 2014) government of Bihar took some initiatives to launch RAY in the state. At the end of the year 2013 tenders were floated to for hiring agencies for preparing DPRs and Slum Free Plans of Actions for 38 districts headquarter cities of Bihar under RAY and in no time agencies were hired and DPRs were prepared for most of the 38 district headquarter cities of the state, but out of these only few were given a green signal for implementation. Out of those selected also are the two settlements of Patna viz. Adalatganj and Yarpur where in-situ up gradation is being proposed. 

Till date all the surveys have been completed, maps of these settlements are being prepared and people living in these settlements are in upbeat mood envisaging that they will have their own homes soon. But interestingly, knowingly or unknowingly all these progresses has not been shared in the public domain, neither in the media nor elsewhere. Now, if we reflect on the performance of BSUP in the state, it goes like this altogether 2 0,372 dwellings units were sanctioned and DPRs were prepared (it had passed all the processes which is being done for RAY now, including soil testing for construction for G+4 structure ), but finally only 544 dwelling units could be constructed. The most dominating reason behind this was issue of land ownership and availability of hassle free land was not established during the preparation of DPRs which consequently affected the whole project and ultimately the urban poor community. In most of the cases there were multiple-owners of a small piece of land, for which DPRs were prepared, being it be in the form deferent government departments or private ownership. Unfortunately state government didn’t take the lessons of previous failure sincerely and have again prepared DPRs under RAY for settlements where land ownership is multiple. The chances of this project hitting a rough patch as well cannot be ruled out, but hopes stay afloat in galore among the projected beneficiaries in the absence of any information.                        

‘If you are poor you are not likely to live long’ – moving away from this

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Swathi Subramaniam, PRIA

The city level studies conducted by PRIA shows that after food, beverages and intoxicants, healthcare is   the second highest expenditure component of the city’s urban poor.  The study also shows that the urban poor in slums comprises of both unskilled and skilled workers.

Occupational hazards in urban cities is a growing symptom, be it an urban poor, or an urban middle class working in offices. With increasing urbanization, competition, increasing comfort etc the occupational diseases are going to increase only. The differences between the occupational diseases of urban poor and urban rich and middle class are listed below:


The mix of workplaces and nearby settlements increase the health risks its impact remains for generations when major industrial accidents occur (example Bhopal Gas Tragedy).

Health Inequity

Health inequity can only be minimized by leveling up the living conditions of the urban poor. The major areas predominantly being the sanitation, water and air. Improving the living conditions is one of the key social determinants of health which where development is all about collectivization.

For developing good health conditions in the work place the following points came to my mind

Perspective of the Industry the following mechanism should be undertaken

  • Industry should provide methods of training mechanism for its skilled laborers.
  • The industries should be moved away from the residents
  • The skilled informal urban settlers should work in environment friendly workplace.
  • Provide identity cards for the workers.
  • An ideal work place should include

i.        Crèches for laborers

ii.        Education for the children

iii.        Proper Sanitation facilities

iv.        Warning sign boards

v.        Other facilities etc

vi.        Continuous monitoring of medical facilities of the people.

Perspective of an Individual

Personal Protective Equipment

  • An enforcing authority for Occupational Health check up
  • Awareness programmes for factories which are more prone to accidents.

Perspectives from the Community

  • Job security

An individual will be able to function as skilled laborer only when he gets job security and satisfaction. Today the workers are forced to work irrespective of their injury because of lack of alternative jobs. This endangers his life and his long term sustainability. In such industries there should be special provision for the laborer and his family members.

  • Education and awareness should be there among the people of community
  • Frequent or monthly Medical check ups should be there so that early symptoms of occupational health can be diagnosed and the skilled laborer could be saved from loss of life.

Perspectives from the Government

  • Identity card for workers
  • The authority should have the repository of database of informal laborers which can enable monitoring
  • There should be time limit given for compensation in case of any injuries

i.        From the Diagnostic point of view, State and District level should have Occupational Health Centres.

ii.        A separate body of authority at State and District level should be developed. There should be a provision for a separate special fund for such compensation.

Addressing Urban Poverty and Reformed Urban Governance

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Addressing Urban Poverty and Reformed Urban Governance

National Campaign

Speaker Hall, Constitution Club of India

28 March 2014

The event Urban Poverty and Reformed Urban Governance was jointly organised by PRIA (Participatory Research in Asia) and FIUPW (Forum for Informal Urban Workers). The objective of the National Consultation is to bring together different stakeholders from the local to the national level, who play a crucial role in the governance and management of cities as well as those who are engaged on issues of urban governance, especially urban poor. It is an effort to bring together organizations of the urban poor, local NGOs, research institutions, media and other coalitions in creating a buzz in Lok Sabha 2014 elections on the issues of urban poverty.

The participants included the following:

There were about 120 participants who included people from media, CSOs and representatives of informal slum dwellers. The CSOs which participated were PRASAR, Delhi Forces, JJEM, B.V.S, Janpahal, Jivan Sudha Samiti, Samanata, RUPOEM, Matri Sudha, Hawkers Joint Action Committee, Pahel, Delhi Hawkers, Madhyanan, AIKMM etc.

The discussion was moderated by Mr Manoj Rai, Director, PRIA


The panelists were:

Surendra Singh, Child Rights/Matri Sudha

He spoke on the issues of children of urban poor and the need to improve the condition of Anganwadis was raised. In Delhi, 70% urban poor women are employed and hence Anganwadis have an important role in their lives. While there are many benefits with respect to children of urban poor like ICDS, Right to Education etc, in spite of these schemes 42% of children in India are malnourished. For these services to reach urban poor to “Pehchan Patra” (identity cards) should be issued for them.

Jawahar Singh, Jhuggi Jhopdi Ekta Manch

Jawaharji spoke about the problems of housing schemes for urban poor such as RAY. He quoted that 70,00,000 people of urban poor donot have any home in Delhi. He highlighted the issue of Kathputli colony which was evicted by Ajay Makan and sold to private builder for 6 crore. The slums are promised 4 storeyed homes in faraway places which separate them from their livelihood. Slums are evicted randomly without efforts of renovation or proper planning. Eviction of slums was not a goal of RAY. He also felt that the Congress manifesto includes an exhaustive list of unrealistic targets. He stressed that the issues must include, Roti, Kapda, Makan, Swasthya and Shiksha.

Mr Dharmendra Kumar, Janpahal

Dharmendraji state the Informal Urban Poor Workers should be formalised in every way. Only when every informal is made formal will he have access to voter id, aadhar cards, bank account etc. In urban a different type of poverty prevails. Here every poor urban home has a TV, a fridge, a bicycle, electric fan but it does not mean they are not poor. Here poverty is in terms of identity cards, access to proper education, sanitation and health services. The definition of urban poverty is changing with time. He also suggested that monitoring of manifestos of political parties should happen in parallel.

Rajendra Pratap Gupta, Manifesto Committee, BJP

Rajendra Guptaji said that  BJP manifesto provides specific solution to these problems. Employment has to be created. The main reason for urban poverty to grow is because there is no livelihood. Aim is to increase manufacturing sector to increase employment opportunities. Tourism is a very important source for India which will be ventured. Every scheme proposed by BJP will go through Social, Economic and Environment audit. India requires 1,80,00,000 homes all over country. This is a very big challenge which cannot be addressed in short span of 5 years but it is a vision.


Ashok Thakur, Cooperatives, BJP

Ashok ji said that Construction people stay in Jhuggi Jhopri only. Only when the manpower from these JJ is trained and investment is made in their development then their situations will become better.

In the last session there was open discussion, where the community people participation actively.

The main aim of this consultation was to voice the issues of urban poor. The issues were directly raised by the community people residing in various slums of Delhi. Their issues gained voice through the event and the political parties paid attention to their issues in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.


Participation by informal urban poor at its best



Economic Contribution of Urban Poor in Cities- Indore Chapter

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According to Census 2011, 10 states in the country account for about 85 per cent of total slum households. The top 5 states – Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh – account for about 65 per cent of total slum households. At the All India level, 36 per cent of urban slum dwellers do not have basic services like electricity, tap water and sanitation.

To raise the voices of informal settlers PRIA organized a state level consultation on the Economic Contribution of Urban Poor in Cities- Indore Chapter on 22nd March 2014 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The main objective of the consultation was to share PRIA’s report on the Socio-Economic Contribution of Urban Poor in Indore and highlight the importance and concerns of the urban poor among the various political parties contesting for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Consultation was attended by around 85 participants.

The consultation brought together different stakeholders – political parties and senior bureaucrats, informal settlers, academician, students and civil society at one common platform. The participation of various stakeholders and the enriching deliberations led to some critical and important recommendations for policy advocacy and promises by political parties on their election manifestoes.

Mr. Manoj Rai, started the session by posing question on society’s general notion towards informal settlers and use of derogatory terminology for them. He emphasized on providing them proper identity.

Prof Anand highlighted the status and socio-economic contribution of urban poor in Indore. In presentation he briefed the audience with outcomes of PRIA’s study. He highlighted Income distribution of Madhya Pradesh and Indore’s urban poor, basic facilities and their voting percentage. Quoting study he mentioned maximum number of urban poor participates in voting and almost all households have voter card. His presentation was the brief overview of contribution and challenges of urban poor.

Adv Anil Trivedi, AAP, Candidate, talked about the chaotic norms of Madhya Pradesh government’s 15% land laws. Continuing land issues he said, ‘people are struggling hard to get patta, usually all patta lands are in prime location and due which land prices are touching sky high and that’s why govt. is showing reluctance to give it to urban poor”. Mentioning trouble of urban poor he said, ‘malls, metro and MNCs are not city’s development indicator, its development and growth is associated to urban poor, whom we are terribly neglecting”. Further he promised after getting into power their party will work on;

  • Domestic workers rights
  • Lobbying regarding 15 % land law

Shri Shayam Sunder Yadav, INTUC Highlighted the role of mohalla sabha committee and pointed state government and center government should work on it. He emphasized on importance of forming union and mentioned, ‘In India 45 crore populations composed of labor section and out of which 6.5% are in union and due to which they have raised their living standard. 93.5% population needs to form union.”

Com. Mohan Nimje, General Secretary, AITUC narrating the Gandhian Philosophy he stated informal workers need to continue their struggle for financial independence in non-violent way. He emphasized on formation of strong union, which would be helpful for getting their rights. Further he said informal workers should get job guarantee, health allowance, safety & security at work place and unemployment allowance.

Shri Narendra Surana, Ex. City Engineer MIC Narrating his experiences he stated urban poor have always faced discrimination in society. Further he said Informal workers are city makers and we can’t overlook their contribution on city’s development. Most of the informal workers are migrants. Their migration from one city to another city terribly affects their children’s education. Stressing on children’s education he mentioned government should provide education facility to their children.

Shri Praveen Gokhle, Director, PAHAL saidthere is sheerneed to change our perspective towards slum dwellers and strongly emphasized on their education. Like all other panelist he stressed on formation of union, which wouldn’t not only unite them but also strength to fight for their rights. He stressed on necessity of city level slum policy.

Sister Rosly Panjikaran, SSpS, Director IDWS shared difficulties of domestic workers and requested upcoming to government to form fixed wages for domestic women workers. There has been a mixed response from different political parties on neglected issues of urban governance. AAP party’s ambitious promises are surely ray of hope for urban poor. Let see what election brings to poor people.


Let’s Together Make It Happen……. Dialogue between students and informal settlers

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Dr Suman Bhanoo, PRIA

PRIA is organizing State level consultations in major parts of India on urban poverty issues as a platform for dialogue between various stakeholders. At Indore the consultation brought forth a group of Masters of Social Work Students and the local Slum dwellers to interact in a democratic and candid fashion. The meeting was enthralling and hinted towards a ‘change’ that is emerging to spurt out!


Students and informal settlers had a face to face conversation and shared their views, opinions, expectations and feeling towards each other. It was an attempt to dilute some societal norm and existing cast barriers. Both sections came together at one common platform and happily discussed how to change nation and make it caste and discrimination free zone. Anecdote of this amazing meeting is as follows:

Informal Settlers: Informal settlers narrated their plight and made an appeal to the present youngsters. Highpoints of their sincere exepctation in their own words are;

Students know very well our living condition; they know how we are managing to fulfill our day to days needs. They are well acquainted to our miserable situation. All we want from them is to become administrators and take our unaddressed issues forward. We want them to attain success in their life and highlight unnoticed problems of urban poor. No doubt government has conducted many surveys in slums but all surveys were conducted in such way to serve politicians and bureaucrats’ purposes. We are not sure how to trust government after all these bad experiences of past, we want students to conduct genuine survey of our slum. In survey they should highlight actual scenario of slum. We are not enough educated to understand government’s policies, services and schemes. We appeal students to please keep us updated regarding various services & schemes and all different channels to avail it, so that we could take benefit out of it. Throughout our life we have faced inequalities and prejudices; we appeal young generation to try to dissolve gaps between rich and poor. We anticipate them to spread our word all around so that we could live dignified life. They should form Yuva Sangthan in our area so that they could make our children aware of various developmental things.


Indore’s MSW students assured informal settlers to help them and provide all possible assistance from their side. They agreed to from a mixed group of youths from slums to workjointly on an issue which is common to both poor and non-poor. Students agreed on the fact that informal settlers have faced discrimination since ages. Youngsters urged the urban poor to provide all possible support and active participation in this mission.

Their raised hands and burning enthusiasm clearly shows that generation-next is ready to change existing dynamics of society and they all are geared up to dilute societal barrier. Young voices and wise ideas are ready to transform India into discrimination free Bharat.


Loud noise of change is ready to echo in the corridors of society… I could easily sense vibes of revolution. How about you??? Are you able to feel silent gust of transformation??

 Yes… the revolution has started…..!!!!!!


Citizenship starts with making your community better: Thoughts on the AAP manifesto

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Originally posted on ramblinginthecity:

I watch Kejriwal’s antics and I laugh, along with many who make fun of him. I doubt his capabilities, I wonder about his future. But I also admire his courage. Not just him, but all those who has taken the ultimate step towards making change possible. All those who have joined the AAP, given up being ordinary citizens to become people with a cause. I am excited to live these moments of history, experience these cataclysmic changes.

I, like many of you, am afraid to commit. I am shy, scared, ambivalent. I do not understand politics as deeply as I think I should. But I do care, about myself, my family, my nation. And I firmly believe that the way ahead can only be with the participation of all of us in the democratic process, in ways deeper than just pressing the button on the EVM every now and then!

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