India is a rising economic power, even as huge portions of its economy operate in the shadows. Its “formal” economy consists of businesses that pay taxes, adhere to labour regulations and burnish the country’s global image. India’s “informal” economy is everything else: the hundreds of millions of shopkeepers, farmers, construction workers, taxi drivers, street vendors, rag pickers, tailors, repairmen, middlemen, black marketers and more. Experts estimate that the informal sector is responsible for the overwhelming majority of India’s annual economic growth and as much as 90 per cent of all employment. This informal sector called ‘informal’ because economists have difficulty in measuring it, often loses its voice and rights in the larger working of the city. The government till present hasn’t provided enough for this sector.
On 2nd April 2013 at Delhi, PRIA had an opportunity to interact with various organisations that represent these very different dimensions of poverty, the inherent issues and problems therein. PRIA held a joint discussion with;
- All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh: Delhi based organization of waste collectors with more than 17,000 collectors and small junk dealers as members in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) working towards its mission of organizing the informal recycling sector for social justice and livelihood security.
- Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam which is an organisation of informal workers and raises issues of security and employment.
- National Hawkers Federation which is working since 2000, includes 550 independent hawkers’ unions and 11 Central Trade Unions representing 15 lakh hawkers across the country
- Delhi Hawkers Welfare Association
- FDI watch which is further working for hawker’s rights.
The federations and representatives shared a common view that urban poverty needs to be addressed through working on the following issues:
- Awareness and education of the urban poor: more often than not at present the urban poor is unaware of their rights and various government schemes and therefore is unable to take advantage of the schemes as present
- Social security of urban poor is of utmost importance and not enough government support exists for the urban poor at the moment for the same
- Employment opportunities for urban poor are extremely important. The unrecognised informal sector exists because the urban poor who are usually migrant population find it extremely difficult to be absorbed in the formal economy and therefore a parallel economy with no financial security has existed in cities.
- Skill Training for urban poor is a much needed demand of the present day. The urban poor who is unequipped with knowledge and skill of finding its base in a city needs handholding that shall strengthen its skill and facilitate him/her being absorbed in the formal economy of the city
- Privatisation and globalisation have come with its own pros and cons and there is a need for more inclusive developmental approach that caters to the need for this sect of society
- The urban poor further need to organise themselves and interact with various organisations and federations that shall further assist in strengthening the collective voice.
- This collective voice needs to further use the available tools of social media, meetings and consultations to spread their issues across various borders.
The consultation on 2nd April was the first springboard for facilitating talk and discussions amongst various federations and civil society members. This consultation is now attempting to further work for its cause and will be organising a much larger consultation in May.
TerraUrban would like to take this opportunity to invite all those who would like to connect to the issue of Strengthening Civil Society Voices on Urban Poverty to contact us and share their experiences such that together we can chalk out a direction for our common cause.