By Shivani Singh, PRIA

As urban areas are sprawling more in comparison to rural areas, similarly urban poverty issues are also gaining momentum in development sector. There is seen a change in outlook towards the urban poor and their contribution towards building the city. Hence referred as ‘city makers’ by a Delhi based NGO named IGSSS working with the mandate for a humane social order based on truth, justice, freedom and equity.

In order to understand urban poverty a two day event was being organized by IGSSS. The objective of the workshop was to understand the existing initiatives of IGSSS and those of other organization working in the urban domain as well as to understand the existing legal framework applicable for various categories of urban poor in India so as to explore programmatic opportunities for IGSSS. The discussions contributed towards broadening IGSSS’ urban poverty programme.

In the event representatives from various organizations came to share about their experiences. Mr Dunu Roy from Hazards Centre, Ms Shivani Singh from PRIA and other NGO partners of IGSSS shared about their activities with urban poor workers. In the discussion various issues emerged mentioned in detail below:

  • Urban poor are workers this needs to be realized that urban poor are workers. They do work in order to earn. The population is engaged in various works that builds the economy of city. They are hawkers, vendors, rag pickers, rickshaw pullers, home based workers, cart pullers and the work they do is remains invisible.
  •  Unsuitable schemes for urban poor: There are many schemes for improving the living conditions of the urban poor, but they haven’t yielded desired results and helped the nondescript and invisible people. Schemes for Urban poor such as urban livelihood mission, Urban renewal mission, urban poverty removal scheme, skill development mission, JnNURM, Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP), Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) are having their own limitations. For example the schemes ‘urban livelihood mission’ doesn’t recognize traditional skills of people who are migrating from rural areas. They migrate due to unemployment and the employment they get in urban areas is not incognizance with their traditional skill set. This needs attention.
  •  Citizenship & Identity: The poor take care of their documentary proof more than themselves. There is need to merge different kinds of identity poof such as Voter ID cards, Ration Cards, UIDs into one. As poor who migrate in search of employment face a challenge in preserving the documents given the situation in which they live.
  •  Urban Local Bodies: The way Gram Sabha plays an important role in a rural set up. Similarly ULBs should play an important role in urban set up. But they are not decentralized up to slum level. This brings in the need to have a group that will represent the voices of urban poor at the community level. For example Molalla Sabhas.
  •  Labour Laws not for unorganized: In India there are over 45 labour laws. But they cater to the laborers of organized sector. Despite of 93% of working population in India being from unorganized sector. However there is an Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 is an Indian Act related to Industrial law enacted by the Government of India, to provide for the social security and welfare of the unorganized workers (meaning home-based workers, self-employed workers or daily-wage workers). But still there is a long way to go.

The discussion ended with IGSSS partners sharing about their experiences working with urban poor.  They mainly highlighted the state specific problems faced by the urban poor such as: unionizing the migratory urban poor problems, shelter for homeless, police atrocity on urban poor, and evacuation or displacement.

In nutshell urban issues needs to be viewed from four directions Rights, Entitlements, Services and Welfare and the people who are working should take up any of these direction in order to realize the objectives set for the development of urban poor.  The strategies or tools in hand can be Direct, Indirect (through partners), Organizing and through Advocacy.



  1. Rashid Faridi February 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Rashid's Blog.

  2. ramblinginthecity March 4, 2014 at 4:37 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on ramblinginthecity.

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