The objective of the media meet was to share the manifesto prepared by the FIUPW and PRIA with the Media people. So that the issues of urban poor gets enough coverage and importance in the political parties manifestos. Which otherwise is not a phenomenon. The media meet was attended by total 37 participants from various trades that represent in the FIUPW. Also media persons from Rajya Sabha Television, Sahara, and Outlook came for the event and spoke in favour of urban poor and the need to shift the attention to urban poor who are going to play a decisive role in the upcoming Lok Sabha Election 2014.
The event started with Mr Manoj Rai, Director, Urban Governance, PRIA began the session by sharing about some pertinent facts with regards to the contribution of urban poor in economic terms. Talking about the economic contribution of informal settlers he said that, “As per National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) estimates that informal sector contributes about 50% to country’s economy also 44% of Indian voters are urban and Google India survey claims that 94% of urban voters would vote in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Political parties cannot afford to ignore the issues of urban poor.” He further added that, “Any person who gets elected should be sensitive to the issues of urban poor.”
Later Dr Suman Bhanoo, Programme Officer, PRIA gave presentation on National Campaign on Addressing Urban Poverty and Urban Governance. Dr Bhanoo said that in India the urban population is about 377 million and urban poor are 37 million. Almost 40 cores live in urban area and it is estimate that by 2026 40% population will live in urban areas. Moreover the contribution of urban poor cannot be ignored as they contribute 63% into the GDP of the cities and 65% of GDP is contributed by the service sector which mainly comprise of informal sector people. Later in the session PRIA’s study on economic contribution of urban poor was shared in which it was found out the urban poor contribute more than 7.5% to the urban GDP.
Taking this forward Dr Bhanoo said that at national level there were only two parties: Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) (Urban housing and urban services) and Indian National Congress (INC) (Urban homeless issues) who thought about the issues of urban poor. Many parties have not considered the issues of urban poor such as Bahujan Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Same scenario prevails at the state level even.
The basic minimum demands that were put forth were:
After the presentation the Mr Urmilesh Ex Chief Editor, Rajya Sabha Television shared about his thoughts on the urban poor issue. He said that, “I think the major gap is lack of communication between the urban rich and urban poor. There should be bridging between the two.” Talking about the similarity in the condition of both rural poor and urban poor he said that, “The major sprawl in urban poor happened due to two major historical migration events, first India Pakistan Partition and after the economic liberalization. So urban poverty is a phenomenon our work is to put pressure on the government to raise the issues of urban poor and in doing this media can play an important role.”
The participants in the event gave following suggestions:
- Crèches: Apart from providing free and compulsory education to 6-14 years age group children there should also be provision for crèches for children between the age group of 0-6 years.
- Further decentralization: In 74th Amendment ward level decentralization is present but to know about the issue of urban poor further decentralization is required. As the officials in municipalities are not accessible to the common people.
- Sectoral Tripartite Board: Tripartite boards should be formed sector wise the way it is for the construction workers.
- Social Security for NGO staff: For providing social security there should be involvement of NGOs staff also in the informal sector. Social Security provisions should not be only be for the urban poor but should be extended to NGO personnel even.
- Labour laws for informal sector: The labour laws and the welfare need to be extended to informal sector also.
- Defining urban poor: To come up with an operation and clear definition of urban poor.