Monthly Archives: March 2014

Urban Manifesto for Lok Sabha elections 2014

Identity, Equality and Social Security for Urban Poor


Urbanization has become a common feature of Indian society. Speedily changing situation of urban area is the matter of concern and attention.

As per 2011 Census[1];

  • Urban population in India is 377 million and urban poor population is 97 million.
  • The rate of urbanization in the country increased from 27.81% in census to 31.6% in census 2011.
  • Out of 121 crore Indians, 83.3 crore live in rural areas while 37.7 crore stay in urban area.
  • By 2026, 40% of population will live in urban areas.

According to Economic Survey of 2013, the contribution of service sector (including construction) to GDP of India is about 65% and India’s service sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in world. The service sector comprises of people mainly from informal sector such as the rickshaw puller, domestic workers, construction workers, home-based workers, vendors, hawkers etc.

As per Planning commission of India, cities contribute to 63% of country’s GDP

A recent national study by PRIA in 50 major cities of India estimates that these urban poor do contribute more than 7.56% to urban GDP of India, as per national accounts calculations[2].

As the rate of urbanization is increasing so is the rate of urban poor in cities. Urban poor live with multiple deprivations. Their daily challenges include; limited access to employment opportunities and income, inadequate and insecure housing and services, violent and unhealthy environments, little or no social protection mechanisms, and limited access to adequate health and education opportunities[3]. This calls for immediate attention from the political parties and policy makers to strive for their betterment and wellbeing as the contribution of urban poor cannot be disregarded.

The political strength of urban population cannot be ignored. Urban voter’s percentage is significantly high. According to Google India Survey 94% of urban voters would vote in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.  In the upcoming   Lok Sabha election 2014 urban poor will play a decisive role in shaping the destiny of any political party contesting in their constituency.

Brief Look on Political Parties Take on Urban Issues:The following analysis provides an objective viewpoint on which national parties have incorporated the urban poor issues in 2009 Lok Sabha elections:

S.No. List of National Parties Has it Considered Any Urban Issue Separately Urban Poor Issues Raised
Bahujan Samajwadi Party No
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Yes Urban housing and urban services
Communist Party of India (CPI) No
Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI (M) No
Indian National Congress (INC) Yes Urban homeless issue
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) No

Sources: Individual Parties’Website and Manifesto


S.No. State Name List of Ruling State Parties Has it Considered Any Urban Issue Separately Urban Poor Issues Raised
1 Bihar J D (U) Yes increased urban resources and livelihood opportunities
Jammu and Kashmir J&KNC NA
Nagaland NPF No
Odisha BJD NA
Puducherry AINRC    
Punjab SAD No
Sikkim SDF Yes Housing to landless urban Sikkimese and urban services
Tamil Nadu AIADMK No
Uttar Pradesh SP No
West Bengal ATC No

Sources: Individual Parties’Website and Manifesto

On the basis of previous Lok Sabha election manifesto it is evident that political parties have least consideration for urban sector. Only two national and two regional parties have included urban issues in their manifesto. In Delhi Assembly Elections only Aam Admi Party had included urban housing and urban services in their manifesto.  It is an irony that voting percentage in slum areas is highest in most of cities but the slum related issues remain politically and administrative neglected.Urban poor struggle with many issues such as: lack of identity in the eyes of governments, distorted identities in society, lack of employment opportunities, informality of work, inadequate and insecure housing, unhealthy and inhuman environment, lack of social security, limited access to health services, and limited education opportunities. India is the largest democracy in the world and politics is a platform for positive societal transformation. Almost one-third of population of an average city lives in slums and other poor pockets. Due to multi-dimensional issues associated to the urban poverty, urban poor face vulnerability in cities and towns. There is a sheer need to address occupational, social and housing demands of urban poor in a comprehensive and integrated manner so that definite impact can be made at ground level.

No doubt there are many schemes and services for urban poor, but due to lack of implementation largely because of stiff criteria for selecting beneficiaries these schemes don’t serve their purpose. Taking into account the economic and political strength of urban poor a comprehensive list of demands has been prepared by Forum of Informal Urban Poor Workers (FIUPW) for the upcoming Lok Sabha Election 2014. The forum was established on 2013 and it works for the rights of urban poor, informal settlers and marginalized section of society.

Basic Minimum Needs:

Provision of Identity Cards: Indian citizen’s living in a place and for working in same or other place should get central government recognized certificate in support of her/his identity and the address. Informal workers often face constant harassment from local police and municipal authorities due to this identity (card) problem. Poor are not eligible for receiving services if they don’t have relevant identity proof. So, there must be provision of providing identity cards to the informal settlers.  For example domestic workers should be given government ID proof that is recognized all over the country so that they get their benefits when they retire or change the job. Same is applicable to waste collectors, hawkers, construction workers, vendors and other such informal workers. Similarly, children of urban poor workers have a right to identity in order to avail various services provided by the central government. Therefore, children of urban poor workers may be provided birth registration certificates.

Livelihood and Social Security: Informal workers and/or slum dwellers are citizens of India and so, have constitutional rights for social and life securities. Thus central government must provide them social security in terms of employment opportunities, decent working condition, safety, and security at work places and also at habitation levels. There should be provision for employment guarantee, non-employment allowance, pension, monsoon/drought allowance, child care, and accidental relief to all vulnerable sections. 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.Central monitoring task force must be constituted by the Government of India to implement The Hawkers Act. A special Hawkers Board should be constituted to provide social security schemes to hawkers. Hawkers should not only be included in Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY); they should be included under Employees’ State Insurance (ESI).

For retails workers:

  • A wage board should be constituted for Retail workers
  • An employer contribution trust fund should be constituted, which would provide  financial support and assistance to retail workers
  • A commitment by retailers  to only engage construction companies whose workers are registered with the Construction Workers Welfare Board
  • A commitment by retailers to only source goods from responsible suppliers and manufacturers
  • A commitment by retailers to only engage responsible transport companies
  • A commitment by retailers to freedom of association, the right to organise and collective bargaining
  • Constituting a central monitoring authority for the retail sector and supply chain.

Housing Facilities: Urban homeless persons who live without shelter are the most helpless class, despite the fact they contribute towards sustaining cities with their cheap labour. As one fifth of the urban populations live in non pukka houses. One third of the urban household (120 million people) in the big cities of India live in single room houses, with 3% having no room to them. Also, 19% of them have no latrine facilities inside their houses[4]. According to 2011 census only 70.6% of urban population is covered by individual water connection and about 13% of urban population defecates in the open, about 37% are connected by open drains and 18% are not connected at all.

As per United Nation’s –The Universal Declaration of Human Rights; everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.Housing should be provided to all hawkers under Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).A central board should be constituted to monitor the functioning of all homeless shelters. Systematic and accountable efforts must be taken to improve the functioning of temporary shelters to make them habitable, including providing electricity, fans, drinking water, toilets and basic healthcare. There is a need of proper policy intervention to address the challenges faced by homeless people with regard to shelter social housing and social protection.

Education: As we all know India joined a group of few countries in the world, with a historic law making education a fundamental right of every child coming into force. Making elementary education an entitlement for children in the 6–14 age groups, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act will directly benefit children who do not go to school at present.There should also be provision for crèches for children between the age group of 0-6 years.Therefore, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that every child of the age of six to fourteen years shall complete his/her elementary education in a neighborhood school. Special provisions for children of urban poor workers for not admitted to, or who have not completed, elementary education should be made in terms of special training, transfer to other schools in case of displacement from one work place to another, no denial of admission, relaxation in proof of age for admission etc. Privatization of government schools need to check and proper mechanism should be in place to prohibit such process of privatization.

Some Possible Ways to Address the Needs

Proactive Legislative Actions: There should be re-implementation of National Urban Transport Bill-2006.

The labour laws and the welfare need to be extended to informal sector also. There is a need to constitute central monitoring task force to implement The Street Vendors policy (2009) as directed by the Honorable Supreme Court of India on 9th Sept. A central legislation that makes it mandatory for state and local governments to guarantee livelihood and social security, space and welfare services to waste collectors, hawkers, rickshaw pullers and other informal sectors should be immediately enacted.Government should constitute unorganised worker’s policies and there should be provision of unorganised labour specific law. Besides that Unorganised Workers Social Security Act- 2008 needs a push. Retail giants should be required to recognize unions and bargain collectively and separate National Wage board should be established for workers in the retail trade services.There should be provision of transparent legislative and executive decision making process with equal access for urban poor.

Institutional Reform: There should be separate budget allotment for urban poor. Independent boards comprising representatives of informal sectors and informal settlers should be constituted at central level to ensure timely enactment and implementation of appropriate policies and programmes for urban poor. The Sectoral Tripartite Boards Constituted under the Building & Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment & Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 and the relater Cess Act of 1996 will be given an independent status like Employees State Insurance Corporation and Provident Fund Boards with a target of registering 90% construction workers as beneficiaries within next three years. The process of delivering all benefits will be standardized immediately. The model of tripartite boards to provide social security will be replicated in rest of the unorganized sectors such as domestic workers, transport workers and industrial area workers etc.  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.A central Act on Lobbying which defines lobbying in statutory form and have a code of ethics/accreditation/certification/voluntary registration for lobbyists.

[1]Government of India. 2011. Census of India 2011, Rural Urban Distribution of Population. New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs. Available online at:

[2]PRIA, 2013.Contribution of Urban Informal Settlement Dwellers to Urban Economy in India, New Delhi.

[3]The World Bank. (2014). Urban Development. Retrieved from Urban Poverty and Slum Upgrdation. Available on at:,,contentMDK:20227679~menuPK:473804~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:341325,00.html

[4]Ghosh, J and Chandrasekhar, C.P. 2013. The Changing Face of Urban Poverty in The Hindu, Business Line, Online Edition, Available online at:


Join’s discussion on “Adversity and Urban Planning: Designing Safer, more Resilient Cities”

Join the ongoing discussion by on “Adversity and Urban Planning: Designing Safer, more Resilient Cities,” which is being hosted in partnership with UN-Habitat and the Ford Foundation in anticipation of the World Urban Forum 7 in April.

You are invited to read the articles and share your own ideas in the comments ( which shall be of great
value to the global network of urban planners and thinkers. (, the global online network “for just and inclusive cities,” connects practitioners, urban planners, and policymakers in the Global South to scale working solutions to the problem of urban poverty. An initiative of the Ford Foundation, it is managed by San Francisco-based Dallant Networks and currently covers eighteen cities.

Addressing Urban Poverty and Reformed Urban Governance- Delhi (28 March, 2014)

The Political Strength of urban population can’t be ignored. Urban voter’s percentage is  significantly high. According to Google India Survey 94% of urban voters would vote in 2014  Lok Sabha elections. In the upcoming Lok Sabha election 2014 urban poor will play a decisive role in shaping the destiny of any political party contesting in their constituency. According to the reports of Planning Commission of India, cities contribute about 63% of country’s GDP and  ironically one-third of population of an average city lives in slums. PRIA’s study (released on  15th October, 2013) also finds out that economic contribution of urban poor to GDPs of cities is  much higher than the usual perceptions. It is strange that in most cities though the voting  percentages of the urban poor sections is higher than the middle and the upper-middle classes,  unfortunately their issues and problems largely remain politically and administratively neglected.

In the light of upcoming Lok Sabha Election – 2014, Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and Forum for Informal Urban Poor Workers (FIUPW) have collectively made an attempt to highlight the key issues of the urban informal workforce and raise some critical demands for their betterment in the form of an election manifesto. This is a sincere effort to put forth and highlight the community needs for the consideration of political parties with a request to include them in their respective election manifestos. All the recommendations in this document have been made after multilevel in-depth discussions and in close collaboration with the representatives and groups of informal workers.

In light of the above, PRIA and FIUPW is organizing ‘Urban Poverty and Reformed Urban Governance – National Campaign’ at ‘The Speaker Hall, Constitution Club of India’, New Delhi, on 28thMarch, 2013. The objective of the National Campaign is to present the manifesto to Political Parties contesting the Lok Sabha Election – 2014 and discuss their responses. Find the programme of the event below and the manifesto can be downloaded at: Manifesto
Programme Design 28th March (2)

Homage to Forgotten Hero- Annabhau Sathe Nagar

by Dr. Suman Bhanoo, PRIA

It’s a very common phenomenon to see names of most of the towns, places and government schemes after politician’s name. Naming of roads, buildings, and institutions can keep one alive after death or in other words it is a humble attempt to acknowledge their contribution to the society, but I wonder why we cannot name them after freedom fighters, social reformers, scientists, Nobel laureates and academicians? These legendary heroes have selflessly devoted their whole life for the society. They should be definitely remembered for their sacrifice and bravery. These leaders would undoubtedly remind our future generations about their struggle. Well, I am not against any political party/leader, I am against naming something after any particular clan. Few names have become so common in our country, which unknowingly creating disturbance in the society. At times it feels all other people have done nothing, except few selected one.

Breaking these set of norms, Indore’s informal settlers has named their settlement after Annabhau Sathe who was a social reformer and a writer from Maharashtra. Most of the residents of A.S Nagar have Maharashtran roots. During Britisher’s time they had migrated to Madhya Pradesh from Maharshta.  This community has music in its blood. Almost all people have sound knowledge of various musical instruments.


Annabhau’s Poster in Background 

Suresh, a community leader from A.S Nagar said, “To break the hierarchy, we have named our settlement after our leader’s name. Personally I don’t think that political leaders have done something that great to the country which puts them before these great leaders”. Describing further about their neglected hero he said, “Sathe was born in the rural area of Wategaon near Sangli in a family belonging to the dalit community. Due to his birth in lower caste, he didn’t get any formal education. Despite lack of formal education, Sathe wrote 35 Marathi novels and famous Bollywood movie Fakira is based on his novel. Besides this there are 15 collections of Sathe’s short stories. A huge number of his short stories have been translated into many Indian and foreign languages”. Other than novels and short stories, Sathe wrote plays, travelogue on Russia and 12 screenplays.


Close Look of Annabhau Sathe Nagar

Throwing light on great leader’s life another resident said, “Sathe wrote straight from his experiences in life and his novels narrates the fighting spirit in their characters who work against all odds in life. Sathe worked among the poor and he generated social awareness. He organized stage performances and tamasha mainly performed by women, which are quite popular in rural Maharashtra. Sathe was attracted to communism and had visited USSR”. Suresh rhetorically utters Sathe’s maxim- Yeh azadi jhuthi hai, desh ki jant bhuki hai.

Urban poverty and governance – West Bengal

PRIA and Child in Need Institute is organizing a campaign in West Bengal on urban poverty and governance issues. Here are some of the issues raised:

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5 Slide6 Slide7 Slide8 Slide9 Slide10 Slide11 Slide12 Slide13

Press Release: The Illegality of Biometric aadhaar, NPR and PII

Press Release: The Illegality of Biometric aadhaar, NPR and PII.

Ahmedabad, the joyless city

By Raksha Sharda

Very recently, President Pranab Mukherjee awarded Ahmedabad the glory of being one of the best cities under the Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) and Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP). But does the city deserve this award? Ahmedabad is the largest city in Gujarat and the seventh largest city in India. The total population of the city is around 5.5 million, of which about nine lakh reside in the slums with 710 in the city. In order to bring about a holistic approach for improving and upgrading the infrastructure facilities of slum settlements a flagship scheme — Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) — was initiated by the Government of India in 2005 identified cities, including Ahmedabad.

The physical progress of the JNNURM has been good with 33,824 dwelling units (DUs) being approved, of which 33,074 DUs have been completed and 21,611 DUs have been occupied. But has the situation of slum dwellers with regard to the availability of basic civic amenities improved?

It is the physical environment, in terms of housing conditions and availability of basic services that determines the productivity and quality of life in urban areas. Though the first half of the last century witnessed a peaceful, inclusive development of the city, with the dawn of the new century, the city turned out to be the place of conflict and exclusion as the urban poor were being displaced from their informal shelters and livelihood, all in the name of “development”.

A United Nations expert group has created an operational definition of a slum: “An area that combines to various extents the following characteristics: inadequate access to safe water; inadequate access to sanitation and other infrastructure; poor structural quality of housing; overcrowding; and insecure residential status”. Quality of life, health, productivity of slum residents can be enhanced only with the provision of better living conditions. This would also help them in breaking the vicious circle of poverty with positive spill-over effects on the economy as a whole. Of the slum dwellers, children are most affected. Life in the absences of basic civic amenities like proper sanitation facilities, safe drinking water, adequate housing, electricity, street lights is not only detrimental to health but also the safety and dignity of the community. With lower degree of immunisation children are worst affected and are prone to falling sick, which increases the medical expenditure of slum dwellers forcing them deeper into poverty and indebtedness. Lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation leads to a range of diseases.

Initially, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation had declared 1976 as the cut-off date for recognising a demolished slum dweller as ‘eligible’, which means a Project Affected Person (PAP) entitling the concerned person for rehabilitation. But in March 2010, an additional layer of eligibility was introduced by the state government through the promulgation of Regulations for the Rehabilitation and Redevelopment of the Slums, 2010. A slum dweller to be eligible for rehabilitation is one who is “not a foreign national and is the occupant of hutment for a period of minimum 10 years and has a domicile of Gujarat for 25 years or his descendant”. For proof of occupancy, any two of the following documents are required: copy of ration card, copy of electricity bills or proof of being included in the electoral rolls or any other proof as decided by the prescribed authority. This criterion is going to exclude large number of present slum dwellers from any chance of alternate housing in case of their displacement. Many slum dwellers have not been allotted houses under BSUP because they do not have proof of being in the city in 1976, leaving a large number of slum dwellers with no choice.

As per a report by the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), on account of various development projects like Kankaria Lake Development (KLD) project, including some of the JNNURM projects many slum dwellers have been displaced from various sites and have been dumped in the remote area of Ganeshnagar, near the Pirana waste treatment plant, on the outskirts of the city. This shift cannot be termed as redevelopment as the slum dwellers were compelled to shift to an underdeveloped site. There is no water, drainage, street lights etc. There is no school for children and no dispensary. This displacement has affected the livelihood and earning of the slum dwellers and has also increased their cost of commuting to the city for work. This displacement took place after Ahmedabad was declared a megacity in 2005. Such displacements have a greater impact on the lives of children and on their livelihood. So are we really heading towards inclusive development?

Efforts have been made to provide durable housing facilities to the slum dwellers as the construction of houses has been done through Mascon Aluminum Foam Work technology an earthquake resistant technology which requires least maintenance cost. Other than Ahmedabad, only Mumbai and Chandigarh have used this technology for urban housing schemes. Under the Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP), the rate of interest for home loan is five per cent, but the effective rate of interest for home loan is subsidised and will be around three per cent in Ahmedabad. For the very first time such a measure has been taken by the Central Bank of India which will provide housing loans for a period of 15-20 years, with a maximum limit of `60,000 to urban poor. Despite such positive efforts, the living condition of slum dwellers remains unchanged.

Availability of basic amenities is a right of every citizen, including slum dwellers. However, as per the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation survey, only 6469 households in slums have private water connections out of total 176754 slum households in the city. To add to this plight, there are 254 households per public standpost, which distributes water from one or more taps to many users and 506 households per public toilet. Only, one-fifth of the slum population have private toilets, 45.41 percentage of slums have drainage facility, 61 per cent of the households have electricity connection and only one-fifth of the population has access to primary medical facilities. What about the remaining per cent of households or slum dwellers? Who is answerable for the inadequate provisions of such basic facilities? It is not that the slum dwellers have got used to living in such ramshackle conditions but just that they do not have any other option.

Raksha Sharda is the policy and advocacy officer of the National Campaign Humara Bachpan