Tag Archives: Lok Sabha 2014

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Addressing Urban Poverty and Reformed Urban Governance


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

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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.

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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.

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Participation by informal urban poor at its best

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Urban Poverty and Urban Governance : Lok Sabha 2014

by Abhishek Jha, PRIA

“Soul of India used to live in villages but in the present epoch of time most of its souls have deviated and migrated to cities and other urban spaces and they will continue to do so”. These were the words shared by one of the speakers during the PEPAC (Pre-Election Political Awareness Campaign) consultation at Bhagalpur, Bihar. If we analyse and reflect on the above mentioned quote, it clearly connotes and indicates towards the unplanned urban growth in our country, exactly like the disturbed and restless souls which doesn’t know which way they are heading. In the same context one of the urban sociologists coined a term called ‘Pseudo Urbanisation’  which broadly meant  a state or situation where the population of urban areas continue to grow  unprecedentedly without any improvement in core basic service for addressing the needs of its citizens.  This situation is being faced by most of developing nations across the world and India is no exception.  

This fact that urbanisation is an outcome of economic change across the world has been widely accepted and hence urban areas widely referred to as engines of economic growth. But ironically the discussions and deliberations around making these engines perform better have been very less. It can be said that this has been primarily due to lack of political will among citizens as they have failed to raise demands (can clearly be understood by the status of cities) and among the political parties (since very few of them have urban on their  election agendas).   So the question arises what can be done and what should be done?

Taking these into account Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) initiated a dialogue process in the campaign mode with different stakeholders at multiple locations across the country, it must be noted here that representatives from political parties were at the core of discussion to share their views on how to change the challenges of urbanisation into opportunities. And what could be seen predominantly was that, at many places (specifically across small and medium towns) no such dialogues were ever initiated to discuss the issues of Urbanisation or to be specific issues of Urban Governance and Urban Poverty. It can be said there has been an absolute lacuna of vision for the so called these Engines of Economic Growth (bigger and smaller).

Now if we analyse the approaches being followed traditionally at national level the situation is not very encouraging as well. According to data available, out of 551 Lok Sabha Seats near about 201 will be contested from urban areas, but at the same time if we look at the Planned Expenditure under 12th Five year plan it is Rupees 68080 Crores for urban areas and at the same time it is 55 lakh Crores for rural areas.  It is worth noting that, all most all the states in country amended the state specific Municipal Acts incorporating the provisions of 74th CAA, but regrettably very few states could perform up to expectations which was envisaged under the amendment i.e. to make urban local bodies into vibrant self- governing institutions.

The inefficiency of the urban local governments can be understood as a direct manifestation of many actions (known and unknown) coming together as whole process of urbanisation is not a standalone phenomenon. The recipe of urbanisation involves many ingredients which are politically and socially high priced, land, infrastructures (social and physical), economic linkages to name a few. This altogether makes it a politically lucrative delicacy and takes it even farther from the reach of urban poor, who have been living and serving the cities since decades.

So the question remains what can be done?  

Citizens in a democratic set-up, get some selected opportunities to demand and negotiate from the candidates and the political parties and that is only during the time of election. Here comes the election again (Lok Sabha 2014 ) and its the time that we as a part of civil society need to demand collectively for our towns and cities, as Harvey has rightly said we all have a right to city.                         

“To claim the right to city in the sense I mean it here to claim some kind shaping

power over the processes of urbanisation, over the ways in which our cities are made and

remade and to do so in a fundamental and radical way.” (Harvey)

Urban Manifesto for Lok Sabha elections 2014

Identity, Equality and Social Security for Urban Poor

by PRIA and FIUPW

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:

http://censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/paper2/datafiles/india/RuralUrban2011.pdf

[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: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTURBANDEVELOPMENT/EXTURBANPOVERTY/0,,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: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/c-p-chandrasekhar/the-changing-face-of-urban-poverty/article4379020.ece

Governance of Electoral Democracy

by Dr. Rajesh Tandon, President PRIA

Global expansion of democracy has come to be associated with the ‘right to vote’ to elect the representatives who form the government every 4 or 5 years. Many countries around the world are now electoral democracies, though not necessarily substantive democracies.

India is the largest democracy in the world today, with nearly 800 million plus voters. The forthcoming parliamentary elections next month are thus making for an engaged ‘demos’ as they cast their votes. There are several important institutions involved in electoral democratic exercise, and the governance of such elections calls for an integrated view of the whole.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is, of course, at the centre of this enormous exercise. It prepares authentic electoral rolls, ensures that electronic voting machines (EVMs) are functioning to ensure secrecy of each ballot cast. Most importantly, it has to ensure that conduct of elections is free and fair, implying that no coercion or undue influence has been exercised. Preventing fear of Naxal violence and criminal actions are its contemporary challenges; it is dealing with them by conducting elections in 3-5 phases in certain provinces (thereby spreading voting over a 5 week long period).

The second key institution is the political party; in India, there is a multiplicity of them, and some new entrants like AAP. Most political parties are ‘family businesses’, themselves lacking any democratic accountability. Political parties ‘select’ candidates on numerous considerations of winnability, thereby making anti-corruption slogans somewhat meaningless. More importantly, there is no law that makes political party functioning transparent and accountable in India; their funds are not even audited; they have rejected any suggestion that they are covered under ‘Right To Information’ Act.

Then there are candidates who contest elections. In India, a large number of candidates (mostly independents) contest in most constituencies. The candidates have to mobilise their own resources, volunteers and campaigns. They have to keep their expenses within limits, and reveal their assets and criminal records at the time of filing nominations. Most of them ‘hide’ more than what they reveal; spend more than is allowed; and appeal to parochial identities (of caste, religion, linguistic and ethnicity) of voters. Recent debates are on quality of candidates and the nature of parties they represent—do candidates really matter?

Media has now become  a major stakeholder in electoral democracy. Many newspapers provide reviews of performance of parliamentarians. Some promote voter registration and voting, especially for the young first-timers.  Most electronic media is conducting, releasing and propagating various types of opinion polls, almost on a weekly basis. Media advertisements make a huge impact, apparently, on winnability. Media management is key to electoral results?

Finally, there is the citizen—the voter. Casting vote is key citizenship responsibility in democracy. Voters act as ‘blocks’, not just individual choice-makers. Blocks of votes are based on class, locality, caste, religion, language, region, ethnicity, gender, etc. etc. Voters act in the absence of information, as well as with overdose of information. Voters read newspaper analysis, watch television debates, engage in informal discussions at tea-shops and bus-stands, offices and homes. They participate in opinion and exit polls, but they vote as well. Indian voters accept every gift that comes by; then they exercise their right to vote on their own.

In the final analysis, governance of electoral democracy is about informed and active citizenship. Exercising the right to vote is but a small part of being a citizen of democracy.

– See more at: http://www.pria.org/index.php/blogs/pria-blog

‘Story’ of the Urban Poor – Rajasthan

PRIA is running a national level campaign for ‘Putting governance of Urban Poverty on Political Agenda’ which becomes even more significant in respect to the up-coming Lok Sabha elections. Recently PRIA organised a state level consultation in Jaipur, addressing and highlighting various issues of the urban poor in the state of Rajasthan and in Jaipur. Here is a look at the quick facts shared at the consultation:

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STATE CONSULTATIONS: A TOOL FOR INITIATING URBAN DIALOGUE

By Shivani Singh, PRIA

Lok Sabha Election fever is in the air, anyone who is someone is suffering from the fever of LokSabha Election 2014 a very contagious disease indeed! So are we in the urban poverty and governance team. The team has buckled itself to travel in all the four direction of India: Rajasthan, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. These stateconsultations are our tool to make the voices of urban poor heard and their contribution to the country’s GDP,to those who sound and look like servants of people just once in five years yes they are our politicians and government representatives. In the consultation urban poor get the opportunity to speak directly to their leaders. What is interesting is that all the representatives have their own ways of facing the people. Some believe in interface with people and some shy away from it. The state consultations that are being held across the states are a platform to make the urban government and political representatives accountable to people. The consultations are a step ahead in developing a culture of sharing, dialogue, interface, discussions and confrontation between the urban poor and urban representatives. Unfortunately this culture predominantly remains a phenomenon in rural areas but requires to be developed in urban areas as well. A few interesting anecdotes, views of people that were shared during such endeavors are as follows:

Selective Amnesia vs. Preparedness:As mentioned earlier that urban interface between people and their representatives in gaining ground. The state office people shared about their concerns especially in inviting the political parties and government officials for events that are ultimately meant for their own and state’s benefit. This still remains as a question in my mind that why despite of inviting the government officials for any public event they don’t turn up. Many times the government officials give assurance like: I will definitely come; I am on my way; I will send someone on my behalf to attend the event; oh I had an urgent meeting! And they don’t turn up.However in Jaipur consultation a BJP representative came prepared with a copy of his party’s manifesto. He was systematic and logical in presenting his manifesto. He kept on asking for changes and correction from the participants (Urban poor). Also the manifesto was an example of paradigm shift as many of the issues were related to the needs of urban poor such: house guarantee yojana, survey of slums, ration cards, BPL cards to slum dwellers, free gas connection etc. The question is what path does an urban representative chooses: shying away or presenting their ideology with full preparedness is up to them to decide.

Fear or Lack of Confidence: In Jaipur State three major political party’s representatives attended the consultation. One party’s representative entered bare hand with no notebook, pen or documents to share with the people.He sat on dice for some time, looked around and listened to the conversation happening between the Mayor and the urban poor who came from slums. Suddenly he tried to make a point which was overruled by the mayor as she was in a hurry to attend another meeting. After a minute he listened to the conversation between another political party’s representative and urban poor. Looking at the preparedness of other political party and instant clarification of doubts of people, he got up from his seat pretending he received a very urgent call and after some time when we went out to search him it was found out they he had already left! What does this reveal? On one hand a party is sharing its manifesto, seeking changes from people, telling what they have for the urban poor if they get elected and on the other hand we see an urban representative did not inform before leaving? What made him leave the consultation was it lack of confidence or lack of preparedness to face people’s questions is a problem in itself?

Harassment Quotient: As part of event preparation a formal invite is always being sent to the people’s representatives accustomed with personal visits to their offices. Yet many time their behaviors and attitude remains so unfriendly and untrustworthy. As shared by one of the field office female staff that they also face harassment with mental, sexual, verbal, psychological words attached as prefix to it. One statement I also get to listen from most of the female field staff whenever they visit a government officials is, “they first look at us from top to bottom and even call us after working hours”.  This further strengthens the mistrust on them and puts a question mark on the sensitivity of system towards working female.

Afraid vs. Abuse: I happened to meeta woman named Shaheeda, age 62, addressing the BJP representative, shouting on top of her voice that, “you just make a lot of promises and never fulfill them.” She kept on listing the promises the earlier government made to them and still remains unfulfilled. But what I saw was quite different. The BJP representative listened to her problem and told his assistant to write down her query whereas many other participants from other slums were hardly able to articulate their concerns. I asked Shaeeda how does she feel when she has to shout for her rights and she said, “I not only shout I also abuse them on their face, they do not listen to us many government are formed but we still live without electricity, without ration, without road and without security”. Conversely many urban poor in the consultation did not even have the confidence to put forth their needs and demands. They were just listening and looking at the politicians. Are people afraid of their leaders? Or are they so distressed that they resort to abuses, screaming, pointing fingers, and blame etc. needs a good enough thought. The voices of urban poor are also scattered its need to be collectivized so that urban poor instead of representing an individualistic or mohalla level problem they collectively present the issues of urban poor as a whole.

Powerless Counselors: The counselors are directly elected by people. As a matter of fact in any consultation or interface with people their presence is expected but as shared by the state office that the counselors are inaccessible and unreachable, whereas the Mayor never misses a chance to meet the people. She was also present in the Jaipur consultation. What this showcases is that the counselor though elected by people lack power to bring about any change or address any demand of urban poor whereas the mayor has power can address and answer the needs and demands of urban poor. This raises a pertinent question that is there a need for the counselors, mayor and political parties to come together and work collectively for the betterment of urban poor or just voice their individual concerns as an independent entity?

The process of reducing the gap between the urban representative and urban poor has started. The state level consultations are a tool to achieve this goal. There is need for collectivization and convergence of voices of both urban poor and urban people’s representatives who at this hour are scattered and acting as individual entities propagating individualistic approach to deal with the problems of urbanization, urban poor and urban governance as a whole.