Tag Archives: slums

Power of Unity

by Komail Ashraf  , CINI Urban Unit

The common belief of greater development, better living conditions, and more prevalent resources in urban areas has masked the real picture of urban poor. Urban slums are extremely vulnerable communities, with slum populations ranking among the poorest and most under-served groups. Problems with housing, sanitation as well as access to water, electricity and health and other basic services make communities more vulnerable. In West Bengal, status of slum dwellers are equally drastic. There are 4473 slums with 1,393,319 slum households.(NSS 65th round (State Sample))

The Urban Poor needs to be stronger. They need to know what they want, need to prepare themselves in order to negotiate with the government for what they need and to give them good reasons to listen to them and become involved.

 With these perspectives CINI – Urban Unit in collaboration with PRIA initiated an approach to federate groups of urban poor living in different slums of Kolkata and Siliguri. CINI facilitated the formation and collectivization of urban poor and their groups (Self Help Group) by capacitating them on the rights/entitlements to raise their voice and demand the same from the government authorities.

 In this direction CINI- Urban Unit has brought 13 such small groups of Shibtala and Chamra Patti area of Ward-65(Kolkata Municipal Corporation) into one platform.  

 Name of the groups are:

Sl. No.

Name of groups




























The groups had individually approached the local administration many a times for SHG loan as entitled to each group by the government, but without any success.

The groups realized that they have to come together and work for their rights. It is this realization that brought the 13 SHGs together and become a force to reckon with against the local administration. The federation met on May 30, 2014, involving 26 participants( 2 representatives from each SHG group) and jointly agreed to approach as a federation to the local administration for the loan.

On June 3, 2014 all the members of SHG federation involving around 60 members including CINI representatives met the local councilor to raise the issue. The representatives from all 13 SHGs of the federation participated in the meeting and discussed at length their concerns with the local councilor. This time around, the councilor taken aback by the SHGs federation has agreed and assured that the groups would get a loan of INR 1.5 lakhs each by June 2014. The federation has accepted the assurance by the local administration and is rejoicing in their collective effort to bring a change in the attitude of duty bearers towards the strength of urban poor.  



For Poor their Home is their Workplace

by Shivani SIngh, PRIA

I. Introduction

For poor their home is their workplace. This statement stands true as 93% of our labor force is in the informal sector and lacks any kind of social security also most of our Labour Laws are also not applicable in the informal sector. Amidst this for poor utilizing the limited space available to them in the city is the only option to make out a living for themselves and their family. My visit to Chamara Patti slum in Kolkata was learning towards knowing what a slum is. The slum I saw was blooming with lots of economic activities like leather making, packaging of cardboards, footwear making etc. that was taking place inside their homes, in small factories or on the roadside. But apart from observing the economic activities I also observed how ignorant the State is towards the right to social security, right to sanitation and right to life of these urban poor workers.

II. Glimpses of Urban Poor’s Work Place

But beyond the glitz of new street lights and fresh paint lies a world of abject poverty. During my visit to Kolkata I visited a slum named Chamara Patti that is divided into two parts nalla (canal) at one side Hindu families reside and on the other side Muslim family resides. The Hindu families are mainly engaged in leather making and the Muslim families are mainly engaged in footwear making. The population residing on both the sides migrated from nearby states. In Chamarpatti Slum leather making work and footwear making work is prominent, majority of urban poor workers are engaged in this work-children, adult and old age. The houses built in the slum were both Kutch and Pucca houses what was significant to observe was that how poor have utilized and converted their living space into a workplace.

I observed each step of leather making and captured the glimpses of it.

Step 1: The leather-making process begins with the cautious removal of the hide from the flesh of the animal. Once at the tannery, skins are sorted by species and quality. Fresh hides are immediately put into process, beginning with a soak in our large tanning drums to clean and remove dirt and other materials.

Step 2: The hide is chemically removed using a lime (calcium carbonate) bath, after which the flesh is removed from the inside of the skin with a mechanical fleshing machine. Then another lime bath and enzyme solution prepares the hides for tannage by removing unnecessary proteins and inter fiber substances. This second bath is also known as bating.

Step 3: Next tannage takes three to four days. Skins are weighed and placed in a rotating drum with water and the appropriate measure of tanning agent. Continuous agitation ensures even distribution.

Step 4: After the tanning, we can now call the skins leather. First, the leathers are dried. As seen in the slum the leather is dried in sun utilizing the spaces available like their own house, rooftop, roadsides etc.

Step 5: After drying, leathers are hand staked on the stake, naturally.


It was a learning to see how leather is manufactured in slum. Later I explored the workplaces of urban poor in the slum.

In the picture below we can see the space next to the road where all the leather was stacked on a wooden frame made especially for tanning the leather in sun. When I walked further into the slum I saw that leather sheets are hanging on Kutcha roof and similarly from other picture we can see that it is hanging on the terrace. This shows that the limited space that is being provided to the poor they utilize it for their work activity. Also in the next picture we see how they have utilized the roof top for tanning the leather. In front of the house there were few men nailing the leather on a wooden plank and coloring it. As we see in the picture an old man is sitting on the wooden planks. In the last picture a man is keeping the leather sheets in his rickshaw.

t2Then I went to the other side of the slum where the Muslim families reside. While walking inside the slum I saw a woman making footwear, she smiled looking at me, I asked her, “what are you doing, “She replied and said ‘nothing’. I further explored the conversation her by saying that “you are making rubber slippers is this not work?” She smiled and said, “I do this work as a time pass”.  Then I said, “But this is work don’t you earn out of it?” She said, “yes, but it’s very less”.  This incident made me realize that how despite of working and contributing to the city the woman feels that she is doing nothing. The next thing I saw was her house. As seen from the picture there is a wooden bed, water buckets under the bed, hanging cloths, grocery, utensils etc.  Looking at her house we can see how in just one room everything and every person in the household get adjusted.


Apart from observing the economic activities my attention was being drawn towards the lack of educational, health and other amenities in the slum. A picture story on the lack of basic amenities is available as below:


III. Other Problems in The Community

Occupational health and safety crisis among tannery workers, both men and women, including skin diseases and respiratory illnesses caused by exposure to tanning chemicals, and limb amputations caused by accidents in dangerous tannery machinery. In the Tanneries I saw no labour and no environmental law is applicable. Moreover other health problems like fevers, skin diseases, respiratory problems, and diarrhea, caused by the extreme tannery pollution of air, water, and soil.

The question is that despite of Slums being a center of economic activity and social existence the government denies them a crucial right that is right to life? 

Stories from Slums of Railway Lands -Power of less spoken stories

By Swathi Subramaniam

India’s population density has risen from 325 per square km in 2001 to 382 per sq km in 2011. There has been an increase of 17.5% during the decade with land size remaining the same.

Out of 304 million hectares of land in India for which records are available, roughly 40 million hectares are considered unfit for vegetation as they are either in urban areas, occupied by roads and rivers, or under permanent snow, rock or desert[1].

During 2004-09 when Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav was Railway minister, Railway Land Development Authority was formed for acquiring lands for the purpose of railway expansions and for enhancing  revenues through commercial use of unutilized lands. While there is no reliable statistics available about Public land ownership, it is estimated that Indian Railway owns the maximum land.

RLDA also aims to prevent encroachment on railway lands and augment railways resources by exploitation and management of the valuable Railway Land in Metropolitan cities and major towns for commercialization and other revenue generating activities.

RLDA is the statutory body for generating nontariff revenue from vacant and surplus railway lands. For example, many Indian hotels through the process public private partnership will set up multi-functional complexes at 75 railway station in the first phase (Business Line, Hyderabad, Sept 12)[2]. 

The PPE Act of 1971, says that encroachments cannot be made in the public lands of India and is applicable in whole of India. There is the Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy of RLDA but there are no figures as to how many have been rehabilitated. The various areas in which RLDA provides land for leasing are:

  • Licensing of tanks and borrowed pits to cooperative society set up by railways or Fishermen’s cooperative society
  • Licensing of land for the purpose of carnivals, melas, circus shows
  • Container Cooperation of India
  • Leasing of land for the development of shopping complexes
  • Licensing of land to oil companies for setting up retail outlets
  • Providing of surplus land to Kendriya Vidyalays and building up of KVs in areas where there are no schools or lack of education institutes
  • Licensing of railway land to welfare organisations and private schools
  • religious institutions/ staff welfare of organizations/ handicraft centres, social welfare centres and Bharat Scouts and Guides.


 When we travel in train we find numerous slums mushroomed along the railway tracks. These slums are particularly found when we approach a major city or town.  It is understandable since cities and towns provide livelihood for slum dwellers who otherwise cannot afford the rentals in the cities. Below are some of the examples of slums along the railway tracks.   

Stories from Slums of Railway Lands


In Surat district, 14 slums were identified by an NGO near the Railway tracks. These 14 slums house a population of 15,000. While these slums have electricity they lack potable water and sanitation facilities. The people staying here are marginalized communities of Muslims and Dalit struggling every minute of their life. Their condition is very pathetic when compared to urban informal slum dwellers of city. For the process of R & R any slum undergoes a survey according to RAY and JNNURM. Railway slums are not considered for R & R even if they are located adjacent to RAY identified slums. There is always a tussle between Private land, railway land and Surat Mahanagar Palika.

  • Frequent visits by Government officials threatening to demolish these slums are very common.  They become easy prey for extracting money due to threat from any Government official.
  • Usually before demolition no notice is given to the slum dwellers. The notice is very informal in nature. Example: notices are issued only a day before the demolition. Notices are pasted either on walls or somewhere else. 
  • Slum dwellers are psychologically affected always living under the fear of demolition. When demolition happens then there is a lot of violence. The most traumatized are the children and women.
  • A common phenomenon noticed was that many Municipalities never listed the new slums on Railway lands as slums but only considered and gave all the attention to the old ones for planned development.
  • Safety is also one big issue. The ladies and children of railway slums have to cross the railway tracks frequently for various purposes such as fetching water,going to schools etc.
  • The railway slum dwellers of these places have their livelihood usually within 1kms of their homes in nearby power loom industry.
  • Surat is a place where liquor is illegal; as a result the children of the railway slum dwellers are used for selling illegal liquors.
  • All the railway slum dwellers possess documents like identity cards, aadhar cards, ration card etc.


According to an NGO survey, only 10% of railway slums get notification of demolition. A slum named Vinod Nagar in Dhanbad underwent a small survey by a local NGO whose findings say that- eunuchs and other socially marginalized communities live in the railway slums of Vinod Nagar. When an R & R of Vinod Nagar was undertaken the resettlements including schools were shifted to far away Forest lands. None of the people could relocate because it affected their livelihood.  Usually after the findings reveal that the R & R in Dhanbad shift the school to areas far away like in Forest lands. All these people have voting rights as well.


In Ranchi, a phenomenon is very common of Floating homes. Their homes are made up of plastic sheets. The railway slum dwellers due to the problem of demolition always fold their plastic bags and carry with themselves. During night they settle anywhere along the railway track and make their plastic homes.

Pul Mithai, Old Delhi

In Delhi we have public lands owned by various authorities like Railways, defence, airport, metro, forest lands etc. There are no water, electricity or sanitation facilities. The slum regularly suffers victimization.

Due to sanitation problems, all slum dwellers both men and women are forced to defecate on the railway tracks. The women hence are vulnerable to regular abuses and struggles. 

Man Sarovar Park, Delhi

This slum dwelling composes of Nomadic tribes of Uttar Pradesh. This slum dwelling is demolished every year. A very specific component noticed here is that when one authority demolished this slum dwelling then another authority takes responsibility of its R & R. For example – when Delhi Metro authorities demolish one slum then another authority like DUSIB rehabilitates those slums.


Sewanagar is a railway slum in Vizag district. The people of Sewanagar have their livelihood in Railway itself as housekeeping and as contractual laborers. This slum was about to be demolished and resulted in job losses due to eviction. An NGO got associated with the slum and helped it to rehabilitate. A Land transfer proposal was issued where the land ownership from Railway was transferred. These households were allotted homes under JNNURM in Vizag.

From the above stories the following conclusions and recommendations can be derived: 

  1. Railway has surplus lands in India. Only ‘very marginalized’ and totally secluded communities live in slums near railway tracks.
  2. Reluctance among Municipal Corporation with respect to notifying new Jhuggi Jhopri particularly when it is located outside the municipal area such as railway. There is a need to include all slums for planning purpose. The survey of slums happen only under the JNNURM and RAY.
  3. There is a need to identify appropriate officials for issues relating to such slums and promote accountability. There should be a common guidelines for handling R & R of all types of slums irrespective of their location.
  4. Many houses are evicted after Rehabilitation as there is lack of coordination among the various departments working in this area.
  5. Accountability mechanisms during Relocation and Rehabilitation are very ambiguous. Over a period multiple agencies have got involved in housing for city’s urban poor resulting in overlapping accountability. Coordination issues between various authorities need improvement.




How slums can save the planet

by http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk

Sixty million people in the developing world are leaving the countryside every year. The squatter cities that have emerged can teach us much about future urban living.

1983, architect Peter Calthorpe gave up on San Francisco, where he had tried and failed to organise neighbourhood communities, and moved to a houseboat in Sausalito, a town on the San Francisco Bay. He ended up on South 40 Dock, where I also live, part of a community of 400 houseboats and a place with the densest housing in California. Without trying, it was an intense, proud community, in which no one locked their doors. Calthorpe looked for the element of design magic that made it work, and concluded it was the dock itself and the density. Everyone who lived in the houseboats on South 40 Dock passed each other on foot daily, trundling to and from the parking lot on shore. All the residents knew each other’s faces and voices and cats. It was a community, Calthorpe decided, because it was walkable.

Building on that insight, Calthorpe became one of the founders of the new urbanism, along with Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and others. In 1985 he introduced the concept of walkability in “Redefining Cities,” an article in the Whole Earth Review, an American counterculture magazine that focused on technology, community building and the environment. Since then, new urbanism has become the dominant force in city planning, promoting high density, mixed use, walkability, mass transit, eclectic design and regionalism. It drew one of its main ideas from the houseboat community.

There are plenty more ideas to be discovered in the squatter cities of the developing world, the conurbations made up of people who do not legally occupy the land they live on—more commonly known as slums. One billion people live in these cities and, according to the UN, this number will double in the next 25 years. There are thousands of them and their mainly young populations test out new ideas unfettered by law or tradition. Alleyways in squatter cities, for example, are a dense interplay of retail and services—one-chair barbershops and three-seat bars interspersed with the clothes racks and fruit tables. One proposal is to use these as a model for shopping areas. “Allow the informal sector to take over downtown areas after 6pm,” suggests Jaime Lerner, the former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil. “That will inject life into the city.”

The reversal of opinion about fast-growing cities, previously considered bad news, began with The Challenge of Slums, a 2003 UN-Habitat report. The book’s optimism derived from its groundbreaking fieldwork: 37 case studies in slums worldwide. Instead of just compiling numbers and filtering them through theory, researchers hung out in the slums and talked to people. They came back with an unexpected observation: “Cities are so much more successful in promoting new forms of income generation, and it is so much cheaper to provide services in urban areas, that some experts have actually suggested that the only realistic poverty reduction strategy is to get as many people as possible to move to the city.”

The magic of squatter cities is that they are improved steadily and gradually by their residents. To a planner’s eye, these cities look chaotic. I trained as a biologist and to my eye, they look organic. Squatter cities are also unexpectedly green. They have maximum density—1m people per square mile in some areas of Mumbai—and have minimum energy and material use. People get around by foot, bicycle, rickshaw, or the universal shared taxi.

Read more at http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/how-slums-can-save-the-planet/#.Utjt5fQW1sc

Multi-Stakeholder Consultation around urban poverty- Bodhgaya, Bihar

The Buddhist pilgrim town of Bodhgaya caters to large international and domestic tourist, but also houses about 19 slums, holding about 8-10% of the total population of the town in these pockets of urban poverty. Unfortunately, these pockets of the urban poor have not found enough voice in the larger governance of the town and have not sufficiently been able to access their minimum rights.

Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) has been working with the civil society and the urban poor of Bodhgaya, facilitating their participation in schemes directed towards the urban poor. PRIA has over the last two years initiated various activities in Bodhgaya such as:

  • Slum Listing: undertaken to evaluate the current scenario in Bodhgaya in respect to number and type of slums in the town, slum population and characteristics, applicable policies, present infrastructure and participatory strengths and potential of the community members in these slum pockets.
  • City level consultations and regular interaction with media engaging multiple stakeholders in discussions around urban poverty issues, status and lacunae of popular urban poor schemes such as Rajiv Awas Yojana, role of civil society and development of an exchange platform wherein the service providers and the demand side are able to interact and facilitate a better delivery mechanism.
  • Strengthening Community Participation through Slum Improvement Committees: Facilitating formation of a representative committee of the slum dwellers ( in 10 slums of Bodhgaya) . These slum improvement committees are being given necessary trainings, orientation and hand holding support to engage effectively with the government and bridge the gap between the community and the governing bodies. Through SIC, relevant information about various applicable schemes for the urban poor is also shared with the entire slum community. Empowered with knowledge and awareness, the slum community thereby is more equipped to get their rights.

On 15th May 2013, PRIA held another city level consultation as a dialogue platform between the governing bodies, slum dwellers, civil society, academia and the media in Bodhgaya. Present in the consultation, Dr. Hari Manjhi – Member of Parliament from Gaya reflected on how very few urban poor have been as of now been able to access the various development schemes for them, the main reason of which might be lack of awareness and information dissemination. Dr. Prem Kumar – Minister of State Urban Development and Housing Department shared that about 34500 youths in Bihar are being provided skill development trainings in 17 trades under SGRSY, CDP of 28 cities is being prepared under SPUR, and the minster assured construction of dwellings for urban poor through in-situ up gradation. He also mentioned about the urban poor women convention – Self Help Group, that has been formulated in Gaya under Support Programs for Urban Reforms in Bihar(SPUR).

Mr. Dine Kr. S h,Vice Chairperson Bodh Gaya, Nagar Panchayat expressed the delimmas and issues that confront the Nagar Panchayat for smooth functioning, coordination with District Administration, devolution of functions and the capacity of the Nagar Panchayat itself. These issues for certain also result in an inadequate address of urban poverty issues in Bodhgaya.

Interestingly, even though today in times of election and political change, the Bihar Government has been actively promoting and boasting its development report. This report however as highlighted by the academia present in the Consultation cater to the issues of urban poor very superficially and inadequately.

The consultation was also an opportunity for PRIA, Civil Society members and the community at large represented through SIC to share the various initiatives taken together by them and the main issues that the urban poor pockets are facing in the city. Such city level consultations are must to create the necessary accountable environment for the urban poor. 


Slums – a phenomenon or aftermath of Urbanisation?

By Nidhi Batra

Developing world has a new pace and vigour for growth, economic rise and urbanisation. Southern Asia which is about 30% Urban already has its 59% of population in ‘Slums’. This is for sure an indicator that we are NOT PLANNING adequately. Like always, we lack vision and are taking restorative policies and actions to fix the already created ‘problem’ of urban poverty. Cities are now seen as an abode for ‘income’ generation, the opportunities, business, links and networks it offers not just nationally but also internationally is what draws more and more people to cities.


What is also interesting is how each city differs in its role in the larger global setup, the slums too have adopted a unique identity. In an interesting article by Saskia Sassen, she introduces the concept of Global Slum. For example she cites the case of talking with a particular group of garbage pickers in a Buenos Aires slum (Buenos Aires is presently undergoing urban movement for ecology and poverty) , who described themselves as “ecological entrepreneurs”: “Señora, nosotros somos emprendedores ecologicos.” They were poor, tired working men and women who subject their hands to harsh conditions and the risks of cuts and infections. But their awareness of themselves on a larger map than the miseries of the slum allowed them to knowingly present themselves as actors with a positive valence, not merely poor hopeless individuals living in utter misery. All slums tend to have garbage pickers, but most do not have this type of consciousness, and most are so tired and hungry and often ill that they barely survive. It is a certain type of slum that enables this re-positioning. Interestingly, some slums are positioning themselves as actors on global stages, often with distinct political tactics and a sort ofprise de conscience — a growing awareness that they are objects of interest to the media, politicians and a growing range of economic sectors. Catch the article at The Global City And The Global Slum

In another interestingly article, one read of how Slum is synonym with our cities – almost like a symbol or a representative image. The image of the slum has become integral to how we visualise the future of our urban spaces — and as slums increasingly shape projections of the future, two contrasting and forceful images have emerged. How has the slum come to define both an urban utopia and a crisis of modernity? The slum evidently has a dual symbolic function. For some, the future city is defined by the slum; for others, it is defined by its absence. Read the article at The slum as a symbol of our urban future

So how is it that we are visualising these pools of urban poverty, at the same time new entrepreneurs of the city? How it is that planning and civil society should deal with this phenomenon? Are slums only about lack of services or urban poverty has a much larger- hidden dimension to it? Are the urban schemes of our cities equipped to handle this phenomenon? Such are the various questions that need an immediate pondering and discussion..

Village in the City – new slums? -China’s and India’s approach

By Nidhi Batra, PRIA

Urbanisation is a continuous process which involves expansion of the urban areas and also rural-urban migration. It is often assumed that the cause of urban poverty in Indian cities is the rural to urban migration. Instead as proved my many reports and studies, it is the growth of urban areas and engulfing of villages in the city boundaries – urbanising the villages that are more a reality in Indian situations.

These urban villages are not new to India. Most newly planned cities ignored these urban villages while planning for new cities. This can be seen right from the beginning in Delhi Master Plan 1962 where it did not have any clue on how to address urban villages that now lie in the boundary of the city. They just got left behind as ‘Lal Dora Areas’, hubs of no –regulation and close to slum situations. Gurgaon’s laissez faire development saw many of these urban villages being left as ugly eye sores with no addressal of growth and development of the existing villages. Naya Raipur plan of the city is no different, in the city limits are existing villages but wonder if there is an effective policy to regulate that these villages would not end up being the urban slums of this city. Raipur intense urbanisation over last few years has seen the boundary of municipal limit being revised again and again and villages on the outskirts now being officially ‘urban’. Though these villages maybe declared now part of the municipal limits, the City Development Plan was quick to term them as slums!

There is often a massive resistance to cling to the tag of rural areas, which attract a much larger share of welfare funds from the centre and escape higher taxation. This results in poor infrastructure development and administrative chaos, partly explaining why a large majority of urban poor continues to be concentrated in newly-developed small towns.

China’s Approach – Seal the village!

Recently I read about unfortunate policy that China has adopted for these urban villages – ‘ a sealed management’ policy for Chengzhongcun that are areas classified as rural villages which have been absorbed into China’s growing cities and are becoming thriving unregulated rental markets for rural migrants in the process (Ref: Shutting the poor by Constance Brehaut)


The main street of Laosanyu, where Beijing’s “sealed management” policy was first trialled during the Olympic Games in 2008, and remains in force. Photo: Constance Bréhaut

The formation of these villages-in-the-city is characteristic of the Chinese dual land tenure system which distinguishes between rural and urban land, and separates land use rights from land ownership: urban land is generally state-owned, while rural land is owned by the rural collective, and cannot be transferred, sold or leased for non-agricultural use. During the urbanisation process, local authorities could buy agricultural land, but the ownership of the village remained collective, and villagers could still dispose of their land use rights on their housing plots. The villages maintained their status as “rural” areas, as the government did not want to deal with the potential relocation and compensation cost of the villagers.

But this administrative status does not match the reality anymore. To compensate for the loss of their agricultural land, a major source of revenue, many villagers redevelop their housing at high densities, creating an informal rental market, which matches the needs of rural migrants in search of cheap housing opportunities close to work. As the majority of migrants cannot afford to rent private accommodation in the centre of Beijing, they have to rely on alternative housing opportunities. Often, urban villages are the only affordable option available.

The physical environment of the village is characterised by narrow roads, face-to-face buildings, streets packed with shops, grocery stores and service outlets. Highly dense and unregulated, they are considered by Chinese authorities and media as a source of social disorder and neglected urban planning.

This policy of “sealed management” (封闭管理 or fengbiguanli in Chinese) first appeared in Laosanyu during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Under the policy, selected chengzhongcun inhabited by migrant workers were fenced in and security stepped up: gates, walls, police boxes, 24-hour patrols and permits necessary for outsiders to enter the village. It is a pilot policy, first directed towards 16 urban villages in Daxing District in the spring of 2010, and then extended to other districts in Beijing. It has attracted much media attention, where it has been described as creating “gated communities for the poor”.

These measures, supporting the sealed management policy, are characteristic of the official will to eradicate any sign of informality and “neglected urban planning” in these villages. They also have a symbolic dimension: a clear sign to outsiders that they are entering a regulated, controlled and “protected” environment.

How does India treat its village in the city?

India does not stop its citizens from internal migration .People are free to move across states to escape destitution or in search of better opportunities, economic or otherwise. However, local governments and India’s middle class largely view economically poor migrants as outsiders making illegitimate claims to life in cities. Recently, scholars have started pointing out the growing hostility of urban governments, as well as middle class citizens, towards urban poor, especially migrants to the cities. The 2010 Common Wealth Games held in Delhi saw the forced eviction of large numbers of urban poor, mostly rural-urban migrants.(Ref:Urban migration and exclusion by Preeti Mann)

While most migrants would qualify as lawful citizens of the land, in urban India, the rights of citizens get operationalized through a host of official documents such as property lease or ownership papers, PAN cards, bank statements, bills, and voter IDs. Bereft of these, the paperless migrant accesses basic goods and services at a premium in the black market economy. Ironically, the most marginalized and poor also have to pay the most dearly. The underground economy is also indicative of the state’s absence in service delivery and lack of institutional support. From a migrant’s perspective it is the opportunity to enable a better life, economically or otherwise, that draws them to urban spaces. However, for a rural-urban migrant to move, there are additional costs that result from functioning in the informal economy. Opportunities cannot be readily undertaken if that means having to enable an entire environment that mostly depends on the back market economy and social networks.

Urban development, if done in an inclusive manner, can enable social mobility and integration of migrants in the real sense of the word by providing a renewed opportunity to challenge or change some of the traps or processes of impoverishment. This involves planning for services like access to safe housing, water, electricity, schools, and healthcare. Just as important, it requires a concerted effort by governments and civil society to identify and reduce structures and processes of exclusion in urban spaces. This, in turn, would be incumbent upon integrative planning, political will, and capability-enhancing policies that propagate access.

The Chinese policy of gated urban poor settlement is not a solution, but that does not ignore the fact that India needs a policy to address these transition areas. Prevention is still a possibility in small and medium towns which are undergoing fast pace urbanisation, while a cure needs to be recommended for the larger cities.