urban poor


Why are the struggles of India’s urban poor fragmented?

By on July 13th 2021

India witnesses a massive crisis in housing with 95.62% (2012) of this shortfall felt by economically weaker sections and low income groups. Yet we do not see these groups mobilising together to force the government to respond to their needs. In cities such as Mumbai where the majority of the population lives in poor housing, we still do not see a mass mobilisation or social movement to push the government into action. Why don’t the urban poor come together when social movements have proved effective in enabling change in policies? This piece answers this question, drawing from a longitudinal ethnography of struggles for rehabilitation housing in Bangalore.

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Land vs. housing: how effective are tenurial measures to house the urban poor?

By on June 16th 2021

Access to land in Indian cities is a major challenge for the urban poor due to the complexity of land tenure, scarcity of land, speculative land prices, and lack of political will. As a result, a majority of them are forced to live in informal settlements without having secure tenure, facing continuous threats of eviction and demolition, which puts them in an unending vicious cycle of poverty. Creation of new housing stock under different housing schemes has been the dominant strategy to address the housing shortage, but remains ineffectual on account of being a time consuming and capital intensive process. The other way to address the problem was to regularize and upgrade the existing housing stock occupied by poor groups. Over the years, state governments have introduced various tenurial measures to address this conundrum of housing and land. This article attempts a nuanced understanding of the effectiveness of these tenurial measures in augmenting and improving the urban poor housing scenario.

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Impact of resettlement in the Kathputli Colony transit camp

By and on May 4th 2021

Drawing on over a decade of research on the Kathputli Colony in Delhi, this two-part series focuses on the complex processes involved in the in-situ rehabilitation of squatter settlements. While the first part focused on the differentiated nature of the resettlement processes, this second piece focuses on the transit camp, examining the multidimensional impact on the residents who are endlessly awaiting their final rehabilitation.

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Saving Bastis

By and on November 3rd 2020

Why the Delhi government must not squander the chance to overturn an anti-poor housing policy

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Home ‘ownership’ is not enough: Documenting spatial variations in how slum households in India access basic amenities

By and on October 8th 2020

By examining access to a bundle of basic amenities – electricity, piped water and in-house latrines – by homeowners in slum (and non-slum) households and documenting how this varies across states and cities in India, the authors of this data-centric piece offer insights into how the quality of housing structures need to urgently be seen alongside access and quality of basic amenities to ensure improved quality of life in Indian cities. In a post-CoVID moment, these data points urge us to reflect on how inflexible land regulations and services delivery mechanisms have historically disadvantaged slum households in terms of public provision of, as well as private investment in, basic amenities.

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The unfairness of the Supreme Court order on slum evictions along railway tracks in Delhi: an explainer

By on September 9th 2020

The Supreme Court of India on 31.08.2020 passed an order, in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) relating to pollution and waste management in Delhi, directing the eviction of “encroachments” – primarily jhuggi-jhopri (JJ) bastis, or slums – on Railway land in the capital. Coming in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the order has been subject to legal criticism and has received wide coverage in the media. In this series of Q&A, we deconstruct what exactly the order says, the extent of the displacement it is likely to cause, the legally prescribed procedure for eviction and relocation, and what would be a fair approach going forward.

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Crammed In Or Shut Out? Implications of Delhi’s Homeless Shelter System’s Floor Space Constraints – with Attention to the Potential Public Health Risks of Overcrowded Shelters during COVID-19

By on July 27th 2020

Through an analysis of shelter and homelessness data from the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board and the Census, this study examines extent of overcrowding in Delhi’s homeless shelters and its implications on the ability of residents in these spaces to socially distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It examines the nature and implications of limited floor space across Delhi’s homeless shelter system to ascertain the extent to which the system’s capacity and coverage problems are rooted in shelter planning and design.

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Job loss, rent and exodus — Covid-19 crisis tells us migrants need housing security

By on April 27th 2020

Practising social distancing and staying home to fight the coronavirus is not possible for migrant workers without housing security.

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Land and Housing Development Processes as Determinants of Rental Housing for the Urban Poor: The Case of Guwahati City

By and on August 1st 2013

This paper examines how existing processes linked to the political economy of land and housing development shape or, in other words, are determinants of rental housing for the urban poor in the city of Guwahati in Assam.

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