The Many Uses of a City Road

By Shweta Singha

I have always understood the road as a path for traffic, but when I focused on market roads such as Janwadi, Paud Phata, or Vadgaon Phata, my idea of a road was altered. People using the road might have different definitions for it, depending on how they use it. For the pedestrians, the road can be a footpath that they create by themselves in the absence of one to walk on. On the other hand, the vendors on the roadside might view roads as a public space in order to set up their stalls and earn a living by selling different goods. Also, for the vehicle drivers, the same road can create connectivities from one place to another. Be it a minor road through a market like Janwadi or be it a major road like Paud Phata, the definition of road can be unique to everyone.

Janwadi Market: Janwadi is an area where a number of lanes meet at a busy junction. Locals have shopped here for almost 60 years. This road does not just lead to a heritage market but also to the homes of a number of residents living there. Since it is a very old market, famous for its household goods, people from far away also travel to visit it. The busy nature of the market keeps the Janwadi road safe and secured. Few of the residents in Janwadi said that they hesitate to walk on the road after the clock strikes 9 at night. By that time, the market shuts down and the road is deserted. The market keeps the road alive!

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The road from the eye of a fish vendor at Paud Phata, Pune

Paud Phata Market: On the other hand, it is a completely different scene at the Paud Phata road. Located in between a flyover and an under-expansion mega city residential project, this small market consists vendors selling fruit, fish and meat. It is located at a busy junction where four roads meet. Although the fish vendors sit on the road “illegally”, they do not hesitate to continue their business because of the customers who come to buy their products regularly. Hence, even though this market is dying with the construction of the flyover, increased traffic, presence of traffic police in front of the market and  relocation of vendors due to new constructions like mega city project, the few regular pedestrians who come for a walk in the evening to this market have kept it alive.  

The lady in the picture has been selling fish in the Paud Phata market for almost 25 years now. With an open stall set up right at the junction, people in the cars stop by to look at and buy the fish. There are a few who have been her permanent customers. Some customers also travel from far away places of the city to buy their favourite fish here, the reason she says is their trust in the quality and price of her products. She hopes that the road remains busy forever as it does now because it has kept her business intact. However, the traffic police is a big problem for her business. They do not let people stop by the market. She goes on to say that if the Paud phata road would have been a deserted one, the fish market would have died by now. The fish market continues to live only because of the busy road on which they sit.

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‘No Hawkers Zone’ in the footpaths of Vadgaon Phata brings the vendors to the roads

Vadgaon Phata:  Vadgaon Phata is one of those areas where ‘no hawkers zone’ have been demarcated by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Since no hawkers zone have been demarcated, few of the sellers have set up their stalls on the road itself, right next to the zone. Also, the pedestrians walk on this road to eat at the famous Maharashtrian food stalls and also buy fruits and vegetables. These food stalls are creating traffic jams. But on the other hand, since the pedestrians and vehicles passing by stop by to enjoy the foods offered by the food stalls, the vendors do not feel afraid to continue their business right there.  

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Roads become a source of entertainment at Janwadi, Pune

Gudi Padwa is a festival by the Maharashtrians. Hence, in Janwadi, the above road becomes a ground for celebrations where people gather after performing the puja at their own residences. Laser light shows and DJ playing Bollywood music tracks are organised on the road. Therefore, the Janwadi road becomes a stage of performance on the eve of this festival.

Hence, it can be concluded that roads are multi-functional. A mobile vendor may need the road to sell his/her products. On the other hand, the same road might offer a stationary vendor a space to set up his stall. A road might offer a driving car a route to move from one place to another and the same road might offer the driving car a space to stop by. However, existing road designs do not cater to these multiple needs of the pedestrians, vendors and traffic.

The summer institute is a full-fledged 3 credits course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It is conducted as a continuous module of approximately 2 weeks  duration, involving immersion in a community and location. This year’s institute studied the socio-political dynamics of street vending, especially in relation to the recent Street Vending Act (2014) that cited key constitutional provisions in support of street vendors and established guidelines for state governments so that the state can safeguard the vendors’ right to livelihood. In the following month, we will be posting some of the students’ research in the form of blogs, photo essays, narratives, life stories and analytical pieces that describe in great detail the everyday lives of vendors and local street markets. Watch this space for more.

To see institute reports from previous batches visit our website: http://urk.tiss.edu/winter-institute.html

 

 

Closed Workshop: Becoming Smart about Settlements 

Workshop towards an edited anthology organized by the Aga Khan Agency for the Habitat and Centre for Urban Policy and Governance, School of Habitat Studies, TISS.

The symposium titled ‘Becoming Smart about Settlements’ organized in August 2016 by AKAH and CUPG seeded the idea of an edited anthology that would examine different aspects of urbanization and related policy making in India. Accordingly, a workshop was organized in TISS over June 20-21, 2017, in which experienced academics, researchers, policy makers and planners from across the country who were invited to contribute to the anthology, presented their ideas. The two day event generated lively debate and discussion opening up interesting angles of approach towards diverse processes of urbanization as well as their relationship with the logics, challenges and possibilities of policy responses. Workshop participants included Lalitha Kamath, Malini Krishnankutty, Avinash Madhale, Anant Maringanti, O P Mathur, Partha Mukhopadhyay, Abhay Pethe, and Vidyadhar Phatak. Amita Bhide and Himanshu Burte, who are editing the book, also participated. The book will also carry contributions by Gautam Bhan, Darshini Mahadevia, and M. Vijaybaskar. It is expected to be published by the end of 2017.

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Photo Essay: The Everyday Plight of Mobile Vendors

By Sushil Kumar

Mobile vendors move from one place to another to sell their goods and services. They use four wheeler carts (thella) and two wheelers bicycles, among other things. Some also use their bodies to carry goods from one place to another. Mobile vendors also have fixed areas where they can sell and often move approximately within 1km radius of their spots. The important thing about the vendors we spoke to was that they have no certificate and can be evicted any time by the Encroachment Department (ED). Every day, many said that they had to pay some charges based on the quantity of goods they were caring and yet, often their goods confiscated by the ED. The vendors said that the ED charges approximately Rs 500 on an average every time they are caught. Many of these vendors said that they do not pay fines to release their confiscated good and hence make a loss. Some, over a period of time, have made links with the Encroachment Department’s workers who inform them before the eviction drive.

An old vendor told us that he had to pay Rs 20 every day to the market’s assigned watchman who informs the vendor the moment the encroachment department approaches. However, sometimes he is unable to do this in time and his goods are confiscated and he has to pay a charge Rs 500 to free his goods. While the goods confiscated they don’t receive any kind of receipt from the officers for the release of their goods.

 

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Every morning, the man in the picture comes from a village located outside Pune and goes home at 8pm. He earns Rs 300-350. He pays Rs 20 everyday to the market’s watchman for any information on the Encroachment Department. 

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The man in the picture sells ‘mogre ke gajre’ and earns Rs 200 daily. He made them in his home and sells it in the market near the temple. He also has another job and comes for a few hours near the temple to sell the fresh, flower garlands.

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This man sells ice cream and kulfi near Tulsibaug all day. He makes ice-cream and kulfi at his home. He invest Rs 200 everyday and earns Rs 400 to 500. He has been evicted by the Encroachment Department several times and has paid fine to rescue his cart. The ED claims that his cart creates traffic problems. He also works another job in his free time.

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This van is owned by a person who parks it everyday from 11am to 9pm near Janwadi. He has a registration certificate for permanent vending. He has sold eatables out of his van for eight years. He claims that the ED has also evicted him several times. The staff blames him for blocking traffic at an important junction.

The summer institute is a full-fledged 3 credits course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It is conducted as a continuous module of approximately 2 weeks  duration, involving immersion in a community and location. This year’s institute studied the socio-political dynamics of street vending, especially in relation to the recent Street Vending Act (2014) that cited key constitutional provisions in support of street vendors and established guidelines for state governments so that the state can safeguard the vendors’ right to livelihood. In the following month, we will be posting some of the students’ research in the form of blogs, photo essays, narratives, life stories and analytical pieces that describe in great detail the everyday lives of vendors and local street markets. Watch this space for more.

To see institute reports from previous batches visit our website: http://urk.tiss.edu/winter-institute.html

 

A Day in the Life of a Road-side Car Mechanic

By Kanksshi Agarwal

Our fieldwork focused on street vendors, their livelihood and the awareness around the Street Vendors act of 2014. For me, this experience made a non-hawker story’s who also worked on the streets but out of a an authorised tin-shed, interesting. What makes an authorised shop owner selling on the streets different from hawkers on the same footpath? How are their struggles different?

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Umesh is a well-built young, entrepreneur and mechanic, who offers services on the streets. He operates from a semi-permanent tin structure on the footpath of Laxmi Nagar Road in Pune City. The shop was authorised 30 years ago. It was certified in 1986 as a semi-formal shop for repairing and fixing of automobiles. There are no rules currently talking about such authorised shops, making no provisions for a renewal for their certificate. However, it has kept him out of ambit of the Encroachment Department, the wrath of which the vendors have to bear every other day.

“As a hawker you learn to be persistent about your livelihood which is selling on road or doing business by going around, or settling and fighting for your rights. You will learn to work around the evictions and the encroachment department officials.” — Union Leader of Hawkers’ Association, Pune.

His shop is placed on the footpath, and shares a wall with another mechanic’s business. He is not a vendor, but he works and shares the space with the vendors on the streets. While his shop is authorised, the vendors are still fighting their battle to get certified through the National Street Vendors Act of 2014. Though he is privileged in comparison to a hawker, his ordeals are not any lesser.

Umesh studied engineering in the University in Pune, and was employed at Bajaj. After a span of seven years he was made the head of his department. However, he lost his job in 2008 after a series of firings citing the economic depression as the reason. Today, his daily routine on the footpath is similar to any vendor. He starts his day at 10am in the morning, accesses the public toilet in the area, fetches water from a municipal tap at the end of the road, works in his workshop, and also visits his special customers to repair at the location of their auto-break down. He faces the ridicule like other vendors do from some pedestrians, but he is aware he is not wrong in running his business. Sometimes a street vendor, we noticed, lacks this confidence and self-awareness. While, Umesh says that encroachment is wrong, he believes that commuters, pedestrians, vehicle owners and vendors must all have a right to optimally use public spaces.

Usually the commuters are his daily customers. He lives in a nearby colony. He has a wife, and a kid, whom he aspires to send to a private school. “If I had a formal job, I would have earned equivalent or lesser than what I make as a mechanic, but it would have been easier to get my child admitted to school,” he says speaking of the prejudices against blue-collar workers that sometimes affect prospects of getting their children into good private schools.  “I doubt the education system in this country and the mindset around employability after formal education. I think everyone must be empowered to think about business”.

He compares an employed individual to an entrepreneur/business owner. Skills for running a business can be passed from generation to generation. This he says is not possible in a merit-based organised sector employment. Vendors should be allowed to run businesses since self-employment can prevent them from taking up menial labour jobs with little job security. With his own business he feels free to work, as he works for himself. He thinks vendors are doing a great job by believing in the strength of livelihood generation through networking and honest business making skills. However, he constantly struggles with getting cooperation from his fellow vendors. If he asks someone not to park in front of his shop, as it impedes access to his shop, many ignore his request.

This worries him since his shop is his primary source of income. It is a 5×3 metre shop, and it retains the essence of informal, friendly atmosphere that he missed during his days on working in a corporate formal organisation. Today while working on a tyre, he can sip tea and share ideas on entrepreneurial empowerment that comes with the selling on streets. As I hang around the shop I realise he has acquired some goodwill over the years. People come and chat with him. I asked him, if these were his customers and he said, his customers have now become good friends and share good rapport with him and meet him even without work requirements.  “We are on streets, for (the benefit of) those who use the streets (commuters and pedestrians). They require us to be here for their own easy access,” he says.

The summer institute is a full-fledged 3 credits course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It is conducted as a continuous module of approximately 2 weeks  duration, involving immersion in a community and location. This year’s institute studied the socio-political dynamics of street vending, especially in relation to the recent Street Vending Act (2014) that cited key constitutional provisions in support of street vendors and established guidelines for state governments so that the state can safeguard the vendors’ right to livelihood. In the following month, we will be posting some of the students’ research in the form of blogs, photo essays, narratives, life stories and analytical pieces that describe in great detail the everyday lives of vendors and local street markets. Watch this space for more.

To see institute reports from previous batches visit our website: http://urk.tiss.edu/winter-institute.html

 

 

 

 

Photo Essay: Body as Infrastructure and Street Vending

By Nehal Thorawade

Pune city has close to 25000 vendors who earn their livelihoods by hawking a variety of products from vegetables and fruits to garments and decorative items. For the vendors, these streets serve as workspaces. The display of articles is also of crucial importance. It determines how many products get sold and at what time of the day. Vendors know how to display their articles to attract customers. There is no need of special training or degree to manage their business. The photos in this essay show how creatively the vendors use their body as infrastructure to sell products. Body as the infrastructure of vendors allows them mobility so they can easily move from one place to another with their articles. However, it also comes with a limitation such as they can only sell a limited stock at one time.

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The summer institute is a full-fledged 3 credits course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It is conducted as a continuous module of approximately 2 weeks  duration, involving immersion in a community and location. This year’s institute studied the socio-political dynamics of street vending, especially in relation to the recent Street Vending Act (2014) that cited key constitutional provisions in support of street vendors and established guidelines for state governments so that the state can safeguard the vendors’ right to livelihood. In the following month, we will be posting some of the students’ research in the form of blogs, photo essays, narratives, life stories and analytical pieces that describe in great detail the everyday lives of vendors and local street markets. Watch this space for more.

To see institute reports from previous batches visit our website: http://urk.tiss.edu/winter-institute.html

 

Building Ties: Importance of Networks and Solidarities Among Street Vendors

By Akshata Bhat

The livelihood of street vendors in India is extremely precarious, despite it being an old occupation and all the legal protections the new Street Vendors Act (2014) has provided.  Since it is an “informal” mode of occupation which is mostly carried out on roads, sidewalks and footpaths, making a livelihood out of it depends on the interaction street vendors have with a wide range of people such as customers, pedestrians, traffic police, the local authority, and the state and central government at large. It also centrally depends on unionisation and network building among the vendors themselves. Based on fieldwork done in Juna Bazaar, Mangalwar Peth market and Aundh market, the piece looks at street vendors as entrepreneurs and how networking is crucial to successful business.

Each vendor is like a node in the network that is connected to different types of citizens. This dense network is informed by various parameters that can affect their business such as supply lines, location of vending, customer relationship, solidarity, exchange of resources with other vendors and other types of businesses. The dynamics of this network is also subject to the periodic actions of the municipality, namely the frequent threat of eviction.

In the DAV Public School, Aundh market area, few people are seen on the streets during this hot summer afternoon. Their faces are covered with scarves and heads protected by caps from the dust and sun. There is minimal interaction with the vendors. In the distance, a woman buys some vegetables and walks away. However, not a single vendor has any protection against the sun. There is, however one fast food stall that has tarpaulin to cover the foodstuff, but none for the vendor. The woman who runs that business speaks to us as sweat beads run down her face. She speaks of her fear of getting reported to the municipality by my fellow researchers and I because of the interest we take in her livelihood. People on the streets only inquire about the goods and its price; such an interaction is unexpected.

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In conversation with Shamim.

By the time the sun sets, several other hawkers turn up, set up their stalls and sell their goods. The hawkers occupy the space designed for cycle riders. This is because of the belief held by a resident near the area that “footpaths are for walking… we do want the hawkers, but they must be in the place allocated to them by the municipality”. These residents have formed a Vikas Mandal, that supposedly works for the benefit of both the vendors and the pedestrians.

The vendors are visible on the streets in equal measure of the utility they bring to the customers. However, like other occupations that are practised behind desks in buildings, the intricate nature of their interaction with the other citizens is invisible. “There’s one customer who is loyal to me and helps me in times of need by lending me some things”, says Shamim (name changed to protect privacy), a vendor who sells vegetables in the Aundh Market area. “The rest mostly just bargain with us”, she adds.

Eviction drives are a common feature in the lives of the vendors of Aundh Market. An eviction drive I witnessed first-hand allowed me see the resignation on the faces of the vendors; an acceptance that such an event is a part of their livelihood. Shamim, however, is devastated each time her goods are seized. “I thought of getting together all the women here who constantly face this harassment, but they haven’t responded to the idea… So what can be done…” she says.  

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Union leader with his son at Juna Bazaar.

The union leader of Janiv Hawkers Union mentions that apathy runs strong among those hawkers who are not part of his Union. The Union mediates administrative and legal matters, addresses the grievances of those who communicate with them, and serves as a source of empowerment for hawkers — particularly for women as they have the least access to basic health and hygiene facilities.  However, even among the different types of vendors, there is hostility towards the mobile ones as “they don’t pay the fees”. Therefore, even amongst the Union, formed mainly for the purpose of building strong networks there reigns a similar trend of lack of sustained social connections. The Union is currently a few thousand members strong in Pune, yet the leader says that its representation in the Town Vending Committee is inadequate because the unity dissolves as soon as a problem gets solved.

A market level union at Juna Bazaar in Mangalwar Peth is formed on the strength of hawkers who have been in the business for nearly forty years. Here, the nature of interaction among the vendors is of a different nature. They discuss ways of improving their conditions and demand for shops made of bricks and concrete. Here, we can seen a glimpse of networking where each vendor, who can be represented as a node in a network has equal stake and weight in running their business.

An overall idea about the basic strength of connections in the local networks formed by the two markets and the Janiv Hawkers Union can be represented as shown in the network diagram below:

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Factors contributing to these differences are several such as historical origin of the market — the Juna Bazaar understood as a heritage market and the Aundh market understood as a mix of natural and rehabilitated market, the popularity and influence of market in inviting customers, type of relationship shared with co-vendors- blood relations in Juna Bazaar and near absence of any relationship with co-vendors in Aundh market etc.

Despite similarity in items and the source of supply in the Aundh market, which sells perishable food items bought from the Market Yard, Pune, their social connectivity with the other vendors in the market as a whole remains low.

The opposite is true of the Juna Bazaar where there is a considerable difference in items of supply, yet there exists a strong social connectivity among the vendors even as it varies with those who are new to the business versus the ones that have engaged in it for about a few decades.

Therefore, this paper shows that there exists a direct relation between strong networking and the stability of livelihoods, especially since eviction drives seem lower where unionisation and networks are stronger. This is true only of markets that we studied in Pune.

The summer institute is a full-fledged 3 credits course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It is conducted as a continuous module of approximately 2 weeks  duration, involving immersion in a community and location. This year’s institute studied the socio-political dynamics of street vending, especially in relation to the recent Street Vending Act (2014) that cited key constitutional provisions in support of street vendors and established guidelines for state governments so that the state can safeguard the vendors’ right to livelihood. In the following month, we will be posting some of the students’ research in the form of blogs, photo essays, narratives, life stories and analytical pieces that describe in great detail the everyday lives of vendors and local street markets. Watch this space for more.

To see institute reports from previous batches visit our website: http://urk.tiss.edu/winter-institute.html

Space and the Streets: How Much can Vendors Occupy?

By Guru Kamble

The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 talks about safeguarding rights of streets vendors and their livelihoods. While regulating street vending is important, it is crucial to take into the consideration the space necessary for street vendors to carry out their business successfully on the street. This photo essays argues that if the government, through regulation limits the usage of space that can be occupied by street vendors then it might affect the livelihood of street vendors.

Space requirement varies as per the street vendor. An egg seller might need less space whereas a vegetables vendor might need more. Standardising space for each street vendor may not work. The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) act 2014 does not specify the space that should be given to street vendors, however it talks about the holding capacity of the street or vending zone i.e. the maximum number of street vendors who can be accommodated in any vending zone. However, during my interaction with the encroachment inspector of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), I found the permissible space allowed by PMC for all street vendors is 5×3 feet (5/3). On the other hand, the Delhi government street vending scheme has mentioned that street vendors can occupy 6×4 feet, which allows for far more space.

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The street vendor on Sinhagad Road sells many vegetables and she needs more space than that permitted by the PMC. If she follows permissible space regulation of the PMC then she will have to stop selling some vegetables, which will affect her income.

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Actual space required for fruits and vegetable street vendors at Vithalwadi Hingne market is far more than the space permitted by the PMC.
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Some street vendors require very less space.  
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Munder Market (Kothrud) constructed by Pune Municipal Corporation allotted 5×4 feet space to each vendor. Though this market was inaugurated in 2010, one of the reasons it failed is that the space allocated was less.

Many street vendors sell many things at the same time and use the space on the streets effectively when left to their own faculties. However, limitation on the space will also put constraints on how many goods the vendors will be able to sell. If less space is allowed then it will adversely affect the livelihoods of the street vendors.  

The summer institute is a full-fledged 3 credits course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It is conducted as a continuous module of approximately 2 weeks  duration, involving immersion in a community and location. This year’s institute studied the socio-political dynamics of street vending, especially in relation to the recent Street Vending Act (2014) that cited key constitutional provisions in support of street vendors and established guidelines for state governments so that the state can safeguard the vendors’ right to livelihood. In the following month, we will be posting some of the students’ research in the form of blogs, photo essays, narratives, life stories and analytical pieces that describe in great detail the everyday lives of vendors and local street markets. Watch this space for more.

To see institute reports from previous batches visit our website: http://urk.tiss.edu/winter-institute.html