The Struggle for Work: Aspirations and Ambition in the Lanes of Hyderabad’s Mehedipatnam

By Goutham Raj KJ

Mehdipatnam is a very dynamic space that resembles the characteristics of Hyderabad at an area level. The market of Mehdipatnam has a non-linear progression in its formal and informal sectors, both competing with each other in terms of growth and expansion. The Mehdipatnam market consists of an IT coaching and skill development belt, commercial complexes, recreational spaces, institutions, a flower market, a vegetable market, Rythu bazaar and street vendors all around these spaces.

It has varied economic activities and diverse population groups — Mehdipatnam resembles a mini Hyderabad. Just like Hyderabad, Mehdipatnam is also famous for its IT coaching and skill development sector attracting young and mid-career professionals from India and abroad (specially from African countries). It also functions as a major market destination for nearby regions’ agricultural produce through its multiple markets such as Gudimalkapur flower market, Rythu Bazaar, Gudimalkapur wholesale market, Gudimalkapur retail market and Street vendors in Gudimalkapur.

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A virtual map highlighting the boundaries of Medhipatnam

The location of Mehdipatnam markets and institutions signify that the area closer to bus stop, parallel to Old Bombay flyover is concentrated with IT coaching, educational institutions,skill development centers and other allied are majorly categorized under the formal sector. The markets that sell agricultural produce and its allied activities are concentrated on the other end of Mehdipatnam because of which the northern part is perceived as formal and tech-advanced and the southern part as informal and highly congested.

The map shows the area in blue patch is concentrated with skill development and IT coaching centers while the greenish patch signifies the concentration of markets with agriculture and allied activities produce.

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Gateway and Destination

Mehdipatnam is a dynamic space attracting youth from all parts of the country with its diverse sectors to provide desired services to the youth. Many students at IT coaching institutes are mid-career professionals from Telugu states and beyond.

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Instructions for typing, as observed in a few IT cafes and hubs

Some of them are from different African countries coming all over the way to Hyderabad to learn market desired upgraded and new coding languages and programming at cheaper costs and certified quality programs. Most of them are also recent graduates and young professionals. Most of them are not interested in working in India after their coaching. A large chunk wants to work abroad for better a pay scale and high standard of living. Therefore IT coaching and skill development belt with its other allied activities like travel and tour industry, and legal consultancies are creating this part as a gateway to move abroad.

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A transect map with various market typologies

The Gudimalkapur area with its agricultural and allied markets is attracting and absorbing large number of laborers from the city and hinterlands of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, north eastern part of Karnataka and Marathwada. These are mostly young men coming from villages and small towns because of agricultural decay, unequal resource distribution at area level (lacking farm land or other properties) and widespread poverty. These men work in petty jobs that are largely non-entrepreneurial in nature. For these men Gudimalkapur is a destination that provides them employment with better payment and livable conditions.

 

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Youth’s role and degree of presence in the market

The dynamics of ownership and employment of youth in Mehdipatnam is as varied as its spatial dynamism. Most of the youth in the IT coaching and skill development belt are present in the form of students and very few are working as trainers and faculty. The age demography of the students seeking training and coaching in this belt is very varied ranging from 14 to 45 years. School students of VII-VIII standards are also utilizing the services provided in these institutes. There is no visible ownership of the youth in this part of the Mehdipatnam. Also, while enquiring about the ownership of these spaces and centers most of the people vocally asserted on the absence of youth ownership.

On the other end of the Mehdipatnam, the Gudimalkapur absorbs large chunk of youth as helpers, cleaners, sellers, street vendors, carriers and garland makers.

These are mostly migrant laborers from far off distances. They start their jobs with low payment and it steadily increases with the seniority. Also, there is a hierarchy in these markets in the form of promotions beginning from helpers and carriers to sellers/street vendors to garland makers. To understand the employment pattern in the markets, following flow chart of flower market illustration will help.

 

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A concept tree with different forms of youth employment

Street vending is the only profession in which the presence of youth ownership is relatively high in comparison to other spaces. Youth lack resources and capital to own a proper business in the formal sector. They are largely working in the informal sector as supporting staff. Some of these supporting staff has finished their graduation in professional courses. Most of the street vendors are around the gates of flower and vegetable markets from which they collect their supply. The youth are not able to own a space inside the market area due to low social capital, poor contacts, social identity and lack of capital to invest. Therefore, the youth in Mehdipatnam is stuck to petty supporting jobs and lacks ownership in the markets.

Conclusion

Youth in Mehdipatnam are drawn from faraway places to seek work. Like discussed in the above sections Mehdipatnam has two different zones largely perceived as formal and informal. The study found that youth with equal level of educational qualifications are engaged in both the spaces as workers and students. We found that who does what; to study or work; and where; is largely influenced by the social capital of the individual. We found the influence of caste, religion, gender, region and age in the narratives of the workers in both the spaces despite their educational qualifications and working capabilities. The ownership of the youth is ubiquitously absent in both the spaces revealing the fact that our markets are not yet student and youth friendly to be entrepreneurial.

 


The Winter Institute is a full-fledged 3 credit course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies conducted in the first year. It is conceived as a platform for interdisciplinary collaborative learning through research and action in the field. The blog series showcases the work, reflections and opinions of the students, and not the Centre.

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

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