Mini Public: Bringing Diverse Voices Together

By Tushar Anand

A Mini-Public event was organised by the Centre for Environment and Education (CEE) and Centre for Urban Policy and Governance on October 14, 2017 in Aundh, Pune, with the idea of bringing various stakeholders on the same table to deliberate on the topic of development of the streets. The name ‘Mini-Public’ itself alludes to the emphasis upon greater civic participation and social inclusion in the process of development. For this event, the Samvaad Hall at the YASHADA Administrative Training Institute in Baner, Pune was chosen. It seemed to be the perfect location for the event since samvaad literally translates to dialogue.

We the students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences were volunteers and facilitators for the day. The hall was arranged with five different tables with ten chairs each. Care was taken to ensure that each table had equal representation from all groups, and no particular group dominated the flow of discussion in any table. A separate utility table was set up at the back of the room which held an assortment of stationery, card papers, permanent markers, and rolls of fake currency which were to be used as props as the event progressed.

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Separate tables, similar agenda. Picture courtesy: Abhishek Anil

The stakeholders started arriving around 11am, but the work behind the scenes is important to highlight. The stakeholders in the Aundh-Baner-Balewadi area were identified and their opinions were analysed as a part of the fieldwork done by the students for a few days before the event. CEE also had a major role to play, since they had been closely involved in the Smart City project which is being implemented in the area. It was important that the informal vendors in the area were provided with a platform to raise their concerns, and special care was taken to include them in the discussion. A significant point to remember is that these informal vendors work on a daily-wage basis, and their participation in the event meant that they would lose out on their livelihood for the day. This point wasn’t lost on the organizers, who compensated them for their time and participation in the event (although, the vendors themselves had no idea that this would happen at the time when they agreed to be a part of the event- which negates the argument that they participated solely for monetary benefits). The collective efforts bore fruit on the day the event was organized, when a substantial participation of such stakeholders was observed- a pleasant surprise for both the organizers and the students, who were still uncertain of the level of participation on the actual day. It was the allure of making their voices heard on a platform of equal opportunity, and being a part of discussions which they had been denied previously, which drew them to the event. A definite triumph for the organizers who envisioned the event for the empowerment of the weaker sections of the society, who probably had the most to lose and the least to gain with the current mode of implementation of the Smart City project, and no other platforms to make their voices heard.

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Deliberations, discussions and debates. Picture Courtesy: Abhishek Anil

The whole event was conducted in the local language Marathi to facilitate conversations among the stakeholders and make the people more comfortable while listing out their concerns and expectations from the project in particular, and governance as whole. The first round of discussions were conducted in two phases, with each table listing down the “Things we Want” and “Things to Change” as separate lists. Collectively, these lists represented the demands and expectations of various groups and every issue was meticulously debated and deliberated upon. It must be kept in mind that the vendors were sitting on the same table with residents and traders probably for the first time, and it’s quite understandable that the discussions were a bit insipid in the beginning. However, soon they lost their inhibitions and the room was full of voices from every corner of each of the tables. Every table had facilitators, translators and record-keepers, both from CEE and TISS, who would facilitate discussions and ensure that the core issues were being discussed, and recorded judiciously.

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Voices for inclusive participation in decision-making. Picture Courtesy: Abhishek Anil

Mere discussions were not the only agenda of the day. In order to understand the actual decision-making process and participatory governance in action, each member at the tables was given a set amount of fake currency which they had the right to allocate to various issues that they had commonly decided earlier in the day. The idea was to understand the decision-making process by a governing authority which has a set budget to implement a project within a definite time period, at an individual level through the medium of collective participation. Fourteen key issues had been identified by the earlier deliberations, and each issue was discussed again with every individual allocating set resources towards each problem. For example, if waste management was an issue that people wanted to be improved in their area, they could allocate greater amount of ‘money’ to that problem and hence it would indicate a higher priority by the majority. The whole act had all the markings of a classical ‘game’ (from Game Theory in Economics) – with a stratified random sample group having to make decisions in accordance with predetermined set of rules. It is interesting to note that upon repetition of the game (there were two rounds with similar rules), the groups came to a better consensus in the understanding of the issues (which was evident in the high allocation of resources towards common issues such as better quality and access to public services and utilities) – a phenomenon that bears close resemblance to Nash’s predictions*.

Aside from the fact that this particular part of the event is of great fascination to anyone with a mild interest in behavioural economics and group psychology, the participants were very satisfied with the event. It was the first instance of participatory democracy and collective decision-making in practice, and there was great enthusiasm among all the stakeholders who devoted an entire day to deliberate upon the issues that affect everyone. It’s hardly surprising that all the participants responded with a resounding “YES” when asked whether they would be a part of similar events in the future as well.


* One of the most important ideas in John Nash’s famous concept of equilibrium in Game Theory is that reiteration and repetition of games would lead to the players being more familiar with the rules, and would eventually show behaviour patterns at the Nash Equilibrium- which can be predicted and generalized.
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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Rethinking Smart Cities through Participatory Governance  

By Abhishek Anil

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The Centre for Urban Policy and Research at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, along with Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Pune, organised a Mini Public on the October 13, 2017. The event was a culmination of week-long fieldwork done by the students of TISS in the Aundh-Baner-Balewadi area of Pune, identified for the Smart City initiative. The project involved identifying the numerous stakeholders of the area which included residents, hawkers and owners of small commercial enterprises amongst others to create a miniaturised participatory governance process through rounds of guided discussions and deliberations.

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The event was held at Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration. Among the attendees were individuals from diverse socio-economic backgrounds engaged in different occupations. The attendees invited represented the numerous demographic groups of any urban region. The intention behind having a diverse demographic representation was to include groups which often find themselves excluded from participatory exercises and decision making processes.

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The idea behind this initiative was to bring people — from hawkers to bungalow residents — together on a common platform as equal citizens. This would then ensure a samvaad, or dialogue among the different stakeholder groups about how these groups would like their locality to be like in the foreseeable future.
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As people trickled in, a process of registration commenced. We, from TISS were frankly quite overwhelmed with the response showed by the residents of Aundh to take time out from their busy schedules to turn up for our Mini Public. The attendees were a healthy concoction of vendors, residents and especially women eager to contribute with their thoughts and actively participate in the process.

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As the invitees poured in, they were welcomed with a display of a series of posters prepared by the students. In the picture above, Anushri explains the various limbs of governance like PMPML, Pune Municipal Corporation, Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd etc, which determine how our city shapes up as. These posters also highlighted the condition of the indispensable workforce behind maintaining our cities. These workers belong to the various corporations like PMC and SWACHH who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the streets are clean, the drainage functional and the trees trimmed, without getting their fair share of recognition or even basic equipment.

These posters were intended to show the dynamics of governance at work, while simultaneously sensitizing the affluent of the plight of the people who keep the city trim and proper.

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After the people occupied their seats, the Mini Public formally commenced with Mr Avinash from CEE taking charge of the proceedings. The entire process was conducted in Marathi for the convenience of non-Hindi speakers. He introduced the concept of participatory governance and provided them with a broad overview of the themes for the day. The 40 attendees were then divided among six tables, with each table having a facilitator from CEE to guide them through the processes to come. Each table also had a fair representation of the various socio-economic and gender groups to make the process as inclusive as possible. To begin with, each table was asked to choose facets of their locality they wished to retain and the ones they wanted to expend, like trees, historical structures, bus stops, public toilets and such like. As different stakeholders used the streets differently, they were asked about the specific ways they viewed a space as public as a street which resulted in a plethora of responses. The facilitators at each table ensured the deliberations weren’t hijacked by a certain individual or group and the process functioned as smoothly as possible.

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The discussions were a stark departure from what we, the students of TISS observed during our fieldwork. Interactions with a PMC official, local corporators and residents showed the ideals of the 74th CAA weren’t followed in spirit. Moreover, the Smart City SPV didn’t involve enough participatory exercises to ensure inclusive governance. The hawkers and vendors were systematically left out and often treated as appendages to a broader and ambiguous notion of ‘smart city’. The demands of lower income groups were not given adequate attention while formal and established institutions enjoyed greater say in the discussions, partly because of their proximity to the decision-making elites.

We at CEE and TISS aimed to bridge this very gap and give the underrepresented a greater chance to voice their demands and concerns. While people engaged with each other across tables, we realized the people’s concerns weren’t drastically different after all. Each group did want safer streets and better public transport, and such demands cut across various socio-economic stratifications. It was quite heartening to see people recognise differences and still come together as ‘we’ and not ‘I’.

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Forceful arguments were made…
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…but there were a few light-hearted moments too.

When asked about what the stakeholders would like to retain or change in their neighbourhood, a variety of responses emerged. However, almost each member of the group could relate to it. Demands were as basic as an accessible footpath, streetlights to ensure safety and connectivity with the wider public transport system to make people’s commute easier. Rarely did we come across demands or aspirations which a certain section couldn’t relate to, which was a sign of how participatory governance processes can lead to symmetric development of the masses.

 

Discussions were followed by a process of allotment of funds. As in the real world the political economy plays a crucial role in which demands of the people are realised and which ones are shelved, this exercise made the participants realise why not all their demands are released.

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Which projects or amenities see the light of day depends on whether the taxpayers are willing to put their money into it. For this exercise, each group was given limited funds which was then collectively allotted to the numerous demands they made earlier. While a few demands were indeed funded, a few were shelved for a later day.

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We had a few serious listeners…
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…and a few delighted faces.

At the end of the exercise, the issue which got the maximum amount of funds was the revamp of public transport. This highlights how despite the earnest attempts of the government and auxiliary limbs of governance, transport in urban India remains abysmal, leading to an over-reliance on private vehicles. While the wealthy do enjoy the luxury of being able to afford vehicles, the economically vulnerable need an efficient public transport system to meet their daily commuting needs.

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And that’s how the Mini Public culminated with a lot of valuable takeaways, both for our stakeholders and us, the students of TISS.

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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

Implementation of Street Vendors Act 2014: Challenges, Opportunities and Way Forward

The workshop is organised by the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance, TISS Mumbai in collaboration with the National Hawkers Federation on 17th and 18th February 2018. This is a closed workshop. 

Street vendor

The enactment of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending), 2014  is considered a progressive social policy aimed at protecting the livelihoods of street vendors, giving them representation in a decision making body that will regulate where and how vending will take place, and most importantly, including them within the social security safety nets. The Act was laid down in consonance with the principles enshrined in the constitution, namely the Article 14 (Right to Equality) and freedom to practice any profession, business or trade 19(1)(g). The state governments are required to prepare the rules for implementation of the Act. In addition to the rules, the state governments are also required to frame a scheme for street vendors after due consultations with the local authority and the Town Vending Committee (TVC). The Scheme consists of 28 items which are broadly related to details of these 5 types of activities such as survey of street vendors, certificate of vending, relocation or eviction rules, functioning of TVC, principles for restriction-free, restricted or no-vending zones, time-sharing, holding capacity of each zone, and relocation.

However, a series of studies and reports have pointed out that there is an uneven implementation of the Act cross the country, with some states having constituted TVCs without conducting surveys and registration of vendors, some states which are attempting to draft Rules and Schemes without consulting vendors and organisations working with street vendors and thus subverting the very spirit of the Act, and in some cities where evictions of street vendors are taking place on a daily basis in contravention of the Act and the Supreme Courts orders. Research also points out to the lack of knowledge about the Act and its provisions amongst street vendors across various cities in the country in spite of efforts by organisations such as the NHF and NASVI to bring about this crucial awareness. Within the unions of street vendors and researchers working on the rights of street vendors, there is also a critique of the current Act that is developing, given that it excludes certain groups such as vendors in and around railways stations and trains. In various cities, attempts are being made to sensitise lawyers, street vendors collectives and activists about the Supreme Court order and the provisions of the Act, with some success.

This national workshop is being organised to evaluate the implementation of the Act, the challenges it poses as well as opportunities it opens up, and to discuss collectively measures to go forward. The Centre for Urban Policy and Governance at TISS has been studying street vending in Kolkata for the past year and half and has also been doing fieldwork in Bhuj and Pune with regard to the same. Therefore the Centre in collaboration with the National Hawkers Federation is organising this 2 day workshop, wherein judges, activists, union members and hawkers collectives as well as academics from around the country will meet and debate and discuss the implementation of the Act, share positive outcomes, pinpoint specific issues and challenges, and strategize ways to enforce the Act, pressurise the formation of the TVC and the registration of street vendors while remaining critical of the issues and unintended effects of implementing the Act on the street vending community as a whole.

 

Workshop Schedule

Day 1, 17th February 2018

Introduction: 9.30 am to 9:45 am

Dr. Ratoola Kundu

Chairperson, Centre of Urban Policy and Governance, School of Habitat Studies, TISS Mumbai

Keynote Address: 9:45 am to 10:30 am

Saktiman Ghosh

General Secretary, National Hawkers Federation

Session I: 10:30 am to 11:30 am

Deciphering the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014

The enactment of the Street Vendors Act of 2014 has a long and convoluted history. In 2004, due to a long and sustained struggle by street vending associations, the National Policy on Street Vendors was formulated and later revised in 2009. The revised policy was not legally binding and made little progress on the matter of street vendors and only few states such as Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa took initiative for the implementation of the policy. In 2010, the Supreme Court directed the government to enact a law regulating street vending and thus, the Street Vendors Bill 2012 was drafted. The Bill was passed in both houses by February 2014 and became the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. This Act was drafted with the legislative intent of protecting the livelihood rights of street vendors as well as regulating street vending through demarcation of vending zones, conditions for and restrictions on street vending.

This session will establish the main underlying theme of the workshop and a historical understanding of the way in which the Street Vendors Act 2014 was enacted. The session will also highlight the chief differences between the Act and the Bill as well as earlier policies that were drafted, commenting upon the shifts in perspective and what was gained and lost in the process.

Panel Discussants

  • Advocate Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya, President, All India Lawyers’Association
  • Gayatri Singh, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court
  • Debashish Banerjee, Advocate, Kolkata High Court
  • Advocate R. Sevvilam Parithi, Vice President, NHF-Kolkata, General Secretary, NHF-Tamil Nadu
  • Ratoola Kundu as Moderator

Intervention

  • Rajesh Singhvi, Advocate
  • Ali Zia Kabir Choudhary, Advocate, Delhi High Court

Session II: 11:30 am to 1:00 pm

Issues and Challenges with respect to the constitution of Town Vending Committee and the Role of TVCs

One of the key provisions is for the formation of TVC and registration of street vendors who will then elect representatives to the TVC. This session will mainly deal with issues such as – How should the TVC be constituted? Through what mechanisms and processes? Who will take the lead in this?  What will be the ideal composition of the TVC? Who from the street vendors’ community should be part of the TVC especially in the absence of registered vendors and a process through which they elect representatives? What does the Act say about this? How have the TVCs been constituted so far and what role are they playing, what challenges are they facing? Can there be more than one TVC in a city – if so, according to what criteria? Why aren’t
TVCs involved in designing the street vending plan along with local
authorities?

Panel discussants

  • Ali Baqri, Additional General Secretary, NHF
  • Murad Hossain, Joint Secretary, Hawkers Sangram Committee
  • Jayanta Das, Additional General Secretary, NHF
  • Kirtiman Ghosh, Central Secretariat Member, NHF
  • Ranjit Gadgil, Program Director, Parisar
  • Sitaram Shelar, Convenient, Centre for Democratic Rights, as Moderator

Intervention

  • Advocate Abhay Taksal, Convener, Shahid Bhagat Singh Hawkers’ Union
  • Advocate Ravi Shankar Dwivedi, General Secretary, Uttar Pradesh, NHF

Lunch: 1.00 pm to 2.00 pm

Session III:  2.00 pm to 4.00 pm

Discussion based break-out sessions.

Each session will have a facilitator and will get 60 mins to discuss and table key points. These key points will be shared by each group. The sharing session will be 10 mins for each of the groups to the audience. The rest of the 30 mins will be a Q and a discussion session.

  • Survey, Registration and issuance of vending Certificates

This session deals with the issues of registration and issuing of vending certificates – Any registered person may apply to the TVC for a vending certificate. In the absence
of surveys and registration of vendors, and the lack of Schemes
prepared by the state government, how will registration and issuance
of vending certificates be done? How should surveys be conducted in order to be inclusive? Who counts as a street vendor? How will itinerant vendors be counted? Who will be in charge of the surveys and validation of the data? What kind of registration process should be followed? What should be the criteria along which certificates are issued? Who will issue these certificates? What kind of entitlements and benefits accrue to these certificates? How do new vendors get registered and apply for certification? What are the norms for issuance of certificates? Will there be some caps as to how many vendors can be given certificates per area/location/city?

Participants

  • Mecanzy Dabre, Deputy General Secretary, NHF
  • Advocate Amrit Prasad, Secretary, Bihar, NHF
  • Advocate Vinita Balekundri, Legal Advisor, Maharashtra Hawkers Federation
  • Yakub Mohammad, Executive Committee Member, Central Secretariat Member, Converner, Rajashthan, NHF
  • Pratap Sahu, President, All Odisha Roadside Vendor Association
  • Aravind Unni, Urban Poverty lead, IGSSS – as Facilitator

 

  • Women hawker’s representation in TVC and hawker’s movement – emerging issues

Women street vendors play an important part in the formation of TVC. However, equal participation of women is missing from TVC at a regional level. This session deals with the current role and issues around the participation of women vendors in TVC as well as the larger movement.

Participants

  • Rimpa Ghosh, PhD Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata
  • Anita Das, Additional General Secretary-NHF, General Secretary- Ranchi, NHF
  • Lekha K.G, ALF
  • Protip Nag, Working Committee Member, Hawker Sangram Committee
  • Pravin Sinha, Labour Advisor
  • Smita Waingankar, MPhil Scholar, CUPG, TISS Mumbai as Facilitator

 

  • Designing the street vending plan, demarcation of vending and non-vending zones and the spatial regulation of street vending

The Act aims to regulate street vending through demarcation of vending and no- vending zones, lay conditions for and restrictions on street vending. The local authority shall, in consultation with the planning authority, frame a street vending plan once every five years. The Act does not specify principles to be followed by governments in allocating vending zones and the number of vendors per zone, criteria to identify natural markets.  Absence of such norms could defeat the purpose of enacting a law to ensure uniformity in the legal framework. The Act does not require the stakeholders to be consulted in the formulation of the street vending plan.  This could lead to a lack of safeguards in ensuring that plan is determined in a fair manner.

Participants

  • Hussain Indorewala, Assistant Professor, KRVIA, Mumbai
  • Pranjali Despande, ITDP, Pune
  • Bhawna Jamini, Architect, Hunnarshala, Bhuj
  • Street vending zone demarcations in progress – Odisha, Vishkhapatnam, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Himanshu Burte, Assistant Professor CUPG as Facilitator

 

Session IV: 4.00 pm to 5.30 pm

Building alliances

There are several contestations that are emerging on the ground in different cities in spite of what Act says or purports to do. Citizens groups, shop keepers associations, fragmentation within the street vendors makes it difficult to launch a sustained struggle. What kind of alliances can be built? With whom? On what terms? Can street vendors’ movements forge alliances with other social movements, political parties etc.? Who within the community of street vendors is being left out by the Act and what can be done to extend support to these excluded or under-represented groups?

Speakers

  • Aravind Unni, Urban Poverty Lead, IGSSS
  • Roger Hina Nabam, General Secretary, All Arunachal Pradesh Hawkers and Street vendors    Federation
  • Ritajyoti Bandopadhyay, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali
  • Ksh Tama Devi, General Secretary, Manipur, NHF
  • Sandeep Verma, National Secretary, Youth Wing, NHF
  • Ghaznafar Nawab, Senior Vice President, NHF (Moderator)/
  • Simpreet Singh, PhD Scholar, CUPG, TISS Mumbai as facilitator (TBC)

 

Day 2, 18th February 2018

Session I: 10:00 am to 11:30 am

Role of state and local governments in implementing the Act

While the State government has been given the power to frame a street vending scheme specifying: (a) criteria and process for registration and issue of vending certificate; (b) eviction and relocation of street vendors and manner of confiscation of goods; (c) process for and disposal of appeals; (d) principles for determining vending zones; the local authority is in charge of deciding infractions/compliance, relocations of vendors, regulating space, carrying out evictions as and when required and penalties. This kind
of delegation of action may lead to overturning the very essence of the Act and the continuance of evictions at the whims of the local government. Why haven’t States framed Schemes or drafted the Rules? If they have, how do these Rules and Schemes
measure up to the intent of the Act? How important is it to forge ties and sensitize local
government officials who are active and committed to this cause to produce schemes that represent the interests of the street vendors?

Speakers

  • Amita Bhide, Dean, School of Habitat Studies, TISS Mumbai
  • Saktiman Ghosh, General Secretary, NHF
  • Jammu Anand, Advisor, NHF
  • Prashanta Kumar Mishra, State Secretariat member of CPI
  • Hassan bhai – Azad Hawkers Federation
  • Ritajyoti Bandyopadhay, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali as Moderator

Session II: 11:30 am to 1.00 pm

Social Security and Financial Inclusion of Street Vendors

This section of the workshop talks about social security schemes for the street vendors. Social security covers medicare, sickness, maternity benefits, employment, injury, inability and survivor’s benefits, old age pension etc (Jhabvala 2000, ILO 2000). Social protection policies in developing countries like India will almost certainly be concerned with reducing vulnerability and unacceptable levels of deprivation. Dreze and Sen (1991) try to distinguish two aspects of social security, where they describe the use of social means to prevent deprivation and vulnerability to deprivation. The social security program in India can be segmented into two parts – one is protective social security measures, largely for the formal sector workers covering medical care and benefits consisting sickness, maternity, old age and so on so forth. On the other segment, promotional social security consist security towards self-employment, wage employment and provision for basic needs such as food, health and education, especially for unorganised sector workers. Thus, it should aim at the protection and promotion of both human and physical capital.

Speakers

  • Pravin Sinha, Labour Advisor
  • Ram Shanker Tiwari, Former Labour Commissioner
  • Sanjeev Chandorkar and Jyotiramayee, Assistant Professor, Centre for Regulatory Studies (TBC)
  • Avinash Madhale, Centre for Environment Education, Pune as Moderator

Session III: 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm (Group Discussion)

  1. Summary of main points from the session – Rapporteurs presentation
  2. Prioritisation of Action Areas
  3. Way Forward – mobilisation, publication, campaigns, drafting of Rules and Schemes, role of NHF and TISS

 

I am DP Road

By Tiksha Sankhe

I am Dhole Patil Road, generally people refer me as DP road. I don’t exactly remember how I was born but as far as remember I got my name because of prominent personality named Damodar Narayan Dholepatil.  I have witnessed many things in my life. I am used by people from residential areas and customers from commercial areas. I am also frequently used by vehicles and pedestrians. Local political parties use me by blocking me so that they can gain name and fame among the people to enhance their chances of getting elected. Sometimes my identity is recognised by the elected representatives. I have often heard residents saying that elected representatives are responsible for my health and my well-being. They are the one who allocate funds and direct the Pune Municipal Corporation towards any problem I may have.  Animals, poor people and footpath shops are very close to my heart as they remain with me for a long time.

I come under Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). I have seen eviction of  street vendors by PMC, in which many street vendors lose their livelihood and few of them in order to escape, collide with the vehicle and get injured. This hurts me a lot. Also I have witnessed conflict between residents and street vendors. A resident who purchases vegetables from vendor said that “These people should be evicted because they are responsible for congestion”. It confuses me — the residents who purchase vegetables from street vendors, how can the same people have a conflict with them?

Tikhsha's Sankhe
DP Road (Parihar Chowk- Before Redesigning Of Smart Street)
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DP Road (Parihar Chowk – Smart City Street )
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Mock run held for 8 days in month of November (2016).

The PMC does not take care of me properly except when elections are near. They also only pay attention to the stretch where Smart City developments have been recently done (Picture 1).  “Smart city” — I came across this word when i heard one of the residents saying “Ab humare achche din aanewale hai. (Our good days are around the corner).” Last year before constructing the model road, mock run was done in which I was used as a one way and other lane was used by residents to walk. Most of the residents enjoyed this because it became easier for them to walk on the street during peak hours (Picture 2). Many shopkeepers protested this because their land was used for widening the footpath and they weren’t ready for this deal. Also, the hawkers were worried about their livelihood and had no idea where to go. On the other hand residents were happy because they always felt that the footpath was not safe to walk on. Also children got some space to play. Before redesigning of Parihar chowk, some presentations were shown to people by PMC . This stretch was selected by PMC because hawkers were fewer in number, there were no slums and also few residents shared good contacts with elected representatives. Redesigning was a little painful for me because the hawkers were evicted and I had to bear the anger of vehicular people as they had to use one way which caused traffic at peak hours.

Last week some students were interviewing people about ‘Smart Street’ and were clicking my pictures. In one of interviews when one of the resident was asked about her view on smart city, she replied, “Smart city should be livable and should be for the elite, well-educated and well-cultured people. Hawkers and slum dwellers should be evicted as they pollute a city.” When interviewed a cobbler who has worked on the streets for 15 years said, “What is this smart city and for who is it? Where should we go? Why are we being evicted even though we have our own license? We don’t have any right on the street, do we?”

After listening to these interviews I felt very bad as it is creating disparity among the people. I never thought that redesigning of me would lead to this. After one month of renovation I saw that parking issues still persist and congestion during peak hours has intensified.

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Ambedkar Chowk Under Construction

Now my other part (Ambedkar Chowk)  is under construction and slowly and gradually  I’ll be fully transformed into a Smart Street. One of the aspects I liked in my redesigning is about the signage. I cannot speak, but signages helps people understand me. I also enjoy how senior citizens use me for their walks and exercises. The beautification work done protects me as well as people from sunlight. I feel proud to say that women feel safe in accessing me because of street lights and also there is an emergency button (Picture 4) located on the poles.

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Emergency Button.

I really don’t know what a smart street is, but if anyone asked me my answer would be that I should be accessible for all, along with equality there should be equity. Tabhi toh achche dino ki umeed kar sakte hai! (Only then can we dream of good days!)


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tragedy of the commons: How Smart Streets favor the elite

By Shaonlee Patranabis

For ten days in October, 2017, a group of students combed the streets of Aundh, Pune, looking for forms of governance. I found it (rather, I had hoped to find it) in the commoning of the street. This short note is an eulogy to the commons that the street could be.

On the street, various facets of governance combine to form an absolute superstructure. Just as the society is a superstructure formed as a more tangible expression of the economic base, the street is a more tangible expression of the governance dynamics of the society. Keeping that in mind, it becomes imperative that the street be looked at critically, especially, each of the nine streets in Aundh, given they are a part of an area level project by a city that claims, “A smart city constantly adapts its strategies incorporating views of its citizens to bring maximum benefit for all.”[1]

The democratic process tests the patience of a majority of the people, most of whom want quick-fixes to increasingly complex issues. The rhetoric of the Smart City project, with its focus on small projects and implementation over planning is a brainchild of such a point of view. The implementation of the Smart City projects has been handed over to a distinctively private body- the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd. (PSDCL), a special purpose vehicle accountable to a board which consists of only six elected members out of a total 16. It is a shadow of the engagement process promised.

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The Governing Board of the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd. Note that only the first six members of the body are necessarily elcted representatives [2]
As a representative from the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd. informed a team interviewing him, the Smart City Corporation “is a project specific implementation body”. It neither looks to transform the infrastructure of the entire city at its core, nor is it currently empowered to formulate and implement policies of its own at the moment. During the students’ interaction with the CEO of the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd., he mentioned that, “soon the PSCDL will become a municipal corporation for the Aundh area, removing the hurdles of implementation that the General Body proposes”. Thus, it is imperative to find out what does the smart city look like for the PSCDCL.

The stretch from Bremen Chowk to Parihar Chowk has been developed as the pilot for the smart streets project, with features such as multi utility zones, (faulty) disabled friendly tracks, sculptures made out of waste, wide footpaths etc. During the negotiations for the same, as the president of the shopkeeper’s association informed us (an executive from the PMC corroborated), the street was declared to be a “no hawking zone”. This was a condition that the PMC accepted as well as the PSCDCL obliged, shows the administration’s attitudes towards the vendors.

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While the pilot street sports statues of fun and frolic, the real balloon seller is unwelcome.

 

The city of Pune still does not have a Street Vendor’s policy[3] and the PMC routinely terrorises hawkers and vendors along the nine Streets[4]. My colleagues will cover this in greater detail. The point is, there is little protection provided by the law to the street vendors in Pune, in spite of a central law that assures the same. [5] (Ironically, during our visit to the PSDCL office, a copy of the act was lying on the coffee table)

The treatment of the hawker as an external entity who is not a stakeholder of the street is therefore, no surprise. In the eyes of both the PSCDCL and the residents, a stakeholder is one who pays for the good. Which immediately excludes anyone too poor to pay the taxes. The people of the Ambedkar Vasahat, a slum, are deemed to be a nuisance, so are the hawkers and street vendors.

This act of excluding peoples from the usage of a service or jointly owned resource creates what is known as a “club good”. Like a swimming pool or a golf course, the utility derived from the club good is enhanced due to its exclusivity. In a street, the utility of the space as a public common is arguably increased by the presence of members like hawkers, yet the negotiators of the formation of the club of the street have acted otherwise.

Forgive me reader, if I diverge into the semantics here, but I found it intriguing to see a public utility be treated as a club good. It is understood that the utilities are services that a government must provide and the poor have a right to as much as the rich. It is the duty of a welfare state as well as the responsibility of the better off parts of the society to help alleviate poverty by providing requisite infrastructure to facilitate the betterment of life and maintenance of livelihoods. Thus, a utility is jointly owned for all uses and purposes. It is a Public Good- non-excludable and non-rivalrous.

A debate around the usage of goods that people jointly own has raged on for a while now. While certain proponents hail the State as a provider of such goods, others seek to depend upon the market.

Table 1 Categorising Goods

 

Excludable[6] Non-Excludable
Rivalrous[7] Private Good eg. A pencil, a piece of jewellery, an apple. Common Property Resource eg. Fish in a pond, grass on a meadow
Non- Rivalrous Club Good eg. The services of a spa, golf clubs, paid subscriptions etc. Public Good eg. National Defence

The classical view of the commons that looks for the intervention of either the state or the market is built out of fear of overuse. Hardin in his 1968[8] paper highlighted this issue as the “tragedy of commons”- entrenched in a very pessimistic view of humanity. The tragedy of the commons happens because humans are incapable of looking beyond one’s selfish interest during the process of decision making. It is now proven, via the work of Elinor Ostrom[9] and her ilk that this is not the real picture.

It is important to note why Hardin’s tragedy occurs and Ostrom’s communities succeed in the management of their common property resources. The root lies in the establishment of a sense of ownership of the resource along with the building of trust within the community that owns the resource. There are no commons without the commoning of responsibility, norms and ownership. The herder on Hardin’s commons does not feel like he/she owns the commons. Ostrom’s user knows that the common is his/her to take responsibility for. In an ideal world, there would be no difference in public property and government property.

The “public” is Hardin’s monster and the PSCDCL is desperately trying to escape this tragedy of the commons – yet a concentrated effort to engage the public in an act of commoning is missing.

On the other hand, the street is also a contested space. The contradiction between the use and the design of the street has led to a conflict between two groups who should have a natural alliance given space – the pedestrians and the hawkers. This conflict has trickled down even into a newly constructed space where both can co-exist.

A coconut vendor on the DP Road told us “Yeh toh Udyog City hai” (this is an Industry-City) or this city is in itself an industry- something to make money out of. On the street, none of the vendors, residents of the Vasahat or the informal workers felt that the 9 Streets project was built for them, instead they looked upon it in fear. Just as the vendors on the stretch from Bremen Chowk to Parihar Chowk were ousted, they fear that they will be treated the same. The animosity towards the “bangle wale” or the people who live in big houses was clear. The aloofness of the middle-class residents was also evident, one of who clearly stated “I do not care about their livelihood” proving that the fears of the people who used the street to earn their livelihood was not misplaced. The othering of the members of the club and the non-members was complete.

While the utility of the street has the potential to be a common for the good of the entire community, it has become a contested space. The Smart City and PMC’s lack of identification and acknowledgement of the underprivileged as stakeholders are only making it worse. Who is the street for? Are we okay with the streets becoming elite club like spaces? Are the underprivileged stakeholders or mere beneficiaries of infrastructure? Can an aloof populace be worthy of a democracy? Can an outcome oriented body be trusted to upkeep the democratic process?

The questions that the 9 Streets have raised are numerous and complex. Common Governance of the street will remain elusive as long as these are not engaged with.

—-

[1] http://www.punesmartcity.in/wp-content/document/challenge2/Pune-Smart-City-Proposal-(SCP)-Part-I.pdf Annexure 1, Point 1

[2] http://www.punesmartcity.in/?wicket:bookmarkablePage=:Com.SmartCity.Page.Internal.Aboutpscdcl

[3] This was corroborated by a PMC official.

[4]   Insights from a Mini Public Workshop for the residents of Aundh, Pune, organised on October 17, 2017, by TISS, Mumbai, and Centre for Environmental Education (CEE), Pune.

[5] http://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/the-street-vendors-protection-of-livelihood-and-regulation-of-street-vending-act-2012-2464/

http://www.indiacode.nic.in/acts2014/7%20of%202014.pdf

[6] Excludable: In economics, a good or service is called excludable if it is possible to prevent people (consumers) who have not paid for it from having access to it. By comparison, a good or service is non-excludable if non-paying consumers cannot be prevented from accessing it.

[7] Rivalrous: In economics, a good is said to be rivalrous or rival if its consumption by one consumer prevents simultaneous consumption by other consumers, or if consumption by one party reduces utility/ability to use to another.

[8] Hardin, G. (2009). The Tragedy of the Commons∗. Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research, 1(3), 243-253.

[9] Ostrom, E. (2015). Governing the commons. Cambridge university press.


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

 

Streets Are for People, Not Just Cars

By Aditi Kelshekar

Streets form an integral part of urban life but we tend to only view them as mere facilitators for movement and transport. A few streets in Aundh, a suburb in Pune, have been chosen to be re-designed under the Smart City project. The area has already been assigned a ‘Smart’ street within its jurisdiction. During our ten-day field work  we attempted to study these new designs and gather people’s opinion of it. We also noticed various ways unconventional, unusual and unnoticed uses of the streets and urban infrastructure which are a part of daily life of the streets that have been proposed to be redesigned into ‘Smart’ streets.

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Bus Stops, benches on footpaths of main roads, used as spaces for social interactions.

Street as socialising space: Bus stops, benches on footpaths, tea stalls, etc are important spots for interactions and socialising among people from all walks of life — employees of nearby corporate offices use this space for some lunch-time chit-chat, whereas senior citizens prefer such spaces for their evening discussions.

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A street vendor uses street infrastructure for support.

Street infrastructure as a space for support and storage: A sugarcane vendor at Medi-point junction, uses a street light pole as a Sugarcane ‘holder’ for support, a unique way of storing sugarcane. It also highlights the visibility of the sugarcane vendor to the passersby.

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Footpaths on interior roads are used to store business inventor

Another tea vendor on the same road locks his stall to a nearby tree for the night when the business closes. He mentioned that this was a temporary arrangement until he found a permanent space that he could rent. his earlier space is now under redevelopment and therefore they have had to put up a make-shift stall.

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Footpath outside Westend mall and other corporate offices used for e-commerce goods delivery.

Street as a space for delivery dispatch for multiple ‘online’ shopping websites:     Online shopping is now believed to be the most convenient was of shopping but these e-commerce websites have their existence mainly only on the internet. An area on Mahadji Shinde road doubles as a major delivery and pick up spot for popular online retail websites. Delivery persons are often denied access into nearby offices and employees  turn up on this footpath to pick up their items.

 

 

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Shrines on Interior Roads, one used and worshipped by labourers and the other by rickshaw drivers.

Street as a space to practice religion and spirituality: Streets of Aundh serve as spaces of religious and spiritual importance for many, who worship small shrines during their daily commute.  A tree on AIMS road near the labour adda has a small idol of Lord Ganesha, which is known to have been installed by the laborers, who occasionally make offerings to this idol and perform puja. Another shrine on the Kumar Classics Road, has been installed by the auto-rickshaw union, near the auto-rickshaw stand, where the members of the union ensure maintenance of the shrine regularly and make daily offerings and puja.

 

 

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Mascot outside a mobile shop on the main road, providing great visibility to the brand

Street as a space for marketing and promotions: A huge mascot of a mobile company stands on the footpaths opposite Medi-point, right outside the mobile shop, using the street as a space for branding and promotion of the product.

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Chai tapri on Main Road outside corporate offices; remains shut on weekends when the offices are shut.

Street as a space for business, vending and earning livelihoods: Streets form an important market place for buying and selling goods and therefore financially support many families who earn their livelihoods from the streets. Following are stories of 3 street vendors, who struggle to make ends meet for their families and how the streets of Aundh form the backbone of economic support to them and their families. A small Chai Tapri on Mahadji Shinde road is run by five members of the same family who take turns and work in shifts. The lady who owns the stall works during the day with the help of her husband who helps out with the logistics. Her daughter, who is currently pursuing her B.Com pitches in on holidays, and her sister-in-law runs the stall in the evenings upto 10pm at night. The sister-in-law struggles to make ends meet for her family of 4, with the meagre income she earns while running her stall in the evenings. Her days are usually spent taking care of her two children, both of who have been diagnosed with kidney failure, and her chronically ill mother-in law. With the advent of the Smart city project in Aundh, will they be able to continue their livelihoods is a question that still needs to be answered.

Aditi

Street as a lounge or resting space: People were seen napping in the afternoons post lunch, or resting within their stall areas. We met a coconut vendor, who regularly naps in the afternoons on his bed made with coconuts as the base along with wooden planks.

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Streets have multiple uses, a few which are extremely integral to the survival of a certain section of the society. The streets form their source of livelihood. For others it may be an important space for social interactions and re-connecting with the neighbourhood. But in light of the policies to re-build streets, we have rarely seen the effort and provision to incorporate and legitimize other uses of the streets as well. Streets are simply seen and planned as roads that connect one place to the other and aid transport. Jane Jacobs, in her book ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’, emphasises on how cities have more intricate economic and social concerns than just automobile traffic. Only time will tell, if we will be fortunate enough to see such diverse uses of the street, even in the new ‘Smart city’, or will the focus of being Smart be limited to providing well-designed spaces, only in the way that is imagined to be ‘Smart’.


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

 

Are Smart Streets Pedestrian-Friendly?

By Chandrima Biswas

Pune is a growing metropolis and one of the first cities to be declared a Smart City under the Union Government’s ambitious plan. At the very outset, one must laud the city for its efforts, although the idea of this blogpost is to highlight the problems that the city still battles against in order to become a true Smart City. For this blog post, the focus is on issues that plague pedestrians in the city. For this piece, the writer studied the 1.1km long ITI Road from Parihar Chowk to Baner Phata Chowk. The model smart street observes more economic activities on both the sides as the street is lined up with formal shops, whereas ITI road has more of informal activity at certain places, especially in the later half of the day. The ITI Road is evidently a busy road, as a lot of the commuters take this road daily to reach the IT sector, and as a result the traffic increases during peak hours.

 

Chandrima 1.png
The bus-stop opposite the ITI Gate is literally on the road in the absence of a pavement.

 

One of the key factors in becoming a smart city is the efficient use of public transportation systems. A look at the photograph above makes it clear that while it would be wrong to say that the city of Pune does not have proper bus-stops, the entire point of them existing is rather ironic. This bus stop besides the ITI Gate stands not on a pavement (which doesn’t exist on this side of the road) but on the road itself, leaving pedestrians and public vehicle commuters at the mercy of speeding traffic.

 

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A lamp post is used as a bus-stop as seen on ITI Road, opposite a jewelry show room.


The stretch has a total of seven bus stops, and given how heavy the daily commute is, it needs a lot more. Several of these bus stops are also severely damaged, as shown in the picture above. At particular points no proper passenger shelters exist at all, even on the road. While a tree outside a jewelry showroom is being used as a bus-stop, the opposite side has only a lamp-post is marked as a stop.

Traffic lights also exist only at Parihar and Baner Phata Chowks, with the rest of the 1.1km stretch going virtually unmonitored. There is also no mobile traffic monitoring unit, with the city’s traffic department manning only the crossings, and that too, during office and rush hours. The designated pedestrian crossing areas are also at these two points only, but being a 1.1km long stretch, people are often compelled to dodge traffic and cross, especially at the intersections.

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Pedestrian is seen crossing the road in the absence of a pedestrian walkway.

C.P. Chiplunkar a senior citizen who is a daily user of the pedestrian plaza said, “It becomes extremely difficult and risky for us, the old people, to cross the road due to the lack of proper pedestrian crossings.” He further added, “Accidents have also increased recently, as speeding cars often run over people who try to cross the road.”

The lack of pavements on certain parts of the ITI Road is another major concern. The road is lined on one side with the iconic pedestrian plaza. The other side does not have any walkable space in most of the places, leading to the bus stand being on the main road. The discontinuous and uneven  footpath are also a major concern, as they also have a significant role in providing safety to the pedestrians.

Chandrima 4
The footpath vanishes in certain parts of the ITI   Road, forcing people to walk on the streets.
Chandrima 5
This image shows how the footpath is not continuous on one side of the ITI Road posing threat to pedestrian safety.

 

Chandrima 7.png
Uneven footpath along the ITI boundary wall.

Not only this, several areas of the plaza also double up as parking zones, which means that there ultimately remains very little area that can be claimed by the pedestrian.

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Pedestrian plaza converted into a parking area, forcing those who walk onto the streets.

A traffic constable, Mr. Pathan, who was on his duty at Baner Phata Chowk said, “The residents as well as the users should cooperate with us more to make the streets safer and more accessible. People should start realizing their duty and responsibility, and contribute to that.”

Chandrima 9
Snapshot of Pune’s Model Road as part of the Smart City programme.
Photograph by Tushar Anand

In contrast, Pune’s Model Road (as part of the Smart City initiative) takes into account both of these problems. What is most intriguing is the pedestrian crossing however. Given one of the streets’ main goals to be ‘smart street’ and disabled friendly, the pedestrian crossing is at the level of the pavement, making it higher from the road-level. This allows the creation of a table-top plateau at each intersection, causing speeding cars to drop their speed. This further meant that the blind and the disabled (including those with wheelchair access) would neither have to go through the difficulty of tumbling off a footpath edge nor have to fear speeding vehicles headed their way.

Prachi Mahajan, a visually challenged student, said, “I expected to walk independently using the tactile path that was provided, however the path was discontinuous in nature and as a result of which the entire purpose of walking independently was defeated.”

Chandrima 10.png
As opposed to the model road, branches of trees used as dividers due to lack of proper dividers on the ITI Road..

This of course, is not to say that the Model Road is without problems. The road runs from Bremen Chowk to Parihar Chowk. The road is neatly divided (as opposed to ITI Road, which used branches of trees as a road divider, picture above), and the pavements are almost continuous with tactile signs and elevated crossings for the blind and the disabled. These however, do not take away the negatives. Several portions of the tiled pavements have already caved in, making it dangerous for disabled individuals to traverse without the risk of harm or injury. The tactile signs too, are not continuous, and are often taken over by parking zones, entrances to people’s homes or even trees which stand in the way, making it difficult for people to move around independently.

Given that the pavements are meant to serve a more wheelchair friendly purpose, they roll onto the level of the street at certain intersections instead of dropping. This also means that the pavements remain prone to usage by motorists who often drive their motorcycles and scooters. In such situations, it becomes even more difficult for those with difficulties to navigate on their own.

Thus, we see streets are not complete without accounting for the safety of the pedestrians. Even the model street under the smart city project is not entirely flawless. The authorities for their future endeavours should design streets which not only provide modern facilities to the pedestrians but also takes into consideration the safety element of the street. Proper pedestrian crossings, bus stops and footpaths for all should be constructed to bring down the number of road mishaps. However, it’s not just the duty of the authorities to provide the facilities but also of the pedestrians to make use of them and cooperate and maintain them to make sure that they build a safe environment around them.

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