A Proposed Typology of Homelessness in India

By Anup Tripathi

Formal housing as an issue and as a social good remains a peripheral matter with regard to the public policy in India. Barring a few policies and programmes allocating housing to the rural and urban poor, and upgradation and redevelopment of slums, the Indian state has not been very enthusiastic in creating a universal system of formal housing for its population with varying needs. As a result, Indian cities are inhabitance sites of various kinds of informal housing arrangements, which more often than not, are difficult to classify as ‘slums’ or ‘homeless settlements’. Since citizenship entitlements are dependent upon the formal or recognized housing arrangements, a number of citizens living in informal housing arrangements have difficulty in accessing their citizenship rights. In extreme cases, they have to even live up with partial or absolute denial of citizenship rights. Thus, inaction of government in the realm of housing acted as a trigger for the civil society organizations to work on the issues pertaining to it.

Dwelling arrangement of a homeless family at Girgaum Chowpatty, Mumbai

The usage of the term ‘homelessness’ in India began with the advocacy efforts and
intervention programmes undertaken by the civil society organizations. While planning and implementing interventions with the homeless people, civil society actors employ various criteria for identifying the homeless and use various terminologies for them. There are a number of social categories which have been identified as representing the homeless people.

Sometimes, for the purpose of intervention and also for giving a meaning to the agency of the homeless people, a number of labels are used for them. However, there are quite a few advantages and disadvantages of such articulations. In addition, there are a number of tensions and disagreements within the civil society discourse when it comes to defining homelessness.

A Proposed Typology of Homelessness
Housing is generally referred to as a lack of physical structure of living in the formal propertied system of housing and not as an opportunity for upward mobility or for attaining a stable condition of living. There are numerous such conceptualizations of homelessness and inadequate housing arrangements as done by the civil society actors and various state agencies. These conceptualizations create different constituencies of people with similar living conditions through various categorisations that are aloof from each other, if not pitted against each other. Rather than classifying people into precariously housed, inadequately housed, houseless or homeless etc., a cognition of homelessness should look it as active housing in face of the harsh urban life. Given my discomfort with the prevalent conceptualizations of homelessness, I would like to propose a typology of homelessness based on my PhD research work. I suggest that homelessness should be cognized through two distinct categories- 1) ‘precariat housing’ which looks at housing as opportunity and 2) ‘houseless people in need of care and protection’ for whom shelter homes can be envisaged as enablers and not as places of confinement.

Bharat Nagar Slum in Wadala, Mumbai
A precarious dwelling arrangement in Bharat Nagar

1. Precariat Housing (Housing as Opportunity)
Housing oneself in a city outside legal settlements including regularized slums requires tremendous fortitude and enterprise in an individual, family or group of individuals. The different kinds of inadequate dwelling arrangements on pavements, shop awnings,
unauthorized slums or ‘homeless settlements’, parks, pavements, platforms etc. indicate that the people residing in them look at housing as an opportunity to lead a stable or better life. The everyday life of such people shows that there are various kinds of material dimensions to housing like identity, citizenship entitlements, healthcare and sanitation, incomes and expenditures, finances and savings, availability of food and livelihood, social networks and relationships etc. which are socially produced and reproduced. These dimensions also help them gain a better condition of living for themselves or at least navigate through them.

Through their struggles, grit and determination, people living in such inadequate housing arrangements add on different dimensions to housing; thereby making it a compoidea required for a decent living rather than a mere physical structure for living. By actively housing themselves outside the formal housing system, these people seek to consolidate their ‘gains’. In my opinion, instead of referring these people as ‘homeless’ or ‘homeless migrants’ or ‘houseless’ or ‘precariously housed’ etc. or qualifying them under the umbrella terminology of ‘homelessness’, all types of informal inadequate housing arrangements should be referred to as Precariat Housing. ‘Precariat Housing’ is any kind of dwelling arrangement which is not formal and regularized. Most of the urban poor engaged in various kinds of economic activities house themselves in such precariat housing arrangements which is a progression for them in terms of consolidating their gains or attaining stability in their living situation. Therefore, the idea of viewing homelessness in terms of dispossession or lack of a normative physical structure of living does not do justice to the idea of housing as an opportunity. Hence, if homelessness or lack of housing is to be cognized as active housing, then referring to it as ‘precariat housing’ is useful in terms of presenting it before the state as an arena deserving state action in the form of policies and programmes. Referring to precariat housing through different categories like homelessness, houselessness, inadequate housing, precarious housing, non-regularized slums, pavement dwellings etc. is counter-productive since these categories do not speak to each other. The presence of different constituencies of people with similar housing conditions also limit the state action and civil society intervention in the arena of housing and welfare. In addition, the everyday life of the inadequately housed people shows that if the opportunities of housing are not supported or provided with, then people living under them get pushed to the margins from where it becomes very difficult to improve one’s life situation.

A housing arrangement near Mumbai Central Station, Mumbai

2. Houseless People in Need of Care and Protection (Shelter as Enabler)
All those homeless people who are living on the most extreme margins of urban life- the ones who are not able to improve their life situation and are unfortunate in their lives, as a result of which they are leading a houseless life and have little care and support from others should be referred to as Houseless People in Need of Care and Protection. All such individuals and families including disaster affected, destitute and mentally ill amongst them should be provided with state run shelters which serve as enablers for them rather than being places of confinement. Such shelter homes can be conceived as service homes for providing various types of services and citizenship entitlements to persons in need of care and protection. The services may include providing identity documentation, legal aid, psychiatric care, counselling, healthcare, adult education, vocational training and job placements, anganwadi or ICDS related services, livelihood, repatriation, day care centres etc. Instead of referring to such people as homeless, I am using the term ‘Houseless People in Need of Care and Protection’. It is imperative that state being the ultimate protector and caretaker of all its residents takes care of them, and so, these people are not ‘homeless’ as they are to be provided care, support and protection by the state.

Dr Anup Tripathi is currently working as Assistant Professor at FLAME University Pune. His areas of interest include urban poverty, housing and environmental governance. This is an edited excerpt from his PhD thesis. 


Engine Urbanism (An Excerpt)

Text and photographs by Himanshu Burte

Engine Urbanism_11

Anybody returning today to Mumbai after 25 years is likely to walk (or drive) into an experience of everyday life and urban space that has changed drastically, though most of the city also stands as it is, where it is. The towers, sprouting up everywhere, repeat, everywhere, are of course the most eye-catching of additions. In a matter of 15 years, the tallest of erstwhile exceptions (like the once-legendary, 26-storied ‘Usha Kiran’) have been dwarfed by a new routine of towers over 30 storeys high, and growing. Flyovers and elevated rail (metro and mono) have inserted tall, long colonnades of concrete in the centre of streets, presenting a newly ambiguous public space underneath for the homeless, car owners, the Municipal Corporation and middle-class residents to covet and fight over. And driving is a different experience from as recently as the year 2000 with the Bandra–Worli Sea Link and the Eastern Freeway, for instance, speeding up north–south travel, even as the six-laning of the Jogeshwari–Vikhroli Link Road, and the construction of the Santa Cruz–Chembur Link Road enable you to even think of driving between the eastern and western suburbs. Walking, too, has changed. No more the familiar cut across the street to follow a desired line as before: footpath railings and concrete medians keep you on the straight and narrow. The extravagantly named ‘skywalks’—foot overbridges from an era of desultory governmentality, now roofed and rebooted—hope to decide where you may cross the road (and, along the way, peep into the many bedrooms they graze, if you do climb up or down two storeys). Meanwhile, road widening has even taken away entire footpaths, especially on arterial roads like the Sion– Panvel highway that heads out to Pune.

Engine Urbanism_12.jpg

What sense can one make of diverse but simultaneous changes like these? Is there a logic tying them together, one perhaps that is more generally applicable across India? I explore possible answers to these questions through this essay focused on the spatiality of urban transformation in Mumbai. I view these transformations as related to the state’s increasingly definitive conceptualisation of the city as an engine of economic growth. The state has been an important player in these transformations, both through its own spatial practices as well as through new policy provisions. In Mumbai, both were unleashed dramatically in the 1990s, soon after the New Economic Policy began to make economic integration with the global economy a common sense national goal. In spite of its distinctiveness, Mumbai’s example is relevant here for two reasons. First, its urbanism has been significantly held together by informality of multiple kinds, much like that of other Indian cities. That informality appears to have no place in the urbanism that the state has sought to institute in the city. Second, many of the interventions increasingly common across Indian cities, irrespective of their actual performance—market-led slum redevelopment and elite transport infrastructure—appear to have been first tried out together, and at scale, in Mumbai. Since the interventions and outcomes have been significantly spatial in nature, this essay overviews the transformations in the built environment and spatiality. I suggest that the new spatiality also implies a way of life—encompassing space as well as the culture of everyday life, and extending into social relations—and a ‘politics of forgetting’ poverty, marginalisation and such other bad news (Fernandes, 2004). I call this, experimentally, ‘engine urbanism’. The image of the ‘engine’ recalls the idealised modernist vision of the city as a machine. This appears to orient urban policy and governance interventions more committedly than before, and is being realised in an increasingly mechanistic urban spatiality. Engine, also, because the metaphor ‘engine of economic growth’ is now the telos of state-authorised urbanism in bigger Indian cities. This urbanism is of interest not only as a social and cultural phenomenon, but also for the political significance of its privileging of anti-political technocracy, centralised control and the rule of the market.

[…] Formal, big, private and networked: these adjectives illuminate key idealised qualities, or values, of the new urban spatiality in multiple scales. They must also be read as implying their verb forms; each describes not only a found characteristic, but also, increasingly, the orientation towards spatiality, often through state intervention or encouragement […]

Engine Urbanism_13.jpg


Staple urban spatial elements—all kinds of buildings and their complexes, road and rail infrastructure and allied spaces, including bridges, flyovers, railway stations, etc.,—are visibly getting bigger than before, vertically and horizontally. This is ironic in a city known—more than any other—for scarcity of space stemming from geographic limitations as a peninsular outcrop, and its peculiar political economy of land ownership.In buildings, this enlargement represents two things: (i) the accumulation and consolidation of space as commodity which translates into (ii) a promise of larger revenue streams at lower transaction costs. There is an argument to be made that the enlargement of scale is related to the increasing supply of investable global or local capital from state- and private-sector sources for various urban projects promising high-volume revenue streams(hotels, malls), or addressing real living and business needs, and use values (residence, office space, infrastructure) as well as speculative demand. The bigger the size of the project, the lower the overheads,transaction costs, the number of risk points in processes, and the higher the profit margin. This equation is advantageous, especially for remotely controlled capital, whether global or underground.This also possibly reflects a link between the increasing scale of urban elements and the push for economic integration with a wider geography. Urban policy has enabled such enlargement of scale most transparently by increasing the Floor Space Index (FSI) which limits built-up area, as well as by less transparent modes of calculating it(as through the infamous and now scrapped provision of ‘fungible FSI’, which could be interpreted broadly enough to build multiple times over the limit).One contributory local reason is the sharp rise in the price of land, urban or rural, all over the country since 2005. This is one reason for the increasing verticality of urban architecture, as more is sought to be built on the same piece of land in every city, with the blessings of state planning. Thus, a couple of years ago, I was surprised to see a horizon cluttered with multi-storeyed buildings on the outskirts of Rajkot, otherwise a city with low to mid-rise architecture. In Mumbai, and increasingly in other cities, the underlying scarcity of land prompts the elevation of transport infrastructure like flyovers, elevated roads and metro rail: existing road space everywhere is increasingly inadequate as private vehicles mushroom with explicit or implicit state sanction. The rule of the car that much of the big-road infrastructure has enforced on Mumbai’s urbanism, meanwhile, has led to another manifestation of verticality: the raised ‘podium’ of multiple storeys of covered and enclosed car-parking with a public space on top that serves as ‘ground’ for the residents of the apartment towers that shoot up from it. Podium and tower also regularly reveal another important quality of largeness today: its banality. The flyovers and towers are non-monuments, or nonuments. Banal or monumental, verticality has an important collateral benefit from the perspective of an integration with a larger, more global economy: clusters of big urban elements or iconic structures like the Bandra–Worli Sea Link both call attention to the city, differentiating it in the presumed competition of urban branding that is the context of processes of ‘worlding cities’(Roy and Ong, 2011).

This is an excerpt from Himanshu Burte’s paper ‘Engine Urbanism’. The entire paper can be accessed here: https://www.academia.edu/33033612/Burte_engine_urbanism_IICQ.pdf

M-Powering Local Communities: TISS and MCGM Open a Study Centre in M-Ward

Text by Gitanjali Sharma, Photos by Martin Pheiga

On September 16, 2017, a neighborhood in M-East Ward was abuzz with activity. Several people were seen dropping everyday chores and heading to the newly built and inaugurated M-Power Study Centre, a community space for learning, reading, conversations and exploring new opportunities. “I am all excited to start off with the courses! I have enrolled for computer classes and English speaking course,” said Ansari Shehzadi, a 12th standard student.

M Power structure

M Power structure1

The M-Power Study Centre is located in the M-East ward of Mumbai, one of the poorest areas in the city and home to over 8,07,720 (Census 2011) residents. The ward’s human development index is the lowest in the city representing an infant mortality rate of around 66.47 per thousand live births, out-of-school children between the ages of 6 to 14 years is 1,490, and more than 50 percent children are malnourished. The M Ward is also the immediate neighborhood of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). The students and faculty of TISS have used the ward as a teaching and experience base for several decades. TISS, on the occasion of its Platinum Jubilee year- 2011 initiated a project called The Transforming M Ward Project that hoped to fulfill its social obligation to the people of the ward by generating knowledge and using it to build strategic partnerships for transformation of the human development conditions in the ward.

M Power Inauguration
Several residents of M-East ward visited the centre on the day of its inauguration.


The M Power Study Centre is a part of the Transforming M Ward Project. An initiative by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), and managed by TISS, the study centre promotes higher education and prepares youth from slums to break the glass ceiling of higher education. It is imagined as a space for peer learning in a peaceful environment, a resource centre of books and learning materials, a repository of virtual resources and a space to build capacities of youth to appear in competitive exams. “The place is giving the students opportunities we never got,” said Abrar, an elderly from the neighbourhood community “And it is safe for girls to study in.”

M Power library
A session called ‘Playing With Numbers’ at the M-Power Study Centre Library helps young students understand mathematics through fun activities.

It is a 10,000 sq. ft. space with a large open area to sit and study, a library with reference and textbooks in English, Marathi, Urdu and Hindi and access to virtual resources through a Wi-Fi connected computer center. M-Power will conduct spoken English courses, prepare students for competitive exams as well as prepare them for civil service exams and higher educational institutions, including the TISS. One of the biggest successes of the M Ward Project has been its partnership with the community who are co-creators of activities. Community members from the ward have contributed to construction of tables for computers, chairs and the day-to-day monitoring of the space.

“This particular centre is situated in a place that is surrounded by different schools belonging to different state boards but they all are either up to class 8th or 10th. This centre will provide all students a platform to study. The concept of building a human library other than just a library filled with books is an amazing idea. By sharing knowledge the students will be empowered. I would like such centres to open up in different wards.”

– Salim Patel, Community Development Officer.

Among the various courses offered at centre are English speaking courses with CV building guidance, understanding content through computer based learning (CLIx), Collaborative Undergraduate Biology Education (CUBE) courses and science experiments. These courses can be availed by the students by paying a minimal fee of Rs. 50 for the monthly membership or Rs.2 for per day usage. English speaking courses are taken by Teach India fellows, the science experiment by BARC resource person and CUBE by professors from Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education (HBCSE).

M Power- Teach.JPG
A CV building session organised by Teach India prepares students for the job market

It’s a very good initiative that provides children with more opportunities. Also, the environment of the place is so neat and clean, it gives positive vibes. – Nalini Tripathi, Teach India

CUBE Labs: CUBE courses trigger curiosity among students to question and then answer those questions by using daily use products or everyday life encounters to understand complex biological processes. “We teach scientific processes to students through everyday visible organisms. By culturing organisms common to all, like earthworm, fruitfly, water flee, through various methods we teach students through case studies rather than just books. Students get involved in the science and lose their fear of the subject,” said Arunanand Chandrashekhar, Professor, CUBE Labs.

Library: The library at the center is one of its main attractions. It is an initiative of Dharam Bharti Mission (DBM). The library not only provides access to various books but is also a platform to provide them with career guidance through the career counselors who will visit every the library every Saturday. The library also plans on initiating a series of seminars on the first Saturday of every month. The speakers for the seminars will be addressing various aspects in order to motivate students to join various fields. “We already have five students who have come with queries regarding studying for UPSE exam. The library will provide the students aspiring to appear in different competitive exams and an environment to support them in their studies,”  said Mr Paramjeet, Dharam Bharti Mission.

M Power- Science
The session ‘Science with Magic’ decodes the mysteries of science for the students.

Computer Centre: The space also has a computer center which is managed by the computer section of TISS. The computers are run on the software CLIx (Connected Learning Initiative) which is a TISS-MIT collaboration product created to enhance the process of teaching and learning. This particular course was taken up like hot cakes on the day of registration.

The study center wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t backed by the community support. The community has welcomed the center with open arms. “I got to know about the place through my teacher. I was surprised to see that such a place was actually being constructed in our locality. I would want to come here every day,” said Umesh, a 10th standard student.  The acceptance for the center and the satisfaction was seen in various forms, it varied from elder to the students to officials to teachers. “It’s the best initiative that has come up in this area for students,” said Ansari Quresha, teacher, “In minimal money the students will get to learn so many different courses and get access to various kinds books in the library.”  




M-Ward Youth Mela: A Day of Science, Learning and Gaana Bajaana

Text by Gitanjali Sharma, Photos by Martin Pheiga
Youth Mela

Youth Mela2
The M-Power Study Centre was dressed up for the Youth Mela.ption

On September 16, 2017 when we first visited the M-Power Study Centre — a beautiful, spacious, red-tile roof structure in M-East Ward of Mumbai — the excitement was palpable. The Centre was dressed up in streamers and balloons, set to begin the celebrations of the Youth Mela, a platform where youth from the local residential community come together, get to know each other and explore opportunities. Community participants were racing up and down to make the final preparations before people walked in. Tables were being set up where participants could help visitors decide and register for the various courses and facilities offered by the center. “We were here till 11 PM last night doing the decoration so that the center looks beautiful for the Youth Mela,” said Aksir, a local resident and youth mela participant.  

Youth Mela3
Students learn more about the different courses offered at M-Power Centre during the Youth Mela.

The M-Power study centre is a part of the Transforming M Ward Project at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. The project was first initiated in 2011 by TISS with the ambitious goal of transforming a ward with the lowest Human Development Index and some of the poorest populations in the city. An initiative by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), and managed by TISS, the centre promotes higher education and prepares youth from slums to break the glass ceiling of higher education. The Youth Mela, a one-day celebration organised by TISS and community members of M-ward, was one of the first events held at the Centre.

I call stall
I-Call Stall: The I-Call, a helpline located in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai provides counselling over the phone.


The event had several stalls, games, performances organised and created by the residents of M-Ward and TISS, including one by I-Call, a helpline located at TISS that provides counselling over the phone. The stall made the students and the community members aware of the kind of help they provide and that anyone can get in contact through the study center. There were also stalls by instructors and students from Dharam Bharti Mission Vocational center, showcasing the skill of mehendi and stitching. Apart from these, there were also a bunch of students explaining various experiments undertaken by them during the CUBE lab lecture. Some of the other lectures conducted on the day included a session on CV building, a session called Science and Magic that explained kids about the reasoning behind science and urged them to question facts and not take them for granted.

Enter a captiLawani Performances: The day ended with some gaana-bajaana.

The Youth Mela and all the fanfare would not have been possible if it wasn’t backed by community support. The community from the neighborhood has worked tirelessly to make the mela a success. Towards the culmination of the youth mela there was a short cultural program in which there were two Lawani performances. With the performances the Youth Mela came to an end, with a large number of registrations for courses and an overall overwhelming response from the community.


Mumbai Floods: Balancing the needs for Development and Climate Change

Sanjana Krishnan*

Mumbai rains have almost always been accompanied by flooding in several parts of the city. While it is a yearly phenomenon, and an intuitively known and well-researched fact that the poor are more vulnerable and susceptible to the risks of climate change, this article tries to answer two questions. Firstly, it tries to quantify the risk and find out how disproportional the risk is. And secondly, how much of this risk is because of climate change?

To assess how prone land in Mumbai is to the risk of flooding, and to answer who occupies that land, the major land use classification affected in the flood hotspots were analysed. The map of the existing land use from the DP was overlaid on the flooding hot spots map and the land use in risk of flooding was determined.  

Slums are not uniformly distributed across the city area — 41.85%, over 5 million people (5,207,700) live in slums along water creeks, hill slopes (risk of landslides), on the periphery of forests, low lying flood prone areas and along railway lines. A lot of these areas have no storm water drains (outlets to nallahs), or flood walls. Overlaying the map of flood affected areas and slum settlements, for different parts of the city, we can observe that almost every slum settlement lies in a flood prone area or in its 1000m buffer. There are very few slums in the unaffected areas. This is reflected in the maps below.

Sanjana K

 Vulnerable settlement and Flooding risk (1): Ward G/N, F/N, H/W, H/E,L,M/E,M/W

Sanjana 2

Vulnerable settlements and flooding risk (2): Ward K/W, P/N, P/S, S, T

Sanjana 3

For the island city, all the different land use in the 200m buffer around 72 flood hotspots was extracted. On QGIS, data about the risk level was entered in the attribute table. The major land use in the overlapping region was identified. By measuring the area affected, it was found that though slums occupy just 2.92 sq.km and cover just about 16% of the total amount of residential land use, its share is almost 50% of the affected residential area (Occupies just 3.7% of total land, but is30% of the total affected land). This shows how risk disproportionately affects the people living in the slums.

Land Use at risk

Sanjana 4

Sanjana 5

The RDDP makes all its estimates and plans based on the demography, socio-economic status and amenities required for its residents and the economy and infrastructure of the city. It situates itself within the realities of the city, which are mainly, but not limited to, dealing with an almost entirely built city, with large amenity deficits created by past non-implementation, extremely high land costs and the municipal corporations limited ability to fund the DP. However, there are several shortcomings when it comes to how climate adaptation is thought about in the city.


Climate change considerations in city development plans are seldom addressed under the head of climate change, rather they are thought of as, and even confused with-

  1. Environmental issues, pollution  
  2. Issues arising from the lack of development
  3. Disaster management issues

Climate Change in the present context is not the most pressing problem that our cities face. Given the poverty, lack of housing, unemployment, inequitable distribution of resources and services, poor health care and education, environmental issues, intolerance etc. it is probably not even in the top 10 problems.

The issue of dealing with the risks of climate change becomes easier and more straightforward in cities of developed countries, where most of the everyday governance problems have been solved. Efficiency is good even for developing cities of course, but with huge socio-economic inequalities in consumption, the agenda of reducing emissions treads dangerously close to suggesting stifling consumption or limiting emissions at current levels, even when basic consumption levels have not been reached.

But having said that, one cannot ignore the climate change needs of the city, and sideline the actions that need to be taken in the present to adapt to and mitigate future risks. Various studies, including this one, has shown that poor communities and groups are more susceptible to the risks of climate change, and the vulnerability is a result of their socio-economic status. To take climate action, there needs to be a weighted balance between the development needs of the present and the climate needs of the future.  

There are always human factors that further aggravate the risks that climate change pose. Every year in Mumbai, several low-lying areas flood because construction in cities happen on floodplains despite knowing the dangers. Pipes and drains built a hundred years ago are unable to hold volumes discharged by present cities. Concretisation prevents percolation of water to the ground. The big problem of houses being built on flood plains in all cities despite the danger of natural flooding exists. Factors of overuse of plastic clogging gutters and a lot more of human made mistakes that are the exacerbate the problem more than the rainfall. It is important to remember that several problems are not due to the lack of adaptation, but due to the lack of governance and development.

Similarly, several authors have conflated the vulnerabilities of communities with the broader umbrella of climate risk to talk about climate vulnerable communities, community centred climate adaptation, and community level climate change vulnerability, and suggest strategies to safeguard these communities from the risks of climate change. Very often, the term ‘climate smart development’ is used to describe what needs to be done for climate change in a developing country, but is in fact just the basic development needed.

The findings of this study also prove that vulnerable settlements face a disproportionate climate risk, but do not tell that they are at risk due to the lack of adaptation (alone). While adaptation risk is faced by any and every person occupying the land at risk, the reason for the additional risk faced by vulnerable groups is because of the lack of development. The study stresses that this difference should be recognised, and that it be dealt with differently.

They must be kept separately and dealt with differently. Why?

Because when adaptation is confused with issues and mistakes humans make, the adaptive strategies are full of recommendations to correct this. Adaptation then gets reduced to dealing with government inefficiencies, building citizen consciousness and providing sturdy infrastructure

Similarly, by confusing it with environmental issues like the destruction of mangroves or pollution, we may end up making the local environment more green and clean, but that is not the root of the climate problem and does nothing to deal with climate problem.

While all of this is extremely vital, they are not climate change adaptive measures, they are the basics needs for development. Adaptation is essentially a spatial concept, and the measures needed for adaptation is something more than this. The measures undertaken for solving issue of development, governance and the environment will not be sufficient to tackle the demands climate risk place on us.

* Sanjana Krishnan completed her Masters from the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance in 2017, and currently works for a data driven policy consulting firm, CPC Analytics. She won the best MA dissertation prize (2015-2017). The above piece is an edited excerpt from her dissertation, reproduced here in relation to the incessant flooding Mumbai has faced this monsoon. Student dissertations are a core element of the Urban Policy and Governance course where students get to carry out in depth research on current topics drawing from the cross cutting thematics and interdisciplinary course content. To know more click here.

Politics of the Street: Design, Density, Diversity and Claim making

Sept 17_Streets workshopWhat: Closed workshop

When: 17th September 2017

Where: Institute of Development Studies Kolkata

The Centre for Urban Policy and Governance (CUPG), TISS Mumbai in collaboration with Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, University of Calcutta Centre of Urban Economic Studies, Architecture Department IIEST Shibpur and National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, has organised a one day workshop on the politics of the street and claim making. The workshop is a part of a broader study conducted at the Centre. A multifaceted research project “Right to the City”, aims to study the various aspects of claiming and upholding the right to the city, particularly for marginalised and excluded communities and groups that inhabit the urban space.

Within the broader rubric of the Right to the City, the project is attempting to re-conceptualise the right to the city by examining the contested and often contradictory “rights to the street” as a democratic and socio-political right which is increasingly under threat from the dominant capitalist urban planning and development paradigms that seek to reduce the street to a particular function – as merely a space for vehicles carrying goods and people, replacing accessibility with mobility.  One of the key stakeholders in this highly contested space and a co-producer of the space of the street as a space of production, accumulation and of livelihood is the hawker. Interestingly, the National Urban Transport Policy (2006) makes no mention of street vendors. Yet, the National Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihoods and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014, a product of a long struggle by hawkers and activists, clearly recognizes hawkers to be an important component of street and street life (Bandopadhyay 2007). This study is located in the cusp of these contradictions and attempts to understand how hawkers and their struggles contribute to the production of urban space, especially the street and the challenges faced by them in the current neoliberal urban regime (Harvey 2006).

It is hoped that this study will be able to open up a space for debate and discussion across multiple stakeholders in order to re-envision streets and footpath as a common urban resource to be shared across different stakeholders.  

Workshop Schedule

Introduction: 10:00 am- 10:30am

Dr. Ratoola Kundu

Chairperson, Centre of Urban Policy and Governance, TISS Mumbai

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

Findings of the research – Right to the Street


Puja Bhattacharyya (Presidency University), Baidehi Das (Delhi School of Economics), Suman Choudhury (BE Shibpur), Dr. Anushyama Mukherjee, Dr. Ratoola Kundu


Mr. Murad Hussain

Hawker Sangram Committee

Prof. Mahalaya Chatterjee

Professor of Economics, University of Calcutta,  Centre of Urban Economic Studies

Dr. Saurabh Bhattacharjee

Assistant Professor, National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata

Dr. Tathagata Chatterji

Professor, Urban Management and Governance, Xaviers University, Bhubaneswar

Panel discussion I: 11:30am to 1:00pm

The road/street as a contested space: A multi stakeholder viewpoint

This session deals with the multiple and often conflicting claims that are made on the space of the streets and sidewalks stemming from the various different uses and users of the street in the Indian context. It will seek to understand the way in which streets and footpaths have changed historically in terms of their design and in relation to their context. The focus will be to understand how streets/roads are conceived of and designed and how this design then affects and influences social behaviour, accessibility and mobility. It will also delve into the issue of how multiple issues obstruct flows of pedestrians and vehicles such as laying of cables, disruption to infrastructures such as METRO and cables and fixing of water main etc. The session will also elicit perspectives from residents or citizens groups and market associations who have specific claims to the pavement and the streets – as pedestrians, in terms of access, in terms of business, also face issues such as road safety, parking, solid waste management, etc stemming from the multiple pressures on streets and footpaths.


Prof. Souvanic Roy

Professor and Founder- Director, School of Ecology, Infrastructure and Human Settlement Management, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur

  1. Mobility and Accessibility: Changing use/form of roads, traffic conditions and its implications on road safety and other issues

Dr Aparajita Chakroborty, Centre for Urban and Economic Studies, University of Kolkata

  1. Citizen perspective on hawking versus walking versus parking

Pradip Kakkar, Co-Founder, PUBLIC

  1. Road as infrastructure: Perspectives on road and footpath design, maintenance, widening and the conflicts that arise

Mr. Sudipto Pal (Traffic and Transportation expert, RITES Ltd.)

  1. Footpath as a resource: Perspectives of Shopkeepers

Mr. Uday Sahoo, Hogg Market Traders Association

Lunch- 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Panel Discussion II: 2:00pm to 3:30pm

Governance of Streets: Mediating Conflict

This session will broach the issue of governance, regulation and mediation of conflicts at the level of the street, neighbourhood and the city. This will look at the informal and formal channels of governance used, kind of trade-offs are made, spaces of participation, including different voices in the decision making, difficulties of making these decision, kind of support required by local leaders to address the conflicts that emerge on the streets.


Dr. Ritajyoti Bandopadhyay

Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali

  1. Self- regulation and role of hawkers union: How multiple conflicts and stakeholders play a role in a commercial area like Esplanade and the different institutions that are involved in regulating conflict

Mr. Debashish Das, Joint Secretary, and Mr. Shaktiman Ghosh Hawkers Sangram Committee

Role of Zilla Parishad and Panchayat leader in Rajarhat New Town area in reorganizing hawkers and rehabilitation into hawkers stalls

Jahanara Begum, (TMC) Member of Zilla Parishad, Chandpur, Bishnupur, Patharghata

  1. KMC’s role in dealing with hawkers and markets, how has it changed and what can be done in future to regulate hawking

Mr Shanatan Biswas, Deputy Director, Solid Waste Management Dept. KMC

Panel Discussion III: 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Informality and the Streets:  Multiple Actors and the mobilization of their claims at different scales

This session is about the informal codes, practices and institutions or collective associations that use and regulate the street and challenge current formal regulations, laws, and practices in order to include different, excluded, marginalised groups in claiming a stake to the city’s streets. From cycling groups to auto rickshaw unions, the discussion will also touch upon the national level mobilization and challenges with respect to implementing the SVA 2014 at the state and city level.


Mr. V Ramaswamy, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, activist, urbanist and academic

  1. Reclaiming the right to cycling in the City: the coalition of cycle enthusiasts and those whose livelihoods depend on the cycle

Dr Kallol Bhattacharya (President) Kolkata Cycle Samaj and Mr Raghu Jana (Convener), Kolkata Cycle Samaj

  1. Auto rickshaw unions and their political mobilization in Kolkata – challenges in negotiating city space.

Prof. Samita Sen, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University.

  1. National level efforts at mobilizing the hawkers and implementing SVA 2014 – the challenges and contestations.

Dr. Debdulal Saha, Assistant Professor, Centre for Labour Studies and Social Protection, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati.

Way forward and Vote of thanks: 4:30pm to 5pm

Closed Workshop: Understanding the Status of Smart Cities Program in Maharashtra


On September 4, 2017, a small group meeting was organised at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai to critique and further understand the Smart Cities Mission in Maharashtra. This collaborative initiative was spearheaded by the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance (CUPG), TISS, and INHAF  – Habitat Forum. Participants included organisations associated with various urban initiatives, such as Maharashtra Social Housing And Action League (Mashal), Symbiosis School of Economics, Committee for the Right to Housing (CRH), Center for Environmental Education (CEE), Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), Center for Promoting Democracy (CPD), Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bangalore, and Habitat Lab, Vigyan Bharati, and independent academicians, researchers, and NGO representatives.  

The Smart Cities Mission is one of the three most important urban initiatives by the current National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government — the other two are Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban and Transformation (AMRUT) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) Housing for All by 2022. This highly ambitious flagship program demands substantial organisational and financial resources. As many as 100 cities have been identified under the program and the central government has earmarked Rs 48,000 crore for the development of these cities. Each smart city is set to get an assistance of Rs 100 crore per year for five years from the Centre. Eight smart cities — Pune, Solapur, Nagpur, Thane, Pimpari-Chinchwad, Kalyan-Dombivali, Nasik and Aurangabad — have been sanctioned in Maharashtra, and two — Mumbai and Amaravati — are awaiting approval.

These heavily funded smart city projects, designed around definite project strategies and governance practices, need to be understood in the context of the demanding and complex urban challenge. The state of Maharashtra has the highest number of cities shortlisted under this mission after Tamil Nadu (12 cities) and Uttar Pradesh (13 cities). Projects sanctioned under this mission are at an early stage of planning and implementation. Thus studying smart cities projects implemented in one state i.e. Maharashtra in the context of emerging trend of urbanisation, processes and responses, presents a unique opportunity. This meeting was planned to discuss the rationale, objectives and the methodology for studying the status of smart cities in Maharashtra. It also intended to identify probable partners, resource mobilization and overall plan of action of this study. The participants emphasised the great need to understand this flagship program through perspective of citizens. The efforts of studying the mission must be through participative, consultative and collaborative mode of research. All participants expressed their willingness to contribute towards this study in their own capacity.

The co-ordination team for this study is led by Professor Amita Bhide, Centre for Urban Policy, TISS, Mumbai along with Avinash Madhale, CEE, Pune, Professor Jyoti Chandaramani, Director, Symbiosis School of Economics, Pune and Dr. Anjali Mohan, Independent Researcher and Consultant.