MUPG Graduate Student Series (2017-2019)

Name of Graduating Student: Anusri Tiwari

In this interview series, our recent graduates of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance Program (2017-2019) share their experiences, insights, and remarks about the Program.

The Masters in Urban Policy and Governance is a 2-year intensive program which combines perspectives and insights from a range of disciplines to enable students to re-imagine the urban, especially in the context of the globalising present. The programme aims to equip its graduates to intervene effectively on urban habitat issues through their work in public, private, and civil society organisations.

*Note: The thoughts shared here are personal to each student and not of the Centre or School.



Visit our Website for department updates at: http://urk.tiss.edu/

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MUPG Graduate Student Series (2017-2019)

Name of Graduating Student: Kunal Chaturvedi

In this interview series, our recent graduates of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance Program (2017-2019) share their experiences, insights, and remarks about the Program.

The Masters in Urban Policy and Governance is a 2-year intensive program which combines perspectives and insights from a range of disciplines to enable students to re-imagine the urban, especially in the context of the globalising present. The programme aims to equip its graduates to intervene effectively on urban habitat issues through their work in public, private, and civil society organisations.

*NoteThe thoughts shared here are personal to each student and not of the Centre or School.

Challenges of Research: Notes From my First Day of Fieldwork

By Devashree Ragde

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A Photograph and Transect Map of the Bus Stand and Neighbouring Market

It was the first day of field work. We got off the bus onto a crowded bus stand, where we could see tall buildings which had numerous billboards for all sorts of businesses – stores, coaching and training institutes, and product advertisements. This was Mehdipatnam Bus Stand, an important node connecting the area with the rest of Hyderabad. We were here for our Winter Institute, a fieldwork-based intensive course under the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance. This year, the theme was “Youth, Work and the City,” and we were in Hyderabad for about two weeks to learn from the organisation Hyderabad Urban Lab (HUL). We had been given a mission for our very first visit here – to list down all the activities we observe that we consider as work, and identify what could be the ‘allied’ and ‘hidden’ and to spatialize the activities. 

‘Allied’ activities are those activities associated with the main activity, that make the main one function. For instance, a coconut seller at the corner of a chowk in the city is supplied coconuts from coastal areas. The supplier’s activity is allied and makes it possible for the said coconut seller to carry out his activity. 

Hidden activities are less about unseen activities but are more about the people carrying out these activities. A tea seller’s stall might be cleaned every morning by his wife or daughter, or a hired help, or the owner himself. But whether it is the wife or the help, it is possible that a woman is carrying out this work. The hidden activity probably does not pay the person doing it or earns them very less money, but still contributes to the main activity in a way. Identifying and understanding hidden activities is thus important to find out which demographic is more likely to be carrying them out.

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A Sketch of the Activities Outside St. Anne’s College in Medhipatnam

 

We began walking around our area, listing down activities, using our imagination. But how were we to observe hordes of activities, and identify them as allied and hidden activities? We could not see the activity at that moment, so how were we supposed to imagine it and characterize it as being ‘hidden?’ Such an activity can be identified only after we talk to people, right? What if it is difficult to identify the hidden work even after talking to them? Another question to explore is whether the work activities are specifically money earning. This probably depends on a person’s perceptions. But we decided to incorporate such work as well. 

Here’s an example of a college we saw. The college has a principal, teachers, non-teaching staff, students, cleaning staff, guards, canteen. Consider a tiffin centre and shawarma café — they have owners, cooks, waiters, cleaners, suppliers, market sellers, renter or owner, buyers, delivery people like Swiggy, banks. A State Bank of India has its employees. A hospital again has its employees, a chai and chaat tapri, a tiffin food supplier, a medical shop, a photo studio, a gold loaning company and so on. We listed the allied activities of the allied activities. We guessed which of the activities are hidden. The next building had a hostel and an ATM. About 200 m in was the bus depot, general store and a cinema hall. The students of the college can probably find all their basic needs at a stone throw’s distance, as many of the basic facilities are located around the college.

We went on with our list in this way, sitting at a spot opposite the college, people staring curiously at us, until we realized that it had taken more than an hour and we were only on our first few buildings. Thus, another question we had was where do we stop? The work activities chain, and value chains could go on until you reach the smallest unit located at the other end of the country, and we could possibly take so much time in trying to follow such long chains. The length of the value chains is another important aspect when studying work. 

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In Conversation with the Two Friends from UP
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The Duo at Work

As was pointed out by my groupmates during discussions at the workshop, one can observe the sense of camaraderie between the people in the informal sector, as one vendor would give change to the other or the vendors would run away together at the sight of the police car. We spoke to people engaged in some of the occupations that have been mentioned above over the course of the next few days, and we found that on the same street, neighbouring street vendors knew one another, and one man had helped the other two avail the resources to start their own vending business. The male youth living in the Bojagutta residential area were all engaged in the construction sector. A pair of sisters were begging together on the street. A belt stitcher and an ice-cream seller who go around the area together on their respective bicycles to carry out their trade are good friends who came all the way from Uttar Pradesh on the suggestion of the older sibling of one of the men who has been living in Hyderabad for years. The coconut seller is supplied coconuts by a cousin, who gets it from the family farms on the coast. There is an interconnection even between the people engaged in certain occupations. We did have a discussion conducted by Anand Maringanti Sir, director of HUL on why it is more likely that a beautician is from the North-East or a nurse is from Kerala, it is probably due to stereotypes, or may be just an ease of access owing to people of the same state or community working in the field. Mehdipatnam has shown that there is a network which allows people to enter and exit their work activities. There is an interconnectedness between the people engaged either in the work activity in question and the allied activities.

The very first day on the field gave us insight into how we should go ahead with our fieldwork, our observations helped us come up with ideas on how to engage with the people, what questions we should ask, how we should plan our work, and how our observations should be presented as outputs. It was very good that we were asked to begin our field work in such a manner, which made us more curious and excited to keep working.

 

 


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

 

MUPG Graduate Student Series (2017-2019)

Name of Graduating Student: Suvedh Jaywant

In this interview series, our recent graduates of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance Program (2017-2019) share their experiences, insights, and remarks about the Program.

The Masters in Urban Policy and Governance is a 2-year intensive program which combines perspectives and insights from a range of disciplines to enable students to re-imagine the urban, especially in the context of the globalising present. The programme aims to equip its graduates to intervene effectively on urban habitat issues through their work in public, private, and civil society organisations.

*Note: The thoughts shared here are personal to each student and not of the Centre or School.

Dreaming Big, Hustling Hard in Hyderabad’s Ameerpet

By Kanu Priya Sankhala

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Rohit’s laptop service centre in Ameerpet

Ameerpet, located in the IT hub of India, Hyderabad, is famous for its IT coaching centres where students come from all over India to learn the latest softwares and skills to enhance their career prospects. The Shyam Theatre Road of Ameerpet sees a number of youngsters who come here to shape their aspirations. The hub of coaching classes here has led to the emergence of other tertiary services across the place such as eateries, laptop service centres and stationery shops. Let me introduce you to one of the most inspiring people we met during our fieldwork. Rohit Rajput, a vibrant 19-year-old, son of an auto rickshaw driver who runs a laptop service centre in Annapurna complex of Ameerpet and aspires to become a business tycoon. He is an advanced level chip engineer and did his course from Delhi. After which he opened his own laptop service centre, which is now one-and-half years old. His holds a dream in his sparkling eyes — of expanding his business all over the world. Currently, he has two branches — one of them is in Ameerpet and another one in Kukkadpally. Like a business baron, he plans to open many new branches. He plans to open the next one either in Madhapur or Delhi. 

Rohit belongs to a humble background and has struggled really hard. Despite a lot of reluctance from his father, he managed to carve his way out on his own. He walked through each and every shop of Ameerpet and asking for a space to start his own shop. Finally an optical shop owner in Annapoorna Complex, the heart of coaching centres, on Shyam Theatre Road agreed to share his shop space. The way he has overcome these obstacles makes him a true personification of ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. He dedicates his success entirely to his mother who financed his initial investment by selling her gold ornaments, without paying heed to her husband’s reluctance. When asked about what makes him so resilient about life, he said, “My mother is my biggest strength, and has helped me survive through different challenges of life.”

He is a level-headed man who wants to earn big and live simply. Rohit believes in rising up in life by uplifting others. He runs his service centre with two other boys and trains them in chip-level engineering. He wants to create entrepreneurs out of his employees by encouraging them to open their own centers as a franchise of his own company or invest in their ventures through partnership.

Rohit being just a 19-year-old is totally different from youngsters of the similar age. When he was asked what will he do after becoming a business tycoon or if he wanted to travel abroad or have a fancy house and cars, his only reply was, “When we are born in a poor family, we should also live like one irrespective of the success we achieve.” 

He is someone who is busy chasing his dreams. As young resourceful members of society we should all learn from his abilities to take risks backed by hard work, iron will and entrepreneurial spirits. People like him send a strong message to every youth – in character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity and it is always the simple that produces the marvelous. 

 


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

From Ameerpet to America: Hyderabad’s Gateway to Success

By Aadya Saxena

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The Gateway of India vs. The “gateway” i.e. Annapoorna Complex in Ameerpet

Nestled in the north-west area of the city of Hyderabad the famous neighbourhood of Ameerpet caters to over a lakh students daily, as they make their way to Ameerpet in the early hours of the day to learn software skills. The skills they learn in Ameerpet’s various coaching centres are no ordinary skills. They learn highly specialized, in-demand softwares which are the latest in the information technology sector in the world. Nearly everyone in Ameerpet is aware of the power of this “gateway” to send people to the most sought after countries outside of India. As one enters the Shyam Theatre Road in Ameerpet, one is faced with an overwhelming visual experience of hoardings on both sides of the road. These hoardings, mostly in primary colours, completely hide any trace of the structure upon which they hang. The text of the hoardings, apart from announcing the kind of software skills on offer, also advertises potential employers.

This visual experience is heightened even further when one stands in the middle of the atrium of Annapoorna Complex and looks up. The comings and goings of students through the atrium to their coaching classes, to snack kiosks like Qualitea and Coffee shop during the break and so on has an abiding rhythm to it. The students coming from all walks of life with different goals share at least one thing in common, if nothing else. They all want to leave Ameerpet after completing their coaching for much better prospects. Such is the power of the gateway of Ameerpet — you walk in the coaching institute’s cramped classrooms with plastic chairs and aim at entering big, swanky offices of tech giants like Wipro, Infosys and even companies like Deloitte.

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Annapoorna Atrium Complex. Do you dare to look up?

Ameerpet can be best described as a hub of IT knowledge which came into existence in Hyderabad shortly after the IT boom in the city in the late 90s and early 2000s. The boom was followed by an increase in jobs in the BPO sector and the demand for jobs in big IT companies which required technical knowledge of certain softwares. On speaking to the young students coming to Ameerpet for the purpose of gaining such operational knowledge, stories of their agricultural background are juxtaposed with images of them working in a high-paced technological world — the village with the city; the familiarity with the diversity. Such were my conversations with some of the students who spoke of their ‘native’ with a romanticized nostalgia and a wished to retire in the villages they have come from amidst relatives and families of their own. Nevertheless they had dreams of their own and a willingness to work towards a good job. The entries and exits from Ameerpet were as dramatic as their descriptions and while some students hope to achieve what they described as their dream jobs, some already had a job in hand in places like America, UK and Ireland and had come to Ameerpet to be well equipped for their futures.

In an interconnected world like ours which is overrun by global flows we need to acknowledge movement of people above and beyond flows of capital, technology and knowledge. Ameerpet provides insight as a unique gateway which is dependent on technological innovation from the developed world but not necessarily the knowledge of that technology as most softwares used in the coaching centres are pirated versions. The transfer of this knowledge unto students and their further placements across the world by the pull created by large IT firms is truly remarkable when one attempts to understand the bigger picture. While for someone from outside Ameerpet the bigger picture seems beyond comprehension since it involves factors like sourcing of softwares, instructors, infrastructure to enable the running of coaching centres and teaching in addition to support services needed for the students, and the larger public infrastructure and facilities available in the city of Hyderabad; for a tea stall vendor standing right outside Annapoorna Complex atrium its only that simple. Or in his words, ‘People call this place ‘Ameerpet to America’, people come here to study from everywhere and then go far away to work.”

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Global Flows in the Information Age

Since a lot of what Ameerpet is today is based on inflows of investments by various actors both public and private, there is bound to be an outflow. While talking to a medical shop owner on the ground floor of the Annapoorna Complex, I came across a possibility of such a outflow in the form of flight of coaching centres out of Ameerpet, which according him was already happening to other areas closer to the HITEC city as the state is heavily investing in building infrastructure there. Thus, while it is fascinating to unravel the trajectory of Ameerpet what lies in Ameerpet’s future has to do with its impermanence as a hub of technological learning. The impermanence of a place like Ameerpet is interesting to note when we consider the technology sector as well, which in itself is extremely dynamic and ever changing. And even in the face of such an impermanence there are instances of returning to Ameerpet, if the situation arises, as a means of reskilling oneself or making oneself more marketable by picking up new and relevant knowledge.

Perhaps for me this was the most beautiful thing to discover in the process of understanding the flows affecting Ameerpet and the students in it. That even in an ever-changing scenario of the IT world, therein lies a certain promise of a job if you’ve passed through the gateway.

 


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

 

Navigating life and livelihood in Hyderabad’s Biggest Flower Market

By Mudit Verma

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Gunny bags filled with flowers start arriving at the market in the wee hours of the morning

Hyderabad is a hub for IT, engineering colleges and coaching institutes. However, Mehdipatnam located on the outskirts of the capital city has a different story to share. Migrants who regularly travel to Hyderabad often work here to earn a decent salary. Many work as helpers, cleaners, sellers, and garland makers.

Another worthwhile mention is Gudimalkapur flower market, home to floral varieties and accessories.  Due to the proximity with agricultural markets, it provides opportunities to labourers from villages and towns of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. This wholesale market is not only a delight to retailers and customers but also photographers on the hunt to capture candid moments.

It is a typical market scene with hawkers shouting and bargaining prices. To me this flower market is a good case study to represent the vibrancy of human emotions. Here we see people from all walks of life purchasing flowers to be used in temples, mosques, birthdays, and funerals.

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The market deals in a large variety of flowers including roses and mogras, to exotic buys like orchids, tulips and peonies.Enter a caption

Previously it was a part of Moazzam Jahi Market and was later shifted to Gudimalkapur in 2009. Adjacent to PV Narasimha Rao Expressway, it connects the city to the airport, further attracting potential customers from Banjara Hills, Ameerpet, Begumpet and Nampally. The flower market thrives with abundant choices, from locally procured venis, gajras, and mogras, to exotic buys like orchids, tulips and peonies. Management and care of these floral varieties can be difficult. Due to their brief shelf-life, the flowers are constantly watered, trimmed, and wrapped in plastic to provide a longer life. Thus, selling these carefully-sourced produce daily is top priority.  

Opening at 4am, the day starts with the arrival of trucks, autos, and tempos from neighbouring cities (Chennai, Kochi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai). This open-air market is the largest in Hyderabad and consequently supported by the Ministry of Agriculture. It bustles with activity from sunrise to sunset. Workers unload packages and carry them to their respective destination. Five in the morning marks the start of daily trade activities with wholesale and retail sellers arriving from different parts of Hyderabad. Known for its cheap and good produce, this market is considered tough competition. The Gudimalkapur flower market witnesses greater demands on occasions like Valentine’s Day, Ugadi, Diwali, and Christmas. Local festivals can also drastically change market prices, such as the Bathukamma festival in October. With no formal price regulations, sellers have the freedom to barter produce at any desirable rate but keep their prices reasonable to finish daily surplus. At 5pm, after the market closes, excess flowers are dumped outside and often left to women and kids selling flowers outside the market.

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A large number of workers are migrants from nearby states. 

During one field visit I encountered Syed who was resting for the day. Educated till 10th standard,  Syed, 30, is originally from Guntur. He migrated to Hyderabad for a better life and does not wish to go back to his village. Currently he is assigned to collect and distribute flowers when trucks arrive in the mandi, for which he is paid Rs10 per hamili (gunny bag). Now he lives in Masab Tank where his monthly rent is Rs5500. Also, the local commission agents receive 4% of the farmer’s profit and the committee is paid 1% of the total produce as market fees. In return basic facilities of waste management, upkeep of roads, lighting facilities, etc. are provided. “Now we have become a part of life here. Everything works well, what will we do going back to our village?” he asks.

Part of an eight-member family, he has an aadhar card and a rarely-used ration card. Syed is quite optimistic about life and has two kids in 3rd and 5th standard. He wants to give them a good education and fulfil their aspirations to whatever extent he can. Work timings range from 3am when the vehicles arrive till 2pm in the afternoon. After working for five years in the market, Syed is well respected and quite satisfied with work he does. Along with his 12, around 100 to 120 gunny bags are loaded and unloaded daily and workers receive Rs25 per bag. Unlike traditional markets where middlemen play significant roles, this market gives ample opportunities to farmers to directly sell their produce to traders. Apart from this, I am informed that there are roughly 200 commission agents, 15 traders and 50 hamalies. (Hamalies are the labourers which help unloading and loading  the gunny bags of flowers).

Work migration is a common livelihood strategy for a large section of youth from poor households. They may work under shopkeeper as helpers, which is also how Syed moved to the city 

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Kinship ties are necessary for finding work in this market.  Community members, relatives and friends provide information about workplaces and accommodation

Kinship ties could be essential to the migratory processes. Community members, relatives and friends provide information about workplaces and accommodation. Once aware about the dynamics of market they can make a decent living and overtime upgrade their standard of living, like Syed. It is in the versatile nature of this market that Hyderabad offers space for both formal and informal work sectors attracting people of various caste, creed, and religion.

 


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