The CUD policy workshop that the Lord of CUD had convened had a more impressive turnout of senior officials and representatives of friendly political parties, NGOs and donors than his last CUD policy workshop.
All quickly agreed on consensus achievements and promising initiatives. The consensus achievement was the charter of Rights for the People—the Right to Stay, Right to Resettlement and Right to Minimum Services. The promising initiatives were beginnings already made to strengthen and streamline synergy amongst CUD actors—a task force to flexibly define options for the poor, a fund for strengthening partnerships, and a policy of ignoring/distracting critics (while trying to win them over). Participants input their comments at their networked computer stations, the technical staff did the needful and the Lord clicked Output.
As usual the default Old-fashioned Urban Development Option appeared. It said: ‘Error: Invalid Input… Rights do not match constitutional rights. Change Input or Disable Frame-of-Reference.’ The Lord clicked Disable. All screens said, ’Old-fashioned Option cannot Disable Frame-of-Reference = Constitution’. All groaned and the Lord quickly clicked ‘Skip to CUD Option’. All screens said, ‘Sorry. Old-fashioned Option cannot pass to CUD routine… Constitutionally invalid Input…To proceed to CUD you must delete Old-fashioned Option routine permanently (without Undo option)… For this all terminals must confirm. Delete?’ All said ‘Yesss!’ and entered Y.
A sigh of relief went round the room as a friendly Output began to appear. ‘CUD rating of input: Excellent!’ (This was the default rating). And then, ‘Suggestions for sustaining excellence… In place of case by case task force, fund, etc, assume on continuing basis Right to Define and Redefine, Right to Align and Realign, and Right to be Ostrich with Pet Red Herring.’ The Lord said, ‘Looks like we have a Charter of Rights for ourselves as well. Do we agree?’ All did.
The Lord clicked Continue. The pre-programmed output triggered by the deletion of the Old-fashioned Option appeared. ‘Special Opportunity… Discarding Old-fashioned Option is The Greatest Opportunity for furthering CUD… Followers of the Old-fashioned Option must be systematically phased out.’ The Lord asked, ‘Any comments?’ An earnest lady representing a premier donor said, ‘I fully agree. Followers of the Old-fashioned Option do not have the right development attitude. They dwell too much on past mistakes.’ A clever looking man representing a group of NGOs added, ‘They do not understand that all can work on everything and it is not necessary for roles of professionals, government and NGOs to be rigidly demarcated.’ Criticism of the Old-fashioned Option flowed freely. The Lord of CUD was quite flattered. He turned to the chairman of his premier public sector undertaking and asked, ‘What can we do to marginalize the Old-fashioned Option?’ The bossy man replied, ‘We can put up a CUD gala, a continuing CUD circus to showcase and celebrate CUD ideas, projects, people. All can set up some permanent exhibitions and we can work out a calendar of special events..’ All applauded and began to make plans as they moved towards lunch.
The Lord of CUD was very pleased—with the clever Charter of Rights, with the consensus against the Old-fashioned Option, and with the enthusiasm about the planned circus
Right to define and redefine
In the beginning of January 2000, trucks, excavators and cranes of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) ‘rumbled out of the workshops’ to remove hawkers and encroachers to clear right of way on the roads. This New Year gift for the city had been approved at ‘a high-level meeting’.1 (A similar New Year gift was announced on 1 January 2001.)2 Hundreds of unorganized sector platforms and kiosks were demolished.3 Later in the month, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Maneka Gandhi released the Dave Committee report that had proposals for bringing the unorganized sector under pension schemes.4 In March, a day after MCD had demolished more minimum establishments, Delhi Social Welfare Minister Krishna Tirath announced a raise in minimum wages.5 MCD’s drive continued and in May Lieutenant-Governor Vijai Kapur promised strict action if encroachments came up.6 Also in May, fifty vendors petitioned the Human Rights Commission for compensation of loss of earnings on account of having been forced to shut shop for a month when the city was ‘spruced up’ for Bill Clinton’s visit in March.7 MCD’s drive continued till October, when it distributed tehbazaris (licenses) to hawkers in line with the Chopra Committee report.8
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, in May, the original ‘demolition man’ bureaucrat G.R. Khairnar, barely two weeks after re-assuming office in the Brihan-Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), came down heavily on hawkers. Hawkers responded by blocking the road, shouting slogans and pelting stones.9 Khairnar responded by deploying a commando force for the job, which he said was difficult as hawkers ‘enjoy patronage of [the] civic license department and other senior officials’ and are ‘controlled by powerful syndicates enjoying protection from the underworld’.10 Hawkers threatened agitation from June 1. On that day, forty-three days after his reinstatement, Khairnar retired. On his last day in office, after nearly a month of ruthless crackdown, he announced a ‘scheme’ wherein hawkers could remain, albeit in a disciplined manner. He now said hawkers are only ‘earning their living’ and ‘are a social necessity’.11 In July, the Bombay High Court—whose intervention had been sought through the ubiquitous PIL—gave directions for implementing earlier supreme court orders for marking out hawking zones.12 BMC (which had been trying such schemes since 1983) realized only a fourth of the city’s hawkers could be so accommodated and the rest had ‘no option but to find an alternative source of income’.13 Also in July the Bombay High Court dismissed a writ petition filed on behalf of hawkers to challenge Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) decision to cancel their licenses to ensure smooth traffic on city roads. PMC had offered alternative sites in segregated hawker markets, which hawkers did not find lucrative from point of view of business, but PMC and the court held were convenient from the point of view of the general public.14
Meanwhile, in Delhi, four shopkeepers’ associations in the flourishing Janpath market in the heart of New Delhi protested against tehbazaristo hawkers opposite their shops, which the New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC) had granted earlier in line with the Thareja Committee report.15 This, incidentally, followed NDMC’s announcement (quite likely the result of the untiring efforts of the market associations) to give the shopkeepers themselves (of course against some payment) ownership rights over the shops that they so far had on rent.16
The swinging of the pendulum between ruthless evictions and accommodating schemes by the government, protests and PIL for and against them by civil society, and report after report by committees that affected hawkers in India’s premier cities in 2000 were just continuing acts in a long-playing drama. Caught in the midst of great governance in which the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing and retirement brings an entirely different kind of wisdom, hawkers have been hawking—and paying hafta (protection money) to minions of the big guys whose ‘patronage’ they ‘enjoy’—for decades. For decades the Big People have been defining and redefining them—as encroachers who hassle and as poor guys who serve—just as they have been defining and redefining all Little People.
The Big People are supposed to address all urban issues—unorganized trade, traffic, crime, poverty, power theft, garbage, pollution, runaway population, etc. But even as they never tire of reiterating their commitment towards the poor and problem solving, they have mastered the art of blaming the poor for all urban problems.
On 8 March 2000 (Women’s Day) Sheila Dikshit was on television blaming poor migrants for crime in Delhi.17 She was drawing an association between migrants, slums and most problems of the city and would have us believe that migrants stress our cities, migrants live in slums, and hence slums stress the city.18 Stretching this ‘logic’ to the limit around the same time, the Congress government in Maharashtra was seriously considering enacting a law to stop influx of migrants and ban slums in Mumbai.19 Later in Delhi, Health and Urban Development Minister A.K. Walia said that ‘a large number of HIV-infected people migrate to Delhi for seeking jobs’.20 Various governments were also working out schemes in slums to check power thefts.21 And the apex court’s remarks had led us to link slum dwellers with pickpockets and small industrialists with hooligans.
All this vacillating defining and redefining of the unpeople of India by their elected, appointed and self-appointed saviours has blown our minds. Forgetting our national pledge of all Indians being brothers and sisters, ‘we’ constantly wonder about ‘them’—hawkers, slum dwellers, small industrialists, migrants—even as we really have no right to ‘judge’. ‘We’ wonder if hawkers hawk to serve us or to block our roads. ‘We’ wonder if slum dwellers are victims or culprits in problems of garbage, power shortages, etc. ‘We’ wonder if small industrialists are hooligans or indispensable cogs in the wheel of economic progress. ‘We’ wonder if migrants are driven in desperation off the rural development road to nowhere or wickedly come to ‘our’ cities to slum them and kill us with AIDS and more. ‘We’ wonder because whenever we look we find Those In Charge always and still wondering about long standing problems, as if there was no yesterday, no law and no data (though it is copiously collected) to tell us—as if we had nothing except their pathetic pontifications.
Consider Delhi’s hawkers for whom successive governments alternately deploy and withdraw removal vans. The city’s statutory Master Plan says informal sector (‘working without a roof, including small khokha on roadside’) ‘needs full consideration as it provides much needed employment to the unskilled and semi-skilled’ and ‘it is of utmost importance’ that it should be ‘integrated in the physical planning process’.22 It further says, ‘it is possible to create lively shopping areas by suitably introducing informal sector’ and even speaks of ‘few standard efficient and colourful designs’.23 It notes that these ‘units locate themselves strategically near work centres, commercial areas, outside the boundaries of schools, colleges and hospitals, transport nodes and near large housing clusters’.24 It spells out in great detailstandards for integrating space for hawking in planned development.25 These standards are in line with the natural propensity of hawkers to locate in various places and are meant to deal with the performance-nuisance conflict that is inherent to hawking activity. The Plan requires that ‘at the time of sanction of building plans, the provision of informal sector trade units should be ensured’.26 These comprehensive and arguably adequate statutory provisions for hawkershave not been implemented. Yet ‘we’ wonder about ‘them’.
Consider the mysterious migrants, supposedly all in slums. For cities like Delhi and Mumbai statutory regional plans were prepared decades ago precisely to ensure that city-ward migration is spread over a larger area. It is also well known that people do not migrate from lovely hinterlands where urbanites take vacations to live in urban slums. They come to work. Accordingly, regional development strategies hinge on dispersal of work places, not on forcible relocation of the poor. One has only to look around in government or MNC or Public Sector offices (many of which should be in satellite towns) to see that migrants are not found only in slums and the ones in slums stress the city the least. Yet ‘we’ wonder about ‘them’.
Consider crime and the poor. It is very likely there are no statistics to show that poor migrants in slums are responsible for most crimes. There is no basis to paint one class as a criminal class. No penal code bases punishment on class of offender, only on gravity of offence. It is wrong to punish a pickpocket more because he is poor and a murderer less because he is rich. The poor, if only because of their circumstances, are less capable of grave crimes than the rich. A belatedly but well understood case in point is of power thefts. For years power theft by the poor has been touted as the mainreason for distributionlosses andour electricity departments have targetedmuch of their ‘action’ in this regard at slums. But power supply has not improved. In 2000 the capital was leading in transmission and distribution (T&D) losses with a tally of 60 per cent. More power was being lost than supplied for use and the losses amounted to Rs 2,500 crore annually. Nineteen per cent were ‘technical losses’ and the rest thefts. Several employees, even as they carried out ‘drives’ to check power theft by others, were themselves caught stealing power. In all, a fifth of all ‘thieves’ seemed to ‘steal’ half the ‘stolen’ power and these fellows (including ‘powerful babus’) do not live in slums. Slums account for a measly 5 to 6 per cent of the power stolen—something that should have been obvious from the fact that they occupy a measly amount of city space and that their consumption patterns simply do not allow enormous amounts of power use.27 Yet ‘we’ wonder about ‘them’.
Consider A.K. Walia who, worried about AIDS-carrying migrants, mounted an AIDS campaign in slums in June 2000. This was called ‘Family Health Awareness Fortnight’ (to ‘ensure that the stigma attached to AIDS does not drive people away’, explained the minister).28 But, perhaps not wanting dollar daddies doling out AIDS funds to miss his effort, he gave away his clever secret to the press beforehand. With seventy NGOs the health minister was offering slum dwellers check-ups and medicines for sexually transmitted diseases at that time of year when water- and vector-borne diseases are rampant in slums.29 Had he some alarming statistics showing higher prevalence of AIDS in slums? Had he some alarming micro-studies suggesting higher incidence of high-risk behaviour in slums? Even before his campaign started, he admitted he had neither. What, then, was the basis for his insistence on going ahead with a campaign that did stigmatize slum dwellers and very likely also diverted precious resources to oddly targetted interventions that were non-priority or useless? The basis was the minister’s personal view that slum dwellers ‘are more prone to contracting HIV/AIDS because of their suspected sexual behaviour’ based, in turn, on his personal profound assumption that people camping in Delhi for petty jobs visit red light areas!30 Yet ‘we’ wonder about ‘them’.
* * *
Reducing law and policy making and all manner of research and data collection at taxpayers’ cost to an end in itself, city and slum saviours constantly reinvent—or just creatively and contemporarily rename—the wheel. All that changes in the games Big People play is who gets how much hafta or funding or how many brownie points or media coverage. The poor stay poor. The rich stay rich. Hawkers keep hawking. Slums keep growing.
The Right to Define and Redefine is effectively deployed by those who have given it to themselves to show that saviours are busily running the show, and so that nobody sees those being saved aren’t getting anywhere. It is also deployed to downsize national commitments. Defining how lessis good for the poor (under, for instance, the rights described earlier) is one form of such deployment. Another is redefining who exactly the poor are.
Notions of ‘poorest of the poor’ and ‘most vulnerable groups’ help saviours engage with as little as pleases them. Thus, despite a constitutional commitment to universalization of primary education, development dons speak of elementary education for the most vulnerable and, in their enthusiasm to get there, look at gali (street) schools with pride, not shame. Despite having failed to provide—even facilitate—jobs, schools, dispensaries and housing for to slum dwellers, they ask slum women (both ‘more vulnerable’ and ‘more potential’) to form self-help groups even though contemporary urban development has nothing to offer them after they are so ‘empowered’. Despite the dissatisfaction with urban poverty definitions based purely on income criteria, they come up with schemes for those below poverty line (BPL) knowing full well that ‘clean’ implementation of such schemes is impossible.
In March 2000 former prime minister V.P. Singh (ending his political sanyas in Wazirpur) demanded special ration cards for the poor so that they could get rations at half price.31 In November 2000 Prime Minister Vajpayee (celebrating his seventy-sixth birthday) announced a scheme for India’s poorest families to get wheat at Rs 2 per kg and rice at Rs 3 per kg.32 Critics said the scheme would increase the subsidy burden by Rs 2,300 crore a year and made no sense given that the government had recently slashed food subsidy by Rs 3,000 crore. A parliamentary standing committee went so far as to describe the scheme as ‘Tughlaqian’ and wanted to know if the finance ministry, the Cabinet and the Planning Commission had been consulted before announcing it.33 Supporters, on the other hand, said ‘it makes good sense for the Government to target its abundant food stocks at the poorest households’.34 The Centre asked states to identify families that figured amongst the poorest and said the scheme would start functioning by end of February 2001.35
In January 2000, Yoganand Shastri, food and civil supplies minister in the Congress government in Delhi, announced that 500,000 jhuggi ration card holders in Delhi would get wheat and rice at Rs 4.65 and Rs 6.15 per kg respectively under the Targeted Public Distribution Scheme (TPDS).36 TPDS, introduced by the Centre in 1997 for BPL families, had not been implemented in Delhi because the Delhi government wanted all residents of slums and resettlement colonies to be considered BPL while the Planning Commission insisted on annual family income of less than Rs 24,200 as the criterion for being identified as BPL.37 The Delhi government’s stand was that slum dwellers are ‘most obviously poor’ and ‘already have distinct jhuggi cards’.38 The logical thing for it to do would have been to get the Centre to modify the scheme for urban areas to use residence in a slum rather than income as the criterion for entitlement for cheap rations and then apply it to existing slum ration cards. But logic does not drive governance and certainly not political responses to leaders of other political groups demanding and announcing cheap rations for the large vote bank of the poor.
The Delhi government ‘launched’ in February, typically at a rally, TPDS for all jhuggi dwellers. Yoganand Shastri, reiterating the government’s firm commitment towards jhuggi dwellers, told them they would get ‘new’ ration cards.39 For ‘new’ cards they had to sign a form and get the ‘old’ cards stamped. In February 2001, hundreds of thousands of jhuggi dwellers in the capital were putting their signature or thumb-impression on ‘the form’ and taking days off from work to queue up to deposit it and get a precious stamp on their ‘old’ card (naturally, if they had one) to make it a ‘new’ card.40
‘The form’ was an undertaking that their combined annual family income was less than the magic figure of Rs.24,200! Many, if not most, jhuggidwellers in Delhi could not have signed such an undertaking with confidence (as their incomes are often irregular) or with honesty (as their incomes are often greater). But they were signing up in hordes, because many could not read or understand what ‘the form’ (at times in English) said and because recent political announcements had led them to believe they were all entitled to a ‘new’ card. Yoganand Shastri was reported saying that the declaration was ‘just a bureaucratic formality and does not mean anything’ and, although it says legal action will be taken against anyone giving false information, ‘no one would face any action’.41
Here, then, was the quintessential scheme for the wilfully defined ‘poorest of the poor’. Jhuggidwellers were led to signing false affidavits that, obviously, gave corrupt government functionaries a new tool for extortion. (Their access to cheap rations, on the other hand, did not improve in real terms because making rations cheaper did nothing to change the fact that ration shops mostly remained out of stock). The government was spared the tedious effort of identifying the poor and scored a tidy tally of brownie points. Everybody else hated jhuggidwellers for ‘increased subsidy burden’ and agreed that giving them free plots indeed amounted to rewarding pickpockets.
Right to Align and Realign
The global paradigm of partnerships as panacea has led to the ascendancy of civil society in development. In 2000, throughout the country, elected governments were ‘partnering’ with selected others.
These efforts were at their prolific best in the capital. From saying ‘no’ to polybags to saying ‘no’ to river pollution, from court orders on litter to court orders on vehicular emissions, from rain water harvesting to bus accidents, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had found a one-size-fits-all mantra—school children, residents’ welfare associations (RWAs), corporates, celebrities and NGOs. Her government never tired of reiterating its commitment to making Delhi a model city; nor of reiterating this could only happen through collective effort.
In January, her penchant for participatory problem-solving was institutionalized in her government’s ‘concrete plan’ for bhagidari (partnership).42 By February, her government had brought out a ‘strategy paper’.43 In March, she inaugurated ‘a large group interactive event’ with government officials and twenty RWAs. Participants engaged in an ‘intensive dialogue’ in ‘small face-to-face table groups’.44 Problems and solutions were documented for analysis (even as matters discussed had been and were being anyway documented and analysed by a plethora of more professional research, training and policy making bodies).45Meanwhile, at the end of the workshop, Sheila Dikshit announced plans to provide some funds to RWAs.46 In June, there was a second bhagidariworkshop with seventy RWAs. She was also talking to other prospective bhagidars (partners) such as at ‘a half-day brainstorming’ with scientists/technologists on bhagidari possibilities and while launching ‘a series of lectures on burning issues concerning the Capital’ for members of the elite India Habitat Centre.47 The second RWA workshop, ‘conceptualized’ by an NGO on basis of western experience, involved thirty-five tables shared ‘under the maximum mixing (max-mix) principle’.48 Inaugurating it, Sheila Dikshit reiterated that ‘without complaints and suggestions, participation and cooperation, government cannot move forward’.49 Two hundred and ten representatives of RWAs and 200officials identified solutions.50 At the end of the workshop Sheila Dikshit asked officials to go to the field for first-hand knowledge of problems.51 She said RWAs now saw her difficulties with ‘multiplicity of agencies’ and the administration now knew what RWAs expected (though ‘complaints’ from RWAs related to well-known problems like water shortages, garbage not being collected, etc).52 She outlined a follow-up ‘strategy’ consisting of chief ministerial instructions to departments, departmental instructions to officers, officers’ meetings with RWAs, etc.53 In August, she held a meeting to review progress. Departments had ‘identified’ areas where RWAs could play a role and announced some plans—roadside plantation, rain water harvesting in ten colonies, checking leakage and thefts from water mains, re-carpeting roads, installing garbage bins. Sheila Dikshit said there would be 500 bhagidar RWAs by next year and once again urged all to come forward to make Delhi green.54 RWAs had already done ‘a tremendous job’ of planting 300,000 saplings. Eighty RWAs ‘in partnership with the corporate sector’ had also agreed to maintain eighty parks and in ‘another significant development’ some had agreed to switch streetlights on and off.55
But the best benefit of bhagidarihad come before and had little to do with Sheila Dikshit’s plans. At the time of the workshop with RWAsin June, Jagmohan’s bulldozers had been targetting unauthorized additions in DDA flats, RWAs of many of which were bhagidars. At the workshop, Sheila Dikshit had said field visits by officials could have checked illegal constructions and RWAs had demanded powers to fine those who did not follow civic rules.56 Afterwards, RWAs and federations of RWAs and the apex association of federations of RWAs of DDA flats were writing to the press and the prime minister to ask for protection of illegal constructions by their members. Their stand was that 90 per cent of the flats had illegal additions (to meet growing needs) and so these should be regularized.57 Actually, it is unlikely that 90 per cent of the flats are even occupied, leave alone altered. Many flats have not been altered—for lack of need or resources, because they have been rented, or even just out of a respect for the law. Many residentsare also opposed to illegal additions and several had written to Jagmohan earlier to complain, congratulate, thank. Now Jagmohan gave in to their (not quite representative) RWAs.58 He gave law-breakers a reprieve and asked RWAs to define ‘minor and major alteration’.59 Thereafter, bhagidari, purportedly for making Delhi better, took off more firmly in the direction of unintended development.
RWAs, which had so far ‘been existing under the cloud of non-recognition’, had tasted ‘success’ and wanted more—more cooperation, more recognition, more tree guards, more tankers, more power, separate funds, fax machines.60 They wanted more tube wells and got them even where there was a ban on ground water tapping.61 They wanted more hospitals, colleges and Delhi Haats and got them even though the Master Plan did not envisage them.62Bhagidari had elevated chosen bhagidarsabove questions about what these wilful gifts meant for the rest of the city, its ground water, its hospital waste, the land requirement for housing the poor and the whole notion of planned development as opposed to slumming.
As the government, mandated to equitably deal with the whole city’s civic problems, got ‘busy ironing out snags’ to ensure ‘better co-operation from different agencies’ for RWAs of ninety well-off areas out of several thousands in Delhi, many others must have felt rather disoriented63. Even among bhagidars, expected to ‘help’ in all manner of things, many old-fashioned ones (who believed their responsibility ended with paying their taxes and the rest was the job of government servants suitably selected, trained and paid for the same) must also have felt rather disoriented.
But they were not the only ones whose developmental roles were changing.
Consider celebrities. Till not long ago our singers sang, designers designed, players played, beauty queens went to Bollywood and so on. Once in a while one of them took to charity. Nowadays they are all expected to have a cause before they can claim to be a celebrity. In October 2000 there was even a UN meet to reflect on the role of celebrity advocacy. ‘Nobel laureates, athletes, actors, musicians, authors, scientists and media personalities from 20 countries’ participated.64. Miss Universe Lara Dutta and Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala represented India.65 The previous year another Miss Universe had addressed an international conference on urban management. One wonders if these lovely ladies (like taxpayers) are disoriented by these additional responsibilities.
Consider also the corporate sector. Till not so long ago our welfare state was rather wary of the profit-motive of the private sector. Corporates were expected to make profits, ensure economic growth and pay taxes so government could look after welfare. Any direct role was through law that obliged them to, say, provide housing for employees or leave land or houses for the poor in their housing projects. Their track record in getting around such laws was often used to deny them a larger piece of the developmental action. Now things—or at least the perception of the role of the private sector—have changed. Already in every city in India one can find on tree guards and planters, street lights and railings, benches and dustbins little legends proclaiming corporate contribution in making cities clean and green. Now even urban planners after completing postgraduate studies (for which they get a generous stipend) find openings in corporates, including MNCs, as they go about greening and cleaning or property development or just brokering.
We do not know if the worth of all this corporate contribution is anywhere near the value of corporate tax default in the country, but we do know that the former is getting more visible. In Pune in June 2000, at an international consultation on ‘tripartite partnerships for poverty alleviation’ between governments, NGOs and international donors, ‘everyone was rooting for the fourth partner: the private sector’.66) A delegate said, ‘In the era of globalization it would be in the interest of the corporate sector to collaborate with NGOs to reduce poverty because it would then get a bigger market for its products’.67 In April, reflecting a ‘drastic change in its “attitudinal landscape” from the “socialist ambience” of the 1970s’ the Jawaharlal Nehru University wrote to top industrial houses, requesting them to contribute to its coffers.68The Delhi government was also writing to various corporate forums and federations like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Punjab, Haryana, Delhi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to seek ‘a better response’ for its bhagidariinvitation.69
In July 2000 at the South Asian Forum on Environmental Cooperation between Government and the Private Sector, Minister for Environment and Forests T.R. Baalu called upon the private sector to invest more into improving the environment.70 At the same time, in what was seen as ‘a precursor to the establishment of private forests’, the Andhra Pradesh government was working on tie-ups with industrial houses for tree plantation, starting with plantations spread over 10,000 hectares, on a ‘pilot basis’.71 The Rs 380 crore World Bank aided AP Forestry Programme was ending and the ‘state does not have funds to continue with its social forestry and forest regeneration programmes’.72 An official of the environment and forest department had already toured the US to study private forests there and two more top officials were scheduled to make similar trips for fine-tuning the government policy on private participation in forestry.73 In Delhi, the US ambassador planted a tree to mark his commitment to the environment (and presumably to private participation therein) in a ‘children’s educational park’ developed as part of an ‘ambitious project’ jointly being carried out by civic authorities and the corporate sector.74
Also in July the findings of a study on corporate sector responsibility (based on a survey of 600 companies) were presented at a seminar organized by CII, a union ministry and a UN agency. The survey found that for most corporates ‘social responsibility’ translated into a focus on employees, suppliers and other stakeholders, was driven by reasons of government goodwill, image, employee morale and philanthropy, and was ‘overwhelmingly’ limited to writing out cheques and to CEO-driven efforts.75 Indeed, in Ahmedabad in the mid-1990s, Arvind Mills had embarked on a citywide slum upgrading project on the lines of Indore out of, they claimed, not charity but ‘enlightened self interest’ to have a slum free city in order to attract the best global partners.76However, after improving one slum (mainly inhabited by their employees) and having won a place in the Habitat II Global Best Practices as an example of slum networking (their effort being limited to just one, obviously un-networked, slum notwithstanding), they withdrew. One wonders, in the light of such experiences and surveys, if corporate captains (like tax payers and the lovely ladies, etc.) feeldisorientedby the great expectations of, for instance, the Draft National Slum Policy.
The role of NGOs, the oldest ‘partners in change’, is also changing. In January 2000, the director of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), a Delhi-based NGO, was reported saying, ‘India perhaps has the largest number of voluntary organizations with the estimates ranging from 30,000 to a million. Over the years, as availability of foreign and government funds increased, many fake and self-seeking organizations emerged.’ CAF had begun a process of rating NGOs on the basis of ‘a thorough analysis’ of their financial statements.77 In March, MCD decided to cancel its contract with Sulabh (the NGO that is to pay-and-use toilets in India what Hoover is to vacuum cleaners and Xerox to photocopiers) following detection of irregularities in Sulabh-run toilets.78 Around the same time a ‘scam’ surfaced in Lucknow where it seemed several NGOs, in connivance with officials of the state urban development authority, had siphoned off during the last four years Rs 80 crore meant for the National Slum Development Programme.79 In April, in a PIL filed by a former chairman of the Juvenile Welfare Board, the high court directed the Delhi government to submit a list of children homes being run without licenses by NGOs.80 In May, the Ministry of Human Resource Development stopped grants to some NGOs on account of their failure to submit utilization certificates to the ministry.81 In September, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Maneka Gandhi blacklisted a number of dubious NGOs and put the details on her ministry’s website.82In the beginning of October, Minister of State for Home Vidyasagar Rao told the media that NGOs had received foreign contributions amounting to Rs 3402 crore last year and the government was considering a legislation to regularize use of foreign contributions by NGOs.83 In mid-October, the National Human Rights Commission was reported to be ‘contemplating serious action against’ fake human rights groups.84At the end of October, in a PIL claiming that more than Rs 7500 crore released as government grants to over 30,000 NGOs had not been accounted for, the Delhi High Court directed the union government not to release any more grants to NGOs until they produced utilization certificates for previous grants.85
For a deeper insight into the issues underlying such events, let us digress a bit to consider what came to be called the Sahyog episode. In Almora, then part of Uttar Pradesh and now part of the hill state of Uttranchal, an NGO called Sahyog brought out a booklet titled ‘AIDS aur hum’ (‘AIDS and us’) in September 1999. Funded by the McArthur Foundation, Sahyog, on the basis of ‘research’ consisting of ‘interviews and focus group discussions’, had brought out the booklet ‘to enhance awareness about AIDS’.86It reproduced ‘comments and observations of those interviewed on sexual practices and customs prevalent in the Almora region’.87Later Sahyog said it had ‘quoted people verbatim to make the report authentic’ and ‘in any case, the material was meant for a select audience, that of NGOs and policy-makers’.88But not-so-select subjects of the ‘scurrilous “research”’ got to see it and did not take at all kindly to the ‘graphic literary style’ in which it made sweeping statements about widespread sexual promiscuity, homosexuality and incest in the region.89The research was labeled offensive, obscene and downright pornographic.90 They said it was an attack on the culture of the hills, meant to spoil the image of the region for foreign funding.91 In April 2000, all hell broke loose.92An ‘irate mob’ attacked Sahyog’s offices on 20 April. The police sealed the offices, confiscated copies of the booklet and arrested eleven staff members and trainees—five for ‘breach of peace’ and six on more substantive charges of ‘obscene publications’ and ‘public mischief’. The sub-divisional magistrate increased the bail amounts for the former. The Almora Bar Association announced that no one should represent the accused. Almora and Ranikhet remained closed for two days as a mark of protest. On April 22, a show cause notice was issued to Sahyog. Its landlords asked Sahyog to vacate their property. An apology and withdrawal of the booklet on April 26 was of no avail. On May 1 the Allahabad High Court rejected application for bail. On May 4 the four men in judicial custody were handcuffed and paraded through the market along with the women. On May 9 the National Security Act was invoked on four members of Sahyog. In an uncharacteristic show of unity, local politicians as well as local NGOs and eminent citizens all condemned the booklet and the NGO. On May 17 the issue was raised in the state assembly through an adjournment notice and, ‘rising above party lines’, members ‘expressed anguish’ over the ‘objectionable report’.93
What, perhaps, drew national attention to the episode was the intervention of NGOs from outside the region. Soon after members of Sahyog had been arrested, NGOs in Delhi and Lucknow started meeting to ‘condemn the police action’ and rushing to Almora to lobby for their release.94 Later, several NGOs demonstrated outside UP Bhawan in Delhi and presented a memorandum to the UP governor to protest the invoking of the National Security Act.95 For days there was a spate of edit-page articles in national newspapers.96 All these conceded that (i) Sahyog had muffed up on its ‘research’ and reporting and (ii) it reflected poorly on its credentials that after years of ‘working’ it hardly had any local support. A few (not written by NGO-walas) were unconditionally critical on these counts, but the rest, having said this, hastened to add that what was done to Sahyog was far worse than what was done by Sahyog.97 This argument hinged primarily on ‘police excesses’ and on the ‘human rights’ and ‘civil liberties’ of Sahyog (and was most succinctly presented by an eminent PIL lawyer, complete with legal precedents against denial of bail, handcuffing, denial of legal services, preventive detention, etc).98 The authors putting forth this argument were especially upset that the harassment of Sahyog continued even afterit had apologized and had offered to withdraw the booklet (which, according to the eminent lawyer, was the ‘equivalent of a self-imposed forfeiture order’).99 Commenting that everyone makes mistakes and that Sahyog had learnt from its, they said the way in which Sahyog workers had been treated—like ‘goondas, porn-pushing criminals and, to top it all, as a security risk and threat to the nation after being handcuffed, humiliated and jailed’—did not augur well for the morale of NGOs.100 Many felt Sahyog had been made a scapegoat at a time when considerable flexing of political muscle was going on with statehood for Uttarakhand imminent and that the ‘public protest’ was ‘carefully organized and orchestrated’ with the entire local political spectrum and civil society ‘ill-disposed towards Sahyog’ and the local media campaigning against it for a month before events had taken this nasty turn.101 The articles even said that had the booklet not been about AIDS (or rather sex) and had the region not seen a high degree of mobilization against ‘outsiders’ as part of its statehood movement, this wouldn’t have happened.
Be all this as it may (or may not), the unsavoury Sahyog episode, even though it happened in the hills and not in a city, did throw up some general, serious and fundamental questions about the competence of NGOs in their chosen areas of work and the accountability of NGOs to their chosen constituencies.
A third issue relating to the role of NGOs, namely, the precise definition of their role in the larger set of ‘development’ roles, also continued to simmer on a back burner. Not too long ago, governments had begun to solicit the support of NGOs in development activities. Since then NGOs have come a long way from delivering to disparaging to designing to determining interventions.
The year 2000 also saw our governments turning to NGOs for all sorts of help. In the capital, for instance, in January, the government gave up trying to improve the running of government-run homes for beggars and juveniles and decided to hand over their management to NGOs.102 Then it decided to let NGOs operate from government-run schools and also asked corporates to chip in with an awareness campaign through ‘both audio-visual and print media’ to help with the constitutional commitment to universalizing primary education.103 (Somehow, in this spirit of informal bhagidari,it did not think of asking corporate-owned private schools to share infrastructure with ill-equipped government schools in the spirit of the formal land lease conditions they had signed). In March, with no immediate possibilities for augmenting water supply in sight, the government roped in an NGO to create awareness (through RWAs and, of course, with support of government engineers) on water conservation and rain water harvesting.104 In May, ‘in a radical departure from the existing practice’, Delhi police even asked NGOs (seven, to begin with, including one started by a senior police officer) to help them in the investigation of rape cases.105In June, an NGO ‘conceptualized’ Sheila Dikshit’s bhagidari workshop for RWAs. In August, states were asked to utilize the services of NGOs to ensure inclusion of disability data in the census.106 In September, Delhi Health Minister A.K. Walia at an NGO-organized ‘Perfect Health Mela’ (in which the Delhi government put up more than thirty stalls) ‘encouraged NGOs to enter into the arena of health awareness’.107(In June, about seventy NGOs had already participated in Walia’s ‘Family Health Awareness Fortnight’ for slum dwellers.)
It does appear that NGOs have become quite indispensable for the government as it goes about delivering, especially to the underprivileged, services it is mandated to deliver. Why, there are even agencies of government that deal with people only through NGOs.108
Of course, NGOs were do-gooding even without being asked to by the government. An NGO was going to build a centre in South Delhi for mentally handicapped children with Japanese funds and another, likewise, was going to provide basic education as well as vocational training to poor children in West Delhi.109 One was going to set up ‘the city’s first pay-and-stay old age home for middle class senior citizens’.110 Several new and old NGOs, singly or jointly, with or without school children and celebrities, were planting trees and saying ‘no’ to polybags.111 And many, many NGOs had added to their collection of ‘issues’ (or had been started with) the artistically twirled red ribbon (indicating support for AIDS awareness) that was attracting perhaps the biggest bags of funding ever.
And, of course, NGO doings were not limited to delivering services. (In any case, as any NGO ‘activist’ knows, service delivery is actually about social justice and empowerment.) NGOs were also blowing the whistle on government inaction (such as through previously mentioned PIL seeking removal of industries, slums and litter, etc) and action (such as through protests against relocation of industries and slums, revival of a waste incinerator, etc).112
On the pro-active front they were doing research to see what the government was unable to see. Being action oriented, NGO research priorities lie to some extent in areas where funding for further work is available. This is perfectly fine, provided it does not end up in selective reporting to improve funding prospects. This, for instance, is what was widely alleged about Sahyog’s research and, indeed, appears to be not uncommon in research on possibilities connected with the very funded and very mysterious HIV virus. Just before Sahyog reported its research on AIDS possibilities in hill communities, a Delhi NGO reported its research on AIDS possibilities in the Wazirpur industrial area.113 The emphasis was on ‘possible impact of the HIV/AIDS patients in the workplace in terms of labour wages and cost, employment security and discrimination, etc’.114 Actually, in Wazirpur, the study found no impacts of HIV/AIDS for the simple reason that it did not find any HIV/AIDS. But, undeterred, it went ahead to study the ‘possible impact’ of possible HIV/AIDS. The ‘survey findings’ were, in good measure, by way of unsubstantiated gossip on who thought who was having sex with whom and how often. These opinions were ‘reported’ in anecdotal Sahyog-style, projecting Wazirpur as a dirty little, naughty little place. The report was discussed at a Round Table meeting attended by representatives of trade unions, the ILO, academicians, women’s groups and other NGOs. Leading national dailies reported on it with headlines like ‘Wazirpur industrial area on the brink of an AIDS disaster’, ‘A crisis waiting to happen’ and ‘National policy on HIV demanded’. Of course, in the absence of any usable empirical data in the ‘study’, the round table could hardly have come to any informed conclusions. Participants concluded what was needed (as always for every thing) was to have a national policy, to call on the chief minister, to organize community meetings, to prepare campaign material, etc. As an ‘immediate’ strategy they felt it would be a good idea for employers to freely distribute condoms with salaries.
Of course, NGO research is not limited to such work. In mid-2000 there was a path-breaking study in which volunteers from several NGOs came together under the aegis of an international NGO to spend several nights counting and interviewing the homeless in Delhi. Around the same time a forum of eight organizations was taking a critical look at the Master Plan for Delhi that was officially due for revision.
Based on their experiences with service delivery and their criticism of government and their research, NGOs were also engaging (besides in serious seminaring) in designing comprehensive interventions. In January, Sheila Dikshit launched ‘a unique project which aimed to develop, test and demonstrate a new approach to urban development and improve quality of life in slums by involving people’s participation’ in Delhi.115 The project, Promoting Linkages for Urban Sustainable Development (PLUS), was initiated by an international NGO (with Indian expertise mainly in rural interventions), involved a group of Delhi NGOs and hoped to cover thousands of slum clusters in the city over the next five years.116Naturally, it started in a few ‘pilot’ slums. In April, a Town Enrichment Action Movement (TEAM) Project—a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the British High Commission and an NGO—was launched in Gurgaon. The synergy purportedly happened since Haryana has ‘a large number of children out of schools’ and ‘female literacy as low as 41 percent’ and since ‘getting children out of work and into schools, with a special focus on the girl child, is a high priority for UNDP’.117 The project hoped to create ‘necessary momentum’ for enrollment of all children into schools, as well as addressing ‘issues such as provision of a platform for local NGOs and industry to join hands’.118 Naturally, it started with one slum. In the coup in this category, in June, the forum of eight organizations, with their fresh insight into master planning, convened a convention inaugurated by Sheila Dikshit and concluded it by giving themselves the mandate to prepare a ‘people’s Master Plan’. By November, this forum (by now comprising forty organizations) had already got some sort of a draft and had forwarded some suggestions to the DDA.119 In March 2001, this forum co-convened with the MCD’s Slum Wing another meeting between NGOs, slum residents, politicians and the advisor dealing with slums in the Planning Commission. At the end of a day of acrimonious blame trading and anger venting it was decided that the Planning Commission would consult the forum convenor before finalizing the Commission’s report on slums.120 Also by March 2001 the NGO that had studied the homeless in Delhi had drafted, on the request of the government, national schemes for the homeless and had also been invited to contribute in this matter to the Tenth Plan document being prepared by the Planning Commission.121
The Planning Commission, incidentally, was made the ‘nodal agency’ for NGOs in March 2000.122Obviously NGOs were flying high.
Let us take pause in this account of the ascent of civil society in general and NGOs in particular to reflect on how this came about. After all, opportunities to engage in citywide interventions or a piece of action in the Planning Commission don’t normally come knocking on the doors of even the most committed activists or brilliant professionals in billion-strong India. But they do come knocking on the doors of certain sections of civil society in a process driven not just or necessarily by commitment or capacity but by ‘civil politics’ involving, much like electoral politics between elections, some mobilizing at the bottom and a lot of manoeuvring at the top.
Most big league NGOs also have big time clout. The chief minister launching a citywide slum project to be implemented by NGOs that were till then working in non-slum interventions or were even non-existent without so much as spelling out how this connected to the government agencies duly mandated for taking care of slums in the capital is just one example. Besides, at launches of their interventions and inaugurations of their seminars, NGOs flex political muscle by ‘honouring’ politicians and bureaucrats for working for the people. (In June 2000, for instance, the Rotary Club of Bangalore conferred a Paul Harris Fellowship on the chief minister of Karnataka in recognition of his ‘service to the State’.)123 Lately there has also been a trend of NGOs bringing their ‘community’ to meets where politicians and bureaucrats sit on the other side of the table on the dais, almost as if NGOs were liaison agencies between the people and their governments.
This subtle politicization of civil society is matched by the NGO-ization of government. Government increasingly turning to NGOs for all sorts of things is just the manifestation of this. Individual politicians and even political parties have been floating NGOs. (In October, for instance, it was reported that the RSS had set up an NGO to avail government funding.)124And the ‘movement’ of bureaucrats—who know best the ‘intricacies involved in actually getting access to funding’—from the government sector to the non-government sector is reminiscent of the movement in the 1980s of technology graduates to postgraduate management courses for enhanced career prospects.125 (Two of Delhi’s best known NGOs, for instance, are ‘owned’ by senior police officials. Both were involved in the survey of the homeless in which, incidentally, police brutality featured as the most widely reported problem.)126
When politicians and bureaucrats play favourites on awarding tenders or buying arms, they are condemned for being corrupt. But when they play favourites with NGOs or other civil society bhagidarsthey are applauded. The Tehelka expose using hidden cameras to show who takes money in defence deals shook the nation in March 2001. But so many pictures openly taken and splashed in newspapers showing bureaucrats, politicians, donors, NGOs and the private sector sharing in odd and changing alliances, so many platforms to discuss the plight of the poor have never stirred us. This is only because in such circumstances money does not directly change hands, and ‘social work’ is pious and by global reckoning civil society is very fashionable. But all this is still about playing favourites and civil politics, therefore, has serious implications for the ethics of governance, more so since civil politicians are not tied down by strings of accountability that still connect electoral politics, howsoever murky, to the people.
Ascendancy of civil society has also had a more direct impact on quality of urban development. Old-fashioned urban (or any) development recognizes three broad, equally important roles—planning, implementation and monitoring. While it expects all development actors to synergize based on their inherent strengths, they are expected to contribute primarily to particular areas.
Planning is best led by trained professionals because they have the requisite expertiseand the objectivity needed to keep longer term objectives and wider perspectives in focus. Implementation is best led by agencies of government because they have greater wherewithal as well as, theoretically, greater accountability. Monitoring is best led by grassroots organizations because they have greatergrip on ground realityto see if intended benefits are accruing or if adjustments in planning or implementation are needed. Of course everyone is expected to work together. Planning must take into account implementation constraints and monitoring feedback. Implementation must take into account explicit as well as implicit intentions of plans as well as areas where implementation has to be shared—not so that government can abdicate responsibility but because grassroots organizations are better suited to certain tasks. Monitoring and evaluation must provide timely and constructive support to implementation and feedback for planning.
In Contemporary Urban Development the lines separating these roles have become blurred. Professionals (being, except in individual cases, least political) are becoming increasingly marginalized in planning. Government agencies (being government agencies) are surviving but becoming increasingly willful in implementation. Civil society (being currently most fashionable) is usurping other roles without having the inherent strengths needed and at the cost of the monitoring role that it is most suited to.
As an example of loss in planning quality consider the national schemes for the homeless which were being drafted by NGOs in March 2001. These included schemes for temporary community shelters, crisis centres, drug de-addiction, etc, but not housing (though the campaign was called ‘Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan’or Housing Rights Campaign). These ‘priorities’ for national schemes were based on the findings of research in Delhi. That housing was not a priority for the homeless was a very significant finding which would have sounded a loud alarm to any professional researcher. If the homeless do not want housing, we are overestimating housing shortages. If they do and are not mentioning it, we need to understand why. In this case one did not have to look beyond research design for the reason for the missing response. The survey had elicited priorities through a single unprompted question on problems faced at sleeping places (which returned responses like police brutality), although useful information on such matters requires many direct and indirect questions. Also only 690 persons had been interviewed out of 52,765 that the study had counted and these were entirely randomly selected. This, by any standard, was a rather inadequate sample. The very well meaning researchers (volunteers who actually spent whole nights on the survey) were obviously very moved by the very visible distress of the homeless. But a heart that melts at the sight of the problem is not quite a substitute for a head that can come up with real solutions. Meanwhile, schemes that speak of ‘shelters’ and ‘half-way homes’ to meet the immediate needs of the homeless carry the real danger of diverting attention from the urgency of providing proper housing for them. And schemes that highlight drug addiction among the homeless carry the danger of erroneously connecting homelessness and drug abuse in the minds of others.
As an example of loss of quality in implementation consider any ‘citywide’ scheme by any NGO. These tend to supplant rather than supplement less glamorous government efforts. What is worse is these NGO initiatives themselves seldom move beyond ‘pilot’ phases.
As an example of neglect of monitoring responsibilities consider the forum of forty organizations working on a people’s Master Plan for Delhi. Their presentations at their ‘meeting’ in March 2001 as also the leaflet they circulated in V.P. Singh’s rally on 27 February suggested they were not opposed to the provisions of the Master Plan, only to the fact that these had not been implemented.127It was not really clear why they wanted to make an alternative Master Plan when they found the Plan prepared by planners not too bad after all. More importantly, it was not clear why they had not used their insight into the pro-people provisions of the Plan in order to get those implemented rather than stake a claim to prepare another plan. Why had they not demanded at any point since 1990, when the revised Plan had come into force and the matter of relocation of industries was already being heard by the supreme court, that its provisions for non-conforming and new industries be implemented? Why had they not pointed to its low-income housing provisions all over the city while protesting distant relocation in Narela? Why had they not objected to the orders for removal of hawkers before implementation of Plan provisions for settling them? Did none of the forty organizations represent small industries, slums and hawkers? Then whom did they represent and what mandate did they have to prepare a ‘people’s Plan’ when they were not interested in implementation of the statutory Plan for the people? Would they monitor their—and only their—Plan?
NGOs seem to have decided (rather unilaterally, one might add) that they—and they alone—will decide and invent and re-invent the wheel as often as they please. Professionals and government agencies are equally to blame for this as they have not taken their roles seriously enough to defend them. Government agencies, of course, are notoriously manned and wo-manned by those unwilling or unable to do more than that required by their job descriptions. The failure of the professional community—especially professional bodies which seem to have become politics-ridden forums for collective action for individual good rather than individual action for collective good—to protest the marginalization of professions in the emergent development scenario is more unforgivable.128
The foregoing is not to say that all NGOs, corporates, RWAs, etc, are wicked, but only to make the point that with no clarity on roles, we are looking development anarchy in the face. It is hardly surprising that even after years of greater civil society participation, reality has not changed very much for the urban poor. Systemically, ‘non’ government and government no longer seem as different as they were made out to be. Ratios of good to bad, efficient to inefficient, committed to corrupt are more or less similar in both. As are circumstances—including well-appointed offices and assorted freebies and the not uncommon absence of substantive grassroots understanding of problems or any real vision for solutions.
To say time and again that the politician-builder nexus or the donor-bureaucrat nexus or any other nexus is subverting an otherwise fine ‘system’ is an inaccurate over-simplification. What seems to be the case is that there is no ‘system’ any more and all the wicked nexuses are only manipulating anarchy. In cities, a central motif in such manipulation is the subversion of planned development (meant to benefit all) in the service of vested interests. And an inevitable consequence is the slumming of our cities.
Right to be Ostrich with Pet Red Herring
The greatest and most elegant of the rights of slum saviours is the Right to be Ostrich with Pet Red Herring. Protests by commoners—through letters or phone calls (including urgent faxes and distress calls on their elected representatives’ cellular phones)—are handled with stunningly simple silence. It is as though there were a ‘do not disturb’ sign outside the door behind which governance purportedly goes on. It is especially amazing how our elected representatives get away with constantly spending more time on themselves and one another than on us, except when they have to renew their mandate. Perhaps their bluff has not been called because a ‘none of the above’ option does not appear on the ballot paper and public ire only translates into anti-incumbency benefit for the next guy rather than into forfeiture of all security deposits in elections.
Government officials and professionals and other development bhagidars in civil society who do not derive their development mandate directly from the people are even freer to engage with people at will and be ostrich for the rest. Those in politics (including civil politics) are, of course, obliged to keep up some pretense of listening. But, naturally, they do not really have the time or the inclination to actually listen since they are more keen to be heard themselves. So, what they do is replace the ‘do not disturb’ sign with a diversion sign and let loose a pet red herring. The commoners are told the diversion is the real issueand the only way their problem—any problem—can be solved is for them to join hands with their saviours by attending a rally or joining some manch (‘platform’) or bhagidari or some other esoteric initiative suggested by the saviour.
The ostrich syndrome is obviously difficult to document, as one knows of it only through one’s own limited experiences and to it we shall return a bit later. The pet red herrings, on the other hand, are very public—almost like cine celebrities—and worthy of being commented upon in that vein. If there were to be a pet red herring awards night, the honours might be somewhat as follows.
The Hrithik Roshan award for the most savvy and rapid ascent from debut to super-stardom would go to IT. Of course, we all love IT and there is no doubt that IT is great help. But in state after state our elected representatives have bought themselves laptops and logged on and would now like us to wait with them for IT to solve all our problems. That’s what brings IT to this award function. The message from Andhra Pradesh—one of our original cyber states—seems to be: ‘Never mind if our farmers are committing suicide; our development indicators on laptop purchases, internet connections, software development and hardware production are very buoyant and the donors are very impressed.’ The message from Madhya Pradesh—very happening on e-governance—seems to be: ‘Never mind if we closed a couple of schools and blew up a sanatorium, our website on education is raising lots of funds and the IIM will take us further on the IT expressway. See, we’ve even managed an international award for our Gyandoot e-governance project in less time than it takes to troubleshoot hardware.’ The message from Delhi—the new kid on the IT block—seems to be: ‘So what if our school buildings are collapsing and our children don’t get their jerseys on time, we’ve all bought our laptops and we are even installing computers in some of our schools. We don’t have any idea of the exact numbers of polluting industries, slums, illegal farm houses, etc, but once our GIS gets going it will give you all the data at the click of a mouse. No, we don’t know what is the GIGO principles’.129
The Amitabh Bachchan award for evergreen lifetime super-stardom getting shadier with age would go to Environment. Of course, we all care for The Environment. But most of us have this uncomfortable feeling that The Environment has been made into a convenient term to push other agendas—a worthy nominee for a red herring award. The message is pretty clear: We are a developing country, so please don’t dwell on impractical things like cleaner fuel or industrial waste sites or ground water levels. Please appreciate we areplanting trees wherever we can and with whoever will join us. No, we did not know that space amounting to another earth is required for the number of trees needed if nothing else is done to save The Environment. And no, we have neveractually said grass is more important than cows.
The Asha Bhonsle award for enduring versatility would go to Good Governance. Of course, we all desperately want Good Governance. But what we are getting is a double-speaking red herring. The Delhi government claims to be plagued by a multiplicity of agencies but wants to set up a new agencies at the drop of a hat, such as under its new slum policy, its plans for villages, etc. Many municipal agencies do not find the time to use up budget allocations but are always short of funds. Illegal developments are demolished in the name of ‘discipline’ and condoned in the name of ‘humaneness’ or ‘pragmatism’ in the same place at the same time. And so on.
The Govinda award for popular cinema without lasting impact would normally go to whoever manages the greatest rally tally, but for 2001, in just the first quarter, Gujarat’s builder-politician nexus and Bangaru Laxman on the Tehelka videotapes have set fairly high standards.
The Mani Ratnam award for slick direction would go to International Awards. Without being armed with their international trophies many might not have managed to gun down whistle-blowers (armed only with evidence of ground realities and/or an eye for the larger picture) and the red herring film industry would be history.
There are also other pet red herrings. Soon after Tehelka.com released its videotape of the BJP president accepting a wad of currency notes (allegedly for a defence deal), Congresswoman Renuka Chaudhry got on television and coyly said, among other things, that voters had got what they deserved. Obviously she was part of a small minority that had failed to notice that for quite some time voters have notbeen getting what they deserve. (Unless, of course, she meant a Congress president doing the same might have looked better on television.) In Indore’s celebrated slum project fake success is professionally attributed to community participation and real failures to the community in the same breath. Obviously promoters of the project have not figured out you can’t have your cake and eat it too—not for long, in any case. After the Sahyog episode, Sahyog members said they were victims of small-town mentality. Obviously they had forgotten that being in a small town was part of the trade off they had willingly made for being well-funded and in a balmy climate. Friends of Sahyog were concerned about the ‘rights’ of Sahyog that people had infringed. Obviously it did not occur to them that if the ‘rights’ of NGOs need to be defended against the people whose rights NGOs are supposed to be protecting and whose interests they are supposed to be serving, we must be skating on terribly thin ice. Such red herrings enrage rather than engage people, renew rather than divert attention. They are forgettable extras that will never make it to any red herring awards night.
So let us turn to ostriches. The rest of this is in first person because, as mentioned, ostrich sightings are limited to one’s own experiences and those of friends. And—to balance the seemingly anti-NGO tirade of a bit earlier—I recount here only non-NGO experiences.
In October 1998, Indore’s slum project bagged the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA). This was the second time (after Aranyain 1995) that a project for the poor in Indore had won the AKAA, the profession’s highest—or at least best known—award.
In December 1998, at the fifteenth national convention of the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) in Vishakhapatnam, I was an invited speaker. My presentation—made to architects from around the country—included slides of Indore’s slum project and an appeal to IIA to do something to draw attention to the tragic truth.130 A promo and lunch sponsored by the same sponsor followed my presentation. I suspect everyone soon forgot my presentation.
A year later I learned IIA’s sixteenth national convention was to be held in Indore on 25-26 December 1999. By then I had shown my slides of both the AKAA winning projects in Indore in a number of architecture classrooms and was working with Jhuggi Basti Sangharsh Morcha (JBSM), a group of individuals and organizations in Indore’s slums. I saw the forthcoming convention as a significant whistle-blowing opportunity and got in touch with IIA to ask if they would visit the AKAA winning projects, and with JBSM to suggest they approach delegates for professional support.
On 9 December I received an e-mail from the convention organizers saying they would visit Aranya. However, in Indore on 24 December, after several phone calls, I got the distinct impression that no such visit had been scheduled. On 25 December I sat outside the convention in protest and distributed a flier I had got printed the previous night.131 Some reporters, after reading it, came and told me they had also raised the matter at IIA’s press conference on 23 December. They took it up again in the inaugural session. In the afternoon a few members of JBSM came and circulated a polite little appeal to delegates to visit the winning slum project and suggest solutions to the problems created by it. IIA ignored us all.
On 26 December, a few of us with placards and parodies of film songs demonstrated outside a different exhibition venue (where delegates spent three hours looking at tiles, jacuzzis and suchlike) to protest IIA’s refusal to see the AKAA winning projects even after being requested (and even as it was deliberating a ‘Vision beyond 2000’ at its convention). Drummers hired by IIA were instructed to play loudly each time we raised slogans. We went inside, where delegates were having breakfast (hosted by the builder-owner of the venue). Architects from IIA Indore threw us out and other architects watched us being thrown out. Less than a dozen of the 500 ‘distinguished delegates’ bothered to speak with us and fewer bothered to go and see their profession’s most celebrated projects.
IIA nevertheless continued to wax eloquent through the press and in ‘technical papers’ (in its convention souvenir on the convention theme of ‘Vision beyond 2000’) about social responsibility, the urban poor, etc. Perhaps it had its reasons for not speaking with the ‘poor’ standing in flesh and blood outside. Perhaps it did not realize that the image of the profession was built not through talks inside convention halls but through actions outside them. Maybe it missed the fact that perhaps for the first time in its history its convention had been noticed by the host city. And if the press coverage (other than its own releases) is anything to go by, the majority in the city may well have written off the profession just as it has written off the profession’s most honored projects. From where I stood in Indore in December 1999, IIA looked less like a professional institute and more like a club of people with similar professional qualifications.
In January 2000 I wrote to the Council of Architecture (CoA), the statutory body that is supposed to regulate the architectural profession in the interest of society. I asked about implications of architects working in slums even as their code of professional conduct does not make them accountable to ‘beneficiaries’ who are not paying clients. I also asked about implications (on professional image and quality) of IIA’s style of functioning, as sadly demonstrated in Indore. I got no answers. The abbreviation CoA could also, I believe, well expand to Consummate ostrich A-class!
In August 2000, in support of the local protest against discharge of patients from the TB sanatorium in Indore, I started an e-mail campaign. This was not a sign-and-forget campaign. Many who joined it responded to updates with ideas and suggestions. When, for instance, a leading national daily reported that Satish Pathak living at the station ‘spoke like a rehearsed actor’ and, days after Bhagwandas’s death, that ‘IIM Indore was being killed by the sanatorium’, many wrote letters in protest to the editor.
When the IIM director set the date of the board meeting of the institute as the deadline for the state to settle the ‘land dispute’, those on the e-mail decided to write a letter to the board members. The joint letter, including views ofabout thirty professionals (including a number of very senior ones) from the fields of architecture/planning, management and healthcare,made several. points. One, it was a matter of concern that IIM’s aggressive stand was being seen as the cause for the distress of the sanatorium patients and maybe even the unfortunate death of a patient. Two, IIM should lead from the front in resolving this conflict instead of walking away from it (especially in view of its claims of wanting to contribute to local and regional concerns). Three, 193.5 acres was in excess of what was really needed for IIM Indore since fully established IIMs had much less as also what was required by the design scheme for IIM Indore itself. Four, a design solution could be found wherein the sanatorium and IIM could co-exist without hindrance to each other and, furthermore, investing in upgrading (rather than in destroying) the vintage sanatorium would go a long way in lending credibility to IIM’s social concerns. Five, IIM should not take a rigid stand against occupying a site in proximity to a sanatorium as there is no medical basis to suggest it poses any threat to the wellbeing of others. Six, if IIM was opposed to the idea of having a campus near a sanatorium, in all fairness, it should accept an alternative site since the sanatorium—also a public institution—was there first. Seven, IIM should take the lead in ensuring this conflict was resolved through informed participation and to the reasonable satisfaction of all stakeholders and not be seen as blackmailing the state to its own advantage as that was not in the spirit of democracy nor in the spirit of responsible management. This letter was sent via e-mail or fax to most board members to their offices in various cities and to Indore so as to reach them all before the meeting on 3 October. Not one of the board members responded.
In the matter of IIM and the sanatorium there were other ostriches as well. After the discharge of patients, the death of Bhagwandas, the stay being vacated on 17 October and demolition becoming imminent, and when the demolition starting on 18 October, appeals were sent to some of the highest offices in the country. But all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not— and did not—stop the sanatorium from being demolished. Simultaneously, and in between, requests were also made to leading newspapers to take a look. Besides the one to which we had to write protest letters, only one national daily reported the matter after sending a correspondent to Indore at the end of August.132 A premier news channel did air on 25 September footage it had taken a month earlier. The national media was obviously too pre-occupied with details of a prime ministerial knee replacement and a union ministerial post-mortem diagnosis to be concerned about ordinary mortals like Satish Pathak or Bhagwandas or Raju or Om Prakash or Santosh or a sanatorium meant for the likes of them.
Then on 20 October, two days after the sanatorium had been dramatically demolished, a national daily had a ‘story’ from its Bhopal correspondent titled ‘M.P.HC clears land for IIM at Indore’. This ‘news item’ did not even mention the demolition. It reported that ‘the October 16 judgement has proved to be a boon for TB patients too. In place of the demolished sanatorium, Indore will get a National Institute for Chest Diseases’.133It further suggested that ‘the NGOs who espoused the TB patients’ cause in the IIM-sanatorium row’ were quite satisfied with the judgement and quoted one ‘Ramadhan, a social activist’ in this regard using excerpts from the memorandum with which the e-mail campaign had started. There was no Ramadhan on the e-mail campaign. There was no Ramadhan amongst the petitioners whose case had been dismissed on 16 October. Neither the petitioners nor those on the e-mail campaign were satisfied. I had painstakingly kept this newspaper informed about the developments for nearly two months through no less than ten faxes starting with the memorandum at the end of August to an obituary for the sanatorium just the previous day. I now had four questions for the editor. One, how did their correspondent file a report on a controversial court judgement without speaking with the petitioners? Two, how did he use, late in October, material circulated at the end of August without confirming the contents from the source? Three, who was ‘Ramadhan, a social activist’ and what was the validity of his opinion? Four, how could a leading mainstream newspaper print a report from a regional correspondent even when it was contrary to the views received at exactly the same time directly from those who would normally have been the ‘sources’ for the same? Through several faxes and phone calls I asked these questions for the next three days. Later I was sent a ‘rejoinder’ from the correspondent that had his views on related and unrelated matters but no answers to my questions. Twice again I sent faxes. Then I just gave up.
So many like the eighty-six-year-old TB sanatorium that passed away in Indore on 18 October 2000 are so obviously caught on the wrong side in the war between the rich and the poor, the new and the old, the glamorous and the hapless, those who matter and those who do not. Litigation, demonstrations, protest letters, e-mail campaigns, appeals and whatever else they may think of to be heard seem like home remedies that cannot possibly cure the terminal ailment that has turned systems meant to respond or redress into uncaring ostriches. That development processes have come to ignore so many so consistently has serious implications for planned development, which is meant to leave equitable room for all. Anything else directly or indirectly only abets slumming.
One of the oldest and loudest of my whistles is reserved for the maddening universalization of the slum upgrading paradigm. It is in this area that I have also encountered the most stubborn ostriches. I was senior consultant on one of the first comprehensive assessment studies in India of of some of the largest slum upgrading interventions made till then. I have, since, written against slum upgradingin professional journals (which are hardly read by anyone) and in newspapers and talked against it in professional colleges to students (who can, naturally, not influence decision making). But, despite my efforts, I have not found an opportunity to really engage in professional debate. I’ll mention here just four ostriches in this matter.
First, a premier research and training institution. During 1997-99, HSMI prepared on behalf of the union ministry the Draft National Slum Policy through what was touted as a widely consultative process. Earlier I had been a consultant to and, for over a year, a Senior Fellow in HSMI. Later, I must have been amongst the very few to send extensive comments on the draft to the ministry and HSMI. To date I only have an unofficial copy of the policy and at no point did I receive a response to or even acknowledgement of my comments. To date, therefore, I have no idea (and I suspect neither do the ‘policy makers’) on what conceptual or empirical basis could the upgrading paradigm have been extrapolated into national policy. In June 2000, when A.K. Walia mounted an AIDS campaign in Delhi’s slums, I wrote to the various authors of the slum policy—which had drawn this luscious connection first inasmuch as the only ‘disease’ mentioned by name in their slum policy was, if you please, ‘STD/HIV’.134 My former ‘boss’ in HSMI actually called back this time, but only to say that the policy was just a document which they had prepared because the ministry had asked them to. Well, well.
HSMI is part of India’s premier techno-financial habitat organization, HUDCO. We now learn there are some sorts of inquiries going on against V. Suresh and against the two chairmen before him. V. Suresh is someone I have known personally and he was highly regarded in the institution when I was its employee. He had not become CMD then. In April 1999 when I was making a presentation on Indore’s pro-poor interventions—including, besides the celebrated slum project, others that HUDCO had been widely celebrating such as Aranya, etc— at the Institute of Town Planners India, Suresh was giving a ‘keynote address’. He referred to ‘successful’ interventions in Madhya Pradesh and held up a spiral bound document to say HUDCO was working on a slum policy. The chairperson of the meeting, who knew about the content of my presentation, passed him a slip of paper saying I had a different view. Suresh made some flattering remarks about my professional credentials and said he could not stay to hear me, but ‘to answer my burning question’ he assured me everything in Indore ‘can be replicated’. I followed him outside to tell him that precisely was my fear and to beg him to spare some time for a reality check. Later, I wrote to him about Indore. Still later I wrote to him about the slum policy. In July 2000 (when HUDCO was closely associated with the resettlement in Narela) I also met him about these matters. A muchformer CMD had also written to him about Indore after reading an article I had written. But the CMD of our premier habitat institution, instrumental not only in getting Indore’s slum project globally celebrated but also in extrapolating it to national policy, remained too busy to substantively engage with one who had carried out its official impact study surveys and who had been consistently begging for its reconsideration ever since. He remained busy even after he visited the project in November 2000 along with the minister. Well, well.
Then there are the international agencies that wholeheartedly promote slum upgrading in third world cities. Besides giving feedback from my study in Indore to DfID, I subsequently wrote to all those who had been involved in celebrating it as a successful intervention through their various honours. Only one of them did not respond. Others said things like my information was very useful for the future award processes, they would be pleased to place in their archives any material I would like to send them, they would like to include me in their visit to their next award project,they had diplomatic immunity, etc. Well, well.
Lastly, I would like to mention the national media. When the Indore slum project won the AKAA, the national media reported on it widely, but not from Indore. Through October and November 1998 I kept asking newspapers, newsmagazines and TV channels that were eulogizing the winning project to please check out Indore, if only in the name of principled reporting. In March-April 1999, when there was a spate of summary slum evictions in Indore, I kept asking them to go and see what was happening in the purportedly slum-free city where a state tenure legislation was in place. Again in July-August 1999, when ‘no-cost’ schools were opened in community halls built under the celebrated slum project and other schools closed, I kept asking them to check out the shadow of the winning project as it grew longer. In December 1999, after the IIA refused to check out the winning projects, I asked the national media to check out the IIA as well. In 2000, after the Indore project had been veritably extrapolated into a draft national policy, I once again requested them to please take a look.. Off and on I still keep asking because I believe the slumming of our cities is not so much a class issue as a corruption issue and the media has an important role to play in exposing the slumming scam. But obviously the media—at least the mainstream media—does not share my opinion.
The difficulty of drawing media attention to any issue without a politician, celebrity or at least an NGO in the foreground is becoming an especially worrying trend. Most of the slumming stories chronicled in this book made news. But still this book had to be written to chronicle them because they never made complete news. The slumming of our cities touches the lives of so many urbanites being informed by so many newspapers, newsmagazines and news channels that claim to tell, analyze and debate the whole truth. But in most of the cases chronicled here, the media has reported the truth as seen by the Big People and played ostrich regarding the truth as perceived by the Little People, although the latter is often the more ‘real’ truth.
The ostriches mentioned so far were all being so on high-profile interventions. Others playing ostrich on everyday next-door happenings also contribute to the slumming of our cities. The following are recent experiences from where I live, a flatted housing area called Vasant Kunj at the southern edge of Delhi, close to the Delhi Ridge, being developed since mid-1980s by DDA for about 100,000 people.
As mentioned earlier, in May 2000 Jagmohan had trained his bulldozers on unauthorized additions in flats like these. The RWA of my pocket of flats (one of nearly thirty pockets of flats here) issued a circular. The circular said that in ‘this hour of crisis’ when we were all spending ‘sleepless nights’, the RWA was making all ‘efforts to ensure that no demolitions take place in our colony’. I drew the RWA’s attention to the fact that there were several like me who were not spending sleepless nights and did not see this as an hour of crisis. I reminded it that residents had unconditionally mandated it only to carry out routine cleaning, greening and securing activities and it had to seek our permission before making any other ‘efforts’ on our behalf. I suggested, instead of making any ‘efforts’, we might try and get a grip on the types of additions that were safe, acceptable to neighbours, etc, and ones that were not in order to inform a sensible process of modifying the law. Eventually, this is what happened at the instance of Jagmohan, except that RWAs, without consulting allthe people they represented, decided that almost everything was a ‘minor’ change. Meanwhile, my RWA, in these wonderful bhagidari times, did not even respond to my comment. Here, then, was a microcosm of the larger ‘debate’ on unintended urban transformations that invariably ends in quick-fix amnesty schemes rather than in any sensible process of trying to distinguish between violations stemming from inadequacies in the law and ones stemming from the willfulness of those violating them.
In January 2001, the Delhi Jal Board at the behest of our MLA, on the request of our RWA began digging bore wells near my house. There is a ban on ground water tapping here—to protect ground water levels around the ridge in the interest of the city and to protect us from catastrophic consequences of excessive ground water withdrawal. In the midst of winter, we were getting water only through tankers. Obviously the ‘legal’ water meant for Vasant Kunj was being diverted (the MLA perhaps knew where exactly, though the rest of us could shrewdly guess). Besides the ‘illegality’ of bore wells and its underlying environmental implications, I was also concerned about the quality of water coming out of them. An expert had told me that according to data from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) sweet water in the area was available only at a depth of around 150 feet and further below was water that was not potable. The boring near my house seemed to be hitting water way below 150 feet. I kept asking everyone if we had special permission from CGWA and if we had tested the water. Everyone just seemed to find me a nit-picking imbecile and kept saying how we all needed somewater and how the MLA was being so very helpful. I wrote to CGWA and after several calls and reminders finally received a response saying special permission had been given for four bore wells in all of Vasant Kunj. Eventually, with this special permission for four and a lot of help from our helpfulMLA, dozens of bore wells were dug. Some residents got the water tested and found it laced with all sorts of things definitely injurious to our health. But in bhagidari, as we went around planting trees to establish our pro-environment credentials, we were thanking—not lynching—our MLA for being so kind as to help us dig illegal bore wells so that we could get gardening water to drink while doing unspeakable damage to our environment by excessive ground water withdrawal in a duly notified critical area. But my ‘concern for the environment’ was easy to belittle. After all, I had never ever contributed to the onerous task of hiring, firing or supervising malis (gardeners)to mind our parks. Worse, on at least one occasion, I had actually supported some children who wanted a park to be left as a playground rather than be used for ornamental horticulture. My horrific track record on ‘environment’ was basis enough for my RWA to ignore my concern for it. And what happened to me for ‘complaining’ to the CGWA? I became a snitch and some of my neighbours even thought I should not get a share of the ‘hard’ water they had arranged through their hard work. Here, then, is an insight into the real nature of citizens’ environmental and developmental concerns being nurtured through bhagidari.
Meanwhile, claiming benefits of bhagidari, the RWAs had also taken to picking out plum pieces of vacant land and saying ‘we want’… hospital, college, fancy crafts market…even though Master Plan norms did not permit these for the number of people planned for in Vasant Kunj. The site for the hospital gifted to us in the bonhomie of bhagidari was very close to my house. As a planner, I considered it a singularly inappropriate site in terms of location and access, not to speak of hazardous hospital waste that we had been reading a lot about in the newspapers lately. Besides, there were (much better) planned sites for health facilities that had still to be developed in Vasant Kunj and I had a sneaky suspicion that DDA was delaying their development for speculative reasons. In November-December 1999 and January 2000 I wrote to DDA to ask if this and other (unplanned) bhagidari benefits were in accordance with the Master Plan and approved zonal and layout plans for the area. In February I got a terse reply saying the hospital was part of the approved plan. This was odd, considering the site fell in an area earmarked for green belt in the Master Plan, an area for which the zonal plan had not been prepared, an area not covered by the approved layout plan of Vasant Kunj. I was not told about the other bhagidaribenefits, nor have I been able, despite requests, to get a copy of the (latest) approved layout plan(s). Here, then, was an example of populist interference with planned development through a ‘nexus’ between, well, everybody.
While RWAs of DDA flats which are ten to fifteen years old were managing well to corner more than what was due to them under the law (and in the process adding to long-term problems of urban stress), much older residents living in the Vasant Kunj area (not included in government’s bhagidariwith citizens) were having an entirely different experience. The meanest ostriches I encountered were during a ‘slum’ demolition. At 12.30 pm on 5 July 2000 a bulldozer and a large posse of policemen arrived in Rangpuri Pahari, a fifty-year old ‘slum’ settlement just west of fifteen-year old DDA-developed Vasant Kunj situated in an area earmarked for green belt in the Master Plan. For two-and-a-half hours residents were given to understand that the bulldozer was headed elsewhere. During this time, the cops had cold drinks and cigarettes at a local shop, housewives hospitably gave them cold water to drink and the ‘visitors’ amiably chatted with several residents. Suddenly at 3.00 pm the bulldozer started razing their homes. Residents pleaded for time to remove their belongings, but were only abused and beaten. The MLA was contacted but said he could not help, as he could not contact the concerned officials. By 5.00 pm fifty houses at the southern end had been razed. V.P. Singh arrived afterwards and made calls to stop further demolitions.
I met residents of Rangpuri Pahari for the first time the next day and have come to know them well since. But I cannot possibly imagine what they would have felt that night as they stood around the rubble that was till hours ago all they had painstakingly built and collected over the years. But I know what I had felt when I heard about the demolition late that evening and called several people—in the DDA, the union ministry, the Delhi government, the Slum Wing—and everyone just saidtheyhad not ordered it and sothere was nothing they could do. I felt sick. Barely six months ago the union government had brought out a draft slum policy clearly opposed to summary evictions. Barely six weeks ago the Delhi government had announced a slum policy promising no demolitions. The Slum Wing looks after listed slums (including this one). DDA earmarks land for resettlement and low-income housing (which it has not adequately done in Vasant Kunj) and was not meant to have or permit any ‘schemes’ here (the area being reserved for green belt). Barely a fortnight ago slum evictions in Mumbai had been suspended in the monsoons in view of earlier supreme court orders. Less than a fortnight ago Jagmohan had given illegal additions in flats in Vasant Kunj a reprieve during the monsoons. Even before I knew what the bulldozer and the police had done in Rangpuri Pahari, I knew they had no business being there under existing policy, etc. After I heard what they had done, I called up the National Human Rights Commission and to my immense and very pleasant surprise the Commission started an inquiry on 7 July. On 18 July, in response to my representation outlining the inconsistency between the demolition and current slum policies, etc, Jagmohan also granted written permission for reconstruction. But no one responded to the residents’ requests for assistance or even clarity on the purpose of the demolition or future plans. In what was seen as an extremely callous response, Sheila Dikshit said, when residents went to meet her a week after the demolition, that they must have put the notices which must have been served to them in their pockets and forgotten. And a senior official in her government suggested that instead of asking the government for relief I might try taking ‘them’ to a gurudwara or dharamsala. In September, the Delhi government arrived with a World Bank team in Rangpuri Pahari to do a survey ‘for their benefit’. The residents asked the reasons for such concern after the demolition. The officials asked, ‘What demolition?’. In February 2001, DDA started getting the soil on the land abutting this settlement tested. According to the plans being used by the surveyors, more flats were to be built here, although this scheme had no basis in the statutory Master Plan for several reasons. One, it fell in an area earmarked as green belt. Two, the amount of upper-income housing permissible under Master Plan norms in a residential area the size of Vasant Kunj had already been constructed and the ‘housing backlog’ was only by way of cheap plots. Three, in the spirit of Master Plan provisions for ‘non-conforming’ uses, such as the Rangpuri Pahari settlement which pre-dated not only Vasant Kunj but Delhi’s Master Plan and DDA itself, integration of existing unplanned settlements was a priority over new development. But repeated letters from the residents of Rangpuri Pahari requesting cheap plots and objecting to eviction to make way for an ‘unplanned’ scheme (both with reference to the statutory Master Plan) elicited no response from the DDA (the custodian of the Master Plan).
By the first half of 2001, beginnings made by Rangpuri Pahari in the second half of 2000 had drawn several others in to the effort to ensure planned development in Vasant Kunj. When, in January 2001, the lieutenant-Governor of Delhi (also ex-officio chairman of DDA) ordered removal of hawkers, I told hawkers near my house about Master Plan provisions for them. By February 2001, nearly 400 hawkers from Vasant Kunj had written in groups to the L-G, with copies to DDA, police and municipal officials, requesting that spaces be earmarked for them in DDA markets, etc, as per statutory provisions and removal be held in abeyance in the meantime.
A group of slum students wrote to the dozen up-market schools in Vasant Kunj (in the context of land lease conditions requiring them to reserve free seats) to allow them use of their premises after school hours. When officials in the education department, whom students went to meet after the schools did not respond, said that if they were given such permission they would ‘grab’ the school facilities, the children wrote to the chief minister. They also wrote to the DDA requesting space for a playground in their municipal school, which is on a site that is half the size recommended in the Master Plan for a primary school.
Numerous flat residents also came to appreciate that there was a convergence between their interests and those of the ‘others’ in Vasant Kunj. They came to appreciate that it was in their interest that slum dwellers be settled here rather than resettled far away—not only because they provided domestic services, but also because otherwise land meant for them would go to more up-market and infrastructure-stressing uses. They came to appreciate that space for hawkers was in their interest—not only because hawkers provided cheap goods and services and, per force, passed on costs of extortion on account of ‘illegal’ locations to customers, but also because local markets were otherwise becoming infrastructure-stressing non-local commercial areas. They came to appreciate that there was a synergy between the concern of slum students (rooted in violation of lease conditions relating to free seats) and their own concern about traffic chaos outside and commercialization of local schools (rooted in violation of lease conditions about local enrollment). Flat residents, through a number of RWAs as well as their federation, also began to engage with DDA to question departures from planned development.
Residents of village settlements that had been engulfed by the development of Vasant Kunj on their agricultural land began to ask DDA about implementation of Master Plan provisions meant to ensure their integration in new development, including priority development of facilities for them on proximous sites.
What was shaping up in Vasant Kunj in the first half of 2001 was different from other ‘struggles’ relating to urban development in two salient respects. First, it was not about people asking for regularization of violations and, in the process, claiming that the law was bad, but about people requesting DDA to do its job of implementing the Master Plan. Second, it was not a ‘class’ struggle but a protest against the politics and corruption in development that is reducing planned development in public interest to real estate development on public land for profiteering resulting in slumming. Residents were engaging on different dimensions of subversion of the Master Plan—selling of local shopping space to big companies leaving local commerce on the roads, allotting of sites for local schools to big schools to the exclusion of local children, building of costly flats in place of developing cheap plots leading to proliferation of jhuggis, willful unplanned schemes at the cost of necessary outstanding planned development and adding an unintended up-market population with no regard to the critical water situation. The commonality of purpose that residents of flats, jhuggis and villages were seeing was demonstrating that planned development can provide the basis for a synergetic and conflict-free society. The synergy was demonstrating the connection between equity and carrying capacity concerns of planned development. The ostriches were of course ignoring all of this.
People wrote about their concerns to the vice-chairman of DDA (custodian of the Master Plan), to the lieutenant-governer (ex-officio chairman of DDA), to the urban development minister (head of the ministry in-charge of DDA and a man known for his faith in the Plan) and to the chief minister (chairperson of the bhagidarischeme). But all the hype about public participation in planned development notwithstanding, their efforts cut no ice with anybody.
Ironically, also in the beginning of 2001, DDA’s office for Master Plan revision was set up in Vasant Kunj (in a block of six flats, although Jagmohan had said only months ago that such misuse of DDA flats would attract cancellation of allotment for others). In effect, planners in charge of the planned development of Delhi were sitting right here in Vasant Kunj, perhaps the only place where public faith in the Master Plan, which had lately become a convenient whipping boy for all and sundry, was being so openly demonstrated. But they did not see it as necessary or desirable to draw useful and timely feedback on Plan implementation from those who lived right next to where they were working on revising the Plan.
Our elected representatives—a Congress MLA and a BJP councilor—were too busy with the politics of feudal favours, besides the passing-the-buck games between the Delhi government and the central government that are the bane of Delhi’s governance, to engage on issues relating to planned development. With them, the going was much easier for those seeking unplanned development benefits (illegal boring, extra hospitals, etc) or ‘routine’ interventions as favours (hawking licenses on roads, renewal of brick paving, etc). This sort of ‘development’ is easy to dole out, has instant impact that potentially adds to vote banks, and plenty of scope for adding to note banks. What so many people in Vasant Kunj on the other hand were asking for did not fit in with the governance games currently being played. It was a matter of rightunder existing law and, therefore, not amenable to reduction to political largesse. It pointed a finger at both governments for their role in subverting planned development and, therefore, not material for the blame-game. Also, it was being asked for without leaving space for any one’s favoured NGO or consultant or party worker to take credit (for themselves and their ‘patrons’) for the people’s initiative. It called for a lot of work, a lot of firmness, a lot of self-discipline, a lot of democratic behaviour on the part of our representatives, which was, perhaps, too much to ask. After all, tall claims about decentralization and power to the people notwithstanding, our politicians prefer to be fairly feudal and very self-serving even (or, perhaps, especially) in the capital of the world’s largest democracy. Quite understandably, our elected representatives steered quite clear of what was going on in their constituency vis-à-vis the Master Plan.
Competing interests in urban resources make planned development a fundamental need of urbanites, calling for a high degree of responsibility on the part of those in charge of urban governance. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our public servants and public representatives seem to consider the vast majority of urbanites ‘inferior’ and not worthy of serving and representing. Whatever they do for the people increasingly seems to be purely incidental to what they happen to be doing for themselves, even though it is invariably given the flavour of a favour. It is as though the school of urban governance drama were left with only two roles in its repertoire—the feudal patron and the stubborn ostrich. Unfortunately, a royal bird with long legs is a singularly inappropriate mascot for the type of urban governance system necessary to meet the fundamental needs of planned urban development in order to save our cities from slumming.
- 1. ‘MCD cracks whip on encroachments’, Hindustan Times , 5 January 2000.
- 2. ‘Cops, MCD to go after squatters’, Hindustan Times, 1 January 2001.
- 3. ‘MCD continues drive against encroachments’, Times of India, 6 January 2000; ‘MCD intensifies drive against illegal structures’, Hindustan Times, 6 January 2000.
- 4. ‘Proposal to bring unorganised sector under pension scheme’, Hindustan Times, 18 January 2000.
- 5. ‘MCD clears encroachments’, Times of India, 9 March 2000; ‘Delhi govt raises minimum wages’, Hindustan Times, 10 March 2000.
- 6. ‘MCD action on encroachments; Hindustan Times, 6 May 2000; More demolitions in Karol Bagh, GK’, Times of India, 25 March 2000; ‘L-G promises strict action if more encroachments come up’, Hindustan Times, 6 May 2000.
- 7. ‘Ousted during Clinton visit, 50 street vendors petition’, Indian Express, 22 May 2000.
- 8. ‘14 kiosks razed at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg’, Indian Express, 7 September 2000; ‘Encroachments on BSZ Marg removed’, Hindustan Times, 7 September 2000; ‘MCD launches demolition drive in BSZ Marg area’, Daily Pioneer, 7 September 2000; ‘127 squatters given tehbazaris in city zone area’, Hindustan Times, 20 October 2000.
- 9. ‘Khairnar strikes at hawkers’ stalls at CST’, Indian Express, 6 May 2000.
- 10. ‘BMC to set up commando force to evict hawkers: Khairnar’, Indian Express, 10 May 2000.
- 11. ‘Khairnar hawks peace, vendors hail scheme’, Indian Express, 1 June 2000.
- 12. ‘Hawking to be legalised in Mumbai’, Daily Pioneer, 7 July 2000.
- 13. ‘New “pay and hawk” scheme mooted for hawkers’, Times of India, 11 November 2000.
- 14. ‘HC backs PMC move against hawkers’, Indian Express, 14 July 2000.
- 15. ‘”Teh-bazari” rights to squatters protested’, Hindustan Times, 1 February 2000; ‘Shopkeepers at Janpath fight over display of wares on ‘trees’’, Hindustan Times, 29 May 2000.
- 16. ‘Ownership right for shopkeepers in 14 areas’, Hindustan Times, 1 February 2000; ‘Ownership rights for shopkeepers’, Times of India, 2 February 2000; ‘NDMC mum on ownership right for Lodhi Colony Market shopkeepers’, Hindustan Times, 2 February 2000; ‘Cabinet says yes to transfer of ownership in 12 city markets’, Indian Express, 1 September 2000.
- 17. STAR News, 8 March 2000.
- 18. ‘Delhi CM concerned over city migration’, Asian Age (Delhi Age), 5 June 2000.
- 19. ‘Govt has no figures on slums, will enact laws to stop influx’, Indian Express, 8 April 2000; ‘Bill planned to ban new slums’, Times of India, 22. March 2000.
- 20. ‘Delhiites have a higher risk of getting HIV infection’ , Daily Pioneer, 30 May 2000.
- 21. ‘Slum-dwellers feel it's Naidu’s manna’, The Hindu, 21 June 2000; ‘Regular power to slums’, Indian Express (Chandigarh), 25 August 2000; ‘Power supply to regularised colonies’, Times of India, 1 September 2000.
- 22. Delhi Development Authority, Master Plan for Delhi Perspective 2001 , ‘Informal sector in trade’ under ‘Annexure-VI: Review of the Master Plan for Delhi 1962 (MPD-62)’, DDA, 1990, p. 120.
- 23. Ibid., ‘Trade and commerce: Retail trade’ (introduction), p. 13; ‘Informal sector’ under ‘Trade and commerce: Retail trade’, p. 18.
- 24. Ibid., ‘Informal sector’ under ‘Trade and commerce: Retail trade’, p. 17.
- 25. Ibid., pp. 17-18.
- 26. Ibid., p. 18.
- 27. ‘DVB to step up drive against power theft’, Times of India, 11 February 2000; ‘37 DVB employees held for power theft’, Hindustan Times, 26 February 2000; ‘DVB nabs own staff for power theft’, Hindustan Times, 26 February 2000; ‘19 more DVB staffers caught stealing power’, Hindustan Times, 29 February 2000; ‘DVB now cracks whip on its officers’, Hindustan Times, 2 March 2000; ‘Rs 2500-cr a year lost to power thefts’, Times of India, 17 April 2000; ‘Power “losses” more in posh colonies’, Hindustan Times, 30 April 2000; ‘Powerful babus stealing power’’, Hindustan Times, 20 May 2000.
- 28. ‘AIDS awareness fortnight to detect possible cases’, Indian Express, 30 May 2000.
- 29. ‘AIDS awareness fortnight’ (Note 28 above);‘Capital to host 15-day anti-AIDS campaign’, Hindustan Times, 30 May 2000; ‘AIDS awareness camps from June 1’, Times of India, 30 May 2000; ‘Delhiites have a higher risk of getting HIV infection’, Daily Pioneer, 30 May 2000. Indeed, as his AIDS campaign in slums drew to a close, the minister ‘held a high-level meeting’ to review water-borne diseases and extended the deadline for cleaning drains from 15 to 30 June. (‘Health Minister sets deadline for clean-up act’, Hindustan Times, 14 June 2000.) Obviously the NGOs could not have helped with this larger imperative the previous fortnight because funds flow was for AIDS not to clean drains.
- 30. ‘Walia defends stand: Anti-AIDS campaign’, The Statesman, 2 June 2000.
- 31. ‘VP Singh upstages Cong, BJP in Delhi?’, Hindustan Times, 26 March 2000.
- 32. ‘On his birthday, PM gives nation a costly gift’, Times of India, 26 December 2000; ‘Front: New year gift for rural poor’, Daily Pioneer, 26 December 2000.
- 33. ‘PM's scheme under scrutiny’, Times of India, 17 January 2001; ‘21st Century Tughlaks’, Times of India, 20 January 2001.
- 34. ‘Centre justifies “Antodaya” scheme’, Hindustan Times, 28 December 2000.
- 35. ‘Antyodaya scheme to start functioning within 2 months’, Hindustan Times, 30 December 2000.
- 36. ‘Subsidised ration for jhuggi residents’, Times of India, 21 January 2001.
- 37. ‘Well-meaning but impractical, Anya Yojna may not benefit daily wagers’, Times of India, 21 January 2001.
- 38. ‘Dole for every jhuggi-dweller in the Capital’, Indian Express, 21 February 2001.
- 39. Dainik Jagran, 3 February 2001.
- 40. ‘Slum dwellers claim false BPL status’, The Statesman, 15 February 2001; ‘Ration card exercise causing chaos’, Daily Pioneer, 16 February 2001; ‘Dole for every jhuggi-dweller’ (Note 38 above).
- 41. ‘Dole for every jhuggi-dweller’ (Note 38 above).
- 42. ‘Concrete plan to involve RWAs at last’, Times of India, 21 January 2000.
- 43. ‘Govt organises meet to empower residents’ bodies’, Hindustan Times, 22 February 2000.
- 44. ‘Govt begins interaction with RWAs’, Times of India, 2 March 2000.
- 45. ‘Govt to fund RWAs for development work’, Times of India, 4 March 2000.
- 46. Ibid.
- 47. ‘Govt launches Bhagidari project’, Hindustan Times, 7 May 2000; ‘Government-IIT partnership to transform Delhi’, Asian Age ( Delhi Age), 7 May 2000; ‘Govt ties up with IIT to make Delhi better’, Times of India, 7 May 2000; ‘Identify the areas of cooperation with govt: CM’, Hindustan Times, 10 May 2000.
- 48. ‘Sheila lauds people’s participation in “bhagidari”’, Daily Pioneer, 15 June 2000.
- 49. ‘Participation of citizens must for progress: CM’, Hindustan Times, 15 June 2000.
- 50. ‘RWA, govt departments team up for a better Delhi’, Indian Express, 16 June 2000.
- 51. ‘Delhi: Civic agencies to get “first-hand” feel of city’s problems’, Times of India, 17 June 2000
- 52. ‘Bhagidari meet: Suggestions will be implemented soon, says CM’, Hindustan Times, 17 June 2000.
- 53. ‘CM outlines strategy to make city a model place’, Asian Age (Delhi Age), 17 June 2000; ‘3-day Bhagidari workshop concludes’, Daily Pioneer, 17 June 2000; ‘Utilities get 3 mths to incorporate suggestions’, Times of India, 18 June 2000.
- 54. ‘Sheila renews call for Green Delhi’, Indian Express, 20 August 2000; ‘More role for welfare groups in bhagidari urged’, Times of India, 20 August 2000.
- 55. ‘RWAs to develop 80 parks’, The Hindu, 17 August 2000.
- 56. ‘3-day Bhagidari workshop’ (Note 53 above); ‘Bhagidari meet’ (Note 52 above).
- 57. ‘DDA flat owners express concern’, Times of India, 20 June 2000; ‘DDA flat owners up in arms’, Hindustan Times, 21 June 2000; ‘DDA flat-owners to stage protest’, Indian Express, 22 June 2000; ‘Vasant Kunj residents to appeal to PM’, The Hindu, 23 June 2000.
- 58. ‘Jagmohan convenes meeting with Delhi MPs’, Hindustan Times, 24 June 2000.
- 59. ‘No action in DDA colonies till July 31: Jagmohan’, Times of India, 26 June 2000; ‘Jagmohan sets deadline for DDA flats’, Indian Express, 26 June 2000; ‘Flat owners given 5 weeks’, Hindustan Times, 26 June 2000.
- 60. ‘What is Bhagidari?’ , Times of India, 3 September 2000; ‘People power: How many milestones to go?’, Times of India, 3 September 2000; ‘Bhagidari scheme has not changed anything: RWAs’, Indian Express, 11 September 2000.
- 61. ‘Water-starved, in boring mode! Bhagidaari, a success?’, Neighbourhood Flash, Vol. III, No. 10, 28 January-3 February 2001.
- 62. ‘New hospital, college likely in Vasant Kunj’, HT South Delhi Live, 8 November 2000; ‘Vasant Kunj mein haat nirmaan ki prakriyaa shuru, paryatan vibhag ne manjoori di’ (‘Process of making haat in Vasant Kunj begins, Tourism Department accords approval’), Hindustan, 12 January 2001.
- 63. ‘People power’ (Note 60 above).
- 64. ‘Lara Dutta for U.N. meet’, The Hindu, 30 September 2000.
- 65. Ibid.
- 66. ‘Private sector can help reduce rural poverty’, Daily Pioneer, 6 June 2000.
- 67. Ibid.
- 68. ‘JNU seeks financial assistance from top industrial houses’, Hindustan Times, 16 April 2000.
- 69. ‘Dear corporates, civic health poor. Help. Love, Delhi govt’, Times of India, 12 June 2000.
- 70. ‘Govt seeks pvt sector investment in environment’, Hindustan Times, 14 July 2000.
- 71. Govt to rely on industry for greening AP’, Times of India, 22 July 2000.
- 72. Ibid.
- 73. Ibid.
- 74. ‘Corporates join hands to make city greener’, Hindustan Times, 30 July 2000.
- 75. ‘Corporates’ social focus is narrow, shows survey’, Times of India, 12 July 2000.
- 76. Chauhan, U. and N. Lal, ‘Public-private partnerships for the urban poor in Ahmendabad: A slum project’, Economic and Political Weekly, XXXIV (10-11), 13-19 March 1999.
- 77. ‘It's now NGOs’ turn to be rated’, Times of India, 20 January 2000.
- 78. ‘MCD to cancel contract with Sulabh’, Times of India, 16 March 2000.
- 79. ‘Picking pockets, NGO style’, Times of India, 26 March 2000.
- 80. ‘Govt asked to submit list of erring NGOs’, Times of India, 3 April 2000.
- 81. ‘HRD ministry stops grants to 16 NGOs’, Daily Pioneer, 19 May 2000.
- 82. ‘Maneka to crack whip on errant NGOs’, The Hindu, 15 September 2000; ‘Netted: Maneka puts bogus NGOs online’, Asian Age (Delhi Age), 19 September 2000. By the end of the year, out of 590 NGOs scrutinised by her ministry, ninety had been blacklisted and another 200 faced possible blacklisting. The worst NGOs, the minister said, were from Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. (‘Blacklist an NGO and MPs intercede: Maneka’, Times of India, 18 December 2000.)
- 83. ‘Law soon to regulate foreign funds to NGOs’, Daily Pioneer, 2 October 2000. (The minister said with Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh led in foreign receipts by NGOs.)
- 84. ‘NHRC plans action against fake rights groups’, Times of India, 11 October 2000.
- 85. ‘Delhi High Court blocks fresh funds to NGOs’, Times of India, 25 October 2000; ‘HC restrains govt from giving grants to NGOs without UC’, Indian Express, 25 October 2000; ‘Utilisation certificate must for grants to NGOs: HC’, Hindustan Times, 26 October 2000.
- 86. ‘Exaggerate and humiliate’, Hindustan Times, 10 May 2000; ‘A little tact wouldn’t hurt’, Hindustan Times, 7 May 2000.
- 87. ‘A little tact’ (Note 86 above).
- 88. ‘NGO shows how not to raise AIDS awareness’, Indian Express, 9 May 2000.
- 89. ‘Savaging the civilised’, Indian Express, 10 May 2000.
- 90. ‘A little tact’ (Note 86 above); ‘How not to raise AIDS awareness’ (Note 88 above); ‘Exaggerate and humiliate’ (Note 86 above); ‘Savaging the civilised’ (Note 89 above).
- 91. ‘Row over AIDS study: 11 NGO members held’, Hindustan Times, 27 April 2000; ‘How not to raise AIDS awareness’ (Note 88 above).
- 92. ‘AIDS booklet leads to controversy in Almora’, Hindustan Times, 23 April 2000; ‘Row over AIDS study’ (Note 91 above); ‘How not to raise AIDS awareness’ (Note 88 above); ‘The Sahayog affair’, The Hindu, 19 May 2000.
- 93. ‘SAHYOG report on AIDS assailed in House’, Times of India, 18 May 2000.
- 94. ‘AIDS booklet controversy’ (Note 92 above); ‘Row over AIDS study’ (Note 91 above).
- 95. ‘Delhi: Stir held in favour of Sahyog activists’, Indian Express, 20 May 2000; ‘NGOs rally against UP police action’, Asian Age (Delhi Age), 20 May 2000.
- 96. ‘A little tact’ (Note 86 above); ); ‘Exaggerate and humiliate’ (Note 86 above); ‘Are NGOs “caring” activists’, Hindustan Times (Letter), 10 May 2000; ‘Savaging the civilised’ (Note 89 above); ‘Sound and fury in the Hills’, Indian Express, 12 May 2000; ‘Debate the issue’, Times of India (Letter), 15 May 2000; ‘For crying out loud selectively’, Daily Pioneer, 23 May 2000; ‘Role of NGOs’, The Hindu (Letter), 24 May 2000.
- 97. Notably, an editorial in the Hindustan Times (‘Exaggerate and humiliate’) and Namita Gokhale’s article (‘Savaging the civilised’) in the Indian Express on 10 May 2000. Also, the author’s reactions to Harsh Sethi’s article in the Hindustan Times (‘A little tact wouldn’t hurt’) and Rajeev Dhawan’s article (‘The Sahyog Affair’) in The Hindu carried as letters to the editor in those newspapers on, respectively, 10 May 2000 and 24 May 2000.
- 98. ‘The Sahayog affair’ (Note 92 above).
- 99. Ibid.
- 100. Ibid.
- 101. Ibid.
- 102. ‘Dikshit wakes up to home truths: NGOs to manage govt-run homes’, Times of India, 4 January 2000.
- 103. ‘Education policy: NGOs, corporates in govt's good books’, Times of India, 13 January 2000.
- 104. ‘Engineers will teach people to save water’, Times of India, 9 March 2000; ‘NGO to address potable water problem in Capital’, Hindustan Times, 9 March 2000.
- 105. ‘Police to seek NGO help in tackling rape cases’, Times of India, 31 May 2000.
- 106. ‘Census: States urged to utilise NGOs’ services’, Hindustan Times, 28 August 2000.
- 107. ‘Walia urges NGOs to enter health arena’, Hindustan Times, 28 September 2000.
- 108. On two separate occasions, the author had informally approached the central government’s Council for Advancement and Promotion of Applied Rural Technology (CAPART) and the Central Social Welfare Board to inquire about possibilities of assistance on behalf of, respectively, a group of village boys wanting to set up an enterprise and elderly slum women in need of some social security support. Both times the author was advised to register an NGO.
- 109. ‘Japan has given a grant assistance of $137,208 for grassroots projects to two NGOs’, Times of India, 8 March 2000.
- 110. ‘Helpage India steps in to fund old age home in Dwarka’, Hindustan Times, 9 June 2000.
- 111. ‘No kidding, green's the word’, Times of India, 19 April 2000; ‘50 young hands to clean our neglected river’, Indian Express, 15 August 2000; ‘Rotary Club to hold discussions on environmental issues’, Indian Express, 9 September 2000.
- 112. ‘NGOs junk Centre’s waste management plan’, Times of India, 9 October 2000.
- 113. Singh, Richa, HIV/AIDS, workers and labour rights: A study of vulnerability of the workers in Wazirpur Industrial Area, Delhi, Centre for Education and Communication, 1999.
- 114. Ibid.
- 115. ‘Sheila launches slum development project’, Hindustan Times, 31 January 2000.
- 116. Ibid.
- 117. ‘Project TEAM for compulsory education to kids’, Hindustan Times, 29 April 2000.
- 118. Ibid.
- 119. ‘City groups come up with alternative Master Plan’, Indian Express, 20 November 2000.
- 120. Meeting held at India Habitat Centre (IHC), Delhi, 6 March 2001.
- 121. Meeting held at the office of Action Aid, Delhi, 13 March 2001.
- 122. ‘A step toward forging closer ties with NGOs’, Times of India, 3 June 2000.
- 123. ‘NGOs should join hands with govt for development’, The Hindu, 20 June 2000.
- 124. With eye on govt funds, RSS floats NGO’, Hindustan Times, 28 October 2000.
- 125. ‘No go NGO’, Times of India, 7 November 2000.
- 126. Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan, The Capital’s Homeless, New Delhi, 2001, Table 15, p. 54.
- 127. Khatra Kendra/Sajha Manch, Dilli Kiski Hai? (‘Who does Delhi belong to?’), February 2001.
- 128. Mumbai-based architect/urban designer Harshad Bhatia’s comment on IIA and CoA, received via e-mail just before the IIA convention in Indore in 1999.
- 129. GIS: Geographical Information Systems; GIGO: Garbage In Garbage Out.
- 130. The author was asked to make a presentation on ‘Urbanisation, quantity, quality and professional roles’. From the letter that the organisers had sent, I gathered they wanted me to dwell on statistics to show that the scale of the urban problem was huge and argue it was not really the architects’ fault that our cities were being taken over by slums. I, on the other hand, was more inclined to try and provoke some soul-searching. Having failed to draw attention to the tragedy of Indore’s celebrated project since my ‘official’ impact study the previous year, I was also deeply dismayed by it having received the profession’s highest award a full year after that study. I decided to include in my presentation slides from Indore and to beg the IIA to intervene in whatever manner it saw fit to highlight the truth about Indore.
- 131. The flier was titled ‘Introspection at 2000 before Vision beyond 2000’. It profiled the ground realities of the two AKAA winning projects and suggested how the issues raised could fit into the convention’s deliberations on the three sub-themes—Agenda for architecture, Agenda for profession and Agenda for education—being discussed. It appealed to individual architects to join me in insisting that Indore’s AKAA winning projects be made central to IIA’s deliberations in Indore.
- 132. The Statesman carried reports four days running.
- 133. ‘M.P. HC clears land for IIM at Indore’,Indian Express, 20 October 2000.
- 134. Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment, ‘Demand for Health Services’, Draft National Slum Policy, 1999, Para-9-a-ii, p. 17.