Guest Post by JAMAL KIDWAI
Most of the people in Delhi, like in rest of India (according to official estimates, 92 per cent of India’s work force comprises of informal labour) earn their living from working in the informal sector. There is extensive academic literature on this subject. Typically, informal economy is that which does not find mention in official data, is not formally registered and regulated and falls outside the tax regulation.
The concept of informality became current in economic and social thought in the early 1970’s. It has since been re-considered and re-interpreted. The idea that the informal sector presented a liminal space for workers waiting to be absorbed by the formal sector, has been negated. Instead, current trends suggest that a majority of the Indian work force (approx.92%) labour under short-term informal contracts. Well-known labour historian Jan Bremen has somewhere written that the fact the informal economy is not officially regulated does not imply a complete absence of regulation. There are many unofficial means of regulation. Quite often activities that do not possess registration and legal sanction get denoted as informal or ‘underground’. This practice results in the official erasure of the economic value of the goods and services produced therein. It also serves the purpose of masking the over-exploitation and socially-levered extortion to which the most unprotected and vulnerable members of the working class are subjected.
Continue reading As Migrants Begin their Long Trudge to Nowhere, A Note on Migration in Delhi: Jamal Kidwai
“Universal” is a tricky word. It has an enormous appeal, an unquestioned romance of taking every one along. Universal human rights, universal access to basic services, housing for all. It is the barometer of inclusion done right. The dark side of the romance is that it’s one of the hardest things to actually achieve. Often the “universal” is a vanishing horizon and, like all horizons, the mirage is what makes you lose sight of the very real trade-off’s and constraints in your way.
This week the Delhi Jal Board announced a new horizon towards the idea of universal access to a basic urban service and human need: water. The “Jal Adhikar Connection” (a Right to Water Connection) promises to let households within slums in Delhi apply for legal, metered water connections “irrespective of the status of their residence.” This move – following the Government of Delhi’s already given pledge to extend water and sanitation services to unauthorized colonies – implies that legal, public and metered water could (like electricity) actually cover the city as it exists rather than as it is imagined in plans and laws.
Continue reading Reaching for the Universe
Last week I caught up with Shubhum Mishra, a cartographer/geographer/urban planner, in Sundar Nursery – a Mughal garden turned colonial green house spanning 70 acres in the heart of Delhi – that shall should be open to the public sometime next year.
Shubhum has just transliterated Intizar Husain’s famous book – Dilli Tha Jiska Naam – from the original Urdu/farsi script to devnagari, in the hope of making this incredible resource more accessible to north Indian readers. In this conversation he reads excerpts from the book and I asked him why modern Indian cities are so spectacularly ugly.
Listen in for a fascinating description of Chandini Chowk and “Old Delhi” – back from when “Old Delhi” was the only Delhi around. Shubhum will respond to comments on the site. His book is now available in most book stores around the city and you can buy it here
In summer, Delhi’s fancy turns grimly to thoughts of thirst.
How can a mega-city provide a safe and sustainable supply of water to its 24 million residents? How has it done so in the past? What do we lose when we turn our backs on a river, turn our streams into sewers and lay concrete over our ponds?
In this conversation, Sohail Hashmi summons the Delhi of history, and the Delhi of his childhood through recollections of the Yamuna, ponds, streams, and the Urdu Bazaar where everyone had a favourite well from where they drew their daily sustenance.
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Guest Post by ROLUAHPUIA
In Manipur, most days are not merely a day as they appear in the calendar. Many days in fact are commemorated and remembered and therefore political. For instance, the 18th of June is commemorated as the Great June Uprising by the Meitei mostly led by the United Committee Manipur (UCM) as a mark of remembrance to the loss of 18 lives as a result of the protest over the extension of ceasefire beyond territorial limits between the Government of India (GoI) and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim- Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM). On the contrary, 27th August is commemorated by the Mao Naga as ‘Martyrs Day’ to commemorate the loss of seven lives in 27th August of 1948 for the cause of Naga integration movement. For the last, 13th September of every year is commemorated by the Kuki as Kuki Black Day against the mass killing of Kuki by the Naga militants. What this three different commemoration displays is the noticeable cleavages and ethnic divides among the three ethnic groups of the state. Continue reading 31st August in Manipur – The day and after: Roluahpuia
Guest post by SATYA SAGAR
Among the epithets, most frequently hurled at Arvind Kejriwal by the BJP, in the run up to the Delhi assembly elections, were ‘anarchist’, closely followed by ‘urban naxal’. What is it about AAP that threatens the Sangh Parivar to a point of exhibiting such great hysteria and anxiety?
AAP, despite some novelties, is after all a very mainstream political formation, operating completely within the ambit of the Indian Constitution and no pretensions of turning the system upside down?Is there something deeper happening here?
One possibility is of course that, in its name-calling, the BJP presumed the average Delhi voter would run scared, straight into the waiting arms of Papa Modi. In that case then, it was obviously a complete misreading of the public mood of anger and defiance against established national parties. Continue reading Peace, bread and politics of AAP: Satya Sagar
This is a guest post by ANAND VIVEK TANEJA
In the discussion around Aarti Sethi’s essay on Remembering Maqsood Pardesi some very important questions arose. As these questions are directly relevant to my work, but also to the larger concerns of the Kafila community, I decided to dwell on them at some length. As these reflections were written in response to the comments of one particular person, I address him directly in what follows below.
In your comments on Aarti’s essay, you say the following things about my work:
The tragedy of secular moderns of India is their fascination with Islam… And it appears secular modern Hindus are too busy analyzing jinns of Delhi, which is really sad!
… what do I do with the knowledge of emerging liberal ideologues working for the empire writing enchanting texts about chattan baba or the jinns?
I think that your opening statement is profound. But to understand its true depth, we need to revisit the terms “secular”, and “modern”, as well as our understandings of “Hinduism” and “Islam.” As an entry point into these questions, I will address your (rhetorical) question about what one should, and can do with “enchanting” texts about jinns. Continue reading On The Real Tragedy of Secular Modernity: Anand Vivek Taneja