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Urban Planning and Violence

This paper argues that exclusion and violence are imprinted on the social and spatial fabric of cities and neighbourhoods, and that social and political divides are often manifest in the control and policing of public space. Urban violence has many drivers and manifestations. However, the challenge is how to retrofit cities once violence takes hold, and to examine whether urban planning has a role in recovery. Can urban planning breed a new transparency and confidence that breaks embedded exclusionary urban management practices, and create new spaces of engagement, or is urban planning a root cause of the problems?

Colonising the Slum

Significant continuities and critical shifts in the forms, intensity, sources and instruments of violence have taken place since the 1990s when a number of changes were brought about in land markets of Mumbai. This paper views the impact of these shifts and the violence/s embedded therein along the state–market axis. Intense everyday violence enhances insecurity among residents, women and young girls in particular in highly complex ways. However, far from being passive victims of this violence/s they are engaged in highly creative struggles to confront the multi-institutional injustices experienced by them.

The Violence of Worlding

Over the last two decades, the state-led production of space, as part of worlding cities, has introduced new structural violences into the lives of poor groups in Durban, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro, and has met with resistance. Three main mechanisms have been adopted to produce space—infrastructure and mega-projects, redevelopment, and creating exception regimes for “slums.” The nature of the state that enacts structural violence through worlding processes is simultaneously “strong” and “weak.” It is strong in its bid to open up new spaces for capital accumulation that integrate specific economic circuits, classes and groups “globally,” while weak in its responsibility to protect and strengthen the life chances and claims of poor groups/spaces.

Ecology vs Housing and the Land Rights Movement in Guwahati

Selective state interventions to mitigate natural disasters such as floods, the compulsions under which the urban poor inhabit ecologically marginal lands and in the case of Guwahati, the “encroachments” on wetlands and hills, have set the stage for conflict about housing rights, especially for those without legal land tenure. The “encroachments” of the poor are delegitimised and they become victims of eviction drives while encroachments by the state and the middle- and high-income classes on ecologically vulnerable areas are legitimised. In Guwahati, this has led to a cycle of violence and counter-violence. This paper sets this sequence of events against the historically contested land rights issue in a city with limited habitable land due to its natural ecology.

Water and Conflict in Bombay Hotel, Ahmedabad

The causes, conditions and consequences of poor water access in Bombay Hotel locality, a predominantly Muslim informal settlement located in Ahmedabad’s southern periphery, are studied through the lens of urban violence and conflict. This is done by tracing the dynamics of urban planning and governance that have produced two interlinked types of infrastructural violence in the locality—municipal water denial and violent articulations of infrastructure by informal water providers—and the experiences of everyday conflict and violence that emerge in residents’ lives as a consequence. How conflicts and violence shape residents’ attempts to negotiate and attain better water access are also discussed.

Resistance and Its Limits

Lyari, one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Karachi, has been the site of ongoing violence for most of the past two decades. This paper explores the impacts of the ongoing conflict involving criminal gangs, political parties and state security forces. Residents have adopted tactics and strategies ranging from negotiation to active resistance in response to the varied forms of everyday violence. Specifically focusing on street protests between 2012 and 2014, it evaluates the possibilities and limitations of protest in the context of urban violence. More broadly, it argues that studies of urban violence need to move away from viewing the urban poor as exclusively clientelistic or insurgent. It argues that acts of resistance in the form of protest are constrained, determined by, and productive of particular configurations of power.

‘Do Only Girls Suffer? We Too!’

Research in India has been oriented towards understanding the causes and consequences of early marriage on girls, while ignoring the condition of “child grooms.” There are many “hotspots” in India, where early marriage of boys is an accepted norm. Using available evidence from national surveys and qualitative data collected from Shrawasti district of Uttar Pradesh, attempts are made to understand the reasons behind the early marriage of boys and the difficulties faced by these young men who are forced into marriage. In such regions, raising the age at marriage for boys will automatically raise the age at marriage for girls. If we have to address the problem of “child brides,” we can no longer ignore the presence of “child grooms.”

Making Smallholder Farming Climate-smart

Climate change is accompanied by increasing weather uncertainty. Farmers, especially smallholder farmers, need advance warning of emergent weather conditions at a local level. Mobile telecommunication systems are increasingly cost-effective and an efficient way of delivering weather-based agro-advisories to farmers at a large scale. Agrometeorological services facilitate flexible, weather-based agriculture planning and help build evidence and capacities of communities, technical and developmental agencies to plan and implement climate-adaptive responses. The relevance and innovativeness of multi-institutional collaboration lies in the institutional, technical and pedagogical strategy adopted which offers important lessons on how agrometeorological services can be organised to make smallholder farming climate-resilient on a larger scale.

Understanding Open Defecation in Rural India

India has far higher open defecation rates than other developing regions where people are poorer, literacy rates are lower, and water is relatively more scarce. In practice, government programmes in rural India have paid little attention in understanding why so many rural Indians defecate in the open rather than use affordable pit latrines. Drawing on new data, a study points out that widespread open defecation in rural India is on account of beliefs, values, and norms about purity, pollution, caste, and untouchability that cause people to reject affordable latrines. Future rural sanitation programmes must address villagers’ ideas about pollution, pit-emptying, and untouchability, and should do so in ways that accelerate progress towards social equality for Dalits rather than delay it.

Energy, Gender and Social Norms in Indigenous Rural Societies

Studying women’s work and energy use through field studies in Khasi communities in Meghalaya and Angami communities in Nagaland, the links between energy use and women’s work and leisure are explored. It is found that the choice of energy source is closely linked with women’s participation in the management of energy resources, their opportunities to earn incomes, and their ability to negotiate the cultural and social norms of their communities. Energy planning cannot stop with the provision of household access to electricity or liquefied petroleum gas. A new deal for women in the energy sector is delineated, which relates to overcoming sociocultural limits and increasing the opportunity cost of women’s labour and their right to assets.

Reconsidering Women’s Work in Rural India

The most recent data gathered by the National Sample Survey Office on work participation for women in India reveal a sharp decline, primarily due to the NSSO’s conventional measures not accounting for economic activities undertaken by women for the benefit of households. Alternative definitional approaches to the production boundary, such as the Indian System of National Accounts and the United Nations System of National Accounts, somewhat better account for unpaid work by women for households’ own consumption. An analysis of data from the part of the NSSO schedule on employment and unemployment (for 2004–05 and 2011–12) that enquires about various activities undertaken by individuals who report performing household activities as their principal activity, reveals a less dramatic decline than that presented by the more conventional measure of work participation. This finding contributes to a significant rethinking of how rural women’s contributions to economic activities for their own households can be better recognised through data.


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