ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Making of Ambedkarite Public Culture

Public culture is a mental and physical space where basic ideas of the self and world view get crystallised. It is the main space to form varied communicative lines. These communicative lines discipline person’s behaviour. Since the Dalit’s ideas about self and consciousness were largely shaped by their everyday experience, Ambedkar thoughtfully evolved the Dalit’s public culture towards conscientising mental and physical space. A number of nodal points in varied communicative lines were generated to cultivate the autonomous Dalit assertive self and emancipatory world view. It produced an atmosphere where social discursive engagements were developed along with Ambedkarite praxis. As Mumbai happens to be the place where Ambedkar conceived, started and developed the key emancipatory movements, the city turned out to be a precursor for the “Ambedkarite public culture.”

Living with Multiple Vulnerabilities: Impact of COVID-19 on the Urban Poor in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region

This article is based on a study conducted by YUVA on the heightened vulnerabilities of the urban poor during the 54-day lockdown in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. It unravels pre-existing fault lines of life in the city that accrue owing to living in inadequate habitats and working in insecure livelihoods. It focuses on the linkages between state-provided relief and access to the same vis-à-vis existing entitlements and documentation. It explores emerging deprivations and barriers of access to the PDS, social security, cash transfers and loans during the pandemic.

After Breakdown

This paper builds on the work of Steven Jackson to theorise the breakdowns of hydraulic infrastructure not as exception, but as an ordinary condition of living with infrastructure. Rather than take breakdown to be an interruption in the life of infrastructures, it is suggested that breakdowns be read as an initial condition from which new infrastructures emerge through the labour of maintenance and repair. Drawing attention to the extraordinary labour of plumbers, municipal employees and engineers, the paper argues that the invisibilities of infrastructure are themselves contingent on the invisibilisation and subjugation of maintenance workers, who are placed beyond sight to regularly and constantly work to make water flow again.

Keeping Cities in Motion

As the cities in South Asia transform into global or “world-class” cities, the lives of those who construct, repair, and maintain these cities are changing. In this collection of articles on repair and maintenance in South Asia, we foreground how the repairers and maintainers of Kolkata, Karachi,...

The Invisible Last Mile of Mumbai’s Lifeline

Mumbai’s suburban rail network lives up to the moniker of being the city’s “lifeline” by transporting over 7.5 million passengers daily. However, lack of suitable last mile connectivity in the network causes passengers to rely on unsustainable modes for their last mile commutes. This significantly affects the advantages of high patronage of public transport and contributes to severe congestion on roads. The railways’ wide geographical presence across the city and access to 45% of the city’s commuters can be utilised to develop stations as the harbinger of futuristic and sustainable modes of transport for all of Mumbai.

Repercussions of Protracted Currency Shortage across Two Models of Financial Inclusion in India

Following the announcement of demonetisation on 8 November 2016, India saw the withdrawal of nearly 86% of the cash in circulation. This caused prolonged currency shortages and impacted employment, sales, income, loan payback capacity, savings and by extension, financial inclusion. A survey conducted among two distinct groups in Mumbai and Pune, three months after demonetisation, in April–May 2017, reveals the adverse impact of currency shortages on the incomes and livelihoods of those employed in tiny, informal enterprises. With a decline in the sales in their businesses, their income and savings fell, and so did the demand for credit.

Why It Makes Sense to Leave and Stay Gone

India experienced a mass exodus of informal sector workers who were heading out of cities, bound homewards. Given the paucity of transport infrastructure, this is translating into one of the greatest mass tragedies of post-independence India. This has been rationalised as a combination of people moving out because of a lockdown-induced loss of earnings and irrational fears stoked by the pandemonium. This exodus is, in fact, a perfectly rational response to the rapid spread of the virus in informal housing localities. Three different policies are outlined whose combination could have, and can still, reduce, if not entirely stop, the exodus.

Spatial Effects of COVID-19 Transmission in Mumbai

This article is on the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the city of Mumbai with the pandemic considered as a local public bad with spillover effects across the wards of the city. Spatial econometric techniques are used to model these spillovers using both cross-section as well as panel data. The main conclusion of the article is that the significant spatial spillover effect across the wards of the city is likely to make the exit from the enforced lockdown a major challenge.

Mumbai’s Struggles with Public Health Crises

The economic catastrophe precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the response of the dismal public health system has actually led to the heightening of the public health crisis. If the migration of workers from cities is not stopped through appropriate economic support measures, the public health crises will worsen because most migrants are returning to states that have very poor healthcare systems with limited capacities to deal with such crises. This pandemic also offers a political opportunity for governments to focus on strengthening the primary healthcare and public health systems through bold experimentation and strategies.

Fighting Fires: Migrant Workers in Mumbai

Migrant workers in one of Mumbai’s most industrially dense areas with 3,500 small manufacturing and recycling units face a number of hazards, with fires being among the common ones. This article looks closely at the causes and aftermaths of these fires and notes how the workers cope with them even as their skills and knowledge prevent even bigger accidents.

Becoming Waste

Colonial municipal planning discourses imagined waste as infrastructure to build Bombay city by filling creeks and reclaiming land. Waste as land was reassembled through the judiciary’s remaking of the landfill as a zone of pollution to be “scientifically” closed through waste treatment technologies. Even as science attempts to comprehend its complexity and contain it, waste possesses an agency of its own that disrupts the social, haunting reclaimed real estate with its fugitive gaseous presence.

Directly Elected Mayors

The introduction of directly elected mayors has the potential to completely change not only the landscape of urban local body governance, but also the nature of citizens’ participation in the management of their cities. The benefits of the directly elected mayoral system and its influence on the dynamics of the existing political system are explored.

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