Chapters of Books
“Community Participation and Political Legitimacy: A Case Study from Hyderabad.” in K. Coelho, V.Basker and L.Kamath (eds) Participolis: Consent And Contention In Neoliberal Urban Governance. Delhi: Routledge India (2013)
“Overcoming the Urban Synecdoche”, in H. Burte and A. Bhide (eds) Urban Parallax, Delhi: Yoda Press (2018)
“Rural youth as real estate agents in globalising Hyderabad” in T. Bunnell, D. Parthasarathy and E. C. Thomson (eds) Cleavage, Connection and Conflict in Rural, Urban and Contemporary Asia. Singapore: ARI-Springer Asia series (2012)
The waste-value dialectic: Lumpen urbanization in contemporary India: Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2016)
with Vinay Gidwani
Capitalist value making is underwritten by the production and disposal of waste through a complex, often invisible economy of informal waste recycling. This infra-economy is anchored by nodes that process and circulate variegated forms of waste generated in cities and their adjoining hinterlands. Bholakpur, in the city of Hyderabad, India, is one such place. There are hundreds like it scattered around the country. Even as they perform the double function of reproducing the urban economy while inoculating it from the injurious effects of its own detritus, places like Bholakpur and the people who work and reside there are continuously abjected by civil society’s propertied classes, which view them with anxiety and loathing, as a source of crime, nuisance and detriment. Thus, “waste” as concept-matter but also a locus where labor and ecology meet is a neglected but powerful site for a critique of both postcolonial capitalism and contemporary urbanization in countries like India.
Introduction: Urban revolutions in the age of global urbanism: Urban Studies (2015)
-with E. Sheppard, V. Gidwani, M. Goldman, H. Leitner and A Roy
This special issue, papers presented at an Urban Studies Foundation-funded conference in Jakarta (March 2011), examines the current ‘urban century’ in terms of three revolutions. Revolutions from above index the logics and norms of mainstream global urbanism, particularly the form they have taken as policymakers work with municipal officials worldwide to organise urban development around neoliberal norms. Revolutions from below refer to the multifaceted contestations of global urbanism that take place in and around cities, ranging from urban street demonstrations and occupations (such as those riveting the world in early 2011 when these papers were written) to the quotidian actions of those pursuing politics and livelihoods that subvert the norms of mainstream global urbanism. It also highlights conceptual revolutions, referencing the ongoing challenge of reconceptualising urban theory from the South – not simply as a hemispheric location or geopolitical category but an epistemological stance, staged from many different locations but always fraught with the differentials of power and the weight of historical geographies. Drawing on the insights of scholars writing from, and not just about, such locations, a further iteration in this ‘southern’ turn of urban theorising is proposed. This spatio-temporal conjunctural approach emphasises how the specificity of cities – their existence as entities that are at once singular and universal – emerges from spatio-temporal dynamics, connectivities and horizontal and vertical relations. Practically, such scholarship entails taking the field seriously through collaborative work that is multi-sited, engages people along the spectrum of academics and activists, and is presented before and scrutinised by multiple public.
Articulating growth in the urban spectrum: Economic and Political Weekly (2014)
– with P. Mukhopadhyay
In the last 10 years, the share of large million-plus cities in India in the total population has increased and not because of the growth of existing large cities, but because new million-plus towns have emerged – indicating that “near million” cities are a source of growth. The share of the population in towns below 1,00,000 has also grown, and within these smaller towns, the share of the population of census towns has increased from 19% to 36%. Growth, in short, is occurring across the urban spectrum – a reminder of the need to move away from metro-centricity (Bunnell and Maringanti 2010). These small towns are not simple settlements – their economy is multifaceted, politics knotty and social relations complicated. The papers in this issue of the Review of Urban Affairs highlight different aspects of this complexity.
Provincializing Global Urbanism: A Manifesto: Urban Geography (2013)
with E. Sheppard and H. Leitner
Mainstream urban scholarship envisions urbanization as a global process that is best achieved via the worldwide application of the development mechanisms pioneered in the advanced capitalist countries—currently, those of neoliberal globalization. Yet the repeated failure of this vision to deliver on its promise of wealth for all and ecological sustainability compels urban scholars to rethink mainstream presumptions. By means of a ten-point manifesto, we argue that provincializing global urbanism creates space from which to challenge urban theories that treat “northern” urbanization as the norm, to incorporate the expertise and perspectives of urban majorities, and to imagine and enact alternative urban futures.
Urban Poverty: Tools, Treatment and Politics at the Neo-liberal Turn: Economic and Political Weekly (2012)
– with K. Coelho
What kinds of subjects-in-the-making are the urban poor? The authors in this issue of the Review of Urban Affairs offer neither conclusive arguments nor radically new paradigms. They, however, nudge us to rethink poverty, not as an objective condition that can be addressed through policymaking at a distance or by targeted development schemes, but as constituted through contentious engagements of disadvantaged individuals and communities with neo-liberal policy discourses and agendas.
Urban Renewal, Fiscal Deficit and the Politics of Decentralisation: The Case of the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission in India: Space and Polity (2012)
This paper examines the implementation of JNNURM in Andhra Pradesh, a south Indian state, to demonstrate that, in the structure of governance in India, the state government remains the major stumbling block in the devolution of power. Importantly, through a careful analysis of city finances in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh in the context of JNNURM, the paper argues that decentralisation qua state restructuring in India is a top–down process of devolving fiscal deficit to the city scale—in other words, urbanising fiscal deficit—which does not allow a coherent city politics to emerge. It documents the efforts under way to build new collective action framings which are driving a bottom–up change forcing city governments to demand a real devolution of power from the state governments but notes that such efforts have not as yet gathered adequate momentum to be effective.
Data, Urbanization and the city: Economic and Political Weekly (2015)
-with P. Mukhopadhyay
By using the enormous processing capacity of computing that is now available, we can, it is claimed, improve how cities are governed–make them smart! This review attempts to illuminate how data reveals relationships between citizens and the state and thus facilitates an informed debate on whether data can be deployed to build a more inclusive and constructive relationship between citizens and their government. As urbanisation deepens, we see struggles around who gets to decide what is to be governed and how the data is to be collected and deployed and what technologies and skills are to be deployed for implementation. The papers in this collection can be viewed in three groups, respectively, dealing with three issues: data collection processes, intra-urban spatial inequities and use of new sensing technologies.
Rent gap, fluid infrastructure and population excess in a gentrifying neighbourhood: City (2015)
– with I. Jonnalagadda
Through a careful documentation of an ongoing struggle for sanitation infrastructure in a neighbourhood facing intense gentrifying pressure—namely, Mohammed Nagar slum in Hyderabad—this paper shows how incomplete and fluid infrastructures can become sites through which an excess population can be purged outright in order to rebuild neighbourhood character. Mohammed Nagar slum is located in the Bholakpur ward of Hyderabad. Bholakpur has been a major site for informal waste segregation, recycling and processing in the city and region for the past three decades at least. As different constituents of the fragmented community consolidate their claims through opportunities thrown up by crumbling infrastructures, some resist metabolic processes that attempt to reproduce direly needed infrastructures. Others, facing acute deprivation, have to choose between staying put and moving out. Gentrification processes arising from new rent gaps emerging in cities due to high-end infrastructures, such as metro rail and shopping complexes, can be brutal and can trigger mechanisms by which bodies are revalued as legitimate claimants or otherwise. Populations that were once all associated with waste reinvent themselves, including some who can make it, and purging others who decidedly cannot make it into the new neighbourhood.
Telangana survey and the question of privacy: Economic and Political Weekly (2014)
The statewide Intensive Household Survey conducted in Telangana is similar to many such surveys carried out in undivided Andhra Pradesh. The data collected and used by state and non-state parties have political implications. One is of “data convergence”, that is, intelligence about individuals that can be gathered by overlaying two or more data sets. The other is of “data travel”, that is, the ability of many agents to access the data. In the absence of any safeguards, the conduct of the IHS and its emotionally charged context must be a matter of concern.
Ordinary entanglements in the world city: Environment and Planning (2013)
The term ordinary city has been used by scholars of such strikingly differentpersuasions and commitments over the last decade that in academic exchange todayordinary city functions more like a trope than like an analytical term. In this commentaryI argue that an attempt to isolate strands from this and critiquing them for their failureto engage with the another, decidedly more influential research programme—global andworld city research- is to misread the very productive strands of research that the ordinarycity has already spawned and to ignore the need to innovate and pursue newer researchagendas that are suggested by contemporary global urban realities
The Telangana tangle begins to unravel: Economic and Political Weekly (2013)
Notwithstanding the popular upsurge for the separate state of Telangana, it is clear that when the state is actually created it will be on capitalist turf and on capitalist terms. The declaration has been made on the basis of electoral compulsions of the Congress party that has pledged to abandon the nominal socialist agenda, which characterised the earlier aspirations for a separate state.
Contemporary Faultlines in Applied Economic Research: Economic and Political Weekly (2013)
– with Mathew and S. Naidu
A widely-cited social cost-benefit analysis conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research projected net benefi ts from the POSCO steel project in Odisha. Yet, a close examination of the report suggests a fl awed methodology and inexplicable changes in assumptions. As a result, the two primary benefi ts claimed for the POSCO project – employment and revenues to the state – seem to be grossly incorrect. The privatisation of base data used in some of the projections not only makes the task of verification arduous, but also puts it beyond the reach of democratic oversight. The issues in applied economic research in this case can be seen as symptomatic of structural problems in neo-liberal policy making.
Tragedy of the commons revisited (I): Economic and Political Weekly (2012)
– with V. Vakulabharanam
Despite constitutional and legislative commitments to protect the commons, they are under threat across India. This article on the plight of commons in the peasant economy of Karimnagar in Telangana, which have been endangered by quarrying, argues that the commons are neither properly understood in this country nor are there adequate rules to govern them. Resistance to encroachment of the commons is either seen as illegitimate or lacking in sufficient legal grounding. Such resistance is then overpowered with ease and impunity by a coalition of private entrepreneurs, civil servants, politicians and their scions, all of whom reap enormous profits
To get access to the full articles, click of the titles of the articles below
- In-migration, religious homogeneity and self-employment in the Old City – Times of India (2016)
- चेन्नई में मिला धरातल की ओर लौटने का सबक– Outlook (2015)
- അത് ഇനിയും പിടിച്ചു നിർത്തരുതേ ; ഇന്ത്യൻ സ്ത്രീകളോട് ഈ വിഡിയോ പറയുന്നു… – Manorama Online (2015)
- Don’t hold it in– Deccan Chronicle (2015)
- This Video Perfectly Captures The Struggles Indian Women Face When Finding A Public Toilet– Buzzfeed (2015)
- This Video Shows the Struggles of Every Indian Woman Who Wants to Use a Public Toilet– IDiva (2015)
- Watch How Long It Takes A Woman To Find A Toilet In An Indian City– Youth ki Awaaz (2015)
- This is the Kind of Old Woman We Want to Be When We Grow Up– The Ladies Finger (2015)
- Understand The Great Indian Auto Driver-Commuter Clash. While Laughing out loud– The Better India (2015)
- Next Time You Curse Your Autowala, Think About This– Youth ki Awaaz (2015)
- The Memorable ‘Do Din‘– The New Indian Express (2014)
- Addressing issues by conversations– Deccan Chronicles (2014)
- Two days to understand our city– The Hindu (2014)
- Unclear city boundaries puzzle locals in Hyderabad– Deccan Chronicles (2014)
- More than brooms-The Hindu Business Line (2014)
- Better public transport to ensure safety of women in Cyberabad– The Times of India (2014)
- The Urban Link– The Hindu (2013)
- Urban Repository Key Step To Safeguard Hyderabad– Times of India (2013)
- Socio-economic Questions Need Answers Before Split– Times of India (2013)
- Hyderabad As UT Will Suffer From Deficit Democracy – Times of India (2013)
Delusionary Transformations-Transportation Projects under JNNURM in Dehradun
Contrary to what policy experts have pointed that the lack of capacities in urban local bodies resulted in poor implementation of projects under JNNURM, this paper presents from findings of two case studies of transport in Dehradun that the reasons of unexpected outcomes is much more complex in nature. Instead of local bodies, it is the consultant drawing the proposals under unrealistic deadlines. Project proposals are prepared by keeping in mind the target expenditure and infrastructure creation. The paper emphasises that implementing such programmes requires an effective institutional design that bridges the gap between local governments in small cities and grant-making agencies at higher levels.
Mapping bus transit services in Hyderabad – an illustrative example of the use of open geospatial data
– with Girish Agrawal
Most public transit agencies in India do a poor job of making even basic route information available to the public. The transit mapping exercise reported here demonstrates that crowd-sourcing can be used to generate useful data at very low cost. Bus routes, including route frequency information, are identified and mapped, and the maps used to identify areas of the city which are not well served by the transit system. Available information about the socio-economic status of the underserved areas is used to fulfill a secondary objective of showing that mapping of public transit and paratransit networks can offer insights into how considerations of equity, access and safety can be integrated into transit planning in urban areas where spatial data is hard to come by, especially in cities of the global south.
Chapters of Books
“A Civic Mapping Project in an Indian Megacity- The Uses and Challenges of Spatial Data for Critical Research” (with Indivar Jonnalagadda) in Kollektiv Organotango (eds), This Is Not An Atlas- A Gobal Collection of Counter Cartographies (2018)
Profiting from the Poor: The Emergence of Multinational Edu-businesses in Hyderabad, India (2016)
– with Sangeeta Kamat and Carol Anne M Spreen
Over the last decade, education for the poor in the developing world has become an increasingly attractive market for global investors and multinational corporations. This movement, known as the Global Education Industry (GEI), is vested in setting up schools for profit. The GEI presents private schools as the best alternative to public schooling and possibly the only alternative to universalising access to education in developing and emerging economies. Our case study about the GEI in Hyderabad, India lays out the broad underpinnings of the corporate interests in for-profit education and how these efforts undermine public education as a fundamental human right. It provides a detailed understanding of how the commercialisation of education through scalable chains of schools and selling educational products and services unfolds on the ground. The study of the expansive and growing private education sector in India reveals a complex well-networked assemblage of global actors that are invested in the business of school privatisation and that stand to make a considerable profit from it, while undermining quality education for all.
– with I. Jonnalagadda
Based on an audit of public toilets in Hyderabad, this article argues that public-private partnership projects seem to have compounded the problems of inequitable spatial distribution and inefficient operation of toilets. They have also failed to address the problem of lack of facilities for women and differently-abled people. With the Swacch Bharat Mission, the way forward must involve a careful rethinking of public toilet governance, including revision of planning norms, providing statutory backing to these norms, and creating effective regulatory institutions. This is essential to alleviate the intensifying everyday contestations between those who desire a “clean city” and those who are forced to defecate in the open.