Urban Poverty

Reports & BriefsPublished ArticlesBooks & ChaptersWorking Papers
National Report on the Status of Shelters for the Urban Homeless
Sandeep Chachra and Harsh Mander
2014

As part of the Supreme Court-directed monitoring process, in 2012, the Office of Commissioners of the Supreme Court in writ petition 196/2001 had submitted the Second National Report on the Status of Shelters for Urban homeless to bring to the notice of the Honourable Supreme Court, the conditions of urban homeless persons in India, and the conditions of shelters for urban homeless persons in different states of India.  This report outlined the large gaps in fulfilment of Supreme Court’s directions to the state governments for ensuring shelters, and allied services and amenities for homeless populations. A National Scheme of Shelter for Urban Homeless was announced in 2013. This report, the Third National Report on the Status of Shelters for Urban Homeless, outlines the progress of construction of shelters, and provisioning of amenities and allied services to meet the needs of the homeless persons in different states of the country in 2013-14.  Based on field-visit reports to several cities as well as other data from documents of state governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), it attempts to present issues for future actions by state and central governments and by civil society organizations involved in developing the programme of shelters for urban homeless.

Eating Rough: Hidden Hunger on City Streets
Harsh Mander and Smita Jacob
2010

This report seeks to make a case for subsidised meal programmes for the urban poor. It questions assumptions about hunger in cities, by raising findings about food deprivation among the urban poor, specifically the homeless populations of Delhi. One of the most urgent demands that emerged is for community kitchens that supply not free, but low-cost nutritious and hygienic hot cooked meals. The report argues that these can indeed become the most important intervention to raise the nutrition status of urban homeless women, men and children, and would also free much of their current daily incomes, which they are forced to invest in relatively expensive street food which is typically low on nutrition and hygiene.

Darkness under lamps: Urban slums and food entitlements in India
Harsh Mander and V. Manikandan
2009

The Indian government implements some of the largest food schemes in the world. However, the reach and quality of implementation of these programmes is often most feeble and insufficient in areas that are physically the most proximate to centres of public policy formulation, namely cities and towns. This study seeks to empirically observe and assess the implementation of all existing food, livelihood and social security schemes in various indigent and deprived urban contexts, and based on the findings of coverage and gaps, suggest directions for initial strategies for effective implementation.

Living Rough: Surviving City Streets
Harsh Mander
2009

This paper explores lived experience of homelessness and the social, economic, nutritional situation of urban homeless men, women, boys and girls in four cities: Delhi, Chennai, Madurai and Patna. Life on the streets usually involves surviving in a physically challenging environment, with denial of even elementary public services and assured healthy food; and illegalisation and even criminalisation by a hostile State. There are both grave ruptures – but also continuities – of bonds with their families and communities. These together pose important and mostly unmet challenges for public policy and academic research, in measuring and estimating urban poverty, and in acknowledging and realizing a vast range of social, economic and cultural rights of urban poor residents.

Best practices for the implementation of urban school nutrition programs in India: An examination of decentralized and centralized Mid Day Meal models in Delhi and Ahmedabad
Priya Shankar and Natasha S.K
2001

This study investigates the differences between two major Mid Day Meal implementation models: the decentralized model where food is cooked and served within the schools premises, and the centralized model where an external organization, often through a public-private partnership, cooks and delivers the meal to schools. It seeks to understand the similarities and differences between these systems with relation to fostering social equity, building community participation, increasing transparency and accountability, providing adequate quality and quantity of food to children, and serving as a source of employment for women or lower caste individuals, amongst other variables.

Homelessness in Ahmedabad: Case studies from IIM Business Students
Amber Morley

Ahmedabad, Gujarat has increasingly prioritised the development of slum settlements as a way to reduce urban poverty. However, policy has often failed to address more marginalised communities, such as the homeless. This report explores over fifty oral histories of the homeless conducted by IIM-A students, supplemented by additional reports from NGOs and government departments. It seeks to provide a basic understanding of the “urban underbelly” which is often omitted from the story of India’s modernising cities, and demonstrate how a platform can be constructed for the homeless agenda.

Why ragpickers, unrecognised and unpaid, are critical for waste management in India
Rajanya Bose and Anirban Bhattacharya
IndiaSpend, 2017

Ragpickers sustain themselves by collecting, sorting and segregating waste and then trading it. In doing so, they help clean up a significant proportion of the 62 million tonnes of waste generated annually in India. This article engages with the current status of ragpicking in India as well as its implications for waste management.

‘Good for the country, not good for the poor’: Delhi’s marginal folk struggle with demonetisation
Harsh Mander, Anirban Bhattacharya, Nandini Dey and Vivek Mishra
Scroll, 2016

In markets, labour addas and homeless shelters, people struggling to make a living have been pushed over the edge by the cash crunch; and the many hardships that are bruising and crushing the lives of the poor because of the sudden withdrawal of cash from the economy are being systematically invisibilised and minimalised.

Off the mean streets
Caravan, 2014

This article argue that attempts to address homelessness must begin by understanding its complexities. To be successful, any attempts to alleviate urban poverty will need to look more closely than before not only at specific challenges facing India’s urban poor, but also at the variety of experiences within this growing demographic.

Homeless on a winter night
Harsh Mander
The Hindu, 2010

Winter is a time of hard choices for the homeless poor in the nation’s capital. There are no shelters of any kind for more than 90 per cent of over a hundred thousand men, women and children in the nation’s capital, for whom the open sky is their only roof.

Strife in a Metro: Affirming Rights to Admission in the City of Delhi
Rajanya Bose and N.C. Saxena
India Exclusion Report, 2017

The ‘urban poor’ is a fraught term that often hides the extreme heterogeneity of the poor in an urban space. It is also almost impossible to define the population or the community of the ‘urban poor’ in the context of Delhi. This chapter of the India Exclusion Report 2017 seeks to provide glimpses into the vulnerabilities faced by the population, in their living and working in Delhi, to bring out various forms of penalty and denial of citizenship rights by the state.

Little Men and Little Women of City Streets Urban Street Children
Harsh Mander, Deepti Srivastava, Preeti Mathew and Satya Pillai
India Exclusion Report, 2017

Street children challenge the social representation that childhood is always sheltered and protected. Children in street situations are extremely vulnerable and endure severely deprived living conditions, a profound lack of protection and the basic support for nutrition, health and education. This chapter of the India Exclusion Report 2017 attempts to open up the unseen and unheard lives of the urban street child. It illustrates how they are inadvertently or otherwise marginalized, rendered invisible and eventually excluded from access to public goods, such as safety and protection, food and nutrition, health, public space and education. It questions the national commitment, state responsibility and the public conscience as these relate to street children, and attempts to present a set of recommendations that can reverse the situation from that of chronic exclusion into inclusion.

Who Cares: Urban Health Care and Exclusion
Devaki Nambiar, Prathibha Ganesan and Adita Rao
India Exclusion Report, 2015

There is a lack of both care and caring when it comes to health in Indian cities. Health, a state of wellbeing, is the embodiment of myriad factors: food and nutrition, water and sanitation, education, employment and social security, shaped by societal determinants. Health care, which this chapter focuses on, is necessary but not adequate for the health of populations; but is a critical starting point for the achievement of health equity. This chapter of the India Exclusion Report 2015 explores urban health care as a public good, processes of exclusions around urban health care; as well as the role of the state, and recommendations for the sensitive restructuring of urban public health services.

Tracing Exclusions in Urban Water Supply and Sanitation
Geetika Anand, Kavita Wankhade and Rajiv K. Raman
India Exclusion Report, 2015

Nearly 70 years since Independence, a large proportion of urban Indians, particularly poor and vulnerable groups, continue to be deprived of adequate public provisioning in water supply and sanitation. The discourse of ‘urban’ is increasingly being captured through the rhetoric of ‘Smart Cities’, even as urban residents are yet to receive basic services. Albeit late, sanitation has now occupied centre-stage in India’s policy framework through the current government’s flagship: Swacch Bharat Mission. This chapter of the India Exclusion Report 2015 seeks to understand the nature of exclusion from water and sanitation services in India, and proposes a way forward to address these exclusions.

Urban Housing and Exclusion
Gautam Bhan, Geetika Anand, Amogh Arakali, Anushree Deb, Swastik Harish
India Exclusion Report, 2014

This chapter of the 2013-14 India Exclusion Report argues that access to affordable and appropriate housing must be seen as a public good, the protection and provision of which requires strong public commitment and action in multiple ways, including an unambiguous framing of housing as a right and entitlement. It explores how homelessness, housing poverty and illegality impact other capabilities – namely basic environmental services, including water supply, sanitation, drainage, solid waste management, health and education, mobility, economic capacities, as well as socio-political belonging and citizenship; the structural causes of this exclusion; and offers a set of approaches for public policy and action, to deal with housing and the redressal of its exclusions.

Food Security of the Homeless in Delhi: A study of the nutritional status and dietary intakes of adult homeless persons in New Delhi
Vandana Prasad, Soibam Haripriya and Smita Jacob
2010

A conservative estimate of one per cent of Delhi’s population – 1.5 lakh adults and children – constitute one of the most vulnerable categories of the urban poor, the homeless. Taking account of the alarming situation of hunger deaths of the homeless, the Commissioners to the Supreme Court in the Right to Food case recommended that wholesome hot cooked meals be provided to the homeless populations at subsidized prices. For the same, the Delhi government was advised to set up 500 community kitchens where affordable nutritious food is available and a further 100 kitchens which serve free food to the destitute. In this context, then, it is significant to enquire into the situation of food security of the homeless populations in Delhi. This study aims to identify the nutritional status and dietary intake of different categories of homeless populations in Delhi. The study seeks to establish the need of community kitchens for the homeless in Delhi, and present recommendations for how this model should be organized.