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POVERTY IN INDIAN CITIES

Lenin Sharma 2012mud003 School of Planning and Architecture Bhopal

INTRODUCTION According to World Bank (2000), poverty is defined as deprivation in well being which leads to the question of what defines well being, the reference points of which can help define poverty.(1) a) Monetary Command over commodities: The main focus is on whether households or individuals have enough resources to meet their needs. b) Consumption of or access to specific goods and services: To ask whether people are able to obtain a specific type of consumption good like do they have enough food? Or shelter? Or health care? Or education? c) Capability to function in society (Amartya Sen, 1987): Poverty arises when people lack key capabilities, and so have inadequate income or education, or poor health, or insecurity, or low self-confidence, or a sense

URBANISATION OF POVERTY IN INDIA India is fast developing as a global giant and according to a study by United Nations in 1995, by the year 2015, ten of the worlds largest cities will be in Asia (excluding Japan); three of which will be in India. But as the urban population is growing, so is urban poverty. Poverty is widespread in India with the nation estimated to have a third of the worlds poor. India has the largest number of poor living in urban areas compared to any other country in the world having about 49000 slums, and 93 million people living in these slums. At national level, rural poverty is higher than urban poverty but the gap between the two has decreased over the last few decades. Not surprisingly, eradication of poverty continues to be the target
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of many of the policies in India. However, the policies have not really delivered what it meant to, perhaps due lack of understanding the issue of urban poverty. The urban poor in Indian cities as we saw during the preparations for the Delhi Common Wealth Games, is seen as unwanted and dirty. After all, we all want to showcase a world-class city. But what is meant by a world class city if the basic rights of any human being are denied? (2)

Definition and Identification Who are the poor? What are the indicators in the city poverty profile? Arent the rickshaw wallas, chai wallas or the thella walas poor? Or is it only the beggars and the homeless. It is never very accurately defined who the poor are. To not have an accurate estimate of who are the poor and why would have us all derive subjective and divisive personal judgments of whos poor and whos not. It is in fact the context which decides how we define it. An administrator uses quantitative methods-monetary indicators for distribution of welfare schemes to the filtered lot. An NGO working for creating a healthy living condition in the city might consider access to services like sewerage, drainage, garbage collection etc. as an indicator. To a lay man, it is more visual, like the way they dress or how healthy they are. Similarly there are many other kinds of poverty of which monetary indicators are most effectively used. If you cant get the basic necessities of life, youre poor. A narrow definition, further isolates and the divides the poor into the homeless, slum dwellers, beggars, and so on. The Planning Commission has recently set Rs 965 per month in urban India and Rs 781 in rural India as the income threshold to define poverty. Which means those spending in excess of Rs 32 a day in urban areas or Rs 26 a day in villages will no longer be eligible to draw benefits of central and state government welfare schemes meant for those living below poverty line.
Had the government gone by 1979 poverty estimation methodology based on expenditure for buying food worth 2,400 calories in rural areas and 2,100 calories in urban areas, the present poverty line figure would had been R36 for rural areas and R60 for urban areas.

And, it would have meant that more than 50% of Indians were poor as against the present Pan Panel figure of 37.5 %.(3)

CHARACTERISTICS OF URBAN POVERTY IN INDIA i. Slum formation

According to the UN HABITAT (part of the United Nations), a simple definition of a slum would be "a heavily populated urban area characterized by substandard housing and squalor" According to a recently conducted survey, 22% of Indian urban population lives in slums and about 49 thousand slums were estimated to be in existence in urban India in 2008-09, 24% of them were located along nallahs and drains and 12% along railway lines. About 57% of slums were built on public land, owned mostly by local bodies, state government, etc. In 64% of notified slums, a majority of the dwellings were pucca, the corresponding percentage for the non-notified ones being 50%. For 95% slums, the major source of drinking water was either tap or tubewell. Only 1% notified and 7% non-notified slums did not have electricity connection. About 78% of notified slums and 57% of the non-notified slums had a pucca road inside the slum. About 73% notified and 58% non-notified slums had a motorable approach road. About 48% of the slums were usually affected by water logging during monsoon 32% with inside of slum waterlogged as well as approach road to the slum, 7% where the slum was waterlogged but not the approach road, and 9% where only the approach road was waterlogged in the monsoon. The sanitary conditions in the slums in terms of latrine facility during 2008-09 showed considerable improvement since 2002. Latrines with septic tanks (or similar facility) were available in 68% notified and 47% non-notified slums (up from 66% and 35% respectively in 2002). At the other extreme, 10% notified and 20% nonnotified slums (down from 17% and 51% in 2002) did not have any latrine facility at all. About 10% notified and 23% non-notified slums did not have any drainage facility. The corresponding proportions in 2002 had been 15% for notified and 44% for nonnotified slums. Underground drainage systems or drainage systems constructed of
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pucca materials existed in about 39% notified slums (25% in 2002) and 24% nonnotified slums (13% in 2002). Underground sewerage existed in about 33% notified slums (30% in 2002) and 19% non-notified slums (15% in 2002). 4 Government agencies were collecting garbage from 75% notified and 55% non notified slums. Among these slums, garbage was collected at least once in 7 days in 93% notified and 92% non-notified slums. About 10% notified and 23% non notified slums did not have any regular mechanism for garbage disposal. Over the last five years, facilities had improved in about 50% of notified slums in terms of roads (both within-slum road and approach road) and water supply. The incidence of deterioration of any of the existing facilities in notified slums during the last five years was quite low (about 6% or below). In case of most slum facilities sewerage and medical facilities being exceptions the facility was reported to have improved during the last five years in more than 20% of non-notified slums. Deterioration of any of the existing facilities in nonnotified slums, like notified slums, was rare (about 9% or below). Facilities such as street light, latrine, drainage, sewerage and medical facilities were each reported by more than 10% of notified slums to be non-existent both at the time of survey and five years earlier. In case of non-notified slums, facilities like street light, latrine, drainage, sewerage and garbage disposal were each reported by more than 20% of the slums to be non-existent, both during the survey and five years earlier. Where improvement had been brought about during the last 5 years, it was due to the Governments efforts in about 80-90% of slums, both notified as well as nonnotified and for all the facilities. Improvement in educational facilities at primary level was attributed to NGOs in 13% of the notified slums where such improvement was reported. NGOs were also found to have played a role in the improvement of latrine and sewerage system in non-notified slums. Source: NSS Report no. 534 on Some Characteristics of Urban Slums 2008-09 ii. Pavement dwellers (the invisible)

It is a paradox that pavement dwellers are highly visible on the one hand- no one in the city of Bombay could have failed to see them, but virtually invisible on the other.
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According to a report by Bombay Municipal Corporation, there were 2000 pavement dwellers in the city as early as 1952. Few years later it rose to 1.5 million house-less persons in the country of which over 62,000 were located in Greater Bombay. A study carried out by BMC showed that the main cause of pavement dwelling was the lack of resources to buy or rent better housing. Also the evictions and demolitions in slum areas resulted in people taking to pavement dwelling.(6) iii. Begging

Beggary in India is a growing socio-economic problem and an extreme form of destitution and poverty in urban areas. Instead of solving the issue India has many anti begging laws like the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act which is seen by many as antipoor. iv. Distress migration

People migrate to cities as they see it as a window of opportunities to earn, which is very true. There is better infrastructure too which is not available in the villages. People have succeeded as well as failed getting caught in the cycle of poverty. Once they are caught, it becomes hard to escape the trap. They are further exploited by the higher strata and suffer from social exclusion. This othering of the so-called migrants happens through acts of labeling, such as outsiders, encroachers, illegal occupants, and criminals by the people. v. Informal sector and urban poor

The informal sector accounts for 66.7% of total employment in Delhi and 68% in Mumbai. Workers engaged in this urban informal sector form the bulk of the urban poor. Dharavi Slum: The BBC in 2006 estimated that its thriving informal economy generates an annual turnover of business to be more than $600 million.

FACES OF URBAN POOR i. Political Inclusion

The poor in the urban areas like their rural counterparts enjoy the right to choose their leaders, political freedom. Their number coupled with their desperate need of commodities,

infrastructures and services like road, electricity, water supply, etc. is seen by many a politicians as potential vote banks. Roads are developed, water supply schemes are begun which benefits both the poor and the leaders. Even the policies are many a time framed to catch their votes. It is only during any political drama that this strata of the society enjoys some considerable concern. So prevalent is this all throughout India that it has become another face of the Poor. ii. Socio-Economic Exclusion

The poor even in urban areas are excluded socially though politically included. Despite Indias record of rapid economic growth and poverty reduction over recent decades, rising inequality has been a matter of concern. Poverty and Social Exclusion in India focuses on social exclusion, which has its roots in Indias historical divisions along lines of caste, tribe, and the excluded sex, that is, women. These inequalities are more structural in nature and have kept entire groups trapped, unable to take advantage of opportunities that economic growth offers.

THE CONCEPT OF THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF POVERTY In economics, the cycle of poverty is the "set of factors or events by which poverty, once started, is likely to continue unless there is outside intervention.(7)
Figure a shows that when a country is poor, incomes of people are low, when incomes are low they hardly meet the need of Figure a: Vicious Cycle of Poverty bread and butter, in this situation they are Source: http://www.eduinn.pk unable to save so country has low rate of saving. When there is no saving what would be there to invest. Hence, low rate of investment. When there would be no investment, there would be low capital formation and low productivity per worker and because of this workers have low income. So this circle goes on. And it a big hindrance in the development of least developed countries.(8)

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF URBAN POVERTY IN INDIA? Poverty is regarded as a vicious circle. It is the product of different causes. Some of the thinkers have attributed it to a single cause but as poverty is a multi dimensional problem, multiple factors are responsible for it. According to Hennery George, the main cause of poverty is the personal ownership and monopoly of individual on the land. He writes in great cities where land is so valuable that it is measured by foot you will find extreme of poverty and of luxury. There are many arguments of which two are very prominent and which also contradicts each other: i. Developing too fast?

There are 37 Indian cities among the worlds 300 fastest growing urban centres, according to a survey conducted by the City Mayors Foundation. High-speed, colossal growth, as impressive as it may be, poses several problems if not threats: pollution (air, soil, water), and a disproportionate concentration of poverty, among others. Those two issues stem directly from the fact that by growing that fast it makes it hard to plan for everything all at once: housing (for a while some cities grew by a million inhabitant per year) and the gigantic urban planning mish-mash that it presupposes ii. Victimization?

In her book Slumming India, Gita Verma does make a very strong case for seeing slumdwellers not as the culprits responsible for slumming cities, but the victims of urban development. She explains how, despite more than half a century of planning in India, slums have thrived, feeding on the despair of their residents. Her argument is very well summarized in the story from her book which she titles The Plot. She argues that it is not that the cities of today have out grown the projected growth that they were planned around 50 years ago, which led to the failure of the plans laid out then. Instead the ones who were given the responsibilities (Those In Charge) to carry out the job did so but considered only themselves. Those in charge saw their roles not in terms of responsibility but in terms of power. So, the rest were deprived of their share and were not
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planned for. The deprived others got painted as offenders for not following the plan. So, the plan was blamed and termed it anti-people as it is happening now.

ISSUES RELATED TO URBAN POOR IN INDIA 1. Commoditization (reliance on the cash economy) Human beings since history fulfill their daily needs through resources available naturally. But with commoditization, those resources to which anyone and everyone had free access to become charged. It is turned into a commodity and sold in the market. This leads to exclusion of those without the capability to purchase the resource which was earlier naturally available. 2. Exclusion Poverty and discrimination: This is all the more true of ethnic minorities, lower castes and the females in the society. This implies that the effects of poverty are not exclusively material but also very much psychological (it affects in many ways mental health and behavior). This aspect of mental and physiological health is present in each and every of the aforementioned effects of poverty. Every form of poorness, every form of social exclusion be it material or racial has its impact on peoples health. This has massive consequences for policymakers concerned not just about poverty but also about reinforcing social cohesion.

Urban poor increasingly made homeless in Indias drive for more beautiful cities Indian city of Mumbai still has Slum Clearance Act which is a colonial hangover. When Mumbai (Bombay) Municipal Corporation evicted pavement dwellers in 1981, a journalist came forward to file a public interest petition to protect the rights of the pavement dwellers. After five years in 1986, the case became a landmark judgment that maintained that the Right to Life included the Right to Livelihood. As livelihood of the poor depends directly on where they live, this was a verdict in favour of pavement dwellers.(9)

3. Health and hygiene


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Water and Sanitation is one of the primary drivers of public health.(10) The hygiene in the urban areas inhabited by the poor is very poor. It is cramped with people and not managed, most of the time contaminated with pollutants too. Such an environment has resulted in poor health conditions in such areas. The health and hygiene in urban poor and non poor of India can be seen through the indicators as given in table a.

Table a: Health and Hygiene of Urban Poor Vs Non poor Source: http://indiasanitationportal.org/1441

Among the urban poor, 59 per cent women suffer from anaemia and 47 per cent of the
children below the age of five are underweight.(11)

The poorer communities fare worse than richer ones in life expectancy. But people's health is affected not only by material poverty but also by social exclusion, yet another of the neglected effects of poverty.

4. Feminization of poverty United Nations Development Fund for Women describes it as "the burden of poverty borne by women, especially in developing countries. Some of the key gender specific causes of poverty in India include the gender differences in: (Heyzer, 1992): Endowments and ownership of assets. Kinship pattern. Access to credit, training, etc. Access to employment, wages and terms of employment, and bias in division of labour and work burden. Access to household, community and state resources: particularly food, education and health. Access to public decision-making.
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Space to organise and claim rights.

5. Poverty and crime: Poverty and crime are linked to each other as statistics from India's largest jail -Tihar Prisons reveal that 92 per cent of the prisoners lodged there are from the lower income strata of society. (12) 6. Child poverty There are two major ill effects of child poverty which are: Child labor Hampers childrens development and lead them to build an antisocial behavior that acts as a psychological protection against their hostile environment. India is home to more than 12.6 million children who are forced to work in order to survive. These children are working as domestic help, on streets, in factories and farmlands silently suffering abuse. (13)

CONCLUSION In the contest of claiming the city the poor in the cities of India stand no chance. All they ask for is a place to stand, a window of opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty and a place they could call home. The public perception of people of the lower strata in the cities is that they are illegal. There is a certain unsaid understanding about an ideal city dweller as belonging to a certain social and economic class, who is conceived as the resident around whom the bulk of urban planning and development is focused.

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REFERENCES

1. Handbook on Poverty and Inequality 2. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-21/india/30183983_1_urbanareas-poverty-line-norms 3. Urban poverty in India, Vikalp Alternatives, december 2005 4. Analyzing Urban Poverty, A Summary of Methods and Approaches, Judy Baker and Nina Schuler 5. http://www.poverties.org/urban-poverty-in-india.html 6. We, the invisible, Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres, 1985 7. Marger, 2008,Social Inequality: Patterns and Processes. McGraw Hill publishing, 4th edition. 8. http://www.eduinn.pk/2009/11/vicious-circle-of-poverty.html 9. http://www.citymayors.com/development/india_urban1.html 10. www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/factsfigures04/en 11. http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/urban-poor-in-india-cause-of-concern-182511 12. http://zeenews.india.com, 2012-2-1, retrieved on 2012-10-31 13. http://support.savethechildren.in

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