Why study informality?

Why study informality?

At a conference a few months back, a senior academic asked my panel – ‘How relevant do each one of you think is to study informality? Isn’t it an outdated/irrelevant term?’. I responded, rather unclearly. The unclear response has been refining in my mind. It was not the answer in itself, as I was quite clear of it, but the articulation of it via language. Thus, here is what I feel is a clear(er) articulation of what I think about research on informality. Continue reading

Bhupen Khakhar and Development discourse

Bhupen Khakhar and Development discourse

In other words, for the world which doesn’t accepts him (as gay), he is a mere artist, and for world which accepts him (as artist) he is gay. This is the critique of the hidden oppression which the Tate misses to materialize, or chose not to materialize to cater to the voyeuristic nature of looking from the developed world to the developing world. Continue reading

Partial Cross-Section of a City

Partial Cross-Section of a City

Three women who came to the city of Delhi at three different points in its history, with three different backgrounds, and to three different settlement “categories”. All of them see their work as something which is making a difference, education, housing and food….yet three different positionalities…three kinds of differential access to resources…..three different ways of negotiating these differential access…. Continue reading

Encountering Chirag Dilli

Encountering Chirag Dilli

As the playful production of momos go on in the first floor of a shop in Chirag Dilli, Vikas, one of the 25 year old momo entrepreneur jokingly ask – “इतनी फोटो खीच रहे हो, कहीं बेन तो नहीं लगवाओगे?” ‘you are taking so pictures, will you ban us (laughs)’ …. and me “मेगी की तरह मोमो को बेन कर दिया तो दिल्लीवाले सड़क पे उत्तर आएंगे!” ‘if momos are banned like magi then dilli walas will protest on roads’……. laughs break as I taste the ingredients! Continue reading

The (kind of) FirsT visit to Savda Ghevra

The (kind of) FirsT visit to Savda Ghevra

“वह ज़मीन और आसमान की दूरी को डोर के आधार पर ही नापती है। मुझे लगता डोर उसे अपने इशारो से नचाती है… कहने को तो वो खुले आसमान में उड़ती है पर उसके हालात किसी बंधे जानवर की तरह ही होते है जिसकी डोर किसी न किसी के हाथो में होती है। …मैं डोर … Continue reading

Formal-Informal dualism

Formal-Informal dualism

‘Informal’ due to its dependence on formal and the connotation in the development discourse usually comes up in a negative sense and is almost always referred with urban poor. For the study of fast changing urban agglomerations (specific to India in this case), we need to have a far more neutral term. Continue reading

The Idea’s Constipation?

The Idea’s Constipation?

I am in no way making a case for Koolhaas, but using Koolhaas as a tool to argue that nothing much has changed in urban theory for the past two decades. This is resulting in projects and studies of cities, specially in the global south to have the same perspective as of Keith Hart. Continue reading

The Forced Idea of Freedom

The Forced Idea of Freedom

From the heights of atrocities’ during the emergency to the post-liberal ‘projects’ of the world class city, nothing much has changed other than the cosmetic rhetoric as far as initiatives with the urban poor are concerned. The ‘IDEA of URBAN’ as conceptualised by the bourgeois urbanist is still what forms the core of urban initiatives. Continue reading

To make architecture is to construct knowledge!

To make architecture is to construct knowledge!

Urban development has lead to a binary theorization of the cities, into the formal and the informal. Where the economically weaker section is seen as living in the ruptures of the legal systems and called the informal. The informal, understood as- of which is devoid of formality, thus most of the discussions pertaining to informal are portrayed against the formal. Informality thus becomes an anarchic appropriation of what could not be absorbed in the formal. Continue reading

In-Situ – The Kathputli Colony

In-Situ – The Kathputli Colony

The general notion of shame towards non-formal settlements like Kathputli Colony, which essentially is a colonial legacy, is undermining the immense potential that this settlement has. Kathputli Colony is part of the cultural landscape of Delhi and can be accentuated so Continue reading

Why Art

Why Art

“So long as government and law provides for the security and well-being of the men in their common life, the arts, literature and the sciences, less despotic though perhaps more powerful, fling garlands of flowers over the chains which weigh them down. They stifle in men’s breasts that sense of original liberty, for which they … Continue reading

This is not the Swaraj that I want!

This is not the Swaraj that I want!

It was quite shocking when I opened the news paper yesterday. A teenager was killed by the Delhi Police (DP) because he was riding pillion with a stunt biker. What was shocking was that DP appointed 300 policemen to check the stunt biker, in a scenario where DP blames the lack of officials for the … Continue reading

Nero Fiddles while Rome Burns

Nero Fiddles while Rome Burns

They say it was the first fight for the freedom of India, the sepoy mutiny of 1857, where the company was at the verge of loosing its colony. Soon after, the British realized that they can’t have such loose control over the native. Massive restructuring was done, huge chunks of Shahjahanabad was demolished and rebuilt, … Continue reading

Gali Qasim Jan ki vo Haveli….

Gali Qasim Jan ki vo Haveli….

The famous haveli at Gali Qasim jan at Ballimaran, whose resident at one point was the epitome of Urdu poetry, is one of the many mute witnesses of the Mughal tehzeeb. Like with many, Delhi have made Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan also its own, to an extent that ‘Ghalib ki Dilli’ is a common phrase … Continue reading

An Urbanist’s viewpoint on FDI in multi-brand retail

An Urbanist’s viewpoint on FDI in multi-brand retail

I felt sad that none of the politicians talked about any of the urban implications. Especially in light of the largest ever investment into urban areas through JNNURM, I thought Kamal Nath would have taken up some issues, because he is the urban development minister and was in trade ministry, which is a rare blend. Jaitly was speaking red and lefties were making arguments way too below their standards. Well! All others were just speaking something which I found really hard to make any sense in terms of logical argument. Continue reading

Mehrauli “!”

Mehrauli “!”

Mehrauli, the oldest continuously inhabited place in Delhi, where there are still remnants ranging from the Mahabharata period to the tear soaked grounds of the last Mughal emperor to the insensitive atrocities of the Raj. Continue reading