Through my varied experiences, I have learnt that no matter the coercion, there is no undermining people’s agency. In my research, I am committed to “study up” or explicate structures of power to document how people can mobilize in the face of hegemony. I draw my inspiration from my various mentors and comrades within these social justice campaigns, to speak truth to power.
THE DP 24/7
The Urban Design Research Institute is a public charitable trust setup in 1983 dedicated to the protection of built environments and the improvement of urban communities. Understanding that an interdisciplinary and holistic view of our urban environment will lead to practical solutions for its improvement, the UDRI provides a forum promoting interaction between architects, urban designers and professionals from related fields such as economics, sociology, planning, conservation and history.
They view themselves as a watchdog on urban planning issues, promoting democratic values of civic participation to create a more just, liveable and equitable metropolis. We have also undertaken extensive research projects on Mumbai’s Mill lands, Eastern Waterfront, Fort area, Heritage conservation and are currently engaged in formulation a public participation process for the revision of the Development Plan for Mumbai 2014-2034.
As a part of the UDRI I was involved in the organisation of 78 stakeholder workshops surrounding the issues of housing, transport, livelihood, water and sanitation, urban environment and communications.
Pani Haq Samiti (PHS)
PHS is a people’s campaign for Universal Access to Water. Over the last decade, PHS members have been actively involved in informal settlements across Mumbai towards getting water access to communities denied this right. PHS strives to educate and create public opinion to support the re-establishment of water as a common resource for the city while opposing privatization of water supply and distribution. PHS believes every human being has a responsibility to protect and conserve water.
In 2009, PHS participated in the People’s World Water Forum which took place in Istanbul, Turkey. Between 2007 and 2009, PHS was also part of the movement to obtain recognition for the right to water as a human right in the United Nations General Assembly. It helped to secure written statements of support from water activists and public intellectuals in India for the same. In 2017, PHS facilitated the people’s representation to the United Nations Special Rapporteur to Water and Sanitation.
My association with the Pani Haq Samiti, a network of residents from twenty-three slums, struggling to get piped water supply to their communities in Mumbai, has shown me the power of persistence in the face of hardship. The insights from this process inform my research on the complexities of urban planning in Mumbai, where I elucidate the lessons learned through this engagement.
Hamara Shehar Vikas Niyojan Abhiyan Mumbai (Our City Development Plan Campaign, Mumbai) is a city-wide campaign comprised of communities, people’s movements, academic institutions, NGOs, community-based organizations, and activists. They aim to advance a collective vision and renew a collective ethos for our shared city. They seek to sustain the process of broad and meaningful participation in how urban planning and governance in Mumbai impacts our lives and our city.
As a part of the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance (CUPG), Tata Institute of Social Sciences I played an important role in organizing the two consultation regarding Gender and Formal Housing in collaboration with Akshara and Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) respectively.