Maintaining the Chowki

November 29, 2015

 This is the Municipal Chowki of the Shivaju Nagar Sector in the M/E ward of Mumbai. This particular office can is the lowest unit of the many headed monster, the urban bureaucracy of Mumbai. Here is where I saw the most basic levels of interaction taking place between the street level bureaucrats and people. The interesting aspect of this lowest level of the state is that it is located within what can be termed as an informal settlement. Most people living within this settlement do not have land titles or citizenship rights, yet the state seeks to make itself available at this location. the kinds of interactions that happen at this lowest level of the urban bureaucracy are most interesting. 

At this office is where people are able to establish their citizenship and make claims on the state by the means of technological objects such as ration cards, electricity bills, notices for demolition, etc. It is also at this particular location that different intermediaries exist, intermediaries who can help make the illegal, legal. It is here that you can begin to see the cracks and crevices in the networks of the state, where people infiltrate through the many different nodes that the intermediaries make avalaible to them. 

 

 

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