Accepted paper:

Bypassed youth cultures in a smart new age: The many impasses of the periurban and tiny glimmers of hope


Sudhir Rajan (IIT Madras )
Baiju Thankachan (Indian Institute of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper synthesises findings from two years of research in the periurban regions of Chennai and Bangalore, whose original focus was on livelihood security and sustainability. Bypassed youth cultures turned out to be a strong theme, whose resolution requires creative strategies.

Paper long abstract:

Three statistics portend the future of livelihood security in India: The richest 10 percent's income share is the highest in the world (over 55%); the share of salaried employment is lowest in the world (under 20%); and by 2020 India will be the youngest country in the world with a median age of 29 years. Add to this the 'smartness' of cities, post-Fordist automation in production systems and globally networked markets, and the likelihood of close to half the country's population ever reaching the middle classes seems extremely dim.

This paper uses a range of findings from around two years of studies in Chennai and Bangalore's periurban to synthesise alternative livelihood strategies and and 'wiser' visions for sustainable lifestyles for youth in India. The periurban forms the hinterland of cities, not only as a source of materials and labour, but also in the sense of creating 'left behind' spaces by capitalist conclaves that displace agriculture. These spatial bypasses remain largely hidden from view. If urban poverty marked the great underclass of the 19th and 20th centuries, periurban precarity may be the defining feature of 21st century vulnerability. Characterising their spatial and socio-economic conditions correctly will be essential to seek solutions.

panel K04
From inclusive cities via vibrant public spaces to sustainable development: A leap of faith or a leap too far? (Hybrid combining: paper + policy and practice panel)