Accepted paper:

Settlements of the un-sedentary: A study on the living conditions of migrant labour in Ahmedabad India

Authors:

Nivedita Jayaram (Aajeevika Bureau)
Sangeeth Sugathan (Aajeevika Bureau)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the living conditions of migrant labour in Ahmedabad, India. Through secondary and primary investigations, it finds that policy should address the link between growing rural-urban migration, casualization of work and poor living conditions to resolve India's urbanization crisis.

Paper long abstract:

Ahmedabad, India's growth engine, relies on a large and growing number of labour migrants to power its expanding industrial activity. However, the city fails to provide dignified housing to this section of its population. Without official count or identity, this large floating community provides flexible and cheap labour, stripped of rights or claims that is required to flourish the city's economics of unequal agglomeration. Already faced with a high level of precarity in the city, due to the informal, insecure and temporary nature of their jobs, sub-optimal living arrangements become an extension of the exploitation and marginalization that they face in the labour market. A review of urban policy suggests that they remain focused on the broad category of urban poor. Seasonal labour migrants form a dominant cross section within this category, marked by complex webs of informality, seasonality and mobility patterns that are overlooked by broad-stroke policies. Furthermore, they remain exclusionary policies with a sedentary bias, which do not take into account the unique caste, class, and gender based vulnerabilities of 'un-sedentary' migrant communities. This study identifies and examines the different typologies of migrant settlements and lived experiences of labour migrants, in order to highlight the relationships, processes and systems that shape their living arrangements in the city. In doing so, this paper articulates the factors that policy needs to be cognizant of, in order to effectively address the question of housing and access to basic amenities for labour migrants, as a pre-condition for resolving India's urbanization crisis.

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