Amit Kumar, the RLC-PhD Candidate at Centre for Development Research (ZEF), has presented a part of his PhD thesis on ‘Photo-pass and the Legitimation Crisis of Urban Planning in Mumbai’ at the 7th PhD Conference on International Development organised by Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE), Ruhr-University Bochum. He was a speaker at the session on ‘Housing and Urban Citizenship in Transforming Cities’ chaired by Prof. Dr Erhard Berner (International Institute of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands).
In the paper presented, Amit strived to trace the genealogy of urban planning with particular reference to slum demolitions in Mumbai. Firstly, he provided a snapshot of the land-management policies in Mumbai. Secondly, he elaborates how the state frames the logic of ‘formalising the informal’ through documentary evidence, i.e. Photo-pass in the case of Mumbai. Thirdly, he shows how in such a retrospective mode of urban planning the people living in unauthorised slums in Mumbai trump it strategically through counter-documentaries, participating in informal labour markets and forming associations with activist organisations like one of Medha Patkar (Right Livelihood Award Laureate, 1991). Fourth and final, he argues that the urban planning in the Global South, suffers from a crisis of legitimation in between a) the compulsions of democratic populism and b) imperatives of technocratic planning.
Apart from participating in the conference, he also networked with some researchers from other universities in Europe and outside. He also met Mr Biswaranjan Tripura, an Assistant Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai which hosts the Right Livelihood Campus Mumbai, who is currently pursuing his PhD on ‘Indigenous Politics in India’ at IEE, Ruhr-University Bochum.
Alejandro Mora Motta, also an RLC-PhD Candidate at the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) participated in the conference as well.