Indian Slums: An alarming concern


  • Political broker operate in the informal space between the state and the citizen.
  • Recent analysis points out that they can make a strong positive impact on the developmental challenges of the slums.


  • In the last few decades, Dont’a Hightower Jersey India has seen an increasing number of people migrating from rural areas to urban cities in search of work and better living.
  • These migrants often get employed in the informal sector as construction workers, vendors, domestic servants, etc.
  • Due to less than minimum wages they live in informal settlements, generally known as slums.


  • As per the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) Human Development Report 2014, at 632 million, India has the world’s largest number of people living in multidimensional poverty.
  • The information gathered by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) between 2010 and 2015 reveals that at least 49,000 families or over 2, 34,000 people in urban areas have been evicted forcefully from their homes eventually landing themselves to slums.
  • India’s slum population surges to 104 million by 2017.


  • The government has implemented schemes like Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) and Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in 63 cities with the thrust mainly on integrated development of the slums by providing shelter, basic services,
  • and other related civic amenities.
  • BSUP focused on tearing down and rebuilding slums to provide hot water, lights, and heating. .
  • National Slum Development Program (NDSP) implemented a slum upgradation model, allowing residents to make household improvements to existing structures.
  • This program provided a “basic service package” including access to clean water, adequate sewage disposal, and a proper title to land.
  • India recently proposed an ambitious new program, Housing for All, designed to provide every person living in slums with access to adequate housing by 2022.


  • The apartments made by the government are substandard and don’t even have proper access to basic facilities like drinking water.
  • The special projects for the provision of basic services to the urban poor under the Asian Development Bank (ADB), JNNURM and the Department For International Development (DFID) projects are not being implemented properly and so there is every possibility of further deterioration of the Water Supply and Sanitation facilities (WSS) situation in the poverty pockets in the future.
  • Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP)’s redevelopment model uprooted entire neighborhoods, resulting in a high social cost.

The slum leaders/political broker:

  • According to the UN, a billion people live in slums worldwide, out of which 68 million is shared by India.
  • So uncertain is their position that it would seem that these citizens barely have a contract with the government.
  • But as research show, that’s not necessarily the case; political brokers do operate in the informal space between the state and the citizen.
  • These brokers or slum leaders emerge through a solid bottom-up process.
  • The study, covering 2,199 residents across 110 slums in India, found such informal leadership to rest on “local public support”, and to be “pervasive and contested.
  • The political brokers are legitimate representatives.
  • They were actually selected by residents, often through the ballot,
  • for their ability to negotiate with the state and deliver the goods, such as water supply or ration cards or caste certificates.

How are these leaders a boon?

  • As the recent researches show, if the slum leaders derive their legitimacy from actually delivering goods and benefits to residents, then it means that local governments can actually co-opt them in their slum development efforts.
  • Slum leaders, for example, can be particularly helpful in combating crime because they are already the go-to person for dispute resolution for residents.
  • Slum residents are usually reluctant to approach law enforcement authorities owing to their own precarious legal situation, so they go to these leaders instead.
  • The recent study suggests that the majority of leaders rule not through the barrel of the gun, but by earning reputations for getting things done for the settlement.
  • This could help to understand how policymakers should approach them with respect to slum development and rehabilitation efforts.


  • Smart investment, incentives, social inclusion, cultural sensitivity, and environmental stewardship are important factors in meeting the slum-challenge.
  • Strong partnerships between government, private investors, and developers are also critical to the success of creating sustainable cities.
  • Understanding the role of slum leader within poor urban communities is essential for designing community-driven development efforts.
  • Practitioners look to local leadership as a crucial component of pro-poor targeting, induced participation,
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