This blog maps out the civil society organizations (CSOs) interfacing in urban governance issues in the megacity context of Mumbai. In particular it brings out the variations in rationale, functions, interests and membership profile.
The discussion drives home the point how the involvement of CSOs of various hues, ideologies and motivations have further rendered the city as a theatre of struggles, politics and contesting claims and competing discourses.
Schematization of CSOs interfacing in urban governance in Mumbai
CSOs interfacing in urban governance from the perspective of middle class/high income sections
AGNI (Action for Good Governance and Networking in India)
Mission: AGNI is a non political, non-sectarian movement for good governance and its basic unit Joint Area Action Group (JAAG) in each ward; helps build interaction between citizens, administration and elected representatives.
Areas of work: Working in the area of good governance network at the ward level since 1999 as a partner of the MCGM. It networks citizen groups so as to create the democratic “numbers” that no political system can easily ignore. It works with government agencies for transparency and accountability in them. Each organisation in the AGNI network maintains its own goals, character, structure and activities. AGNI promotes communication among them and collective assertion by them vis- à-vis political and administrative authorities. In 1999, it was decided that clusters of NGOs, resident associations, and voluntary institutions would organise themselves at the electoral constituency level to exert democratic pressure on the MCGM.
Focus: Garbage collection, sanitation, hawkers, encroachments, illegal constructions and crime became the priority issues. Among its campaigns, AGNI’s efforts to scuttle an MCGM workers’ strike brought it into the limelight.
Members: Ex-bureaucrats and media people.
Partners: MCGM. AGNI helps citizens form resident associations called Advanced Locality Management (ALM) groups and was assigned an informal role during the 1990s in facilitating the formation, networking and capacity building of ALMs and ALM networks.
Mission: Dignity Foundation was established in 1999 to bring together senior citizens and engage them in meaningful work by which they could also contribute to society. It is a non-political body and functions as a registered Public Trust.
Areas of work: DF offers services like the Dignity Civic Services, Security with Dignity, Dignity Dialogue, Dignity Second Careers, Dignity Companionship, Dignity Helpline, Dignity Investment, Computer Training, senior Citizens identity cards, Dignity Counseling Centre and Dignity Homes that are being planned to be built in Lonavla.
Members: Senior citizens from high-income groups.
Focus: Civic issues. Every year the DF felicitates some municipal staff and their own DF members. Communication and dialogue is regular with the MCGM, Ward office, junior officers, conservancy workers, Junior Engineers of the maintenance, conservancy, SWM and utility staff. Interaction and follow up is done politely and persuasively.
Partners: MCGM, Stree Mukti Sangathan, NGO Force Forum, Fescom, Worspa, housing societies, clubs, associations, police and railway authorities across the city.
Mission: Fighting for open spaces and against encroachments in Mumbai.
Members: Citizens from high-income bracket living in South Mumbai.
Areas: Forefront in the protection of open spaces in the city, free from encroachments including street vendors and slum communities. Carried out many campaigns and judicial processes.
Mission: Governance reforms, recommendations to local government.
Areas of Work: Citizens’ charter and handbook, online complaint management system, accountability, PRAJA Dilogue (E Citizenship).
Focus: involving citizens of Mumbai in local governance primarily though the internet.
Members: Educated middle class citizens, consultations with experts in the field of public policy, and former government officials.
SAHASI PADYATRA MOVEMENT
Mission: Established on 26th January 2008 as a movement for the rights of the pedestrian joined by many prominent activists.
Partners: Satyagrahas are often carried out in partnership with organisations such as H-West Ward Federation, Dignity Foundation, Borivli Dahisar Jagrut Nagrik Manch (BDJNM), Citizens’ Forum of Borivli etc. Hundreds of women and senior citizens in Bandra, Vile Parle, Borivli, Bombay Central, Matunga and Chembur participated in “Padyatri Satyagraha”, painting pedestrian lanes on main roads and formed human chains, many hundred metres long.
Members: Citizens, resident welfare associations and activists from middle class and elite sections.
Focus: The erosion of the pedestrians’ right to walk safely has been gradual over the past two decades. The motorist’s ability to honk a blaring horn and to subtly threaten to run down someone who obstructs him has skewed the balance. The pedestrian, by contrast, endlessly adjusts and modifies his path, peacefully yields the centre of the road to moving vehicles and the roadside to parked vehicles etc. The pedestrian rarely protests — and this has been his undoing. Sahasi Padyatri is essentially focused on creating a pedestrian-friendly and citizen-friendly environment. It believes that a preponderance of public transport and a diminished role of private transport is the way for our city to attain sustainability. Public space is a precious resource that must be jealously guarded.
CSOs interfacing in urban governance from the perspective of urban poor groups
Mission: Apnalaya is an NGO founded in 1972 to help children living in slums towards a better life. Apnalaya strives to achieve this through urban community development projects in Mumbai. Its role is one of empowerment: of encouraging ordinary men and women to believe in themselves and in their abilities to change their lives for the better.
Members: Apnalaya’s programmes are carried out by over 60 trained and dedicated community based staff, who work hand in hand with 7 professional social workers and 3 doctors, under the guidance of the Director.
Areas of work: The main area of work is Shivaji Nagar, Govandi, with communities around the dumping ground: Rafi Nagar, Baba Nagar, Shanti Nagar, Padma Nagar and Chickalwadi. Other centres are located in Chikuwadi in Mankhurd, Wadaripadda in Malad, and Datta Mandir and Jaiphalwadi in Tardeo.
Focus: Children and women. Programmes such as balwadis and study classes, sponsorship and recreation, and to reach larger numbers through community programmes, offering training and support to community groups to run similar programmes. Apnalaya also strives to improve the condition of women in the communities, helps them with vocational training and to form savings groups, to sort out family problems, and to know how to protect themselves. The approach is both direct and indirect, moving between service delivery and a rights-based approach to health, since it cannot hope to provide all the services needed.
Partners: MCGM, communities, and other NGO. From identification of needs and problems, to planning and execution of projects, local people are involved at every stage. The prime focus of Apnalaya’s work is community development, the ultimate aim — to empower the communities to take up and resolve issues which impact on their quality of life, building the capacity of the people through training, thereby enabling them to negotiate for, and make relevant government programmes functional in their respective areas.
CORO (Committee of Resource Organisations)
Mission: CORO’s activities are rooted in building community members’ awareness of their rights and equipping them with the skills to claim and exercise them.
Areas of work: It first worked for Literacy. It is a community-owned organisation working on holistic community development in the Chembur-Trombay region of Mumbai. CORO’s work is entirely directed by the needs and desires of its communities. As a result, cultivating grassroots leaders through training and capacity building has become CORO’s niche.
CORO’s “Unique Demonstrative Proposition” is its competence in training grassroots leaders. It is based on understanding that CORO has acquired in the past 20 years about: Urban community issues, Strategies that truly work at the grassroots, Community dynamics and politics, How to identify potential leaders, How to create support structures for collective leadership, Tools for bridging gaps between macro-concepts and micro-realities.
Community members have identified these priorities to be addressing domestic violence and access to basic services (water, sanitation, solid waste disposal), education, health services, and housing especially women who are the most oppressed members of the communities and the most potent and energized drivers of change.
Focus: CORO focuses on empowering low income community women and approaches community development with a concentration on gender equality.
Members: Since the emphasis is on communities, CORO’s staff is all from communities within CORO’s work area.
GHAR BACHAO GHAR BANAO ANDOLAN
Areas of work: Slum dwellers, pavement dwellers and those hawking on public spaces who are constantly under attack and are invisible to the policy makers.
Members: Slum communities and housing activists following rights based approach.
Partners: affiliated to the National Alliance of Peoples Movement.
FERIWALA VIKAAS SANGATHAN
Mission: Workers’ issue.
Focus: Rights of street vendors.
Areas of work: Mumbai wing of the National Hawkers Federation.
STREE MUKTI SANGATHAN
Mission: Solid Waste Management and livelihood of women rag pickers.
Areas of Work: The Parisar Vikas programme was launched in the year 1998 by the Stree Mukti Sanghatana with the cooperation of the MCGM. The programme aims to address the problems of waste management and of self-employed women engaged in the ‘menial’ tasks of collecting waste.
Focus: Livelihood issues of women from low income groups.
Members: Women from low income groups.
Partners: MCGM, other NGOs
LEARN (Labour Education and Research Network)
Mission: LEARN was established in 2000 to conduct research work on the informal sector.
Focus: Informal sector.
Areas of Work:
· Trade Union Education.
· Initiating a dialogue on demand for a policy on unorganised workers and working out a draft policy in consultation with groups.
· Facilitating formation of district level networks of organisations working with the unorganised workers.
· Helping in formation of trade unions and other membership based organisations.
Besides helping in union formation, LEARN is also interested in linking other activities with the trade unions. It has successfully helped in creating a credit co-operative society in one of the trade unions of street vendors in Mumbai. LEARN took initiative in forming a platform of all organisations (NGOs, and Social Movements and individuals) called “Aapli Mumbai”, to voice the rights of the majority of the citizens of Mumbai, who are staying in slums. Through this platform of Aapli Mumbai, LEARN supported the drafting of a model State Slum Policy Draft based on the guidelines of National Slum Policy.
Members: In 2007 LEARN started its own membership organisation called LEARN Mahila Kamgaar Sangathana of domestic workers and LEARN Kachra Patra Kagaar Sangathana of waste pickers.
· INSAF (Indian National Social Action Forum) — LEARN is State coordinating organisation for INSAF in Maharashtra. Presently through INSAF, it is involved in extensive campaign on NURM and its impact on the poor.
· SEWA — LEARN has build up a good understanding and network with SEWA which is helping in building up the unorganised sector women workers cooperative by sharing their vast experience.
· Aapli Mumbai — LEARN is a convening organisation of this platform. Through Aapli Mumbai it is working on the housing rights of poor and on various development issues in Mumbai.
· NASVI (National Alliances of Street Vendor in India — is a national level federation of organisations / unions of street vendors, around 72 organisations are members of NASVI) LEARN is executive member of NASVI and is Maharashtra state coordinator.
· STREET NET — is an international network of waste pickers and LEARN is a member of this network.
· WIEGO (Women in Informal Economy — Globalising and Organising) — is an international network of organisations working with women in informal sector. LEARN is a member of this network.
· Kamgaar Hakh Abhiyaan — is a platform of 40 organisations working with informal sector workers in Mumbai, Nasik, Thane, Solapur and Nagpur. LEARN is the convening organisation of this platform.
CENTRE FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE COMMISSION
Mission: Church-based organisation under the Bombay Catholic church or the Archdiocese of Bombay.
Focus: Human rights and governance issues.
The legal aid cell provides free legal service to the poor for ‘out of court settlement’ of legal disputes, mainly those related to property and marriage. The documentation department is carrying out research work in two main areas, climate change and solid waste management. The issue of solid waste management is an important component of urban governance especially in a megacity like Mumbai and the Centre is researching in this area drawing from the experiences in other parts of the world in order to address the issue in a better way.
Areas of work: The main executive wing is its Training, Research and Documentation Centre at St Pious College, Goregaon, in the western suburbs of Mumbai. The Centre has four departments — Legal Aid, Human Rights Cell, Training and Documentation. The Centre has 40 to 45 centres all over the city of Mumbai and the target population are the urban poor and the marginalised. The Centre creates awareness programmes and plan joint action programmes in slums located in various areas of Mumbai like Santa Cruz, Malad and Kurla. It has its own federation called the Federation of Centres of Community Organizations. Each centre is independent and the Centre coordinates their work. In slums the target population is women. The Centre helps them organise into Self Help Groups and Mahila Mandals, also known as Bachat Ghar, provide them with legal knowledge. The Centre is part of various networks like the Mumbai Initiative for Human Rights Education which in turn forms part of the International Human Rights Education Consortium with its headquarters in the US. The Centre interacts with colleges, universities and education institutes in trying to figure out ways in which Human Rights can be included in the curriculum.
Partners: NGOs like YUVA, Ashakur and Vikaas Adhyaan Kendra MCGM.
JUHU MORAGAON MACHHIMAAR VIVIDH KARYAKARI SAHYOG SANSTHA
Mission: Rights of livelihood and habitat of fisherfolk living in the Juhu Moragaon area for generations.
Areas of work: Fishermen community at Moragaon is pleading repeatedly to put a halt on Slum rehabilitation project which has been acting as a threat to their livelihood and habitat. This project has been designed to encroach the land allocated for the community. They have been protesting the scheme since it was first planned in 2002. The scheme enlists 273 existing tenements containing several fake names.
Members: Fishing community
CSOs interfacing in urban governance for greater political roles of citizens
Mission: Political and governance reforms.
Areas of work: The NGO wing, a citizens’ movement was initiated in 1996 and has continued since then. It is a movement for political reforms. Today governance is power centric, there is a need to bring the government close and accountable to the people. After all they pay taxes and hence have a right to certain services. Therefore the need for systemic reforms.
Loksatta has a party wing as well. The party was formed in Andhra Pradesh in 2006 and in Maharashtra it was formed in 2009. Loksatta entered politics because it believes that no change can happen unless power is shared, succeeded in this experiment during the municipal elections of 2007 by electing one candidate from ward 63 in Mumbai who fought the municipal elections and won as an independent candidate. Though he does not have the support of any political party, he has the mandate of the people in ward 63. Goal is to fight the assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra and get the Nagar Raj Bill passed. This Bill will bring about significant changes in empowering people in urban governance something that the 74th CAA aspired for but could not achieve.
Partners: CSOs, MCGM
Members: Educated, middle income and elite citizens
YUVA(Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action)
Mission: Urban issues from the citizens’ perspective
Areas of Work: works in several clusters dealing with urabn issues. Habitat cluster relates to governance, participation, housing and basis services, economic cluster relates to livelihood and unorganized sector, another cluster deals with Child, Women and Youth Rights.
It is also involved in training, consultation, advocacy and preparation of several policy documents.
Experimenting the Area Committee model and advocating towards the passing of the Community Participation Law in Maharashtra.
Members: Works as a professionally organised NGO governed by a trust.
Partners: Several organizations working on similar issues
JCWG (Juhu Citizens’ Welfare Group)
Mission: governance reforms, civic issues and political mobilisation of citizens
Areas of work: The JCWG lobbied hard as a part of the Vote Mumbai campaign with the state government to carry out systemic reforms in governance before the civic elections. When the government ignored it, the JCWG decided to set up a model of good governance itself by nominating its own candidate.
Along with Loksatta, for the municipal elections in Mumbai in February 2007, JCWG zeroed in on ward number 63 of Juhu from among 227 municipal wards in Mumbai to create a model of good governance which could then be replicated all over the city.
The JCWG played an important role in the removal of hawkers from the Juhu beach and the implementation of the beautification plan. It carried out important campaigns — against the use of plastic, the ‘Go Green’ movement, the ‘No Plastic Shopping Bag’ campaign at the Sun and Sand Hotel in Juhu sponsored by the ABN AMRO Bank.
Members: Residents in Juhu, mainly belonging to higher income and elite sections
Partners: MCGM, other NGOs like Loksatta
It is evident that most associations are led by the educated middle classes. A host of CSOs also works for poor urban citizens. The leadership however comes from the middle class. In particular CSOs working in partnership with the ULB is of particular significance here. Such partnerships mark the rise of a new kind of activism in the post-1990s across cities in India. Middle class led CSOs and their partnerships serve as viable alternatives to address issues of urban governance like cleanliness, beautification, and management of open spaces working in tandem with the ULB and consequently off load many of the constitutionally mandated services to non- state actors. Partnerships also provide spaces for participation for the propertied middle class citizens. The priorities, modus operandi and attendant exclusionary discourse that evolve, are tied to the particularized class situations of this section and not the bulk of population that inhabit the city. Middle class led associations vociferously demand reforms in urban governance, accountability from the ULB, greater participation of citizens in governance and decentralization.
CSOs like AGNI, Loksatta, PRAJA, YUVA, and JCWG have spearheaded this political mobilization of middle class CSOs in Mumbai. In contrast, the right to the city entered the urban governance discourse through mobilization of urban poor groups, which form the bulk of the city’s population. The subsequent making of the alternative discourse can be historically located in the 2004–2005 when Mumbai witnessed massive slum demolitions rendering many people homeless. CSOs actively involved in the mobilization of the city’s grassroots, articulated an alternative discourse on urban space and rights and openly opposed the officially recognized discourses. The Ghar Banao Ghar Bacho Andolan, the Feriwala Vikaas Sangathan and the Juhu Moragaon Machhimaar Vividh Karyakari Sahyog Sanstha are in the forefront of those CSOs advocating the rights of the urban poor groups like street vendors and slum dwellers. The interplay of varied CSOs addressing urban governance issues in Mumbai, having different ideological and political leanings, goals and visions have rendered the space of urban governance extremely fragmentary.