ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Street Vendors

This is with reference to your editorial (“A Law for Street Vendors”, EPW, 8 March 2014). If the efficacy of the new Street Vendors Act is to be dependent on “how” it is implemented, than like for most other laws, we cannot expect much to change. Apart from our penchant for new laws to address old problems, the larger issue is whether in our thinking, in our hearts and in our urban planning there is “space” for the poor? Other than being the target of some tokenism (especially around elections), the urban poor have systematically been shoved into those living hells called slums. It would seem that the space for street vendors and hawkers (and millions of others who make a living off the streets) is being increasingly usurped by our collective madness to own and drive a car around for everything and the relentless, insidious encroachment of commercial space on streets by the bigger shops.

One would have thought that a simple approach would be to systematically and increasingly push for pedestrianisation of market areas and reduce the pressure of vehicles. This would make life that much more pleasant and easier both for the pedestrian (who is the main client of street vendors) as for the vendors themselves and give a fillip to these markets too. But I suppose simple things are the most difficult to do.

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