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

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Evictions of Urban Poor

In the Public's Interest: Evictions, Citizenship and Inequality in Contemporary Delhi by Gautam Bhan, Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan, 2016; pp 290, ₹ 825.

This is a book by an academic who is also an activist. It brings together the rigour of academia and the passion of activism to a subject that requires both in equal parts: the future of our cities and the place of the urban poor in them. Looking closely at contemporary Delhi, Gautam Bhan assesses the legal rights of the urban poor, non-existent in the main, and also interrogates the strategies that the poor are forced to adopt to wrest their basic rights as citizens.

The lens that Bhan uses to do this is that of evictions of poor communities in cities across India, but specifically Delhi. He argues that evictions of urban poor communities are well-established strategies for urban transformation and that, “the basti and its eviction are critical sites to understand the dynamics of contemporary urbanism not just in Delhi but across cities of the global South” (p 12). He does this by laying out six “lines of inquiry.” Each is relevant and at least one is an aspect that has not been studied in any detail.

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