• SPRF Team

Urban Assault

Updated: May 15, 2020

Photographs and Story by: V. Singh and S. Alluri

This series has been modified from a photo essay first published by Himal Southasian (www.himalmag.com) in its issue 'Labour and its Discontents' (https://himalmag.com/announcement/labour-and-its-discontents/).

Thousands move to the city each day in search of a better life. Cities are built and run by their labour. Strangely, this crucial contribution is excluded from the country’s GDP, the most widely accepted indicator of progress. Only investment seems to talk.

India is eager to prove itself as a growing economic force on the global stage. Neoliberal policies over the last two decades have facilitated this growth but they have, at the same time, faced stiff opposition from the working class, farmers and indigenous populations who are yet to see the professed benefits of the trickle down. What they have witnessed however is the repeated denial and suppression of their fundamental rights to organise for better wages, better working conditions and a better life.

Cities are marked reminders of this reality. Labour laws are being diluted and the surging middle class is unaware and indifferent to the real cost of ‘growth’.

To make India the great power that people are told it once was, what we are seeing in our cities today is a systematic invisibilisation of our labor force, a prevailing sense of vulnerability amongst informal migrant labourers who have no social security. Prosperous cities like Delhi have a distinct way of camouflaging and invisibilising their working class. One of the most common ways is to repeatedly deny them legitimate spaces to work, live and rest. This is the key to making a certain kind of existence see-through, easier to exploit {for the employer} or ignore {for the lay man}.


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