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Currently I am a Resident Scholar at WSRC, Brandeis University.

Having spent many years studying rural India, I now wanted to focus on urban India and the inequalities that plague Delhi. I was witness to large scale demolition of slums ahead of the Commonwealth Games - an international event that would bring investments, tourists and media. Heavy equipment that helped construct the Metro lay strewn on the streets of Delhi and many slums were cordoned off from direct view. 

A large informal economy albeit invisible, services the city. Members of the economy comprise rural habitants trying to secure a living and reside in slums. These squalid spaces are defined and separate from the rest of the city with limited access to basic services, high exposure to pollution, crime and environmental threats.

 

In 2006, I sought out  Consult with Women and Land Rights  so as to collaborate with an entity with grassroots activists and grounded knowledge of realities in the slums. An intense series of field study ensued. Slums studied were Kusumpur Pahari, Sangam Vihar and an Old Delhi "illegal colony." The research was documented and became the basis for WSRC project and co-authored publications. These papers published as a result of the partnership and research focus on gender inequities that plague the Indian urban landscape. Combining experiential and desk research, I am motivated to present broader connections between women’s struggles and urban living.

Within the spectrum of urban living for women, I now explore "smart city" initiatives. Given that from my own research and those of others, women have unequal access to and use of urban space especially in slums in India how is "smart" technology impacting their lives? Not just in India but the world over technology at the finger tips through smart phones, internet, credit card make identities vulnerable. Is this an added risk for women who are poor and shelter deprived? Or does their status as citizens not count?

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Bhalswa slum, Delhi

Credit: walkthroughindia