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Chasing The Affordable Dream

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As different stake holders jostle for land and policy concessions, the authors of the book argue that by reserving and exploiting land held by government agencies and occupied by slums, it is possible not only to house the poor but to create enough stock to wipe out Mumbai’s housing shortage.

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India is grappling with a burgeoning urban crisis. The promised 100 ‘smart’ cities continue on the drawing board and the promise of ‘Housing for All by 2022’ is a distant dream. Demonetization, meanwhile, has frozen the real estate market that heretofore largely catered to the rich.

Suddenly, market forces and the demands of the ‘great unwashed’ have coalesced to make the concept of ‘affordable housing’ a workable reality. And it is Mumbai, a city with the gravest shortage of land and the largest of slum populations, which has now become the laboratory for the experiment.

As different stake holders jostle for land and policy concessions, the authors of the book argue that by reserving and exploiting land held by government agencies and occupied by slums, it is possible not only to house the poor but to create enough housing stock to wipe out Mumbai’s housing shortage.

The authors – PK Das, Gurbir Singh, Ritu Dewan, and Kabir Agarwal – are among the founding members of Nivara Hakk, a Mumbai-based housing rights organisation, and much of their three decades of experience is reflected in the book.

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK

[The lead author,] Das[,] isn’t an armchair commentator but an activist who has fused his professional acumen as an architect with his passion for improving the lives of the homeless, the majority of Mumbai’s population, perhaps comprising the largest number of slum dwellers in the world. This is an absorbing account of some of these struggles in which the journalist Gurbir Singh also took part, and with the contributions of Ritu Dewan and Kabir Agarwal, is accompanied by perceptive analysis of the problems and possibilities of providing affordable housing in India’s commercial capital.

— Darryl D’Monte, former Resident Editor of the Times of India and Indian Express in Mumbai and author of Ripping the Fabric: The Decline of Mumbai and its Mills (OUP, 2002).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

P.K. Das is popularly known as an Architect-Activist. His priority has been to establish a very close relation between architecture and people by involving them in a participatory planning process. His wide spectrum of work includes organizing slum dwellers for better living and evolving affordable housing models, engaging in policy framework for public housing, reclaiming public spaces including developing the waterfronts, re-envisioning the city of Mumbai, along with an architectural practice involving urban planning, urban design, architecture and interior design assignments across India.

Prof. Ritu Dewan is the Vice President of the Indian Society of Labour Economics, Director, Centre for Development Research and Action, Mumbai, and the President of the Indian Association for Women’s Studies (2014-17). She was, till her retirement, the first-ever woman Director of the Department of Economics, University of Mumbai, and the founder-member of the first Centre for Gender Economics. She has over a 100 publications, including 25 books and monographs, encompassing a wide range of issues.

Gurbir Singh is a senior journalist whose career in the profession spans over three decades. He began as a journalist in 1980 by writing for various publications including Onlooker, EPW and the Indian Express, Mumbai. His first appointment was on the News Desk of The Economic Times as a Sub-Editor. Since 2017, he has been Consulting Editor at The New Indian Express. He also writes occasionally for the Scroll.in and Business Today.

Kabir Agarwal is a Correspondent at The Wire where he writes on the intersection of politics and economics. In the past, he has worked with The Times of India, Nivara Hakk Suraksha Samiti, and the Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy.

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