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Living rough: surviving city streets, a study of homeless populations in Delhi, Chennai, Patna, and Madurai

Authors: Mander, Harsh
Rai, Archana
Kumaran, R.
Manikandan, V.
Tulsyan, Arpan
Keywords: Homelessness; Urban Poverty; Urban Poverty -- India; Homelessness -- India; Homeless Shelters; Planning Commission -- India; Delhi -- India; Chennai -- India; Patna -- India; Madurai -- India
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Centre for Equity Studies
Description: "It is remarkable that so little is known about the lived experience of homelessness in town and cities in India: of how urban homeless men, women and children survive and cope; how they sleep, bathe and eat; why do they live on the streets and the work they do; their denials and access to public services and food schemes; and how they organise and plan their personal and social lives and their relationships. This neglect is not just of official studies, but even by economists, sociologists, anthropologists, nutritionists and development students. This paper records the findings of a small investigation into a fragment of this lived experience, and into the social, economic, nutritional situation of urban homeless men, women, boys and girls in four cities: the metropolises of Delhi and Chennai, and the cities of Madurai and Patna. The study finds that the lived experience of urban poverty, and even more so of urban homelessness, differs in many significant ways from that of rural poverty: it may ensure better prospects of livelihoods and earnings (although our study indicates that for urban homeless people work still tends to remain casual, exploited and without dignity and security). Life on the streets usually involves surviving in a physically brutalised and challenging environment, with denial of even elementary public services and assured healthy food; and illegalisation and even criminalisation by a hostile State of all self help efforts for shelter and livelihoods by urban poor residents. There are both grave ruptures - but also continuities - of bonds with their families and communities. These together pose important and mostly unmet challenges for public policy and academic research, in measuring and estimating urban poverty, and in acknowledging and realizing a vast range of social, economic and cultural rights of urban poor residents."
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Appears in Collections:South Asian Born-Digital NGO Reports Collection Project

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