Monday, September 30, 2013

finally, rights on paper!

The Street Vendors Bill that passed the Lok Sabha (India's lower house of parliament) in early September, is a major step in the ongoing battle for dignity and recognition of the validity of informal workers. Sharit Bhowmik, who has studied the plight of the vendors, who are routinely abused by authorities and in the press, terms it "a landmark piece of legislation for the urban poor." Novelist Chandrahas Choudhury salutes street vendors as "the stars of India's vast informal economy -- those without contracts, social security or employer benefits -- inhabited by more than 80 percent of the country's 450 million workforce."

As with all grand policy frameworks, though, what's important is how the Street Vendors Bill will be implemented. For instance, the law suggests that street hawkers will need to register with the Town Vending Committee before they start selling, and apply for a vending certificate "that will be issued based on various criteria." Of course, it's easy to imagine how local politicians could use these rules and criteria to make life more difficult for vendors.

Let's all keep on this and follow the local implementation of this groundbreaking bill.

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