Monday, October 28, 2013

the impeccable logic of development ...

... comes at the very end of this article on India's huge informal economy from The Hindu. Given the continued growth of System D in India, even in an era of unprecedented total economic growth,
It must be the case that there are many areas where the informal sector is not only not in competition with the formal sector, but actually services its requirements....In the process low wages in the informal economy help sustain profits in the formal sector. Only when this possibility is taken into account can we explain the size and scope of India’s informal economy.
After all that's been written about informality in the four decades since Keith Hart coined the term in 1973, shouldn't this be the start of any analysis rather than the tentative conclusion.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

the media menace

The bus seems to have enough space, and the lane of tuk-tuks and motorcycles doesn't seem unduly compressed. So how is this street market in Kalamboli, a major transportation hub of Navi Mumbai, in suburban Bombay, a 'menace,' as DNAindia reports?

This editorial attitude is typical of much of the news coverage of street hawkers in India. The photo suggests that there are more shoppers at this bustling transit transfer point than there are merchants -- but nonetheless, the dominant narrative is that the merchants constitute a 'menace.'

The bias exhibited by newspapers and media outlets is the real menace.

Street hawkers naturally gravitate to locations where shoppers are. That's not a menace. Indeed, you might argue it's a public service.

Monday, October 7, 2013

if you build it in the wrong place, they won't come

A dozen years ago, the city of Mumbai spent $4.8 million to build a mall that it thought would allow it to get rid of hawkers near the Dadar train station. But it forgot that street hawking is governed by the same three principles that govern real estate: location, location, location. The new market was far too far from the station for customers to flock to.

As one sensible street vendor told DNAIndia: “I have been carrying on my business from this spot (near the station) for 25 years. I have observed that people get out from the station and shop before going home. Who will go all the way to Plaza Market?”

The news agency reports that the market building is mostly vacant while the streets around the station are as thronged as ever.

More proof that cities must work with street vendors, not against them.