Mumbai / Bombay
Majoritarian Neoliberalism, Informality, Resistance, and Wellbeing
Mumbai / Bombay is a quintessential urban expression which represents the questions and puzzles related to Indian urbanity. This book traces the various ways through which majoritarianism and neoliberal capitalist accumulation has reorganised Bombay or Mumbai in India.
The book assesses Mumbai’s present trajectories and processes as being embedded in its recent past. It looks at these changes by exploring work and labour; health and education; spatial planning and infrastructural development; politics and identity; and shows how financialisation, land speculation, deregulation, and informality have impacted the city’s culture and everyday living. The contributors to this volume analyse the consequences of these changes for women and men across ages, as they live their material and cultural lives; evaluate the role of the changing nature of work, urban infrastructure, and planning; determine its outcome for public health and education; and take a measure of its manifestation in the field of arts and culture. The volume explores the processes that reorient these changes, the socio-spatial and political implications of these on the inhabitants of the city, and the resistance and response to marginalisation.
This interdisciplinary volume will interest students and researchers of economics, sociology, anthropology, political science, public policy, development studies, and urban studies. It will also be useful to urban practitioners, planners, bureaucrats, activists, and general readers.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Pathways towards Majoritarian Neoliberalism in Mumbai
Sujata Patel, D. Parthasarathy and George Jose
Part I. Work and Labour: Deregulation and Restructuring
1. Informality, Missing Markets and Political Organisation: Case Study of the Shiv Sena
2. Gendered Peripheralisation of Work, Workers and Workplace
3. Living with Precariousness: Survival in Small Manufacturing Enterprises
Raghav Mehrotra and Maansi Parpiani
4. Neoliberalism and Majoritarian Politics: Hindutva and Restructuring the Meat Business
Part II. Infrastructure and Politics: Negotiation and Resistance
5. Infrastructure Projects and Sustainable Development
6. Legislating the Urban in Vasai-Virar: Planning (in) the Periphery
7. Socio-Spatial Embedding of Platform Mobilities: A Study on Taxi Driving
8. The Difficult Quest for Solidarity and Citizenship: Civility, Politics, and Neoliberalism
Part III. Wellbeing and Reproduction of Life: Corporatisation and Privatisation
9. Health and Health Care in the City: A Social History Perspective
Padma Prakash and Sangeeta Rege
10. Right Place, Right Time: Ambulances, Injury, and Trauma in Motion
11. The Good Muslim Student: Neoliberal Education and Islamic-English Schools
12. Neoliberalism and Sustainability in the Art Ecosystem
Sujata Patel is Kerstin Hesselgren Visiting Professor, Department of Sociology, Umea University, Sweden (2021–2022). She has been Distinguished Professor, Savitribai Phule Pune University; National Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, and a teacher of sociology at the Universities of Hyderabad, Pune, and SNDT Women’s University. Her interests include modernity and social theory, history of sociology/social sciences, urbanisation and city-formation, social movements, gender construction, and caste and class formation in India with a historical sensibility based on perspectives from Marxism, feminism, spatial studies, and post-structuralism. She has authored, edited, and co-edited 14 books and 70 papers/ book chapters, and has served as editor of several series. She has been associated in various capacities with the International Sociological Association and has been its first Vice President for National Associations. She was also the President of Indian Sociological Society.
D. Parthasarathy is Professor of Sociology, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India. He is also Associate Faculty at IIT Bombay's Centre for Urban Science and Engineering, the Centre for Policy Studies, and the Inter-disciplinary Program in Climate Studies. He has earlier worked or held visiting positions at the Australian National University, National University of Singapore, and Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin. He held the India Value Fund Chair Professorship at IIT Bombay and has been Head of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Bombay and Convener for the IDP in Climate Studies. He is the author of Collective Violence in a Provincial City (1997), and has co-edited “Cleavage, Connection and Conflict in Rural, Urban and Contemporary Asia” (2013). His research and teaching interests are in urban studies, law and governance, gender and development, climate studies, and disaster risk andvulnerability. He has worked with civil society organisations, NGOs, environmental activists, government agencies, and international organisations on issues related to urban disasters and risks, climate vulnerability and adaptation, environmental justice, and coastal transformation. He has carried out collaborative national and international research projects sponsored by ICSSR, UGC, Belmont Forum, International Science Council, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, UNDP, Belmont Forum, and the European Union.
George Jose is Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology, New York University Abu Dhabi, UAE. He researches metropolitan transformation in and of contemporary South Asia. His work explores the urban periphery as a site of culture and politics, urbanism in the global south, processes of work and consumption, and citizenship, rights, and marginalisation in the city. He has held research, teaching, and leadership positions in the academia and not-for-profit sectors. He was Dean of Jyoti Dalal School of Liberal Arts, NMIMS University, Mumbai; the inaugural Program Director for Asia Society India; Programme Executive with India Foundation for the Arts (IFA), Bengaluru; a Research Fellow at Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin, and taught Sociology in Kishinchand Chellaram College, Mumbai, for several years.
‘This indefatigable team of urban social interpreters have peeled open Mumbai. This book surveys the impact on the highly unequal, seething, cosmopolitan, global city not only of neo-liberal capitalism and illiberal Hindu majoritarianism but also of a moment of pandemic disease. Its three parts contain recent histories of the destructive impacts of the deregulation and informalisation of male and female labour processes, the public-privatisation and ecological damage of infrastructure and social provisioning on the wellbeing of the poor masses of its population – rather than the middle-class elite which hogs the literature. We are invited to explore cases of territory, land, disrupted homes and livelihoods, of networks and transport, of the interests at play in failed planning, of business made precarious by neoliberal markets ranging from meat to art, of health, education and the control of services by right-wing organisations, of fissiparous resistance by victims of these forces and their turf wars. Look no further than this thoughtful, innovative and exciting collection for Mumbai of the now and the immediate future.’
Barbara Harriss-White, FAcSS, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies and Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford University, UK
‘For anyone with an interest in the soul of the “Urbs Prima” of India, the wait is finally over! This new collection narrates the city by looking at health, labour, housing and culture. A diversity of contributions highlight how norms of civility and solidarity are severely tested when labour, housing and basic amenities remain elusive for a vast majority. Conversely, a culture of consumption and a new platform economy take hold. As shown with sharp precision here, this increased precariousness result from the intertwined logics of neoliberalism and Hindu majoritarianism. The seeds of (and for) resistance are present, however, and this book is one of them.’
Marie-Helene Zerah, Research Director, IRD (French National Institute of Research for Development), France
‘This volume offers a comprehensive overview of the impact of neoliberalism and Hindutva on a mega city which, in the process has even changed its name! Each chapter, based on in depth ethnographic research, presents one dimension of this transformation which is multifaceted: socio-economic, cultural, societal and, of course, political. A true analytical atlas of the city from below, where informalisation of work and the dismantling of welfare go together with the rise of elite-driven Hindu majoritarianism.’
Christophe Jaffrelot, Research Director, CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS and Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology, King´s College London, UK
‘Mumbai / Bombay: Majoritarian Neoliberalism, Informality, Resistance, and Wellbeing breaks new theoretical and empirical ground in making sense of one of the world’s most complex urban conglomerations. From the turbulences of its economic transformations, the explosion of its land markets, the competing jurisdictions of its governance structures, the divisiveness of its politics and chaotic growth of its slums, Mumbai defies explanation. Yet through their innovative analytic frame of “majoritarian neoliberalism” – clearly developed in the introductory chapter – the authors provide a powerful lens through which to understand how politics, governance, shifting social structures and economic development have historically intersected in shaping the city. This theoretical frame in turn provides the scaffolding for a diverse set of empirically grounded case studies that explore themes ranging from the specialisation of gendered work, the politics of infrastructure development, the structuring of basic services and the governance of the informal. As global cities confront the challenges of increasingly precarious and informalised modes of work and livelihood and India’s democratic traditions contend with new threats of illiberalism, this unique and audacious volume of interdisciplinary explorations of how this all plays out in the urban trenches of Mumbai is more urgent and important than ever.’
Patrick Heller, Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs, Brown University, USA