Jan 2024

Up The Ante Episode 1: Spaces of Exception – “Slums” in Mumbai

Friday, 19 Jan 2024, 5:00 pm-Friday, 19 Jan 2024, 6:30 pm


Cities are a common good, essential to the quality of life of the people that inhabit them. However, cities in India today, including Mumbai, are broken. Growth driven by market forces has ended up fracturing the natural ecosystem in our cities and neglecting many marginalised communities.

The main objective of this conversation series is to engage in targeted and detailed discussions on a wide range of topics in the area of urban planning, development, and governance. The intention is to identify law and policy solutions to various challenges facing the city of Mumbai today and nudge its inhabitants to demand more from their political representatives who go to polls this year.

At a fundamental level, each of our conversations will try to answer the following questions at the very least:

  • What are your expectations from the city? 
  • Are these expectations met in the way the city is developing? If not, why?
  • How can the governance of the city account for your expectations? 
  • What happens when there are competing expectations/interests? For example, major infrastructure projects for improving connectivity versus livelihoods of marginalised communities.


Dr. Amita Bhide is currently a Professor at the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance in the School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She has been deeply involved in issues related to urban poor communities, community organisation and housing rights movements and advocacy groups. She has extensively researched urban development, urban local governance and planning, water and sanitation, housing and land issues. She has headed several action research projects that seek to create a model of inclusive development in Indian cities. She attempts to develop a theoretical and action model of urbanisation that is relevant for the global south through an engagement with several transformative groups at the city, provincial and national scales. The geographic focus of her work is Mumbai while more recent engagement is with small and medium towns. She also heads the Transforming M Ward Project, a Field Action Project that seeks to create a model of inclusive urban development in M East Ward, the poorest municipal ward in Mumbai.

For our first episode, we spoke to Dr. Bhide about Mumbai’s relationship with its informal settlements or, what is legally referred to as, “slums”. Our focus was on examining how planning, municipal regulations, as well as rehabilitation and redevelopment laws and policies, have overlooked these settlements and the basic needs of their residents. We also discussed the various forms of violence inflicted on such residents by both state and non-state actors, as well as their struggles to claim recognition and full citizenship within the urban landscape of Mumbai. 

Watch or hear the discussion on our Youtube and Spotify channels.