PEOPLE AND LIVELIHOODS IN URBAN INDIA
“An equally important facet of the right to life is the right to livelihood because no person can live without the means of livelihood.” — Excerpt from the unanimous judgement of The Supreme Court of India in Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, 1985.
This year, Nagari will address the subject of people and livelihoods in Indian cities. It will attempt to not only use film as a medium to narrate the issues, but really to expand an understanding of the subject and extend its representation and relevance in India.
‘Livelihood’ is based on the interdependencies that exist between economics, politics, society, and culture. Scope and substance of livelihood are determined by a country’s economic growth, but it must encompass fundamental requirements of existence as well as the right to perform those functions as labour and occupation. Dr B. R. Ambedkar wrote that the caste system is not merely a division of labour, but also a division of labourers and that economic reform cannot take place without a revision of the social arrangement.
A fifth of India’s population (21.9%, or approximately 363 million people) live below the poverty line. Of which, the rural poor account for nearly 260 million, and the urban poor 103 million.
We have seen too that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an economic contraction in India. The number of poor people, with incomes of $2 or less a day, rose by at least 75 million. In the month of April 2020 alone, it is reported that 122 million lost their jobs. This is a 30% fall in employment from the previous year (2019). The scale of this livelihood crisis presents an opportunity to rethink the current means of livelihood and the economy. Understanding struggles for livelihood in Indian cities may reveal the structure and history of communities and occupations that have been marginalized and unreported through the function of labour and inadequate social representation. This nature of development seeks to limit those in the informal/unorganised margins of the economic spectrum.
Nagari 2021 will look at how the planning of cities shapes the lives of people trying to earn a livelihood. Thus the films could focus on individuals or groups within a city, or perhaps address a broader issue in a region, or across the nation.