In 2020, the Nagari Short Film Competition focussed on the question:
“How could one tell the story of housing adequacy in urban India”?
India has the largest number of urban poor and landless people in the world. According to the 2011 census, approximately 13.75 million households, or approximately 65 – 70 million people, reside in urban slums. Homeless people, based on the 2011 census, are an additional 1.8 million. The numbers are staggering. In some cities, such as Mumbai, those residing in slums represent around 50% of its population. Housing, and more importantly adequate housing, is in a state of crisis in India – a case reinforced by the migrant exodus that we witnessed in Indian cities in March 2020, as a result of a national lockdown imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Housing adequacy was recognized as part of the right to an adequate standard of living in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in their report on ‘The Right to Adequate Housing’ have identified 7 elements that encompass the right to adequate housing.
Legal security of tenure: Regardless of the type of tenure, all persons should possess a degree of security of tenure which guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats;
Affordability: Personal or household financial costs associated with housing should not threaten or compromise the attainment and satisfaction of other basic needs (for example, food, education, access to health care);
Habitability: Adequate housing should provide for elements such as adequate space, protection from cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health, structural hazards, and disease vectors;
Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure: Housing is not adequate if its occupants do not have safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, means of food storage, refuse disposal, etc;
Accessibility: Housing is not adequate if the specific needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups are not taken into account (such as the poor, people facing discrimination; persons with disabilities, victims of natural disasters);
Location: Adequate housing must allow access to employment options, health-care services, schools, child-care centres and other social facilities and should not be built on polluted sites nor in immediate proximity to pollution sources;
Cultural adequacy: Adequate housing should respect and take into account the expression of cultural identity and ways of life.
“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.
A public retrospective of Nagari films, showing the 10 short films that were made for the 2020 competition. The programme will consist of a screening, followed by discussion with the filmmakers, moderated by the Charles Correa Foundation team as a launch of Nagari 2021 — ‘People and Livelihoods’ in Indian cities.
We hope that watching and discussing ‘ReRuns’ brings continuity between the previous and the current focus, seeing the connection from Housing Adequacy to People and Livelihoods. It will attempt not only to see film as a medium to narrate the issues, but really to initiate discussion on inadequacies in the urban realm and extend its representation and relevance in India.
A City Within A City shows us the sociological fallout in Juhapura, a small locality in Ahmedabad, post the riots of 2002. The film covers a very urgent and powerful issue giving a strong message in the most straightforward way. The film speaks of ghettoization and segregation, something that we rarely discuss when speaking of urbanism and urban planning. The film presents a microcosmic individual problem of a particular family and how they are looking not only at the immediate problems while also dealing with their aspirations. The juxtaposition of the historical context of the place and people’s aspiration to build an independent community despite the apathy of the state, makes the audience value housing beyond the practicality of spaces. The film is poignant, empathetic and yet never looking at people who have suffered in a flattened way as victims but rather celebrating their resilience, showing how attitudes, policy, law and history are all integrated.
Udta Banaras alludes to the fact that cities keep changing with regimes and the people inside the city don’t really have a choice in where they go and which part of the city they can be in. It highlights the hurt and the absolute dislocation that’s caused by urban renewal projects and the impact of policies that have been put into place without taking into recognition the inhabitants in those neighbourhoods. The imaging and the imagery in the film was extraordinarily beautiful and compelling. The protagonist was very interesting and charismatic, bringing together a lot of complex ideas about home, his own identity, his own home, but also this idea of Banaras itself. It’s through his photographs that we get to see when we see that the famous Vishwanath gully has been completely taken away and made into some kind of piazza which is shocking and very cleverly done.