Jhuggi jhopri clusters often house a population with weak representation, tenuous services, and vulnerability to demolition. Anantram Harijan Basti, a JJC near the centre of Delhi, stands out among the city’s JJCs: its residents have reliable water, electricity, and sanitation services, are relatively safe from demolition, and enjoy effective political representation. This can be attributed in part to the unique political structure of the New Delhi Municipal Council, under whose jurisdiction it falls, but is due largely to the strong and stable patron-client relationships between residents and their elected representative. This is, notably, a structure reinforced by caste and class associations. This report presents a case in which the caste hierarchy frequently believed to reside primarily in rural India is reproduced in the centre of the capital city. Here, however, a system of inequality, paired with political reality, delivers tangible goods for all.
A report of the Cities of Delhi project.