The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
Presentation by Nipesh Narayanan mHS (Micro Housing Solutions) and Nitesh Kumar (SPYM) at the CSCS-NIS Digital Deliberations Bangalore Consultation on Homelessness. The panel was called ‘Market-based approaches to Shelter’. mHS is a ‘social enterprise that designs economically viable housing solutions for under-served populations in India’. According to their statistics, under the ‘urban household by income bracket’, the homeless lie at the less than Rs. 2500 per month income bracket. 60% of homeless individuals had apparently been homeless for more than 10 years. mHS is faced with what he refers to as ‘aspirational urbanism’ when they approached the government.
The Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM) in New Delhi was started in 1984 by JNU students. This organisation works for the benefit of the ‘homeless’, ‘poor’ and ‘drug users’. The basic motives of the organisation’s Homeless Resource Centre include identification and mapping, provision of basic services, empowerment, livelihood promotion and resource mobilisation. Having identified the needs of the homeless to include health, food, shelter and dignity; they run permanent and winter shelters that try to meet the food, entertainment and sanitation needs of the people residing there. In a survey conducted by SPYM in 2010, they discovered that around eighty per cent of the homeless population work as street hawkers, rickshaw pullers and so on. SPYM’s new foray into the shelter problem was the creation of upgraded shelters, branded as Working Men’s Hostels. Among facilities provided including health care and sanitation and vocational training, etc., the SPYM lists ‘Linkage with UIDAI for Aadhaar number & Opening of Bank Accounts’ as one of the additional facilities at the working men’s hostel. This presentation more or less represented problems of homeless people in Delhi and some of the measures taken by the SPYM including this very link with UIDAI as a measure to resolve these problems.