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Mumbai: the city of shine or city of sin

Where 2.50 lakh people are made soft target for one’s ambition


by Ram Kumar Mishra, Mumbai(India), March 19, 2013

Mumbai … is one among four metro cities of India; known as the economic capital of the country. It has its own gorgeous historical background since the colonial reign in India. When the industrial revolution began in India, Mumbai remained in center for industrial establishments. It is because, its rich geographical structure and water-transport oriented ports. During the industrial establishment era it has required human resources at huge scale for fulfillment manual demands. In that situation migration was in full swing to Mumbai including other cities like Kolkata (then Kalkatta), Chennai (then Madras), Surat, Goa, Port Blayer and other small cities like Kanpur, Meerut too.

At the end of the 19th century Mumbai’s industrial structure commence to destroy. Regional and selfish policy of local politicians and egoistic strategy of labor unions had come forefront to each other. In this combat Mills and Industries began to shut down or set to move to other states. Millions of labors had to sacrifice their bread and butter. At a specific time such a waste number of unemployed people created the worst situation before the county. The government has had no option to their betterment. Thousands of men had returned to their natives and started paternal occupations. The remains had started their odd jobs to survive their loving family.;

When, mill labors had to leave their jobs, they had not enough wealth to resume their economic condition and Seton to the right path. With their small savings they started wall side vendor’s job. Despite it did not give them enough facilities for sufficient living, yet could be alive them and shown a glimpse of hope and gave the sign of life beyond that gloom.

street vendor & hawkers in Mumbai, photos: Su-Kyung Han

The then and after and even now street vendor from very important segment of the unrecognized sector in the country. They try to solve their livelihood issues through their meager financial resources and sweat equity. Estimates of average earnings of a street vendor are rupees 2000 (40$) by studies. In a study of the National Commission for Enterprises (NCEUS) suggest that its earnings are too low although they have a variety of trades to trade and location to location. A man vendor’s daily earning average around 70 Rupees and a woman vendor’s daily earning is estimated 40 Rupees. Whereas the few cities are where the vendor’s daily earning is too meager.

As of now Mumbai has been recognized as the Songhai of India and the men living in posh colonies considering vendors are a big problem for their dream city. They claim,” Hawkers have made Mumbai city the dirtiest in the world. They make city filthy and dirty. They occupy the space for citizens to walk safely on the pavement. Because of Hawking on footpaths and sidewall pedestrians are forced to walk on road.” Like this vendors are being abused always by their polite city bourgeois. They are treated like cuspidor by pedestrians and footpath goer. Beyond it, even times they are made scapegoat for regional politicians and brutally harassed and beaten up by their pet flatterers.  

Mumbai, photo: Su-Kyung Han

But it is not a common view of all. Most of the people consider that if the government regularized and be accommodated them suitable vending zones,  they might profitable  for the city-men. Because, by the law ‘Protection of livelihood and Regulation Street Vending Bill, 2012’ which is yet to pass in Parliament, tabled in 2012. But the amendment is to be in standing committee meeting later. According to this Bill more than 47000 vendors and hawkers could increase in the Mumbai city, though it has already 2.50 lakh unlicensed hawkers and 15,159 licensed hawkers.

Though the apex court of India said,” This court is giving this direction in the exercise of its jurisdiction to protect the fundamental right of the citizens. The hawkers and squatters or vendors’ right to carry on hawking has been recognized as a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. At the same time, the right of the commuters to move freely and use the roads without any impediment is also a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (d).” Court further said, “they are poor and unorganized, cannot be left in limbo, nor can it left to be decided by the varying standards of a scheme which changes from time to time under orders of this court.”

On exploitation by anti-social elements hawkers union leader claimed that hawkers were being charged daily fees and given receipts from 1988 to 1998. Union further said the police department and the BMC together extort almost Rs1,000 crore from hawkers to allow them to do business.

 In this crucial condition vendors and hawkers are earning their livelihood for their family at the hazard of their self-respect and human identification.


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