September 29 — Darshini Mahadevia
Professor and Dean of Faculty of Planning, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India
“Limits of Informality”
Seminar Description: Informality is the synonym of economic growth and is the metaphor of urbanization in a country such as India. A popular word used is Jugaad, which does not have parallel in the English language. The best meaning of jugaad is managing out, coping in times of adversities through subversions of law and institutions. The rich subvert for ‘primitive accumulation’ using the backing of State power, the State itself subverts to accommodate sometimes ‘particular agendas’, and the poor subvert for survival. We see such subversions and informality in urban housing, transportation, employment, social services (health and education) and even citizenship. Informality or jugaad is celebrated and at times deified as a means of economic growth in the face of rigid state bureaucracies. But, those in the informal sector, particularly on the lower end, seek substantive citizenship, housing rights, social security amidst informal employment and increased accessibility through safe and affordable transportation. While, the informal sector has indeed contributed to urban economic growth, it has also captivated a large proportion of population in the sector at the cost of further upward economic mobility. In a way, it has set limits of economic growth.
Speaker Biography: Darshini Mahadevia is Professor and Dean of Faculty of Planning, CEPT University, with over 20 years of teaching and illustrious research and publications record. After completing her Bachelors in Architecture and Masters in Urban and Regional Planning, she completed her PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University. She was a visiting fellow at University of California, Los Angeles and McGill University. She has collaborated for research with many national and international academic institutions/ universities in India, Europe, and China. She specializes in the research on urban development policies, including housing policy, urban poverty, human and gender development. In particular, her research is focused on inclusive urban planning, housing, and inclusive transportation. In 2009 she incepted the Centre for Urban Equity at CEPT University, which she headed until March 2013.
Discussant: Hilda Blanco, Research Professor & Interim Director, Center for Sustainable Cities, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy