Skip to main content

Core of Ahmedabad economy, poor street vendors don't enjoy economic freedom

By Rajiv Shah 
A recent study, “Street Vendors in Ahmedabad: Status, Contribution and Challenges”, scholars of the Centre for Urban Equity of the CEPT University, Ahmedabad — Darshini Mahadevia, Alison Brown, Michal Lyons, Suchita Vyas, Kaushal Jajoo, and Aseem Mishra – points towards deep vulnerabilities suffered by the street vendors of Ahmedabad. Carried out by interviewing 20-30 venders in several areas of Ahmedabad where street vending is common – Bhadra, Delhi Darwaja, Kankaria Lake, Jamalpur, Parasnagar, Khodiyarnagar, Nehrunagar, CEPT University, IIM-Ahmedabad and Vastrapur Lake — he study focuses on “harassment, coercion, bribery and eviction” suffered by them in these localities. 
Seeking to examine whether economic freedom if enjoyed by the poor sections of the trading community against the backdrop of economists like Bibek Debroy, who have called Gujarat “a model state in India from the perspective of economic development and economic freedom”, the study points towards how the “other side” of “urban renewal” — displacement of the lives and livelihoods of the urban poor and those in the informal sector – has missed any analysis.
“Street vendors have come under severe impacts of these projects, in particular public transport and road widening projects that have broken the natural markets of the street vendors who have been dispersed in the adjoining areas and consequently lost their business turnovers. Some projects such as Kankaria lake-beautification, wherein the free access to lake has closed and the street vendors doing business in the vicinity have been evicted and instead licensed kiosks have found place aside”, the study says.
The seventh largest metropolis in India, and the largest of the State of Gujarat, Ahmedabad — with an estimated population of 6.35 million in 2011 and an urban area of over 466 sq km – the study’s focus was to find out if economic freedom is enjoyed by street vendors. This is particularly significant, as in just area, Bhadra, there are approximately 3,500 street vendor enterprises, with turnover to the tune of Rs 236.88 crore.
Analysing the profile of the street vendors, the study says, “Majority of vendors interviewed were trading in the open without cover (73.5 per cent of the sample) reflecting lack of facilities in the locations surveyed. In Jamalpur, the vendors were vending underneath a flyover. In Khodiyarnagar, Kankaria Lake and Bhadra, some vendors had a temporary structure to protect them and their goods such as an umbrella or a plastic sheet covering. Otherwise, the vendors are all exposed to elements of nature while vending. This means that in summer they would carry on their business during the evenings and the mornings. It also means that the business is not possible during monsoons.”
It adds, “While vending using the lari was the most common form of display (about half of them did so), it was also common to display goods on the ground or on a wall behind or on a box (about 31 per cent did so). In Bhadra, Delhi Darwaja and Jamalpura high proportion of interviewees were trading from the ground (11, 13 and 18 vendors respectively), whereas in the peripheral markets of Parasnagar and Khodiyarnagar most traders used laris. Lari was also common in Bhadra and Delhi Darwaja where 16 and 13 respectively used it for vending.”
While 20% of the vendors set up business between 2006 and 2010, 37% had set it up in the previous decade, 43% started before 1995, with 12 started in 1975 or before, i.e. more than 36 years before the survey. Contrary to the general belief that the vending market is controlled by migrants, the study says, “68.5 per cent of the vendors are natives of Ahmedabad. The natives of Ahmedabad dominate all the markets, particularly ones in the core city and in the ring around the core city.”
Coming to community profile the study says, “Of the 200 interviewees, about a third was from scheduled castes (SCs) (32%), and a third from other backward casts (OBCs) (31%). In Delhi Darwaja 67% of interviewees were SC. Jamalpur market also had about half the vendors as SC, while in Khodiyarnagar,, 42 per cent belonged to this social group. In Delhi Darwaja 14 of the 30 traders interviewed came from the Dataniya community, which is a SC, and Khodiyarnagar 9 of 31 traders interviewed came from the Patni community, which is a SC.” While 86 per cent of the total sample was Hindus, with Muslims forming 13 per cent, in the Bhadra market 60 per cent vendors are Muslims. In Kankaria and in Jamalpur markets too some Muslim vendors are found.
“About 28 per cent of the vendors were illiterate making, yet among the literate 8.5 per cent could only sign and another eight per cent could only read. Among the markets, highest proportion of illiterates were found in Jamalpur market (63%) and Delhi Darwaja market (43 per cent), which have large proportion of women vendors belonging to the SC”, the study says.
While 80 per cent of vendors had an informal arrangement to secure space, the study says, this is made possible through “weekly or monthly payments”, with new vendors finding it “extremely difficult” to enter in, particularly Bhadra, Delhi Darwaja, and Jamalpur. “New vendors can only come to the area when a place is vacated, i.e. by a death, and costs are high. One vendor reported paying Rs 50,000 to the middleman as a deposit, returnable when he leaves. He also paid a monthly rent of Rs 3,000 to the middleman, which is increased to Rs 3,500 during festivals”, the study says.
Seeking to establish the costs of trading, including space rental, transport costs, and storage, the study finds that “32 per cent stated that they paid for storage, 62 per cent had to pay for transport and overwhelming 80 per cent stated that they paid bribes. Payments for storage range from about Rs.10 to Rs.60 per day, and transport costs, mostly to auto rickshaws, from about Rs 20 to Rs 100 a day.”
The net earnings, the study says, were quite low. “Two-fifths of the vendors stated that their profit was between 21 to 40 per cent of their income (turnover) per day and 45 per cent stated that it was less than 20 per cent of their daily income. In particularly, Bhadra, Jamalpur, IIM market, the vendors carried out their trade with less than 20 per cent of profit margin.” The earnings were further affected by the incidence of giving bribes.
While pointing out that it was not easy to ascertain the amount paid as bribe, the study says, “The guided interviews suggest that in Bhadra, vendors are paying about Rs 300 a month for rental and ‘protection’ money. Some other vendors gave the amount as Rs 1,000 per month if the person was vending on a lari and Rs 50 per day if the vendor was sitting on footpath (had a pathari on road).” The bribe amount increased during festivals like Diwali and Ramazan.
The study further says, “Vendors stated that the system of bribe collection was very systematic. There was an aagyevan (leader) for specified lanes, who collected ‘protection money’ regularly. Some vendors stated that the aagyevan was hardly concerned about the welfare of the workers while the others stated that such people were useful and sometimes advanced them money in times of need. Non-payment of bribe means confiscation of goods and other assets such as lari, jail for a few days during which they lose their livelihood and then payment of fine.”
It adds, “Also, particularly in Bhadra area, any new local policy leader taking charge meant that either payment of the bribe once again to the person or even increase in the bribe rate. Eviction was used as a strategy to increase the bribe rates. One cut-fruit vendor (fruit-chat vendor) at Bhadra stated that before the last eviction they were paying Rs 20 per day as bribe, which increased to Rs 40 per day post-eviction.”
Elaborating, the study says, “Vendors reported paying Rs 100 a week in ‘protection’ to the agewan who gives a bribe to the police at the end of the month. A portion is retained, and if the police confiscate goods the vendor is reimbursed, and in an emergency may get a no-interest loan. The agewan retains a small percentage of the money collected. When a new Deputy Commissioner of Police is appointed there are more evictions and bribes tend to increase. Some higher payments were reported, eg: lari operators may pay Rs.1000 a month in ‘protection’.”
Not without reason, the study says, “Relations between vendors and state agencies were generally conflictual. All the vending areas were fairly regularly patrolled and visited by municipality officials, dabaan, or the police. Various reasons for the visits were given, including general order and patrolling; settling disputes between traders; reduce traffic congestion and ensure that vendors were not blocking highways; eviction/ hafta(inducements)/ seizing goods/ getting free snacks; and visits of higher officials, ministers or the Chief Minister.”
The result is, “an extremely high proportion of the vendors surveyed (86%) had suffered shocks and stresses, with particular problems in the main markets of Bhadra, Jamalpur, and Delhi Darwaja; some 16 of the 17 vendors interviewed in the four outlying areas had also suffered problems. The shocks and stresses suffered were slightly lower in the peripheral markets than the central ones.”
‘Beautification’ plans for Bhadra Fort became a major threat to the long-established vending community recently. The study says, “The Bhadra Fort Redevelopment Project was approved in June 2011 under a JNNURM scheme to create an historic pedestrian route from Teen Darwaja to a new pedestrian bridge over the River Sabarmati. Vendors were first evicted in December 2011, but made representations, and given a temporary reprieve, but evictions were carried out in January 2012. As of now, there is no plan mentioning anything about the rehabilitation of the current vendors into the new project area or elsewhere.”

Comments

TRENDING

Sorry state of Indian academics: why was I thrown out of Delhi varsity interview room?

By Dr. Abhay Kumar*  The interview for the post of political science (Guest) was scheduled on Saturday afternoon, September 10, 2022. Given my previous experience, I was not willing to appear for it. But friends persuaded me to go and fight for our rights. I reached the college well before the time. When my turn came and I entered the room. The first question was asked about my experience. I said that I had taught for four semesters at NCWEB. I mentioned that I had taught ”Comparative politics”, “International Relations”, “Comparative Political Thoughts” and “Indian Government and Politics”. I said that as a teacher I had taught all the articles listed in the syllabus of the same Delhi University and the expert could ask anything about any reading or ideas. Friends, the first question asked by a female member, perhaps she is the principal of the college if I am not wrong, to give the full form of NCWEB! The second question asked by a male expert, perhaps he is the political science dep

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Tokens, symbols or incipient feminists? : First generation women sociologists in India

By IMPRI Team  The online event on the theme ‘Tokens, Symbols or Incipient Feminists? : The first Generation of Women Sociologists in India’ was held as an initiative of Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi under the #WebPolicyTalk series of The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. Inaugurating the session, Zubiya Moin welcomed the speaker and participants to the program, followed by an introduction to the eminent panelists. Commencing the program, Prof Vibhuti Patel made her opening remarks welcoming Prof Kamla Ganesh, Feminist Sociologists and then greeted Prof Ratna Naidu and the editors of book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’, Dr Gita Chadha and Dr. Joseph M.T. along with Prof Arvinder Ansari and also welcomed all participants. She set up the stage by making us familiar with women sociologists and their works. Dr Gita Chadha, Editor of the book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’ After th

Omission of duty by BSF and police: Hindu forcefully kidnapped, taken to Bangladesh

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), & National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** I am writing this to focus on the life and situation of the poor and marginalized villagers living alongside the Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal. Through the several complaints we made throughout the years to your good office, it is now evident that the people of this border are living in an acute crisis, not only from a financial perspective but also in terrible distress. The people of the border are devoid of their basic rights and are subjected to immense torture, harassment and restrictions mostly enacted by the Border Security Force personnel, who are supposed to be posted at the international borders with intentions to protect the Indian citizenry. However, on the contrary, incidents of victimizing Indian citizens are being witnessed at large by the BSF. 130 Bhot

Emerging dimensions of India’s foreign policy in the context of global politics

By IMPRI Team  The three-day course took place recently, providing participants with an understanding of the development of Indian foreign policy, the complexity of geopolitics, and its flexibility to adjust to and even shape global outcomes. Many distinguished academics, senior scholars, former Indian diplomats, and journalists who are skilled observers and commentators of India’s foreign policy will serve as instructors for this course. Day 1 The three-day immersive online certificate training on “Emerging Dimensions of India’s Foreign Policy and Global Politics”, an initiative by the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), began on July 14th, 2022 at 5:00 PM (IST) on Zoom platform. Dr Souravie Ghimiray served as the emcee throughout the 3 days of the event and welcomed the distinguished speakers of Day 1. The esteemed panel on Day 1 consisted of, Dr Soumita Basu, Associate Professor, Department of Intern

Demographic parameters of India@75: resource allocation, political representation

By IMPRI Team  As per UN Population Prospects 2022, India is going to be the most populous country in the world. In this regard, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi with #IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) , organized a panel discussion, #WebPolicyTalk, as part of the series The State of Population Development- #PopulationAnd Development on India@75: Most Populous Country? The moderator of the event was Mr Devender Singh, Global Studies Programme, University of Freiburg and a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists for the event were Prof P.M Kulkarni, Demographer, Retired Professor of Population Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) , New Delhi; Dr U.V Somayajulu, Co-Founder, CEO and Executive Director, Sigma Research and Consulting ; Dr Sonia George, General Secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Kerala; Prof K.S James, Director and Senior Professor, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. Th

Tamil Nadu govt claiming to reform Hindu religion, temples. People deserve better

By NS Venkataraman  For the last several decades, there have been hate campaign against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu in a subtle or not so subtle manner. Initially, it was a hate campaign against brahmins and the brahmins were abused, insulted and physically attacked. Fearing such conditions, many brahmin families left Tamil Nadu to settle down in other states in India or have gone abroad. Now, the brahmin population in Tamil Nadu is at microscopic level, for which these hate campaigners against brahmins were responsible. Later on, emboldened by the scenario of scared brahmin families not resisting and running away, the hate campaigners started focusing on Hindus. For some years, when M.G.Ramachandran and Jayalalitha were the chief ministers of the state, the hate Hindu campaigners were not much heard, as both these chief ministers were staunch believers in Hindu philosophy and have been offering prayers in temples in full public view. However, in the last eighteen months in

Bhagawat Gita shows the way for the attitude to life and desirable goal of life

By NS Venkataraman*  When a mother delivers a human body, this body has no identity. Then, parents, relatives, friends consult each other and discuss the alternate appropriate names and arrive at a suitable name for this human body and this body is known and identified by this name. This human body, which steadily grow just like animals, plants and others and after experiencing the pleasures and pains of worldly life alternately for several years, perish one day, for the body to be burnt or buried. This body, bearing a name as it’s identity, comes in to the world and goes away from the world and the name that is the identity for the body also goes away along with the body. This is the scenario for several thousands of years that have gone by. The question: One question that does not seem to be still “convincingly explained” in a way that will appeal to the brain in the human body, is as to whether this human body only consists of flesh, bone and blood with well

Implementing misleading govt order to pollute Hyderabad's 100 year old reservoirs

Senior activists* represent to the Telangana Governor on GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD), Government of Telangana: ‘...restrictions imposed under para 3 of said GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996 are removed...’: *** Ref: GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996: ‘To prohibit polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of the lakes upto 10kms from full tank level as per list in Annexure-I...’ We come to your office with grievance that GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by Government of Telangana not only contains false information issued ‘By Order and in the name of the Governor of Telangana’ , without any scientific or expert reports, but also that implementation of the said GO is detrimental and can be catastrophic to the Hyderabad city as two 100 year old reservoirs Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar were constructed as dams on river Moosa and river Esa, with the first and

Tattoos and intimidating gestures can't always win cricket matches for India

By Sudhansu R Das  Team India waited with baited breath for the outcome of the Pakistan vs Afghanistan match. Speculation was on about India’s return to the game if Pakistan loses to Afghanistan until Pakistan’s tailender, Naseem hit two massive sixes to win the match for Pakistan. Unfortunately, Afghanistan lost the match after being in a strong position till the last over of the game; two full touch balls in the final over turned the match into Pakistan side. The Afghanistan team would never forget this blunder and shock for a long time. India’s team management should introspect and take tough decision keeping in view of the tough match situation in the world cup matches. India lost two crucial matches in the Asia Cup. It could not defend a big total of 176 against Pakistan due to mediocre bowling attack, sloppy fielding and unimaginative captainship. It failed against Sri Lanka in similar fashion; it could not defend another respectable T 20 total of 171 runs. It was a pat