Securing, Leveraging and Sustaining Power for Street Vendors in India
While street vendors have provided goods and services to millions at an affordable rate on their doorsteps since time immemorial, erosion of the rural livelihood base, growing informalisation and unabated urbanisation have suddenly increased their numbers in Indian cities in the 1990s. Despite the fact that these workers contribute significantly to the urban economy, they have faced and often continue to experience humiliation, continual harassment, confiscations and sudden evictions. It became imperative to advocate for their rights through the formulation of appropriate policies, the enactment of relevant laws, and the provision of adequate social protection benefits. The National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) played a pivotal and catalytic role in transforming street vendors from non-entities into a formidable force to reckon with. Based on existing published works on the street vendors’ movement in India, a series of key informant interviews and national consultation with stakeholders, the paper aims to document the journey of NASVI in terms of milestones, struggles and successes using the theoretical framework of power resources and capabilities. It also makes an attempt to bring out important lessons for social actors interested in organising informal workers.
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